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New to home theatre - wanting to create a sound system

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by hollisterb, Jun 19, 2009.

  1. hollisterb

    hollisterb Member

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    Hey guys, I'm new on this forum and also new to the idea of Home Theatre! I've just moved into a new apartment and am looking to do up the main room the way I want it ;p

    I'm a graphic/web designer by trade so I am always on my iMac - so I don't want to invest in a TV or anything like that, as I watch everything on my iMac anyways so that is fine.

    What I am looking to set up is a real quality home sound system/environment.

    I'm really into my music - everything from classic to pop to rock!

    I'm going to be starting from scratch - and have no idea with a budget either but am looking for something really cool.

    I'm thinking obviously the main hub of the music - but I actually listen 99% to MP3's from the computer so I don't even think I need to get say a CD system

    I need a base where I can wireless stream my MP3 music from my iMac

    Then I'm thinking a real good quality subwoofer

    And I'm thinking going all out on the speaker style

    So speakers on the ceiling - surround style - normal speakers etc - and if there was a function also to control which speakers to turn on and off accordingly

    I hope this isn't too vague but would love to know an ideas or thoughts
     
  2. David Willow

    David Willow Babbling Idiot
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    Hi Chris,

    If I understand correctly, you are looking for a stereo setup (or 2.1 with the sub)?

    We will need at least an idea of budget. You will need the speakers and a receiver to power them.

    One thing you should keep in mind as you purchase better equipment.... The better your speakers, the worse your MP3s will sound. Good speakers will expose all the flaws of compressed music.
     
  3. JohnRice

    JohnRice Well-Known Member

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    Keep in mind that mp3 is a very general term. If you buy 128kb/s mp3s, don't expect very good sound quality. On the other hand, if you start with a CD, use LAME to convert in stereo (not joint stereo) in high quality mode at 320kb/s, the results are quite good. Of course, the best option is just to import CDs into iTunes using Apple Lossless. 1TB drives are under $100 and can hold over 2,000 normal CDs in Lossless. You can probably get 8,000 CDs on a 1TB drive at 320 kb/s.

    Are you saying you are going to have speakers IN the ceiling? Not a good idea. Just get regular bookshelf speakers (too many to choose from for me to recommend), a good sub and a receiver with at least one optical digital input. Then you can stream wirelessly from your iMac using an Airport Express. Use iTunes or Front Row and a remote to play selections. If you want full surround with DVDs, you just need some more speakers and to connect the receiver directly to the combo audio out on the iMac, using a mini to toslink digital audio cable. Actually, you need that same cable with the Airport Express.
     
  4. Kevin Stewart

    Kevin Stewart Well-Known Member

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    Some would consider that a contradiction.
     
  5. hollisterb

    hollisterb Member

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    Hey John, thank you for this post - really helpful

    Well even Mp3's, I actually listen only to Mp3's when in the gym using my iPod, at home where I will be when playing music or in my house haha, I use Spotify so much - I just said yesterday to my friend, Spotify is my music now.

    I have it running all the time, as my computer is always running

    At the moment, from the back of my iMac, I have a lead in the headphone socket that goes directly to an amp - which is connected to two speakers

    It's an old amp and I'm moving into a new place so I want to revamp it all.

    A very similar set up to what I already, just more advanced

    So as I wrote, my base is my "iMac" - which leads to an AMP and two speakers. All connected

    -

    So what I want to do now is keep the iMac as the base as Spotify is running on that -

    Then that leads to lead to an amp I guess?

    And somehow, wirelessly - I need to get it to as many speakers as I can ;p

    Does that make more sense now?
     
  6. hollisterb

    hollisterb Member

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    test


    test
     
  7. hollisterb

    hollisterb Member

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    Anyone?
     
  8. hollisterb

    hollisterb Member

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    I just heard from some dude who used Airport Express, that for example -

    The Airport is express is wired to your MAINS and also to your ROUTER and also has to be somehow connected to your SPEAKERS/STEREO

    Then the wireless part of it is, if you play music from your mac - it can wirelessy direct to your STEREO

    Which is cool but still you have to have a few things connected

    -

    Isn't there a unit where you have the MAC as the base

    Play Spotify on your MAC

    Your MAC is connected to an AMP maybe

    Then the AMP has SPEAKERS which are WIRELESS and it comes out of there

    Make sense?
     
  9. Robert_J

    Robert_J Well-Known Member

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    The connection between an amp and speakers can't be wireless. An amp pushes speakers by sending variable voltage signals. How will you send a 20 volt signal between an amp and a speaker? I know that Tesla (Nick, not the band) could send voltage wirelessly but it never really caught on.

    If you have a sound card in your computer, you are half way there. If you want a better one there are hundreds of USB models that are both PC and Mac compatible. I've seen ones that go from 2 channel stereo to full 7.1 surround sound. The 7.1 models usually have some type of configuration software to use them as 5.1, 2.1, 2.0 or any other combination.

    Once you have the sound card issue resolved you can move to amps and speakers. You can go as cheap as $50 or as high as $500,000. So what is your budget for this.

    What is Spotify? An online music streaming service? If so, it's compressed. As John said, the better your system the more you can hear compression artifacts.

    -Robert
     
  10. hollisterb

    hollisterb Member

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    Ok well let's say then..

    MAC is the base

    MAC is connected to an AMP

    AMP is connected to two speakers

    - How do I create some sort of wireless system then with some wireless speakers/system?

    Yea Spotify is an online radio application, really sweet - I have it on all the time. You can listen to what you want, all streaming - all easy and free
     
  11. JohnRice

    JohnRice Well-Known Member

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    Chris, pretty much all you said is incorrect. There are various ways to create wireless networks. With the Airport EXPRESS, you can create or tap into a wireless network. It can, in fact, wirelessly create a wireless network. IOW, sit there all by itself, connected to nothing, creating a wireless network which other items connect to. You can plug an analog or optical digital cable into it and to a receiver for audio. How everything else (computer, modem, printers, etc.) connects to that network is virtually unlimited. It is determined mostly by the specific equipment.

    I suggest you "walk" and get your audio terminology straight, as well as understand general audio equipment before you attempt to "run" and set up a wireless audio network.
     
  12. hollisterb

    hollisterb Member

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    Damn John, that's harsh considering I'm a newbie here and this is a "basics" section on the forum
     
  13. JohnRice

    JohnRice Well-Known Member

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    I'm just suggesting you walk before you run.

    Let's start here. Does your Mac have an AirPort? If you don't know, it is very easy to find out. Look at the top right of the menu bar. If there is a pie wedge type 1/4 circle there somewhere, it has an airport. If it is empty, it is turned off, if it has curved lines, it is turned on.

    Answer that and then we can take the next step.
     
  14. hollisterb

    hollisterb Member

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    Yep it has an Airport

    I've got the latest iMac

    I use wireless in my house - I have a wireless router which I run my internet off

    [​IMG]
     
  15. JohnRice

    JohnRice Well-Known Member

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    OK, Bingo!!

    If you buy an AirPort EXPRESS (Not an Extreme) you can plug that into an outlet anywhere within range of your wireless network, open the AirPort Utility in the Utilities folder of your Mac, find the AirPort and program it to tune in to your wireless network. Simple as that.

    Now, you can plug a printer into the USB port on the AirPort to use the printer wirelessly from any computer on your network, or, more specifically to your needs, plug either an analog or optical digital cable (one end of the optical cable has to have a "mini" plug or adapter) into the AirPort and then into a receiver, which then powers speakers. That system is completely wireless from the computer, even though the computer can be an audio source for the receiver.

    As it is, a little window on the bottom right of iTunes will open allowing you to select which system (you can select more than one) you want to send music to. If you want to use another music source (which you do) you need to purchase a nifty piece of software called AirFoil, which lets you stream audio from ANY computer source on your network.
     
  16. JohnRice

    JohnRice Well-Known Member

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    Just one little bit of info. when you program the AirPort, you select to connect to an existing network , NOT to create a network. You already have a wireless network.
     
  17. Robert_J

    Robert_J Well-Known Member

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    John, I'm glad you explained that because when I read the above quote, I assumed he wanted the Mac as the control unit. As in a replacement for a receiver (audio source selector, volume control, etc). The way you are helping, the Mac is just an audio source for a receiver.

    -Robert
     
  18. JohnRice

    JohnRice Well-Known Member

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    Yes Robert. Basically the Mac is a component, but since it is capable of playing back so many sources (internet radio, CDs, DVDs, iTunes, Quicktime, etc) it in a way can eliminate the need for switching. I just hope Chris is understanding it can be wireless from the Mac to the amp/receiver but there is no such thing as wireless from amp to speakers, though using something like powered speakers may seem that way.
     
  19. Robert_J

    Robert_J Well-Known Member

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    I actually run my PC in 3 different configurations. One it is a control center for audio/video with DVD, CD and compressed digital music. I have some inexpensive Boston Acoustic speakers with a small sub attached. I also feed line level audio to a Pioneer receiver that pushes a pair of JBL bookshelf speakers. Finally it is a music server that feeds compressed digital music to my DirecTV DVR's via my home network.

    It sounds like Chris isn't sure what his goals are.

    -Robert
     
  20. OLEHANDRO

    OLEHANDRO New Member

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    Hello David nice to see you from Pa
    Me to
    i leave in huntingdon valley PA
    I was trying to send you Pm but did not wiorked for some reason
    Im trying to build My own Home theater (5.1)was trying to get some sugestions (i bought Bose V20 but WERY unhappy will have to return it.)
     

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