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Discussion Starter #1
I have been telling myself for a while now I would just use a tablet netbook with a SSD in my truck for media storage and playback. If I don't use the FM receiver anyway and I planned on getting a HDD head unit then there is no point is getting a head unit at all?

I have 4 component cab speakers, 2 amps (front & back). So I don't even need the head deck for its amplifier either...

I'm big on quality (FLAC files over MP3), so I use PCM WAV format for my CDs. Playing pcm wav files off an iPod, etc, then going through a head decks analog input probably degrades it slightly over just playing a wav CD. Wouldn't this be the same degration/bottle neck as using the analog RCA amp outputs rather than the internal amps speaker wire outputs?

If your still following me I want to use a tablet netbook to playback FLAC files, then output through a 24-bit usb sound-card. Now I'm not familiar with what your typical amplifier can handle as far as sample rates go, but the sound-cards support 96KHz (is a 24-bit card even worth it over 16-bit?). If I am lucky some sound-cards have a set of RCA outputs, but most are 3/8" jack then I would need a 3/8" to RCA cable. My amplifiers have RCA inputs but would need to be daisy-chained or wired together using some sort of RCA distribution block or cable splitter. The only thing is I'm not sure if the amps will require a pre-amp; or whether the sound-cards pre-amp will be strong enough... thoughts?
 

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Which tablet and sound card are you looking to use?

I used a cheap turtle beach 5.1 usb sound card and 3 3.5mm to rca cords directly to the amplifier (4 channel and 2 channel bridged). Depending on the card and amplifier, it should have enough power to go directly to the amps no problem.

I can't comment on what sample rates your typical amplifier can handle, someone else will have to chime in on that one.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Which tablet and sound card are you looking to use?

I used a cheap turtle beach 5.1 usb sound card and 3 3.5mm to rca cords directly to the amplifier (4 channel and 2 channel bridged). Depending on the card and amplifier, it should have enough power to go directly to the amps no problem.

I can't comment on what sample rates your typical amplifier can handle, someone else will have to chime in on that one.
Well no tablet in specific, possibly that new Dell 10.1" Duo 'flipscreen' tablet. Most likely a 5.1 sound card will be the choice running in 2 channel stereo, I just do not want to heat up or push my sound card without a pre-amp. I would get a sound card that has RCA outputs though not a 3.5mm bottleneck. Also probably something with gold plated RCA's so I can use a gold plated cable, I think my new 400W Zapco amp has gold plated terminals (for $1,200 it's better lol)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Dash Mods

This is the dash of my 1988 Dakota, I'm trying to figure out what I want to do. After I remove the head-deck the ashtray might as well go too, then that vent/grill below is completely false it does nothing and there is space behind it however I don't think I will be touching it (no need). I do want to cut out the dash from the top of the head-deck blacked out section down to the ashtray.



With the dash cut out I could scoot a tablet in a few inches and that is including an upward tilt, still be flush with dash. The tablet in the photo is obviously oversized but it gives you an idea, just imagine it pushed in and smaller...I have 11" of dash width for a tablet.
 

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Creative makes two different USB sound cards and at least one usb dongle. One of the cards for 5.1 surround, but the other is HD audio and has much better claimed signal to noise.

Everybody bitches about Creative and crappy drivers.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Yeah the Sound Blaster X-Fi HD looks nice with gold plated RCA's and fiber optical in/out, I hope my amp has a FO input that would be awesome!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Foobar2000



I'm still on the hunt, but it has recently come to mind that iTunes and WMP don't support FLAC files; I have been using VLC. On the road I'm going to need a way to organize and search my FLAC files other than windows explorer and windows search. I discovered Foobar2000 for Windows, it's the most basic and fast FLAC player available at the same time its also the most highly customized player available you can literally change ANYTHING about the UI. This way I can search my FLAC library or browse by artists and album along with playing them all within the same window, the visualizations are highly customizable as well. Another advantage of having a laptop in the vehicle is I can wire an HD webcam or two to the laptop for backing up and security surveillance.
 

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Original ODAC blog post from a few months back
ODAC (Objective DAC)

2 channel USB DAC. ~$100

(Read the comments in the end of the page as well.)


^This and a JL Audio CL-RLC preamp with its high quality, digitally controlling, remotely mounted master volume knob.

Or better yet, but more expensive, is to use an Alpine PXE-H660 with the ODAC. It is a preamp also that includes a high quality auto tune or the option to tune manual. Also comes with a 2 way +sub or front/rear + sub crossover and high quality IR remote and steering wheel control input.
 

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Just wanted to chime in and clarify that your amps don't care about your soundcard's sample rate. The amp is an analog device (even class D 'digital' amps are just using a digital power supply for the analog device) so doesn't take any samples, just a constant source of amplification. There is a natural frequency rolloff that exists in any amp's circuitry however.

I'd recommend you find a 96kHz or 192kHz soundcard as the sample error rate in the highs will be much smoother/lower.
 

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Just wanted to chime in and clarify that your amps don't care about your soundcard's sample rate. The amp is an analog device (even class D 'digital' amps are just using a digital power supply for the analog device) so doesn't take any samples, just a constant source of amplification. There is a natural frequency rolloff that exists in any amp's circuitry however.

I'd recommend you find a 96kHz or 192kHz soundcard as the sample error rate in the highs will be much smoother/lower.
To further clarify, the sample rate of the sound card doesn't work in the way you describe. It is simply an available rate that the card can run at which is dictated by the native sample rate of the file being play through it. So if you will only be playing CD, then any capabilities and or possible benefits over 44.1kHz won't be realized. The same goes for 24bit capable cards that have the 16bit CD format sent through them.

I recommend the ODAC, even though it is really meant for high rez audio, because of the price, ease of implementation, and guaranteed excellent resolution of a CD track. However, for those interested, the excellent analog performance at higher resolutions is a big plus.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
There is a LOT there to read I honestly did not have the time to read through it.

The two products recommended are interesting, with the proper USB sound card I may not even need a preamp. My Zapco amp says something about using a 14v input, not sure if that is power (12-14v) or input audio signal via line driver. I say this because if a preamp is not needed then the JL CL-RCL would only be needed for the volume control which my Zapco amp has a phone jack style plug for a remote volume control (I think). The Alpine PXE-H660 looks pricey but I like the ability to control my volume from outside the vehicle via remote. Auto tuning not so much, I already have crossovers with my Focals and my C2K-2.5X already has crossovers intergraded. There shouldn't be any problem getting clean non-EQ audio signal out of a PC, it's just the volume and preamp factors I'm on. This is for my component door speakers BTW, I'm going to contact Zapco and see if I can have a custom cable made since my amps only input uses a balanced Symbilink interface and cable with RCA pigtails on the cable end...maybe I can interface the Symbilink with the PC somehow without bottle necking though the RCAs. Something like a "Symbilink-to-XLR" instead of "Symbilink-to-RCA" because I KNOW there are HQ XLR sound cards for computers via USB.

Check out these links:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/759075-REG/Peavey_USB_P_USB_P_USB_Direct.html

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Peavey-USB-P-XLR-Soundcard-Computer-Interface-/250993308897#ht_4059wt_1163

^ ^ ^ ^ ^
Output Level Line Input: -9dBu full scale into 10kΩ line input
Mic Input: -13dBu full scale into 2kΩ
Frequency Response 20Hz to 20kHz, +/-1.0dB
THD + N <.015% @ 1kHz, -9dBu full scale output into 10kΩ
Noise <89dB below full scale output
 

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Most likely the best USB option to get analog out to your amp. Pricey:)

ASUS - Multimedia- ASUS Xonar Essence One
If needing something with those options, I'd take a CEtrance DACmini CX instead. Not only because it is an established high end DAC like the Benchmark DAC, but because it comes with a highly regulated and isolated DC power supply input. You don't need anything more than a switched and fused accessory connection to run one in the car. The Essence on the other hand, won't even run in the car since it is only AC in.

Also never trust a device with hot swap opamps. ;)

NwAvGuy: Op Amps: Myths & Facts
 

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^^^ great read, thanks. Really illustrates to subjective nature of the audio experience.

Honestly, at the prices of some of these devices, you could set up a dedicated carputer, with touch screen, SSD, onboard ALC889 codec (108 signal to noise) and have a far more flexible and powerful setup. And to further the theme of the subjectivity involved in audio, I am willing to bet the dedicated carputer will sound just as good as anything else.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Woa guys $500-$750 is way out of my spending range for a DAC. Can anyone point out some major and relevant differences between something like the Peavey USB-P and one of those expensive links posted? My music won't be down-sampled or bottle-necked? I should be able to turn my amps all the way up along with the laptop with nothing playing and hear absolute silence with the Peavey..right?
 

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Peavy is known in the amature pro audio world as having much the same characteristics as Pyle in the car audio world - distorted, noisy, loud, and cheap. (I'm new to car audio, so correct me if this is the wrong reputation for pyle)

What price range would you like to be looking in for your DAC and how many output channels do you need? I'd suggest you could plan ~$200-300 for a decent brand new decent SQ DAC. I've got an old Tascam US-122 in storage the you could make me an offer on.
 

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-Use foobar2000
-Control volume from it's excellent quality volume control or from the just as good windows7/vista main volume slider.
-Wait for the ODAC to come out in April. (trust me, or read up on it and compare it to any other in that price range on the market. You'll go right back to the ODAC. ;))
-Run its unbalanced outputs into the symbilink transmitter and onto your amp.
-Done.

That is an excellent setup, with measurement and blind testing to back.

Oh and use foobars high quality 18 band graphic EQ for tuning. And/or any of the other free plugins available.

If you can't wait for the ODAC get a "CEntrance DACport LX" for equal and just as excellent performance as the ODAC. but twice as much though, $300.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
The Tascam US-122 looks like the only XLR jacks on it are INPUTS. I need two XLR channel OUTPUTS.


-"Run it's unbalanced outputs" no no no, I want a DAC with BALANCED outputs.
 

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The Tascam US-122 looks like the only XLR jacks on it are INPUTS. I need two XLR channel OUTPUTS.


-"Run it's unbalanced outputs" no no no, I want a DAC with BALANCED outputs.
K, but just so you know. you aren't going to find a high quality USB dac with balanced outputs that performs anywhere near the ODAC for anywhere near the price you are looking for. And it's not going to be USB powered. And it not going to have a power supply. and the power supply you get is going to have to be very expensive in order to work in the car without degrading the sound.

Here's one that is known to be from a competent company that puts out affordable and very quality products.

http://www.highresolutiontechnologies.com/pdf/HRT-Music-Streamer-Pro.pdf

But see the price $500. for usb power and balanced outs
 
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