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Help turning my PC into a sound center

Discussion in 'Sound City' started by marcanthony, 21 Jan 2006.

  1. marcanthony

    Associate

    Joined: 15 Jan 2006

    Posts: 20

    Hi all

    I have a huge collection of music on my PC in mp3 format and i want to use my PC to power all the music in my house.

    Basically, im looking to have an amp and sets of speakers in 2 different rooms. I also have LCD tv's in those rooms and a bluetooth keyboard/mouse so basically i can use my computer which is based in my office, in any of the rooms with a LCD tv in as they are hooked up.

    So once i have the speakers in each room that there is an LCD tv, i can control music selection via the bluetooth keyboard (as it has a small detachable media controller which i can use as a bluetooth remote control)

    My problem is connecting the sound up.

    I will soon buy 2 amps and 4 speakers (1 amp and 2 speakers per room) but how do i wire them all up to my PC. I have no experience with sound so have a few questions.

    How do i connect 2 amps to a PC? Do the amps have to go in to a mixer or some unit first, then into my PC? Can someone give me a bit of advice on the best way to do this?

    I dont have a soundcard in my PC, i use onboard sound to currently power some powered monitors via socket like the type that connects earphones to a walkman (i dont know the name of this type of socket)

    Please help me, i have the speaker wires hidden under my new floors and walls so all i need is to get the PC connection sorted then i can buy all the stuff i need and im set to go

    Thanks in advance

    Marc
     
  2. commited

    Soldato

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 5,369

    Location: Dublin, Ireland

    What is your budget?
    There is another way you can do it, but it might not be to your liking.

    1 amp that has 2 pairs of speaker outputs (A/B switchable) - control the volume via the PC in the room where the amp isnt.

    Have you auditioned amps & speakers yet? That should be your first port of call. Dont buy "best buys", buy what you like the sound of.

    As for the source, there are two options:
    - Invest in a decent soundcard such as the EMU0404 and then connect the amp to it.
    - Use digital out from the PC into a DAC (Digital to audio converter)

    The second option will be superior but I think you might lose the ability to control the volume from the PC.
     
  3. marcanthony

    Associate

    Joined: 15 Jan 2006

    Posts: 20

    Im not after anything to blow people away, I just wanna hear music in multiple rooms - and since all my music is in mp3 format I have to use my PC. I cant think of a better way to play mp3's in multiple rooms than the way i have said.

    I dont listen to music loud, and im not after top end system. My budget i suppose would be about £75 each for the amps and 4 speakers that are comparable to the amps. I was thinking about buying 8" car speakers and fitting them into the walls so they are hidden from view (since all the walls are stud walls with space behind to accommodate this) I guess £100 for all 4 speakers.

    My only problem is connecting the amps to the PC. I was thinking about this... Since the input to an amp is normally RCA, can i get a soundcard with 2 RCA outputs? And also, since i may not want music in both rooms at the same time, incorperating a mixer into the equasion.

    So im wondering (Hoping) that there is some kind of box, which takes an input from my PC, has 2 RCA outputs with each output controlled by a volume fader. Preferably the input to this magic box would be a simple phono (the type you plug headphones into i think) socket.

    Does such a thing exist?

    If it does ill be over the moon as it will be exactly what i want. Im after the easiest way to have what ive described. If no box exists i can live without the seperate channel volume control, i just need a simple way of connecting the amps to the PC, ideally from the speaker socket output already on my motherboard

    Marc
     
  4. commited

    Soldato

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 5,369

    Location: Dublin, Ireland

    I wouldnt go the car speaker route. At worst, get some standmounts and wall mount them. £50 for a pair of speakers is an awful budget if you're buying new.

    You can get 3.5mm-2xRCA cables (3.5mm is headphone socket) so connection isnt an issue. http://ws1.richersounds.co.uk/showproduct.php?cda=showproduct&pid=CAMB-3.5MMATLA like this.

    I, personally, think you need to rethink your plan. Two amps is silly and unnecessary:
    http://ws1.richersounds.co.uk/showproduct.php?cda=showproduct&pid=MARA-PM4400-BLK
    Thats good for the money - offers 2 SETS of speaker outputs, so you can run 2 pairs of speakers from one amp. You can switch on/off the second pair of speakers.

    When you say Mixer - I assume you mean switch? As in where you can choose whether you want music just in room 1, just in room 2 or in both? These exist - called a speaker switch, but if you buy an amp that can deal with 2 pairs of speakers it'll be integrated.

    This "Magic box" you talk of is unnecessary.

    So basically, in my opinion -
    Buy one amp that allows 2 pairs of speakers to be driven from it. (£120)
    Buy 2 pairs of reasonably speakers (£200)
    Buy the 3.5mm to 2xRCA interconnect (£10)
    If you have decent onboard, use the headphone jack from there into the amp (try and have amp beside your PC)
    Set amp to a fixed volume level & use windows to vary the volume.

    If you're strapped for cash:
    http://ws1.richersounds.co.uk/showproduct.php?cda=showproduct&pid=MISS-M2SS they're reasonable for £50/pair but not magnetically shielded


    You should really head to a richersounds and find what you think sounds the best for your budget.
     
    Last edited: 21 Jan 2006
  5. darreny

    Mobster

    Joined: 19 May 2004

    Posts: 2,788

    dont buy car audio speakers they usually have a different impedance to hi-fi speakers, typically car speakers use 4 ohms and hi-fi use 8 ohms.

    commited has the right idea about using the A/B speaker switching from 1 amp although this wont give you the option to raise or lower the volume from the desired room unless bluetooth has a longer range than i imagine it has
     
  6. marcanthony

    Associate

    Joined: 15 Jan 2006

    Posts: 20

    Cheers guys, the info you have given me is superb, just what ive been looking for. I was going to head to Richer sounds as someone else told me to go, but the nearest one is about 15 miles away so difficult to get to for me.

    Once again, thatnks for the info.

    Marc
     
  7. commited

    Soldato

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 5,369

    Location: Dublin, Ireland

    You still should go to richersounds and have a listen :)
     
  8. Mundu

    Mobster

    Joined: 31 Aug 2004

    Posts: 4,627

    Location: SGC

    Maybe look for a HiFi dealer that's closer?
     
  9. Yewen

    Capodecina

    Joined: 9 Nov 2003

    Posts: 17,719

    Location: Leeds

    Or do as I did, demo at anywhere and everywhere, then shop around and buy the product for cheapest from elsewhere.