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Old 01-02-2013   #1
 
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Default All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

Hi all - my first post here. I'm contiplating building a Windows PC based carputer and have lots of research to do. Looking through this forum, it looks like a great resource for information and advice.

One aspect of my current plan is to keep the audio signal in the digital realm all the way to the amplifiers. Currently I'm thinking of a bi-amped mid/tweet+subwoofer using a nanoDIGI for crossover and EQ. An abbreviated system layout would consist of:

PC digital out from a MSI E350IA-E45 motherboard
v
v
NanoDIGI (2x8) - nanoDIGI 2x8K | miniDSP
v
v
DAC just upstream of each amplifier - FiiO D03K Digital / Analog audio Decoder 230-120

I'm looking for any usefull critisism of the concept. I know I've seen some discussion that PC digital out may have some issues, and that a dedicated soundcard would be beneficial (but I'm not really sure why). Also, I know the DAC's I've chosen are cheap, but I'm trying to keep overall cost down.
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Old 01-02-2013   #2
 
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Default Re: All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

..Thank you mod for letting me include links on my first post
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Old 01-02-2013   #3
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Default Re: All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

Do you have any plans for your display? also why the older Motherboard? This one is a bit newer and seems to cost about the same.
the DAC's look OK, however i'd still want to test them in a Car to make sure they don't have any bad habits while on alternator power.

what about storage and OS?
how much have you planned out?
what type of Car and what other equipment? Inquiring minds want to know....
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Old 01-02-2013   #4
 
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Default Re: All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

Quote:
Originally Posted by quietfly View Post
Do you have any plans for your display? also why the older Motherboard? This one is a bit newer and seems to cost about the same.
the DAC's look OK, however i'd still want to test them in a Car to make sure they don't have any bad habits while on alternator power.

what about storage and OS?
how much have you planned out?
what type of Car and what other equipment? Inquiring minds want to know....
Quietfly:

I actually have the whole system planned out in fair detail, but since I'm just getting my feet wet, I wanted to kind of "ease into" the discussion. Most of the components I have planned are provisional and will likely be swapped in/out as I do my homework. There's a number of components I already have, including amps and the PC motherboard. Before getting into too much discussion on the PC specs, speakers etc. I want to be sure my initial plan for incoprorating the nanoDigi and digital signal wiring is sound, since this is the backbone of the whole setup.

I'm planning the system for my new 2013 VW GTI. I'm hoping to keep the installation as stealth as possible, using just the factory front door Speaker locations and a hidden subwoofer below the rear trunk liner (next to the spare tire). The PC, amps, and misc hardware will need to fit below the front seats, or in whatever limited space is available next to the spare.

Last edited by chad1376; 01-02-2013 at 03:37 PM..
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Old 01-02-2013   #5
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Default Re: All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

Quote:
Originally Posted by chad1376 View Post
Quietfly:

I actually have the whole system planned out in fair detail, but since I'm just getting my feet wet, I wanted to kind of "ease into" the discussion. Most of the components I have planned are provisional and will likely be swapped in/out as I do my homework. There's a number of components I already have, including amps and the PC motherboard. Before getting into too much discussion on the PC specs, speakers etc. I want to be sure my initial plan for incoprorating the nanoDigi and digital signal wiring is sound, since this is the backbone of the whole setup.

I'm planning the system for my new 2013 VW GTI. I'm hoping to keep the installation as stealth as possible, using just the factory front door Speaker locations and a hidden subwoofer below the rear trunk liner (next to the spare tire). The PC, amps, and misc hardware will need to fit below the front seats, or in whatever limited space is available next to the spare.
i'm guessing you are planning on using the S/PDIF Out to the digi to the DAC to the amps. It should be ok. i would just caution you to test everything while on alternator power. i've had friends run into issues they didn't encounter on the test bench that only happened in the Car while it was running...
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Old 01-02-2013   #6
 
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Default Re: All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

Quote:
Originally Posted by quietfly View Post
i'm guessing you are planning on using the S/PDIF Out to the digi to the DAC to the amps. It should be ok. i would just caution you to test everything while on alternator power. i've had friends run into issues they didn't encounter on the test bench that only happened in the Car while it was running...
Great advice, Thank You.

I hadn't thought much yet about alternator/power noise. Both the miniDIGI and DACs are USB powered. I had hoped to get a plan, install just wiring over a weekend, then do component installs after the interior is back together. I certainly need to rethink that if troubleshooting noise is a consideration.

I have my first cut for components and wiring on an Excel spreadsheet. I need to find an easy way to post it up here.
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Old 01-02-2013   #7
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Default Re: All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

screen shot? or paste in to window? either has been done
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Old 01-02-2013   #8
 
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Default Re: All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

The abbreviated plan looks good to me.

If you use S/PDIF w/ transformer isolation or toslink optical there should be no issues with alternator Power corrupting the digital signal -- but you may need to be careful powering the DAC. For example, I wouldn't be surprised to see problems powering the DAC with USB Power from the carputer, because the potentials of the grounds of the amp and carputer could be "bouncing" relative to one another. On the other hand I wouldn't be surprised to see things work either.

I posted a DIY version of a signal processor that uses an IC from the family likely used by the nanoDSP (ADAU1442 / 1445 / 1446, see post here), where the DIY version has the benefit of affording access to the full potential of the chip with analog device's SigmaStudio software. It requires circuit soldering, however, which can be tedious -- and I think the DIY version would also require purchase of something like a EVAL-ADUSB2EBZ "USBi" to communicate with the IC, which costs about as much as the nano.

Also, if you're into mods, I'd suggest putting the DACs in the amps, thereby bypassing the amps' gains & cross-overs, etc, since you'll be using your own crossover ahead of the amp.

Lastly, what about nixing the nano altogether and doing the signal processing with the carputer? There's a thread related to that process (which uses a different miniDSP device to accommodate multiple digital channels) here.
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Old 01-02-2013   #9
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Default Re: All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

Quote:
Originally Posted by 24th-Alchemist View Post
The abbreviated plan looks good to me.


Lastly, what about nixing the nano altogether and doing the signal processing with the carputer? There's a thread related to that process (which uses a different miniDSP device to accommodate multiple digital channels) here.

this is a slippery slope to start down.... LOL

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Old 01-02-2013   #10
 
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Default Re: All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

How about 4 screen shots

gti1.jpg
gti2.jpg
gti3.jpg
gti4.jpg
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Old 01-02-2013   #11
 
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Default Re: All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

Quote:
Originally Posted by 24th-Alchemist View Post
The abbreviated plan looks good to me.

If you use S/PDIF w/ transformer isolation or toslink optical there should be no issues with alternator Power corrupting the digital signal -- but you may need to be careful powering the DAC. For example, I wouldn't be surprised to see problems powering the DAC with USB Power from the carputer, because the potentials of the grounds of the amp and carputer could be "bouncing" relative to one another. On the other hand I wouldn't be surprised to see things work either.

I posted a DIY version of a signal processor that uses an IC from the family likely used by the nanoDSP (ADAU1442 / 1445 / 1446, see post here), where the DIY version has the benefit of affording access to the full potential of the chip with analog device's SigmaStudio software. It requires circuit soldering, however, which can be tedious -- and I think the DIY version would also require purchase of something like a EVAL-ADUSB2EBZ "USBi" to communicate with the IC, which costs about as much as the nano.

Also, if you're into mods, I'd suggest putting the DACs in the amps, thereby bypassing the amps' gains & cross-overs, etc, since you'll be using your own crossover ahead of the amp.

Lastly, what about nixing the nano altogether and doing the signal processing with the carputer? There's a thread related to that process (which uses a different miniDSP device to accommodate multiple digital channels) here.
I'm a "little" into mods, but soldering up a whole DSP board and getting heavy into the programing is a bit beyond what I'm willing to dive into. The nanoDIGI is pretty much plug and play. I have a miniDSP (2x4) and software for a bi-amped home stereo, and even a bonehead like myself can get it to do exactly what I want. With a Car based PC connected to it, I know I can tweak anything I need to from the road (OK, not while actually driving). I just don't know if any standalone PC soulution provide the flexible crossover/8-channel parametric/signal delay/etc. as easily.

The idea of incorporating the DAC and bypassing the amps internal x-over and gain is something I'd consider though. It certainly would make for a cleaner installation and give me something to do while I'm saving and waiting to get all the components.
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Old 01-14-2013   #12
 
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Default Re: All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

FWIW - I've started my project in ernest.

I bought a Samsung 840 SSD (120G) and got Windows 7 optimized to to take advantage of it. Boot, sleep and wake times are absolutely amazing. I'm getting some confidence that a Car PC will be practical for day to day use.

After a lot of research and a few trial installations of front-end software, I ended up purchasing Cenrafuse. I'm still in the process of configuring it and deciding what plug-ins I want. I got the nav package with it, but without a GPS reciever, can't say much about it's functionality. My initial impressions on the nav are "meh".

Right now I'm temporarily setting up data and media on a regular 3.5" HDD (1 TB). Once this is set up, I'll buy a 2.5" HDD and copy the data over.

When I get some more time, I'll probably set up a seperate Build thread. This project will likely take many months to plan, buy and install, but I'm starting to get excited now.

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Old 01-14-2013   #13
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Default Re: All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

I use the Samsung 830 myself, and boot times were AMAZING. Unfortunately, peripherals slow the hell out of booting, but it's still ok. By peripherals, I mean wireless (which I've since disabled), and just about all of the USB devices including sound and volume knob, gps, etc.

I never liked Centrafuse, especially their GPS. I use iGuidance and like it a lot more.

For music storage, I actually use a high capacity USB stick. That way I can update the library in the house with an automated sync script.

As far as audio goes, I didn't read the whole thread, but why don't you use the computer for this? It seems a little silly to buy a device designed to do DSP without a computer, while you have a computer already installed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by subwoofery
What I wanted to say is that amps ... sound the same.
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Old 01-14-2013   #14
 
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Default Re: All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

On music storage:
For better or worse, most of my digital music is on iTunes. I currently have 4 PCs as well as 3 ipads sharing the account. For transferring music to the car, I just plan on having itunes installed and let it grab whatever latest tunes were purchased over wifi while parked in the driveway. My plan is to keep a copy of the entire library on the HDD in the car. I would hate trying to decide beforehand what I might want to listen to, then running back/forth with a thumbdrive. I also I have a lot of old LP's recorded as uncompressed .wav files, so I'll need lots of storage for those.

On the DSP:
I'm planning a bi-amped (or maybe even tri-amped) system + subwoofer. I haven't yet looked at a "PC only" solution but I'd need 4-stereo channels, each with it's own x-over and eq. I have experience with the 2x4 miniDSP and am really happy with the performance/cost. The 2x8 nanoDigi looks similarly easy to deal with.

I still have lots of planning and research to go before I buy everything, so I'm definately open to suggestions.

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Old 01-14-2013   #15
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Default Re: All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

looks like you have a good amount of detail planned out i'm excited to see how this works for you
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Old 01-14-2013   #16
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Default Re: All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

Quote:
Originally Posted by chad1376 View Post
On music storage:
For better or worse, most of my digital music is on iTunes. I currently have 4 PCs as well as 3 ipads sharing the account. For transferring music to the car, I just plan on having itunes installed and let it grab whatever latest tunes were purchased over wifi while parked in the driveway. My plan is to keep a copy of the entire library on the HDD in the car. I would hate trying to decide beforehand what I might want to listen to, then running back/forth with a thumbdrive. I also I have a lot of old LP's recorded as uncompressed .wav files, so I'll need lots of storage for those.
FWIW, I can fit my entire music collection on 64GB, minus live bootlegs (I have a lot of those). I don't really remove anything. Just add to it when I get something new. 64GB are only around $40.

If you recode your wav's to flac's, you'll gain a lot of space. FLAC is of course a lossless format.

Quote:
On the DSP:
I'm planning a bi-amped (or maybe even tri-amped) system + subwoofer. I haven't yet looked at a "PC only" solution but I'd need 4-stereo channels, each with it's own x-over and eq. I have experience with the 2x4 miniDSP and am really happy with the performance/cost. The 2x8 nanoDigi looks similarly easy to deal with.

I still have lots of planning and research to go before I buy everything, so I'm definately open to suggestions.
Plug 'n play? MiniDSP is a good solution. It's going to be a lot easier to initially set up than onboard processing, because a lot of the work is already done for you. But if you don't need audio processing, you don't need much CPU on your machine either. You could probably even get away with an Atom (or something) without any performance hit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by subwoofery
What I wanted to say is that amps ... sound the same.
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Old 01-14-2013   #17
 
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Default Re: All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

Why not a jump to win8? I've had centrafuse and RR and didn't like either one. Iguidance hasn't had an update in nearly 2 years. I just put win8 on my carputer and love it, it's a LOT more fluid than any aftermarket touch interface, and when streets and trips releases a Win8 ready version I'll use that for nav.

I like the full digital idea tho. I'll be running optical to my DSP and RCAs to the amps. Can't wait to see how this all turns out.
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Old 01-14-2013   #18
 
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Default Re: All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

DSP:
What i really like about the nanoDSP is that it keeps the parameters loaded after Power off - It doesn't need to interface with the computer unless changing settings.

Front End:
My biggest selling point for Centrafuse was the cool VAG-Com guage plug-in (dumb, I know). Some of the other front ends didn't seem like they've had alot of recent activity and development (many vender forum discussions were years old.) If anything, it will get me started on this nutty adventure, although I'm already regretting paying for the nav.

I looked a little at Win-8 demos and such, but didn't really see a seamless car-audio interface - but then again I've never actually used it. My biggest criteria is to be able to navigate typical audio functions, in traffic, without rear-ending someone.

I guess I'll need actually use the system day-to-day to find out what really works for me. The nice part about PCs and software is that it can always be changed/upgraded.
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Old 01-21-2013   #19
 
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Default Re: All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

Quote:
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Why not a jump to win8? I've had centrafuse and RR and didn't like either one. Iguidance hasn't had an update in nearly 2 years. I just put win8 on my carputer and love it, it's a LOT more fluid than any aftermarket touch interface, and when streets and trips releases a Win8 ready version I'll use that for nav.

I like the full digital idea tho. I'll be running optical to my DSP and RCAs to the amps. Can't wait to see how this all turns out.
After a week of fighting with Centrafuse, I'm really considering Win 8.

Centrafuse really has a lot of potential at first blush, but there's just too many holes in getting it to work exactly the way I want. The biggest hole (for me) is lack of support for iTunes M4p format and bringing in album artwork. The only flawless solution seems to be: just use iTunes directly. At that point, there's not a whole lot CF is doing for me. I might just need to write-off my CF purchase and move on.
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Old 01-21-2013   #20
 
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Default Re: All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

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After a week of fighting with Centrafuse, I'm really considering Win 8.

Centrafuse really has a lot of potential at first blush, but there's just too many holes in getting it to work exactly the way I want. The biggest hole (for me) is lack of support for iTunes M4p format and bringing in album artwork. The only flawless solution seems to be: just use iTunes directly. At that point, there's not a whole lot CF is doing for me. I might just need to write-off my CF purchase and move on.
I'd suggest going in to bestbuy or a Microsoft store and play with windows 8, see if you like the interface and play with features you know you'll be using a lot.

I've been messing with my Win8 setup on a resistive touchscreen and its still more fluid than any aftermarket front end.

I like it, but it may not work for everyone.

If you really want things like scan software, or software that isn't touch friendly yet, run an extra video cord and a USB touchpad to use a bigger screen from a laptop. I'm planning on having a 10" or larger screen mounted in the trunk.
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Old 01-21-2013   #21
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Default Re: All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

Can some of you guys talk specifically about what Windows 8 does for these purposes? I have to say I'm pretty windows 8 ignorant. I know it's been "optimized" for touchscreen, but what does that mean? Any descriptions or screenshots?

Quote:
Originally Posted by subwoofery
What I wanted to say is that amps ... sound the same.
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Old 01-21-2013   #22
 
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Default Re: All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

I don't have much detail, other that what I've seen on internet demos, but it does look promising. I probably would have already installed and tried it, but from what I've read, Win 8 does away with the "start" button and sort of does away with multiple "windows" on the screen. For me, this is a big change to the whole O/S interface. I'm sure Jfreak can talk more inteligently than myself on the specifics.

To try it out, I think I'll image my current win 7 setup onto another drive, then upgrade to Win 8 on my SSD. That way I can easily back out to Win 7 if I hate it.
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Old 01-21-2013   #23
 
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Default Re: All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

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Can some of you guys talk specifically about what Windows 8 does for these purposes? I have to say I'm pretty windows 8 ignorant. I know it's been "optimized" for touchscreen, but what does that mean? Any descriptions or screenshots?
The whole main menu is touch tabs that directly access IE, windows media player or any other apps you may have installed.

The best way to describe it really is like an iPad interface. But there's also a regular desktop view that is exactly like a windows 7 desktop.
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Old 01-27-2013   #24
 
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Default Re: All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

Well - I got Windows 8. After 15-seconds, it was apparent that the Modern UI (Metro) interface was completely useless for a front end.

However, the upgrade was 100% worth it. After a lot of tweaking to hide Metro (as much as Microsoft will let me) - Including a 3rd parth "Start" button, the underlying O/S is awesome! MS really did a great job of putting Windows on a diet. Boot times are massively improved, and sleep/wake is flawless. Paired with the SSD, the computer is FAST.

So, back to Centrafuse. After a fresh O/S and CF installation, it's working much smoother than my previous attempt. I think I found a usable solution to integrate iTunes. I have CF resolution at 800x480 and the screen resolution at 800x600. This allows for pretty easy switching between the two via the taskbar. iTunes controls are reasonably large, but I wish there was a way to make the sliders bigger. I'll need to get my touch screen to know for sure how this will work.

Start.jpg

CF.jpg

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Old 01-27-2013   #25
 
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Default Re: All digital to amp - using nanoDIGI

Very nice! Glad you got a setup you're happy with.
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