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software vs. hardware processing and how to get from computer to amplifers best


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ok, so I'm trying to squash a lot into a small space here. The gist of my situation is this, I'm trying to build as audiophile a system in my truck as possible. I'm building a computer for dash and am struggling with a few issues. I sat in on a seminar given by Floyd Toole and he stressed the need for a center channel, however, true center channel processing isn't easy to come by.

 

My original system design was going to be software driven usinga Delta 1010LT sound card, only to find out the only motherboards that use the PCI-X slot are server boards. And I'm trying to stay small scale, low power consumption. So, I could use multiple modern sound cards to give me the outputs necessary to run to my amplifiers, but I'm still stuck on software issues, which I'm hoping someone here might have some insight with. :)

 

If I were to go hardware driven, I'll probably use a JBL MS-8 processor as it uses Logic-7, a nice bit of processing. However, it only has 8 channels out, and I'd really love the ability to control all 10 channels of amplification I'll be using.

 

So you're probably thinking, WTF is this dude talking about? In cars, we (I) tend to get a little carried away with amplifiers. I'll have two 5-channel amps and another 4-channel amp in the truck. Each front corner of the truck will have a tweeter, midrange and midbass, each run by it's own channel of amplification. All actively amplified, time aligned and eq'd. So that's six channels. A tweeter and midbass/midrange in the center, and that's 8. And two subwoofers for a solid 10 channels. Every speaker will be actively run through processing, if I can do this through software. If I use an MS-8, the center channel will have to have a passive filter in it, and the subs will have to be combined to one channel out of the MS-8. They should be close enough together that it won't be very noticeable, if at all.

 

So, my questions ... if I can do this through software and sound cards, what are your suggestions? Is it even possible to upmix to 3 front channels? I've looked for VSTs as that's what was suggested to me on another forum. While looking for audiophile music for my future new system, I came across this forum. The title suggests that you guys probably know more about this than where I typically ask questions.

 

So, if I go with the MS-8 processor, what's the best way to convert from the motherboard to the RCA input of the MS-8? Most, if not all, motherboards have a SPDIF output on the motherboard. Wouldn't it be best/easiest to connect a DAC straight to that vs. using a sound card? Or is there a benefit to using a sound card even if you're going straight into another processor? Seems like more hardware for no reason to me. As for volume control, I'm considering something like this, http://www.amazon.com/Griffin-Technology-NA16029-Multimedia-Controller/dp/B003VWU2WA, but I'm concerned about noise. Maybe someone knows of a better volume control device?

 

I really appreciate any input anybody has. I haven't bought any computer parts yet except for that sound card, which it seems I'll be selling now. The amplifiers are decided and the subs are decided, but the other speakers are a tossup as of yet. Regardless, that won't impact my purpose here. :)

 

Edit: As I skimmed back through my thread, some spacing errors aside, I realized my channels of speakers vs. amplifier channels didn't match up. The reason for that is this, four of the eight channels on the 5-channel amps will be bridged together to two channels, and the four channel amp will also be bridged together to make two channels for the center channel speakers.

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