Speaker wire: why is it still analogue?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by MichaelAW, Apr 26, 2002.

  1. MichaelAW

    MichaelAW Second Unit

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    My puppy chewed through some speaker wire, so I had to replace it, and while doing so, I thought of the above question.

    My output from the DVD player to the receiver is digital, why haven't speakers gotten digital? My subwoofer connection is RCA/digital, but the other five speakers are the old many-fibred copper (?) cable I've used for 20 years.

    What gives, asks the newbie?
     
  2. David_Stein

    David_Stein Second Unit

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    hard to pass the current needed to run speakers through a digital connection. in fact they are engineered to use as little current as possible. it would work if you had powered speakers, but i dont see that revolution happening anytime soon...
     
  3. David_Stein

    David_Stein Second Unit

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    oh also (damn i love this quick reply) you would have to have something in the speaker to decode the digital signal. which would mean one in every speaker. that would get expensive
     
  4. brucek

    brucek Second Unit

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    Your subwoofer connection is still analog.....
    Your speakers connections will become digital when your ears become digital..... [​IMG]
    brucek
     
  5. MichaelAW

    MichaelAW Second Unit

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    Aren't (good) speakers expensive enough, as is? How much more would they cost with the digital decoder?

    Thanks for the reply.
     
  6. Steve Zimmerman

    Steve Zimmerman Second Unit

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    Michael, lemme ask you one question... Why do a washing machine, a light bulb, a toaster, and a hair dryer all run on analog power? Answer... Same reason your speakers do.

    --Steve
     
  7. MichaelAW

    MichaelAW Second Unit

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    It's a power thing, then. Gotcha.
     
  8. Bill Lucas

    Bill Lucas Supporting Actor

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    Just look up the prices for Meridian Digital Active speakers and you'll have your answer, Michael. [​IMG]
    There are speakers out there that utilize a digital connection. The price of admission is extremely high in most cases. Regards.
     
  9. Dustin B

    Dustin B Producer

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    I think you are confusing line level, speaker level and digital connections.

    Your sub uses a line level connection (still analog). The connection is identical to a speaker level connection except the signal is very weak, ie it needs to be amplified to a much higher level before it can drive a speaker. There are speakers with amps built in (just like your sub has) that use line level connections as well.

    We don't hear digital, all speakers no matter what (even the Meridian mentioned above) have to convert the digital signal to an analog one at some point. We can't hear digital (well we can, but man it would sound aweful). When this conversion happens is the issue.

    With normal passive speakers, you send a digital signal from the cd/dvd player to your receiver. The receiver does some processing on the digital signal and then passes it to a DAC (digital to analog converter) which changes the signal to an analog one that is then amplified by the reciever. The amplified signal is then set to the speaker.

    With your sub, instead of the reciever amplifing the signal the line level signal is passed to the amp on your sub, it amplifies it and sends it to the driver in your sub.

    The signal always has to be analog when it hits the amplifier. When this happens is dependant on where you place the DAC in the chain. In some cases the DAC is in the CD/DVD player and the conversion happens there.

    Digital amps are on the horizon though (there are a few out but they are expensive). I'm not 100% certain on this, but I believe these digital amps act as the DAC. They can directly convert a digital signal into an amplified analog one to drive a speaker.
     
  10. EricHaas

    EricHaas Supporting Actor

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    Good summary Dustin. One other thing. The theoretical point of a digital connection for speakers is this: although the speaker output is analog, and the signal must be converted to analog by the speakers if it receives a digital signal, a digital cable would mean no signal degradation across the line connecting your electronics to your speakers. Thus, a digital line should be as good or better than the most expensive analog cables that cost $5k per foot, because it would add absolutely no coloration to the sound. The problem is, as Dustin said, the signal must be analog for the amp stage. Therefore, in the typical case where the amplification occurs before the signal goes to the speakers, you would have to reconvert the signal to digital after ampification, send it to the speaker, then have the speaker reconvert it again to analog. Even if this is possible, it is too much hardware, too expensive, and too many signal processing steps. If you have active speakers with an amp on board however, all you have to do is add DACs (digital/analog converts) to the speakers and you could employ digital cables. Unless or until active speakers become the norm (not likely) you won't see digital speaker cables commonly used.
     

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