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Great Site! Need advice on best way to connect PC to audio system

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I found this site at just the right time! I can tell already that I will be spending a lot of time here. Right now, I have one pressing question. I am in the bar/restaurant business as well as being somewhat of an audiophile (albeit on a budget). I am opening up my own bar/restaurant and I put together the audio system with help from a friend who does pro audio and a great local dealer. I will be using a laptop (space limitations rule out a desktop PC) to play the music selections. At the bar that I used to manage, we had a pro audio guy who would charge big$$$ to come in and constantly tinker with the system, yielding what I considered to be only OK results. At that place, he supplied an Ibook with cables coming from the headphone jack to connect into the audio system. I never really noticed much difference between the sound coming from the Ibook and the sound from the CD player that we also occasionally used there. From my own research, it looks like that was not an ideal setup. The system I put together for my new place is a decent one (Crown amps, EV speakers, JBL subs and a dbx Drive Rack for sound processing) but I am wondering about the best way to connect the laptop to the system. It sounds like going through the USB port is better than the headphone jack- or is it? From there, are there more reasonably priced solutions, as compared to the $1000 DAC's? I found a device-the Firestone Fubar II that is a USB DAC for around $130, that sounds interesting. I just bought a new Compaq laptop that is running Vista, that I will be using for the music selections. A few questions:


1. What would you recommend as my best option for under say $200 for connecting the laptop to the audio system?


2. Should I look at one of these less expensive DAC's, or should I just try running the cables from the PC to the audio system and leave it there?


Any other advice for me? I really appreciate the help!


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Hi BT5150 - Welcome to Computer Audiophile. I think there are a couple solid options here. The Fubar II you mention would be a good choice and a pretty cheap one as well. Another option to consider is the Devilsound DAC. It's $229, but offers really good sound and a very unique design that may be nice considering your situation.


Either way, these will sound much better than using the DAC in the laptop.


Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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Thanks for the advice. The Devilsound product looks good to me, I like the idea that it is all self contained, it looks like there is no external power supply. As far as what we are playing, at the bar I used to run, we had a pretty extensive Itunes library that we would play from. I know that Itunes is limited by the fact that they are compressed files, but it sounded pretty comparable to what I could hear if we played CD's in the CD player. This is in a bar setting, with a large open space, hard surfaces on all of the walls, etc, not the best listening environment. In my new place, I will probably be playing both CD's and MP3 music from the computer, more so MP3's. Any other thoughts?


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One more question, it seems like people here are more Mac focused than Windows. Is there anything I should be aware of if I want to use a windows PC for this purpose? I bought a new Compaq laptop, mainly because I could get one with 3GB RAM and a 200GB hard drive for $450, while a comparable Mac Book would be well over $1000.


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Great, thanks for all of the advice! I think I'll go with the Devilsound DAC, I like the simple design as well as the price. We hope to be open in a few weeks, (if everything falls into place!) I think it should work out well. Once again, this looks like a great site.


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