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OT - getting better sound for streaming music video?
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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6592
Location: Westchester/NYC

12/16/12 2:06 PM

OT - getting better sound for streaming music video?

What are me options to pipe the music from online (music) video into some sort of enjoyable sound?

The teeny speakers on the laptop is ok for youtube but anything musical is borderline torture. Now there're more and more serious (classical) music available online, I'd like to look into sending that music to the "real" speakers I have.

Here's the "environment" that I either work with or replace:

1) I haven't upgraded to HDTV yet. And everything in my A/V system are still pre-digital age. Though the stereo and the DVD player both have digital input jack, it's not clear to me what sort of signal they expect. Also, the jacks are not USB so I need adapters at the minimum to even try. Does anyone know if I should give it a try? Or it's pointless and I should just go for option 2 or 3 or ...?

2) Some sort of device to "take" the output from the laptop and make it understood by the traditional A/V system? I'm primarily interested in the sound. Though if I can get the picture on the TV, it'd be a nice side benefit.

3) Forget the whole mix-and-match thing and get a brand spanking new system! The existing system isn't terribly high end, though it sends nice enough sound signal to the speakers to satisfy my ears. I'm hoping whatever piece(s) I need to replace it with shouldn't cost an arm and a leg?

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 17413
Location: Portland, OR

12/16/12 2:48 PM

Some data in my setup could be helpful maybe.

I run HiDef captured FLV vids [captured w/ANT Add in in FireFox]. I pipe the VIDs via HDMI to projector or into the DIGI TV. The 1/8" audio out from my Laptops to my 7.1 Dolby receiver. I find the limiting quality factor in sound quality is the sample rate of the audio portion, MP3 as originally sampled in the file I am playing back.

Speakers are a very important ingredient as they turn the signal back into Sound Pressure which your [one of you senses] ears perceive hopefully as the instruments actually being in your listening area.

Speaker wise I use some old DCM TimeFrame fronts with PIEGA center and rears with a sub woofer. The PIEGAs are way pricey, I paid $50.00 on Craigslist for the DCMs in Nashville.

I also listen to music, in my Dolby receives DSP mode called 3 Stereo. Mainly because it sounds best to me given what I have plugged in. I particularly feel classical music reproduced needs especially good linear speakers. Definition particularly important IMO. I find ribbon technology in the high end drivers [tweeters] particularly good for this.

I would also note generally smaller drivers for mids and bass to be more accurate for most of the range of classical music, except tubas kettles and bassoons perhaps...

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6592
Location: Westchester/NYC

12/16/12 6:24 PM


quote:
The 1/8" audio out from my Laptops to my 7.1 Dolby receiver

? 1/8" audio out from the laptop?

Don't think there's one...

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 17413
Location: Portland, OR

12/16/12 7:05 PM

3.5 mm headphone jack ?

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daddy-o
Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Posts: 3289
Location: Springfield

12/16/12 7:32 PM

In other words does the laptop have a headphones' jack? I have cables with RCA to 1/8" ends and other similar adapters on most of my equipment and they sound pretty good, depending on the source. (Another angle on Sparky's suggestion.)

The bitrate of streaming audio can be pretty low, for example a music service my county library subscribes to has a default stream rate of 64,000 bps (bits) compressed (obviously.) It's great for cheap earbud duty and noisy places, but hardly awesome. The selection IS awesome and the public library's price can't be beat. A CD "streams" 1,411,000 bits, uncompressed.

You might want to look at this hit list for equipment that might help:
http://www.microcenter.com/search/search_results.aspx?Ntt=usb+audio+adapter . Most of the prices are low enough to experiment with on a whim.

One of my PC boxes has a Creative Soundblaster card that came with software to let me record "What U Hear." Maybe the packages that come with devices in the hit list will have something like that too. Try http://sourceforge.net/ for open source stream capture solutions (sorry, but it's a jungle in there.)

As for your DVD and stereo, the DVD is most likely output and the stereo may have input and output. The interface is digital and may be fiber or copper. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spdif . The cables are affordable and it's not unusual to be able to control one device through another (download the manual.) I really doubt your laptop has SPDIF out. But it may have other connections like HDMI. What is its make and model?

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KerryIrons
Joined: 12 Jan 2004
Posts: 2990
Location: Midland, MI

12/16/12 7:43 PM

Mini jack

My laptop has two 1/8 inch "mini jack" outputs. I feed one to some desktop computer speakers but both appear to have the same output level and are controlled by the computer's speaker volume control. I have no idea of the sound quality relative to what is available on CD or DVD - it is obviously just stereo rather than 5.1 though an AV receiver sound processor could extract some additional channels.

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6592
Location: Westchester/NYC

12/16/12 11:09 PM

The laptop does have HDMI. I haven't looked into where I can connect it to...

I've had terrible sound from the headphone jack of other devices pipe into the stereo input so hadn't bother with that from the laptop. Unless the laptop headphone jack works differently, the noise level tend to be quite high. I had to turn the volume way down to keep the noise down. Still, the softer passgaes were noisy.

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 17413
Location: Portland, OR

12/17/12 12:30 AM

My HT receiver also will take a USB in from the laptop for audio input.

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daddy-o
Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Posts: 3289
Location: Springfield

12/17/12 8:52 AM

Headphone jack out needs to go through an analog chipset, no surprise it's not up to snuff since that's a good place to save a nickel.

I'll bet this is repeating what you wrote but, I've found keeping the output volume low helps the sound going into the "stereo," amplifier, or whatever device. The problem is when you have your stereo turned up and you change your source, SURPRISE!!

There are HDMI converter boxes too, search the store I linked to above. They are a little more pricey, but functionally superior.

I wasn't kidding when I wrote to download the manuals. Most of the content is dirt, but they have gems.

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6592
Location: Westchester/NYC

12/17/12 10:43 AM


quote:
My HT receiver also will take a USB in from the laptop for audio input.

My current receiver doesn't.


quote:
There are HDMI converter boxes too, search the store I linked to above. They are a little more pricey, but functionally superior.

So I guess that's one of the obvious question I didn't ask: would it solve all my problem if I just "upgrade" to a receiver which takes USB or HDMI?

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 17413
Location: Portland, OR

12/17/12 12:00 PM

"would it solve all my problem if I just "upgrade" to a receiver which takes USB or HDMI??

If your computer has the firm/software to pipe audio out the USB this seems reasonable to say/do I think.

For audio, I stick with the USB myself for the purpose. I actually do not use HDMI in any of my current iterations for audio even though it is in the cable/spec. I use optical or the digital co-axe which is 1/4" RCA that is S/PDIF spec. [Orange RCA 1/4" jacks on the equipment]

A 5-7.1 Dolby DS receiver in the 50 watt per channel range should be relatively in expensive. Maybe a box set with good speakers is in order for you? You 'could' use your old receiver as the amp for the sub of you decide on one. 5-7.1 receivers do not have an internal amp for the sub. But the sub if in a box set should have it's own amp, and auto power on/off when it sees a signal. I believe the sub out on the Dolby receiver is also S/PDIF.

Bear in mind that the music you pipe to the receiver via the USB will NOT be decoded for Dolby, so sub use would be via a DSP mode. This is [as I said previously] what sounds best for me. Point is yo may not want or need a sub for piped music. I do for certain stuff, but actually turn off the sub sometimes for especially classical. The sub channel is more designed to the '.1' in dolby decoded media, and DSP modes may not be use of the low frequency range yo could call accurate exactly. ;)

My USB is one of the convenience front ports. I'd suggest you seek this as well assuming you will be taking the computer if a LapTop in and out of the house etc.

I know that is a lot of BS there, hope you find some or all of it helpful in your decision making.

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ErikS
Joined: 19 May 2005
Posts: 8310
Location: Slowing boiling over in the steamy south, Global Warming is real

12/17/12 4:32 PM

I have never equated streaming and quality sound.

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6592
Location: Westchester/NYC

12/18/12 9:26 AM

I didn't say quality sound. Better sound from regular speakers, whatever the music source. With the computer speakers, a whole part of the spectrum are missing.

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 17413
Location: Portland, OR

12/18/12 11:07 AM

Regarding speakers, you want something which has active crossovers and quality drivers engineered to reproduce accurately. Perhaps with mylar dome tweeter or better, silk variations more $ but perhaps a friendlier less brash/crisp tonal tendency.

IMO, a medium tower speaker will cover the territory well. And put the lows and highs in relation to the floor and ear for good seated listening. Also, your room can improve or detract what the speakers are capable of, and can do aurally/acousticially.

Example would be all tile or wood floors, tall ceilings with smooth flat walls may be a challenge to make sound as good as the system could/should.

Why buy $2400.00 speakers like my Piegas for example if the room is not addressed for acoustic short comings non conducive to reproduction. Or worse, totally non conducive to make the point. Cart/horse et al.

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6592
Location: Westchester/NYC

12/18/12 2:13 PM

Forget speakers

Already got them.

The question is how to pipe signal to them!

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 17413
Location: Portland, OR

12/18/12 3:00 PM

I have nothing to ad that I have not typed in this thread already. But to reiterate a 5.1 Dolby DS HT receiver with USB input for audio seems most appropriate. And cover a few uses as well.

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Tom Price
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 440
Location: Rochester, NY

12/18/12 5:43 PM

External Card

This may do the trick. You plug into USB outlet on computer and has earphone and RCA output jacks to connect to outside systems.

http://us.outletstore.creative.com/Refurbished-Creative-Sound-Blaster-XFi-Surround/M/B0067MK1A4.htm

http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Soundblaster-Surround-System-SB1095/dp/B0044DEDCA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355874230&sr=8-1&keywords=Sound+Blaster+X-Fi+Surround+5.1+Pro+External+Sound+Card

Even cheaper Creative option:

http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Soundblaster-Audio-System-SB1290/dp/B0044DEDC0/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_t

From Amazon review:
I stumbled upon this little USB sound card while searching through forums and decided to give it a shot since it was inexpensive and WOW was it worth it! I travel a lot for work and felt my laptop was lacking in powering my Sennheiser HD 419 headphones. My headphones were a tad veiled (highs a little subdued) and volume was not loud enough for me but after using the X-Fi Go! Pro those problems were solved! The highs have come alive without too much bite and the overall sound quality improved without adjusting any EQ settings or enabling the sound enhancers (EAX and THX TrueStudio Pro are both off). I have not noticed any hissing or crackles that some people complained about either. I recommend this for anybody that wants to improve the sound quality of their headphones while being ultra portable.

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KerryIrons
Joined: 12 Jan 2004
Posts: 2990
Location: Midland, MI

12/18/12 7:49 PM

Quality sound


quote:
The question is how to pipe signal to them!


I suspect that the sound quality available from the headphone jack on a laptop is actually pretty good. You can get adaptors at Radio Shack to convert the mini-plug on the computer to an RCA jack to plug into a stereo amplifyer and then power a wide-range speaker system. Probably a sub-sat system would sound good.

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sandiway
Joined: 15 Dec 2003
Posts: 4902
Location: back in Tucson

12/19/12 2:46 AM

Try a wireless transmitter

April,

you could try something like this...

http://www.outlawaudio.com/products/OAWA3.html

Sandiway

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6592
Location: Westchester/NYC

12/19/12 8:43 AM

wireless transmitter...

$300!

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6592
Location: Westchester/NYC

1/15/13 10:47 AM

Update

It was much ado about nothing, as it turned out.

There's a little input on the existing receiver (10+ year old), square'ish. Label said 'USB'. I thought "Right, I know USB from as far back as the 90's, they're flat, not square. What does JVC think they're kidding?". Ignored.

Over the weekend, I re-arranged my "office furniture", which includes moving a printer around. The USB connector pop out at the printer end. As I was pushing it back in, I noticed it's square'ish! Hmmm, the other end is a flat USB... "I wonder if it fits into that early 90 JVC receiver?" It did! And the music came right out of the speakers as soon as I plug the flat end into the laptop!!!

Maybe there was a desktop version of USB I didn't remember or something. But it was USB all along. So no need for a new receiver.

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Andy M-S
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 3201
Location: Hamden (greater New Haven) CT

1/15/13 11:53 AM

B connector?

I forget the term for that, but I think it's a "B" connector. Often found on printers...

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sandiway
Joined: 15 Dec 2003
Posts: 4902
Location: back in Tucson

1/15/13 1:58 PM

usb connectors

Yup, B is right... there are now many connectors

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5d/Types-usb_th1.svg

Unnecessary complexity..

Sandiway

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Andy M-S
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 3201
Location: Hamden (greater New Haven) CT

1/15/13 2:52 PM

Agreed.

I think everything ought to be A or Micro B.

I suspect that the B was originally designed as an "input only" connector for things like printers, but that went the way of the dinosaurs. Phones (other than Apple) finally seem to be standardized on Micro B.

Of course, it's going to change again.

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6592
Location: Westchester/NYC

1/15/13 2:55 PM

Yep, B

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