Jump to content



Sign up for a free account to remove the pop-up ads

Signing up for an account is fast and free. As a member you can join in the conversation, enter contests and remove the pop-up ads that guests get. Click here to create your free account.


Photo
- - - - -

Is anyone using their computer as a preamp?


  • You cannot start a new topic
  • Please log in to reply
9 replies to this topic

#1 of 10 OFFLINE   Yousaf

Yousaf

    Second Unit



  • 251 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 20 2002

Posted April 01 2004 - 01:51 AM

I am soon going to be purchasing a pair of 4 ohm speakers that I'm not sure if my receiver can handle at higher volumes. Furthermore, my receiver is also a bit weak as an amp for these speakers. Since I wouldn't actually receive the speakers for another month and I like to be prepared for all contingencies (which is why I am asking now and not just waiting to see), I was wondering if anyone is using their computer as a preamp, and sending the output directly into an amp via RCAs. My idea is to sell my receiver and use that cash to buy a used amp, since I don't have much money to add on. If I did, I'd do separates properly Posted Image



My first question, obviously, is will this work properly?



Secondly, I know that it is much easier to control volume on a receiver. If I used something like an ATI Remote Wonder, would I still get something close to the same control over my volume?

#2 of 10 OFFLINE   Angelo.M

Angelo.M

    Producer



  • 4,007 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 15 2002

Posted April 01 2004 - 05:40 PM

The answer to your first question: yes, it will work. The answer to your second question: you can use the volume control in Winamp or Windows Media Player or iTunes (or whatever) to control the amp (so, you are really using the volume control in Windows). This works fine, in my experience. To answer the question in the title of the thread: I am using my computer as a preamp to play music in my office. I use a Windows XP based PC and a Chaintech 710 soundcard, with analog output to the inputs on a harman/kardon PA2000 100W x 2 (bridged) amplifier, using JBL S38IIs as speakers. This setup works really well. The soundcard has digital outputs, so I could use an AVR or a outboard pre-amp/amp combination, but the current setup sounds great to me.

#3 of 10 OFFLINE   Scott L

Scott L

    Producer



  • 4,466 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 29 2000

Posted April 01 2004 - 06:36 PM

You'll get better results sending the audio digitally via S/PDIF to a receiver since they have better DACs than any PCI sound card. My cheap Kenwood receiver makes the audio sound much better than the analog output from my M-Audio Revo 7.1.

#4 of 10 OFFLINE   Yousaf

Yousaf

    Second Unit



  • 251 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 20 2002

Posted April 02 2004 - 02:00 AM

Thanks Angelo, that was what I was hoping to hear Posted Image



Now Scott, on the other hand...are you sure about that? I thought that the Revo was supposed to have better DACs than most lower-level receivers. Unfortunately, at this point it is a matter of money; I cannot afford both a preamp/receiver and an amp, and if my speakers end up dictating an amp I guess I will have to make do.

#5 of 10 OFFLINE   Scott L

Scott L

    Producer



  • 4,466 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 29 2000

Posted April 02 2004 - 05:21 AM

I'll do a comparo trying: A) Analog out > receiver > Sennhesier Headphones B) Digital out > receiver > Sennheiser Headphones I hope there aren't any factors I'm missing, but this should test the difference between cheapo Kenwood DACs vs. M-Audio DACs. I always listened to the M-Audio via it's analog out straight to my headphones, it wasn't a fair test (duh!), so plz disregard my first post. :b

#6 of 10 OFFLINE   Angelo.M

Angelo.M

    Producer



  • 4,007 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 15 2002

Posted April 02 2004 - 08:52 AM

Yousaf: Many folks will say that digital output from most reasonably good sound cards "sounds better" than analog outputs. I think you have to evaluate this on a case-by-case basis. Also, a quick ABX of the digital and analog outputs doesn't really tell you anything about which setup you will be happy with over the long haul. In a quick ABX, you might think, for example, that the digital output "sounds better", but once you've adjusted for output level differences, I wouldn't be surprised if you thought analog output sounded just as good for most reasonably good sound cards. The M-Audio card, for example, has pretty good DACs; my Chaintech card also has reasonably good DACs. For non-critical listening, my system sounds very, very good.

#7 of 10 OFFLINE   Yousaf

Yousaf

    Second Unit



  • 251 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 20 2002

Posted April 02 2004 - 09:49 AM

Aha Scott then I think I know what might be the problem. I believe the Revo has a slightly lower output level than some other cards, and so with headphones you're getting a lot more power by going with the receiver than with the M-Audio. Lack of power, especially if you have something like the HD-600s, would be a real problem.

#8 of 10 OFFLINE   Scott L

Scott L

    Producer



  • 4,466 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 29 2000

Posted April 06 2004 - 03:29 AM

headphones are hd-280 pros, only 64ohm so easier to drive compared to the open air cans. Just did some testing and it's VERY close, I was very surprised at the quality of the M-Audio when pumping the analog signal through the receiver. The edge, though, goes to digital S/PDIF. Less noise (more hiss on analog, even though using name brand shielded cable, maybe moreso a factor of the amp) and a tad better clarity; the highs and "S's" really come alive on digital. I can also hear the seperation of instruments better and the soundstage is just wider for very critical listening. On speakers the difference will be even harder to tell so you won't be missing much at all.

#9 of 10 OFFLINE   Yousaf

Yousaf

    Second Unit



  • 251 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 20 2002

Posted April 07 2004 - 02:21 PM

Thanks Scott, I'm glad you got back to me.



I'll keep that in mind, but fortunately I did find another review of my receiver where the person had no problem driving 4 ohm towers to high volumes, so with any luck I don't need to spend money or deal with the hassle of selling. If it doesn't work out, though, I'll be just that much happier you replied Posted Image

#10 of 10 OFFLINE   MOSFET

MOSFET

    Auditioning



  • 1 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 15 2014
  • Real Name:Nicholas Tanner

Posted February 15 2014 - 07:49 PM

Hey everybody!!  I'm new and this is my first post.

 

I decided to post b/c I have actually been doing just this for quite a while and it works and (most importantly) SOUNDS great.  I will tell you how I do it and a few tricks I've picked up over the years to make it easier.

 

But first, let me address something member Scott L. said: You'll get better results sending the audio digitally via S/PDIF to a receiver since they have better DACs than any PCI sound card. My cheap Kenwood receiver makes the audio sound much better than the analog output from my M-Audio Revo 7.1.

 

OK, in the world of high-end CD players, DAT, DVD, and other quality digital sources this is absolutely true.  So it's important to first decide WHAT KIND OF SOUND you will be playing through your computer.  If you will be using your computer to play Cd's and Blue-Ray disks, then I would tend to agree, it's best to send the signal digitally to a receiver, DAC, pre-amp, ect. with a more robust DAC. 

 

But if you are like me, I play primarily MP3's, music videos off UTube, and Netflix movies.  All of these sources use data compression in the audio stage to one degree or another.  In my experience, today's aftermarket audio cards do a fantastic job of decoding sources like these and passing them on in the analogue phase.  In other words, you are already working with a less-than-perfect audio signal and to become obsessed about which DAC sounds best, should I use Discovery or Cardas RCA cables, and so on, is a little like closing the barn doors after the cows have escaped.

 

I use a C-Media 8 channel audio card.  True, 10 years ago it was necessary to go out and buy an aftermarket audio card if you wanted good quality multi-channel audio.  But most computers today come with fairly decent 6 channel sound cards.

 

OK, the nuts and bolts of it:  First I run the subwoofer output DIRECTLY into my two powered subwoofers (they are daisy-chained together, as opposed to having to split the RCA output).  I have both the subwoofer output controls set to 3/4 full blast.  Now, I have a Yamaha receiver, model HTR-5280, 140 watts X 5.  I have it set to operate as a power-amp only, using the "6 channel input" setting.  This bypasses ALL tone controls, DSP, and any other pre-amp functions.  This is how the computer is connected to the amp.  NOW, someone mentioned that connecting it this way would preclude using any other sources like a turntable, VCR, CD player, ect. as you cannot connect these things to your computer.  Now it's true that I really don't EVER listen to anything other than what comes from the computer, HOWEVER, I do have a blue-ray player and an old DVR connected to my receiver and if I wish to listen/watch  these things I simply turn off the 6 Channel Input setting and use it in the old fashion way (both are connected with a S/PDIF digital connection).  I have a subwoofer "out" on the Yamaha that has to manually be plugged into the subwoofer (instead of the computer) and of course I have to change the video-in setting in on my TV.  A bit of a hassle but like I said I just don't use these other sources very often. 

 

On my computer I have this app. that came with the video card called Diamond Extreme Audio that let's me control the output level of every channel separately (with a cute little picture of a room and all the designated speakers).  By playing white noise I am able to equalize all channels.  It also has a 10 band EQ which is always needed (IMHO) in the living room environment (as well as several dozen sound field effects which to me ALL sound like varying degrees of echo and reverb, WHICH I NEVER USE).

 

But perhaps the COOLEST app. I found was something called Volume Mouse Utility (free) that turns your mouse wheel into a PERMENANT volume control.  NO MORE SCRAMBLING TO FIND THE MUTE OR VOLUME ICON!!!!  It's a little like the volume control on your remote control, always ready.  For me, having easy control of the volume of every speaker AND an "ALWAYS READY" volume control were key to making this whole thing easy and practical.

 

The sound?  EXCELLENT!!!  Bypassing the tone controls of my Yamaha amp seemed to clearly improve the sound.  Also, running the sub output DIRECTLY into my subwoofers seemed to tighten up the bass (again, as opposed to running it through the preamp section of my receiver).  I am not ridiculous about SQ but after 46 years I think I know good sound when I hear it.  My front stage is Michael Green designs, my surround speaks are JBL and as I said I'm using two subs, a 12" M&K (V-125) and a 10" KLH, they sit on top of each other behind my system and 60" flat screen.

 

I LOVE my sound system and frankly believe it is the best sounding system I have ever assembled.  I went through a crazy audiophile period in the 90's (it's when I bought the Michael Green Designs speakers) and had a California Audio Labs CD player, Tascam reel-to-reel player,  Audioquest speaker cable, Discovery interconnects, and Denon separates (a pre-amp and amps).  I was always trying different DAC's, interconnects, transports, and anything that might improve the sound even the smallest amount.  After a few years I realized I had stopped listening to the music, but was listening to the STEREO!  For instance, I was always playing test discs and always listening for what I perceived as "flaws".  I digress a little, but perhaps some of you can relate. 

 

Anyway, I think my stereo sounds amazing and audiophile friends I have can't believe the source is my computer.  I think what is key here is that if you use your computer as a preamp, DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN NOT TO RUN IT THROUGH YET ANOTHER PREAMP.  But with today's compressed media like MP3's, there is no reason why a computer can't make an EXCELLENT preamp.

 

Again, first post, hi everyone!!!  Thank you,

MOSFET

 

 

 

 






0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users