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Advice on a music sound system

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I've noticed that there is a lot of music engineers and enthusiasts on this site using hackintosh as part of there musical equipment, I am no expert on these matters in any way, but I have notice over the years that I've been buying tv/audio equipment that doesn't have the same audio quality as the era of the hi fi.
I realise they this is abit of topic but is this just my imagination that audio quality has gone down hill in the last ten years in today's tv and radio.

Or what do I need to get good quality audio, do I need to go back to turntables and vinyl with amp/receiver CD player big branded speakers. I'd also like to be able to access my iTunes library on my hack, can that be done with certain receivers with/without iPod dock

Some people claim that a good turntable and vinyl is the best for quality audio, I'm not prepared to shell out 300 euro for a turntable to find out.

Is digital mp3 as good as vinyl will iTunes sound great through a good receiver and speakers

Any thoughts would be appreciated
 

BoomR

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Probably the single-most important component to getting your music to sound the way you want it: SPEAKERS (followed closely behind by a nicely treated acoustical environment in which to listen). You can have all the great hi-fi gear with uber-killer specs, but if you have crap speakers, you're gonna get crap :thumbup: It's the speakers that turn the signal into what your ears eventually hear.

For me (IMHO), the basic formula is: 2/3 of my budget on speakers, 1/3 on the underlying gear.

True, music these days is less "hi-fi" because of all the compression we get with the advent of MP3's. For some reason, it's become more acceptable because consider how we listen to music for the most part: earbuds (high levels of outside/ambient noise + "budget" quality drivers in the buds), car audio (similar high levels of road/ambient noise + audio components that must "weather" the elements & wide temp swings), and computer/laptop speakers (don't get me started). LOL

For those folks who purchase most of their music from iTunes, I think you're getting AAC at 128 kbps. That's head/shoulders better than an MP3 at 128 kbs, mind you. If you're converting your CD library to audio files, I think your best bet will be choosing the Apple Lossless option from iTunes prefs. File sizes will be bigger, but you won't be losing all that much audio quality. Another option is to start shopping for your music purchases at places like HD Tracks (hdtracks.com) that offers/sells HD or near-HD quality audio files. And yes, vinyl is still VERY much an option :headbang:

Hope this helps, my friend!
 

BoomR

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Well, I **tried** to reply (wrote several paragraphs), but evidently I must have said something that got flagged for review by the moderators. Stay tuned...hopefully I won't get banished to Azkaban...
 
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thanks for trying id really like to get your opinion
although i can understand its quite frustrating to lose a lengthy post, even though i cant imagine how there was anything in your reply that needed to get flagged.
maybe a PM will keep me going for now, as I'm having a itch to get new equipment.
i was listening to an ipod dock last week when i realised how awful it sounded, and started to wonder why it was nothing in the same realm of live music, i understand that it will never be the same, but still shouldn't it be closer.

thanks again for replying it means a lot to me, im looking forward to hearing your opinion on the matter
 

BoomR

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i was listening to an ipod dock last week when i realised how awful it sounded, and started to wonder why it was nothing in the same realm of live music, i understand that it will never be the same, but still shouldn't it be closer.
Whose iPod were you using for the demo? Was it the store's?? If so, that could be part of the problem. Lord only knows what the bitrate of the sample music MP3s was. If they were ripped @ a lower bitrate, that could be part of the problem. You would not believe the quality differences in the AACs/MP3s from the various programs that convert music. The "free" players/rippers typically can't come close to the quality you get from an iTunes/Windows Media Player. Having said that, there's a noticeable difference in the quality of the AACs/MP3s that I create between ProTools, Logic Studio, and Digital Performer...and those are pro audio apps!

Also, remember that the iPod has an EQ setting for different styles of music and/or boosting/cutting of lows or highs. You should always make sure the iPod you're using in the demos is set to "flat" or "off" so there is no extra EQ "color" added by the device.

Rule #1 when you go out shopping for music toys...er... tools: Always take your own music with you to audition. I either take my own personal iPod or a CD that I've created with several samples of things where I know the audio quality/fidelity is top-notch. Then if/when I hear things not sounding how I know they should sound on good studio or home gear that I currently have, that helps me eliminate the not-so-good options.

I'll send you a PM here later this afternoon. Late-night gig last night & I need a little brekkie :crazy:
 
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oh no it is my ipod on my ipod dock i was talking about having poor audio quality. the biggest problem now is that hi fi stores are now extinct in my area, im probably going to be limited to internet shopping which is an awful shame as i can see your point as to bring my own music into a store to demo, id have to travel quite a distance to be able to demo my own music. most of my music was taken off cd's via windows media player before my hackintosh days, then imported into itunes i have no idea what encoding it went through probably whatever the defaults were. whatever gear i end up getting for home use ill be looking at under $1000. $500 if i can get something worth while as im not just out to spend a load of money.
what do you use for home use, ill probably need recommendations, or should i take heed the reviews online
get a turntable and get some of my favorites on vinyl?
ive done a bit of reading online on the subject and my head was starting to hurt, thought it was time to ask someone in the business
 
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PM received gratefully.

ok i think I'm beginning to understand

1. source quality must be a lossless file type eg flac
2. no matter how good a receiver/amp is the speakers are more likely to be the limiting factor and deserve more than half the budget.

initially i was looking for a stereo amp and two speakers, but I've been starting to consider a/v amps as well because the speakers on the tv are not up to much and id have use for a integrated hdmi switch as i am swapping cables between sat tv and htpc and its a PITA!
ok heres what I've been looking at
a/v receivers

Yamaha RX-V373 @ $400 APPROX
Yamaha RX-V473 @ $450
Yamaha RX-V673 @ $800

hi fi receiver

Yamaha A-S500 @ $370

speakers

im assuming that a/v amps work perfectly fine with 2.0 stereo speaker system for now and i can add extra speakers and a subwoofer at a later date if i so wish
thought it would be better to get 2 goodish speakers instead of 4 mediocre speakers

Monitor Audio Bronze BX2 @ $370 pair

im leaning towards the rx-v373 because when connected to my htpc i wont need all those extra features i think
i was following reviews on whathifi .com

equipment seems expensive over here compared to the US.

an other thing I've never used the optical/Digital connection on my h67n usb3 mb hack before, i assume once i have onboard audio working all i need is the cable to go between the motherboard and the receiver

do you use a keyboard and mouse to control your htpc or do you use remote control

thanks again BoomR
 
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great your original post showed up

nearly all of my iTunes music seems to be m4a's, but i do see the setting for lossless encoding in the import settings, ill reimport some of my cds with this settings when i begin to get sorted because i'd probably not know the difference with my crappy speakers
 

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I'm a HUGE fan of Yamaha gear, so I think you're on the right track. The RX-V373 looks like a good choice, as is the choice of speakers. I read the speaker review on What Hi-Fi & there's lots of good things in that review.

As for the optical output from the motherboard to the A/V receiver, all you need is a TOSLINK optical cable (maybe 1m). Of course, don't forget to change the audio output settings on your Hack to the optical output (plus set the Yamaha receiver to be looking for audio on the optical connection).

As for the keyboard, I use the Targus Bluetooth adapter that you see in the 2012 Buyer's Guide, and a Logitech DiNovo Mini to control my HTPC while I'm sitting on the couch. It works pretty well for control of DVD/music player functions, plus lets you do some basic browsing.

Happy Shopping!!
--B

PS - when you use the Apple Lossless, you'll still get .m4a files. But they will be much larger than the other m4a files that you've ripped. If you do a "Get Info" on the files, you should see the bitrate & filesize so you can study the difference...
 
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I'm a HUGE fan of Yamaha gear, so I think you're on the right track. The RX-V373 looks like a good choice, as is the choice of speakers. I read the speaker review on What Hi-Fi & there's lots of good things in that review.

As for the optical output from the motherboard to the A/V receiver, all you need is a TOSLINK optical cable (maybe 1m). Of course, don't forget to change the audio output settings on your Hack to the optical output (plus set the Yamaha receiver to be looking for audio on the optical connection).
i will have hdmi coming from my htpc. can i route the audio from optical and have video through hdmi

do you think starting with only two speakers will work good enough or would i be much better to get the set its a bit pricy for me right now though at around $1400 (when you pay that for one makes me think I'm a bit cheap but it is your work after all)

so do ya think these are worth the money then
 
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