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Newbie David here! This looks like a fun site! I'm 67, live in Alabama, semi-retired and a member of SteveHoffman's Audio site (Folks over there are great & helping me put together a small stereo room.

After I'm thru with the stereo room, I want to update my computer and get it into Audio useable!! I currently have a 5 yr old HP

desktop, Windows 7 (Can't wait for Windows 10), 3 GB ram and 500 GB HD. I also have about 5 external HD's that I switch in and out alot. As for computer sound I have a Samsung SyncMaster 2333hd tv/monitor hooked to my pc and listen to sound thru the monitor speakers (That's right, I'm in the stone age when it comes to computer audio).

I will be needing help since I want to put together a more powerful system for just audio/video and don't know a thing about picking out parts and assembling. I'm willing to spend about $1,000. for the computer and soundcard alone, I can still use the same monitor. I can also spend about $500.00 for computer speakers and maybe a DAC unit!!

I can't get started on this yet (Maybe around Sept.) since I still have the stereo room project to complete!

I like classical, jazz, folk etc and started getting some 24-96 tracks (But nothing to play them on).

Hope this gives some info on me and any replys will be greatly appreciated! DN

Walker Edison 5 Shelf Glass Rack > Pioneer VSX-822k Receiver > Sony BDP-S590 BR Player > Sennheiser HD598

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I can still use the same monitor. I can also spend about $500.00 for computer speakers and maybe a DAC unit!!

 

Can't help but looking it up for you from somewhere else. Please take a look at the following links. :)

Wonder if anyone can confirm whether Audioengine 5+ is really that good or not?

 

Five Best Desktop Computer Speakers

https://www.avforums.com/threads/how-much-would-i-need-too-spend-to-better-my-audio-engine-a2s.1884054/

 

Good luck on your search. I am sure other CAphiles can give you their passionate and professional opinions on your questions.

A good song finds me even during my sleep.

Thank God for my aging ears. I now can filter out blah blah blah and tune in blue blue blue...

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Welcome on board, dnavratil!

 

I find I like to do these things incrementally. I believe I'd just start out using the computer you have currently, and start building up around it. Sure, at some point, you may want a smaller, quieter, faster computer with more RAM and etc. But it needn't be your first purchase. I do believe you'll want to think in terms of getting a USB DAC... and this will obviate the need for a sound card.

 

I'd install music playing software on your PC, if you haven't already. Something like Foobar or JRiver and then start getting your collection ripped to your computer. And you may need another external HD to start backing up your music, if you don't have that set up already.

 

In terms of speakers, will you be using your computer rig in the music room you're currently setting up? Or will computer audio be for a different room, with speakers set up on your desk, for example?

2013 MacBook Pro Retina -> {Pure Music | Audirvana} -> {Dragonfly Red v.1} -> AKG K-702 or Sennheiser HD650 headphones.

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Thanks for both replys!! I am really a newbie when it comes to all the new terminology used for audio so you will have to bare with me!! I appreciated the long reply from "Flatmap", however I'm sorry to say that the pc system I have at home is not upgradable and would not bother me financially to get a better system. The system I have now was bought at OfficeMax in 2009 for about $250.00 at Christmas time (You can imagine how underpower it is) The ram is maxed out but lots of free space on 500 gb HD. I have ripped my entire music collection and updated ID tags for Flac & Mp3 songs. I have all my music stored on a couple of external HD's.

My new stereo room will not have my computer system in it, computer audio will be in a diff room with speakers on desk!!

Now my turn for a question - Am I understanding correctly that I will not need a soundcard if I use an external USB DAC with my pc?

Another thing, I'm going to be ordering my headphones for my stereo room in April/May and plan on spending up to $250.00. Any suggestions on getting one (Over the Ear) that will also work on my computer, I would probably need 1/4 in and 1/8 plugs!!!

Tks for the help and thank you "songswelove" for the link to the speakers, I'm studying them now!!! - David

Walker Edison 5 Shelf Glass Rack > Pioneer VSX-822k Receiver > Sony BDP-S590 BR Player > Sennheiser HD598

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[...] Now my turn for a question - Am I understanding correctly that I will not need a soundcard if I use an external USB DAC with my pc?

Generally speaking, yes that's right. You may still wish to have a sound card and internal speakers for the computer in order to play system alerts and occasional youtube videos, etc. That is, you may wish to have both for matters of convenience. But in this case, there's no need to spend much on the sound card. That's how I'd see it.

 

[...] Another thing, I'm going to be ordering my headphones for my stereo room in April/May and plan on spending up to $250.00. Any suggestions on getting one (Over the Ear) that will also work on my computer, I would probably need 1/4 in and 1/8 plugs!!! [...]

The good news is that we are really in a renaissance for headphone listening. You'll have so many excellent choices. On the other hand, you may find there are so many choices, it will drive you crazy. :-)

 

Generally headphones come in two types, closed and open. With closed, you're isolated from your external sound environment. With open, you can generally hear what's going on in the room. And in this latter case, other people in the room will be able to hear a bit of what you're listening to. In my experience, open headphones tend to have something more 'natural' and less forced in their sound presentation, IMO.

 

Closed headphones can be quite good (and I have several) but the experience feels more like you are driving a piston of air directly into your ear. Which you are. Some closed 'phones can achieve righteous bass which you can feel pounding against your head. Closed headphones, because of the seal against the head, can sometime get quite warm. I sweat when I wear them in the summer. But some open headphones may get quite warm also, it just depends on the design.

 

Apart from sound, there is a big variation in how a particular headphone will fit your head, head shape, as well as ear size and shape. It's quite possible to buy a headphone which you really like... but which you can hardly stand to wear. Not sure how to help with this -- most of us simply learn via trial and error. I will note that Amazon will accept returns... and you may want to buy from a vendor who grants return privilege.

 

A nice starting point would be to take a look at Tyll Hertsen's Inner Fidelity website and scrutinize what he has on his 'wall of fame.' That might help you zero in on characteristics you'd most value.

2013 MacBook Pro Retina -> {Pure Music | Audirvana} -> {Dragonfly Red v.1} -> AKG K-702 or Sennheiser HD650 headphones.

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I am going to ask an innocent question here. Any reason you would not want to have computer audio in your main sound system? If you give us a description of it we could help suggest a clean way to implement that. Even at modest prices computer based audio as a source is of the highest quality you can get in your home so why not on your main stereo rig? Though nothing wrong with two systems and keeping such separate.

 

Also, your old computer might not be optimum, but it will do for basic playback of even high resolution files. Sometimes when learning a new area it isn't a bad idea to dabble around a bit with what you have. The experience informs which direction to go further when you are ready to upgrade. A number of affordable devices will let you feed the files via USB from your old PC and get a quality result.

 

One further thought if you aren't complete on the stereo in the stereo room yet. A number of devices will let you feed them via USB, serve as a DAC and quality pre-amp. If you are putting together a new system, this is the perfect time to get such a device and incorporate it all in one place. Such devices will often take analog inputs, digital inputs from disc players over SPDIF, and USB input from a computer. Again, I am not trying to re-orient whatever you have in mind necessarily. Just wondering if you are aware of all the possibilities if computer audio is new to you. Further, one can get such devices that would work over ethernet. You could keep the computer in another room and send it via network to your main rig or multiple places in your home. This isn't as overwhelming as it might sound as plenty of people here can give you good pointers on how to proceed.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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If I understand this correctly, you are using the TV inbuilt speakers for all sound, and analog output from the computer's stereo output with a (red and white plugs) RCA cable?

 

In that case I woukd suggest first looking into hardware such as a pair of audio speakers and perhaps a receiver. Does not have to be expensive, but without it you will unlikely hear any differences made on the computer side. Check out a hifi store and bring a few of your fav tunes so that you can hear what is possible or different from the tv speakers.

Cheers

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I am so totally confused about DACs, Headphone pre-amps, headphone amps, connections etc! Can someone suggest to me a PC desktop (Dac, preamp, amp all in 1 unit that can play DSD files etc). Tks - DN

Walker Edison 5 Shelf Glass Rack > Pioneer VSX-822k Receiver > Sony BDP-S590 BR Player > Sennheiser HD598

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I am a bit confused about what you are wishing to accomplish. By stereo room project, does that mean a room with functioning stereo? Or does it mean a room to put this audio/video system that is the topic of this thread within? If the latter I take it to mean you will use your Samsung monitor and want a good sound system built around it. Is this right or am I still misunderstanding you?

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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