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I'm about tired of spending money on car audio which is not going well for me, and I have a very nice headphone setup, but headphones fundamentally suck for most material. So I was thinking of whipping up some basic home system, when I realized I know absolutely nothing of home audio. I am in a vacuum of audio knowledge. Nobody I know has any sort of audio system beyond the basic walmart surround system. I know lots about car audio.

So, starting from the very bottom, what's a reciever actually? I assumed you'd run RCAs from your CD player to an amp, to the xover if applicable, to the speakers. What kind of processors do people use?

Does everything just plug into the wall, and have internal power supplies?

Can you integrate surround with a Hifi stereo setup, or do they have to be kept separate? I'm really clueless how you integrate it into a Home theatre setup. How do you switch between stereo and surround?

My source would be my computer and FLAC library, and an external DAC.

I'm well up on car audio, I just have no idea how you do audio in your house. If you could recommend some reading or just explain home audio in terms someone that a car audio nut could understand, that would be great.
 

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trains are bad said:
I'm about tired of spending money on car audio which is not going well for me, and I have a very nice headphone setup, but headphones fundamentally suck for most material. So I was thinking of whipping up some basic home system, when I realized I know absolutely nothing of home audio. I am in a vacuum of audio knowledge. Nobody I know has any sort of audio system beyond the basic walmart surround system. I know lots about car audio.
lets define two things
home audio = two channel critical listening
home theater= 5.1 channel w/ screen of course
simple enough

trains are bad said:
So, starting from the very bottom, what's a reciever actually? I assumed you'd run RCAs from your CD player to an amp, to the xover if applicable, to the speakers. What kind of processors do people use?
in home audio "processors" are viewed as the devil
idealy one has a very high end cd player w/ top of the line DAC's(rotel 1072 is regarded as a good budget cd player)
then you go out with a nice pair of composit wires (gan be very very expensive, look at audio quest for reasonably priced high end)

then one goes into a preamp, controling switching from different inputs (ie phono, cd, dvd, etc) and acts as the only volume/gain controle
again look at rotel for a well rtespected budget version

from there either composit or balanced cables are run to a two channel amplifier (again rotel is suggested on a budget)

no equalization is done because it is presumed that the speakers are designed well enough and one has enough knowledge on how to controle the rooms accoustics (this will take some reading as there is always something new to learn)

in short recievers are not used for critical listening
also dvd players can be used instead of a cd player when one wishes to play dvd-a or sacd's, but there is some anxiety over the extra internals so high end ones have a mode called pure dirrect wich bypasses some of the circuitry
again state of the art DAC's are needed so budget for 2000k+ if you want it to be considered 'good'
ive opted to buy a cheap dvd player (denon for $300+) since bluray is around the corner
all of my listening is done on the rotel unless it is a dvd-a or sacd


trains are bad said:
Does everything just plug into the wall, and have internal power supplies?
strongly suggested to get a power conditioner... monster makes some affordable ones

trains are bad said:
Can you integrate surround with a Hifi stereo setup, or do they have to be kept separate? I'm really clueless how you integrate it into a Home theatre setup. How do you switch between stereo and surround?
you can have a stand alone processor just for the surroundsound, hence utilizing some amps for stereo and 5.1, along w/ the preamp

granted it may just be cheaper to buy a reciever for 5.1 in this case
recievers are not regarded as having very good sq
for me i do only 2 channel so i just returned my denon 3806
trains are bad said:
My source would be my computer and FLAC library, and an external DAC.
what type of external DAC, very interested, that would alow you to save some cash on the dvdplayer... pls post some more info for my benifit :)
trains are bad said:
I'm well up on car audio, I just have no idea how you do audio in your house. If you could recommend some reading or just explain home audio in terms someone that a car audio nut could understand, that would be great.
read loudspeaker design cookbook by vance dickenson
they sell it on madisound and parts express, not to mention amazon
7th edition just came out...... that will keep you busy for a while and give you a good foundation
 

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Well, home stuff can be as simple or as complicated as good car audio systems. It all depends on your budget.

The cheapest and most basic "system" would be one of those chain store "boomboxes." There are a couple of companies that sell higher end mini-systems that come with a radio tuner, cd player, sometimes casette tape player, and two separate speakers to place a little away from the main unit. The size of these systems are about two shoeboxes. Most people use these for background music in the office or bedroom.

The next sized system would be a simple two channel stereo. A single unit called a "receiver" has an included radio tuner and accepts RCA plugs or digital inputs from CD's, tapes, and record players. This receiver has built in amps, power supplies, and such. You would then separately purchase a pair of speakers ranging in size from a breadbox (called bookshelf speakers because of their common placement on bookshelves) to tall floorstanding speakers.
Higher end companies sometimes separate this receiver into two different parts. The preamp and the amp. The preamp acts just like a dead head unit in the car. It has all the inputs of the receiver without the power. Then the amplifier takes the music signal and sends it to the two speakers.

The most common system nowadays is the home theater system. This usually starts with the receiver. However, this A/V receiver now accepts video signals along with all the audio inputs as well. This means that you can actually connect your TV into the receiver to accept the video signal. Plus instead of only having two channels of audio (left and right) the A/V receiver now has multiple surround audio channels along with a dedicated sub channel as well. The most common configuration is a 5.1 setup. Meaning 5 fullrange channels around the room (left, center, right, rear left, rear right) with the .1 channel being the sub. Some higher priced receivers have up to 8.1 audio channels. This multi-channel output can always be condensed into your standard two channel system for music. With the addition of the surround channels naturally you need additional speakers for the surround material.

As far as x-overs go, 99% of home speakers whether or not they have only one driver or 8+ in each cabinet all have an internal x-over inside. This means that usually you will only have one amplified speaker wire to each speaker.


Hope this helps you on your way...


edit: I hate when someone beats your post by a second... :D
 

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I'll just give my opinion about home theatre and home stereo systems...

They are never going to be as cool as a car setup because you're in a huge room. I don't care if you have 100,000$ to put into it, it's just not going to be the same experience.

If you want to really appreciate your music, build your own speakers, and buy a decent amplifier/reciever.

I have listened to 50$-15,000$ speakers and you can build yourself some very nice speakers for a fraction of the cost, just follow someone's preassigned setup, I would reccomend the Parts Express DIY Project Showcase:

http://www.partsexpress.com/projectshowcase/homeaudio.html

And you can find some great speakers at a reasonable price if you dont mind doing some work. Build yourself 5 nice speakers, a huge ass sub, get a reciever, and you're set... I am going to go pretty nice front 2 speakers, and then probably skimp some on the rest...

I don't think you need to blow alot on a home theatre setup, but if you hadn't realized home audio is where you get the golden ear people who have more money than a republican lobbyist, and the attitude to go with it!

It's all hype, mirrors and smoke... IMHO... Most of the stuff you read about people buying this or that or the next thing... it's like car audio in a way, if you're willing to do some work yourself, you can get much better equipment than all the buyers with all the money in the world.

I've installed some ridiculous home theatres, and unless you're going to build a room, automate a remote control, and buy a very expensive projector... Just get yourself some decent equipment, nice home built speakers, and you're better off than most people anyways.

It's just something about my personality that makes me cringe when I hear people drone on about there perfect equipment, how it takes on a personality of it's own... I don't believe almost anyone can tell the difference between a blind AB test between 80% of the premade crap out there these days...
 

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Ocelaris said:
It's just something about my personality that makes me cringe when I hear people drone on about there perfect equipment, how it takes on a personality of it's own... I don't believe almost anyone can tell the difference between a blind AB test between 80% of the premade crap out there these days...

Lol, that's how I feel about people talking about Tru or similar way-too-expensive amps.

-aaron
 

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I've helped install 100,000$ home theatres, million dollar home automation packages, and yeah, they are wonderful, but there is a point where you just say WTF were they thinking? You can do wonders with some decent off the shelf stuff if you know what you're looking for and are willing to do a little grunt work yourself...

BTW what's your sig mean? "Audiophile grade belongs in a listening room, not a car" Just curious, as I have always liked my car system better than any home system, granted I'm still working on the home thing myself, but curious where that comes from?
 

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pervo said:
in home audio "processors" are viewed as the devil
idealy one has a very high end cd player w/ top of the line DAC's(rotel 1072 is regarded as a good budget cd player) then you go out with a nice pair of composit wires (gan be very very expensive, look at audio quest for reasonably priced high end)

then one goes into a preamp, controling switching from different inputs (ie phono, cd, dvd, etc) and acts as the only volume/gain controle
again look at rotel for a well rtespected budget version

from there either composit or balanced cables are run to a two channel amplifier (again rotel is suggested on a budget)

no equalization is done because it is presumed that the speakers are designed well enough and one has enough knowledge on how to controle the rooms accoustics (this will take some reading as there is always something new to learn)

in short recievers are not used for critical listening
also dvd players can be used instead of a cd player when one wishes to play dvd-a or sacd's, but there is some anxiety over the extra internals so high end ones have a mode called pure dirrect wich bypasses some of the circuitry
again state of the art DAC's are needed so budget for 2000k+ if you want it to be considered 'good'
ive opted to buy a cheap dvd player (denon for $300+) since bluray is around the corner
all of my listening is done on the rotel unless it is a dvd-a or sacd
While it's true that some people view the above as essential for home audio, in reality it's all crap.
1) Processors, and the EQ and crossover options they offer, are good things. It gives you the possibility of unlimited adjustment and refinement. Limitations are the devil, not processors.
2) You can't tell the difference between most DACs.
3) Wires don't contribute to the sound in a home environment, unless you're running 300 ft out to your pool area.
4) Equalization isn't only done to compensate for room acoustics. It's also done to compensate for the source material, which may or may not be recorded to your tastes (you're probably not the engineer who recorded it, so you're listening to someone else's preferences).

Ocealaris' post is probably the best suggestion for building a quality home setup. For amplification, the best thing you can do is to buy gobs of power and STAY AWAY FROM MANY OF THE "HIGH END" AMPLIFIERS, which tend to have significantly higher distortion levels than cheaper amps.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
buy gobs of power
Well, one thing I learned about car audio is the same :)

Processors, and the EQ and crossover options they offer, are good things. It gives you the possibility of unlimited adjustment and refinement.
I've never understood the aversion to EQs myself. It seems to me that introducing .01%THD (a small problem) so that you can adjust for room acoustics (by comparison a HUGE problem) would be good thing.

You can't tell the difference between most DACs.
I've been visiting some forums where that statement could get you banned. :eek: I agree IME though
Wires don't contribute to the sound in a home environment, unless you're running 300 ft out to your pool area.
Oh I know. I find the audiophile cabling phenomenon immensly entertaining. I'm a physics major. We use osclliscope probes that pass signals in the MHz range with very low distortion, our measurements depend on it. They cost a trivial amount. If you can hear a cable, there is something drastically wrong with it.

The thing with me and car audio, is I can't listen to music in the background. If I'm driving and music is playing I tend to turn it off. It's distracting, I can't be listening to the music and driving at the same time. Plus I drive like an old lady because of the road and engine noise. I listen to music like my friends watch movies....I just sat down and listened to Dark Side of the Moon, with my eyes closed. When I had a killer system, I mostly sat in my driveway and listened to it, which is kind of silly. I love the hobby and I'm good at it, but it's not practical.
 

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Ocelaris said:
They are never going to be as cool as a car setup because you're in a huge room. I don't care if you have 100,000$ to put into it, it's just not going to be the same experience.
You'll have less bass, but you'll also get significantly better midbass detail because of all of those standing waves in the 200-400Hz octave in vehicles. Also, you can use much better drive-units in home audio, resulting in better midrange and treble spectral/dynamic fidelity. If you do something trite like a 7" 2-way you're not going to get much improvement. However, if you build serious speakers, say a 8-15" coax or horn on a CD waveguide with a top-notch 15" woofer for midbass per side, you will realize significant improvements over what is possible in a car.

Ocelaris said:
I am going to go pretty nice front 2 speakers, and then probably skimp some on the rest...
I would advise against that, sort of. The front three are pretty critical, with the center arguably most important of all. However, I don't think skimping on surrounds will hurt much if at all. I found sonic gains minimal to nonexistent when I upgraded my surround side speakers from KEF Q-Compacts to bespoke speakers using the same 8" Tannoy dual concentric in my front LCR. Just make sure your surround speakers have reasonably consistent directivity - like your mains, think coaxial cone or waveguide-loaded tweeter - and no glaring sonic peaks.

Ocelaris said:
I don't think you need to blow alot on a home theatre setup, but if you hadn't realized home audio is where you get the golden ear people who have more money than a republican lobbyist, and the attitude to go with it
For speakers, you pretty much do need to spend money to get great stuff. However, as you mention the electronics needn't be pricey. I'd be perfectly confident running six figures worth of speakers off a $500 Mac mini, $220 Panasonic receiver, and wires from Parts Express or KnuKonceptz' bargain bin secure in the knowledge that spending even exponentially more on electronics won't get me a more accurate feed for the speakers.
 

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Just some thoughts you spurred in me (trains are bad). Not that anyone was particularly asking for these thoughts, but I wanted to say them.

Car Audio is a mirror image of life. People are drawn to the ideas that make the most sense in relation to their life.
Some people are drawn to simple answers because they have limited interest or ability to come to grips with ambiguity.
Some are relentless zealots who are drawn to absolutes and are driven by something deep seated inside.

Keep looking for those who are searching, and stay away from those claiming to have found the answer...
 

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trains are bad said:
I'm a physics major.
That spells trouble.

We use osclliscope probes that pass signals in the MHz range with very low distortion, our measurements depend on it. They cost a trivial amount. If you can hear a cable, there is something drastically wrong with it.
My *favorite* paper is the one written by Fred E. Davis published in the J.AES. He measured the reactance of speaker cables, from the very expensive to the very cheap (lamp cord). But the best part of the paper is that he included in the test group a set of jumper cables he had lying around. More papers need to include stuff out of your garage.

The thing with me and car audio, is I can't listen to music in the background. If I'm driving and music is playing I tend to turn it off. It's distracting, I can't be listening to the music and driving at the same time. Plus I drive like an old lady because of the road and engine noise. I listen to music like my friends watch movies....I just sat down and listened to Dark Side of the Moon, with my eyes closed. When I had a killer system, I mostly sat in my driveway and listened to it, which is kind of silly. I love the hobby and I'm good at it, but it's not practical.
That's how I listen to music also, but I do it while driving. :) I've literally driven my half-hour daily commute before without remembering the actual trip aside from the music. No accidents in over 10 years of driving, so I guess it's not terribly dangerous.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I deliver pizza for a living, and music kills my productivity. I can't count the number of times I took the long way back to finish a song, or totally went the wrong direction, or drove 4 miles past the house I was supposed to go to. Can't do it.
 

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I don't hear lyrics, I just hear music. Some people know words, I can't even remember the name of the song, none-the-less the words!

I grew up with the Suzuki method which trained you to listen to it and remember by ear, instead of the words... I'm not a musical prodigy, or even very good at it, but I love driving to music, and can't really be bothered to listen to it at home.

When I'm driving, or commuting by bus/train now, if I don't have music, it drags on endlessly.

I should really look into a good set of headphones, maybe amplified, but portable. I don't mind a gigantic headset, but i don't drive my car anymore during the week, and I miss that...
 

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Ocelaris said:
I don't hear lyrics, I just hear music. Some people know words, I can't even remember the name of the song, none-the-less the words!

I'm not a musical prodigy, or even very good at it, but I love driving to music, and can't really be bothered to listen to it at home.

When I'm driving, or commuting by bus/train now, if I don't have music, it drags on endlessly.
Haha I'm the same way. I still don't know the lyrics to songs I've been listening to for over 10 years and that are my favorites but I can remember most of the music. I can't drive with out music, I start to get bored and tend to nod off. The music keeps my mind active.

trains are bad said:
I deliver pizza for a living, and music kills my productivity. I can't count the number of times I took the long way back to finish a song, or totally went the wrong direction, or drove 4 miles past the house I was supposed to go to. Can't do it.
I used to deliver pizzas and theres no way I could do that job if I didn't have a system. But yeah it does suck to have to stop in the middle of a song and start it back up a few minutes later especially if it's a good song. That's the only thing I really miss about that job, getting paid to listen to my stereo. I got out of it because it's too hard to rely on tips as income.

Ryan
 

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newtitan said:
I knwo one thing home audio is FAR more expenisve lol

im building towers, and it killing me in materials/tools alone
id almost go so far as to say car audio amps offer more and are better built
it is harder on a car audio amp to...wtf

preamps are another tough thing to swallow

got a "cheap" one... rotel at 499 :confused:
 

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DS-21 said:
For speakers, you pretty much do need to spend money to get great stuff. However, as you mention the electronics needn't be pricey. I'd be perfectly confident running six figures worth of speakers off a $500 Mac mini, $220 Panasonic receiver, and wires from Parts Express or KnuKonceptz' bargain bin secure in the knowledge that spending even exponentially more on electronics won't get me a more accurate feed for the speakers.
you are very very very very incorrect :eek:
 
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