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In Reply to: RE: help! posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on May 26, 2017 at 07:06:52
Thanks for your response.
I see you are in Somerset, a nice part of the world. Bath Uni perhaps?
If you want to deliver the soundtrack of everything on your screen to the system then there are two approaches:
1. Have a basic 5.1 system connected to a receiver by HDMI from your laptop as source. That would give you surround sound streamed movies and TV and streamed audio e.g. Spotify or Deezer ( subject to subscription contracts, licence fees). The downside is that on your budget you really won't have much to spend on 5 loudspeakers and a subwoofer . Say you spend 200 pounds on the receiver/processor/amp. That gives you only a 50 pounds budget for each speaker. Also my experience with cheap multi-channel receivers is that although OK for movies their musical ability is limited.
2. Continue using your TV as is for movies and broadcasts and continue using the laptop as your music source but connected to the audio sytem via a DAC. Major on having a decent stereo audio system for music. You can then find products from good manufacturers with a reputation. Being a student should give you every opportunity to find out about different sorts of music too from what I hope will be new friends and acquaintances.
I won't specify exact pieces of equipment as there is so much out there and used prices are so variable. However being in the UK you (we) are lucky in that we have always had a very inventive and high quality domestic audio industry with a worldwide reputation. If you allocate your budget you should be buying:
1. A DAC, preferably a USB DAC. This takes the digital audio from your computer and turns it into an analogue signal to be fed to the amplifier. Although the computer has such a device it will be a pretty much compromised thing. I would suggest something from Arcam (used RDAC?) or Cambridge Audio. Spend, say, 150 pounds.
2. A stereo amplifier. You have small room so massive power is not required. Look at one with, say, 50 watts a channnel. Note: ignore power output specified as music power. This is just a way of playing with numbers. Look for the power expressed as RMS power into ( usually) 8 ohms. I suggest looking at Creek, Arcam or Cambridge. Another 150 pounds. You can also usually send the TV sound in stereo to the speakers via the amplifier. Look for some RCA sockets on the rear or side of the TV. NB: Some amplifiers have the DAC built in which may offer a saving.
3. Speakers. Your room size means that behemoths are out of the picture ( and budget). Look for excellent bookshelf models. Yes they will have good bass driven by a good amplifier. Try Kef or Wharfedale ( ebay UK has a pair of Whartfedale Diamond 10s on right now for £149 ( that's the region of the budget).
You will need some stands for the speakers and some interconnect and speaker wires. That's your 500 quid spent.
There are, of course, lots of other good products out there ( not all British) but I have stuck with good brands that can easily be found within your budget in the UK. If you find something else that you fancy then just ask here for an opinion on it.
Edits: 05/26/17Follow Ups:
unfortunately not! my university is in the south of wales and then third year university of London, will make a change from the excessive amount of sheep I suppose.
okay, im trying to take on board everything you have said. So am I right in saying, that if I bought an amplifier and wanted to use my laptop as the source then a DAC is essential?
My original plan was to have my laptop connected to the television via HDMI and then the television connected to an amp via the HDMI ARC to the amps HDMI OUT which would be connected to speakers and sub ect. Then choose the television as the playback device on my laptop and pray it works out and plays the audio, would I also need a DAC for that? and more importantly, would that even work?
I apologise if i come across as ignorant, i'm just very slow at getting my head around this, who knew it involved so much!
I had a vague picture in my head of having an AUNA AV2-H388 amp and then wiring a yamaha ns sw 050 subwoofer along with some Denon SCF109 Speakers. It was then I read somewhere I cant connect powered speakers to an amp and realised I really had no clue so should seek help before buying something that doesn't work!
Again thank you for your advice, I have learnt more here than about 3 weeks of googling haha, much appreciated.
O.K. I think that we are at slightly cross purposes.
This forum is basically concerned with getting the best musical reproduction from electronic components. This is why I was asking things like " You say that you want a "sound system". Do you mean by that a system whose purpose is to play CDs, audio streams, maybe LPs? Or do you mean a sound system to play movie soundtracks coupled with a screen? Do you want to play multichannel audio recordings, if so from what source?"
You haven't given me an answer on that and all I know is that you are asking if A connects to B. But I don't know what your purpose is in doing this.
All I can say is that an HDMI ouput from a computer can connect to an HDMI input on an A/V receiver. HDMI is a digital interface. It has to be converted to analogue to provide a signal that can be amplified to drive a loudspeaker so that you can hear something. An A/V receiver accepts the HDMI input, converts it to analogue and amplifies the result. You connect the speakers to the receiver. Yes, the TV and HDMI ARC also connect to the receiver. The link is to a quick set up manual for a typical A/V receiver so you can see how it all goes together.
If you use powered speakers then the receiver has to have a "pre-out" facility or you need an A/V pre-amp/processor that does not have a power amp section. The latter would, I think, usually be a high end component probably outside of your budget, but you never know you may be lucky.
As you haven't told me if movies or music are the most important to you I cannot help you much further beyond saying that if music is the most important then this is not the optimal way to do it given a 500 pound budget.
Okay, I'm starting see.
I would want it for Spotify, YouTube ect so I think that would be audio streams? And also streamed music so basically anything I decide to play from the laptop and the laptop would be the source.
I hope this helps a little more.
Thankyou for your detailed replies!
Streamed music from Spotify and YouTube is stereo not multi-channel. So really you don't want or need a multi-channel audio system. See my earlier email on suitable stereo DAC/Amp and speaker brands that you may find used in the UK.
The stereo option is where (ideally) a stereo external DAC pays off. Yes your computer has a DAC inbuilt and a little amplifier that serve the laptop's headphone output. You can use this into an integrated amplifier ( that means the pre-amp and power amp are in one box - what you will be looking to buy). However these components in a computer are very basic and are also working in a hostile environment (the inside of a computer is electrically very noisy and this will be picked up by these components). So the resultant sound will not be of very good quality. So all of us here who use a computer as an audio source connect it to the amplifier via a USB DAC. The digital HDMI or USB outputs cannot be connected to the analogue inputs of the amplifier, that's why the analogue to digital conversion needs to occur before the signal reaches the amp.
Having said the above, some amps have a DAC built in. Note that connectivity may be an issue here. Some amps only have a co-ax input for the DAC. They were built to connect a CD player not a computer. This means that the USB computer output has to be converted to co-ax in order to connect it which requires yet another piece of equipment. So if you are attracted to an amp because it has an inbuilt DAC make sure that it has a USB input.
As you are a student I am going to assume that when you refer to Spotify you mean free Spotify and not a paid for monthly subscription. Free Spotify and YouTube have low quality sound ( that 10 pounds a month sub. to Spotify brings much better sound and no ads). I said earlier that a 5.1 channel solution at your budget level would not give a great musical result. If you only use free Spotify then the sound quality is sufficiently impaired in the first place that I would then not consider the 5.1 idea to be poor as you are not going to get great musical sound anyway. However you may want to upgrade to the subscription and then a stereo solution is better. And if you do then you don't have to work out where to place 5 speakers and a subwoofer in a small room (although for your identified streaming purposes only two of the speakers and the subwoofer will be functioning in any case). Incidentally if you are living in shared accomodation then I don't think that a subwoofer is a great idea anyway as low frequency sound travels and will disturb your flatmates.
As I mentioned before, if you want to most TVs have analogue outputs for sound and these could also be plugged into the stereo amp so that you will also get stereo TV via your sound system.
Other streaming subscriptions are available; if you can afford 20 pounds a month ( I am assuming that it's a big ask here) you can then get full lossless sound from Tidal or Qobuz. Just thought that I would mention it. They also offer a 10 pound subscription which provides the same sound quality as Spotify Premium.
Free Spotify and YouTube have low quality sound ( that 10 pounds a month sub. to Spotify brings much better sound and no ads). .... Other streaming subscriptions are available; if you can afford 20 pounds a month ( I am assuming that it's a big ask here) you can then get full lossless sound from Tidal or Qobuz. Just thought that I would mention it. They also offer a 10 pound subscription which provides the same sound quality as Spotify Premium.
I'm not sure what's available to UK students, but US students pay half of PAR's quoted subscription rates. I'm a very part-time ("super-casual") graduate student, and I discovered that Tidal and Spotify offer 50% discounts to students across all tiers. So, I subscribed to Tidal HiFi for $9.99 per month. And then my life changed.
I would hope(?!) that something similar is available internationally -- from at least one of the services. It will pay to search around.
It's been interesting to watch this thread develop :) Good luck!
Thanks. That is very useful.
Only Spotify offer a student discount in the UK. The OP can only take advantage of this if his college/university is affiliated to the NUS ( National Union of Students).
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