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Old 22nd September 2007, 07:25 AM   #1
pezza89 is offline pezza89  Australia
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Question is it safe to play mp3s on the PC through a vintage amp?

Hi All,
Can anyone shed light on a debate I've been having with a friend...I am told it is unsafe to play mp3's stored on the pc through a vintage amp? Is this true? if so why? I was told it damages the pre-amp stage of the amp and that vintage amps and receivers should not go near a PC??? Cheers, Andy
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Old 22nd September 2007, 07:55 AM   #2
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Well..... I've been doing it, along with several other members. We haven't blown up expendible computers yet

But on a serious note, this is news to me. Can anyone put on a walrus moustache and bust, plausible, or confirm the myth?
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Old 22nd September 2007, 08:22 AM   #3
Nordic is offline Nordic  South Africa
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Amp has x input sensitivity... I.e. needs certain voltage input to reach its maximum output... exceeding this, can A destroy, the outputs stage or possibly damage the input stage... I would say many of the new chip based amps have inputs that are easier damaged inside the chips than those old transistor beasts...

Your sound card can put out Y voltage AC (signal), depending on the volume setting on the PC... as long as Y = less than or equal X, no problem... and you have ears to hear when you start approaching this level...

Of course the PC can also potentialy output DC, as can most sources... as long as you have input caps in the old amp (which it probably has), this should not be a problem... you can check for DC with a simple multimeter set to DC Voltage mode... a few milivolt is not the end of the world... for most amps.

As long as you keep volumelevels sensible... I don't see the cause for alarm.
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Old 22nd September 2007, 12:11 PM   #4
pezza89 is offline pezza89  Australia
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Default mp3s and vintage amps

Hey there! Thanks for the response!!! i now feel a little more comfortable using my pioneer sx-850 through the pc...i'll use it on sensible volumes only!! ive adjusted the sound card volume half way and use the amp to control the rest and its more than enough with no noticeable distortion! Thanks again..much appreciated, Andy
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Old 23rd September 2007, 05:47 PM   #5
AndrewT is offline AndrewT  Scotland
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you can measure the output from the sound card.
Do you have a multimeter that measures 1.00Vac or 2.00Vac?
Set the computer to output maximum volume and measure the output. Set the multimeter to Vdc and check there is near zero dc on the output.

Most amplifiers with a volume control will accept a maximum signal level of about 3Vac without risk of any damage. Some can accept much more than this irrespective of age.

The exception is an amplifier that has an active stage before the volume control. These can have an upper limit that is lower than 2Vac and may be in trouble with CD level outputs which can be around 2Vac to 2.4Vac.

your sound quality will be better if you can max all the digital volume controls in the computer. Try not to use any digital attenuation if possible.
regards Andrew T.
Sent from my desktop computer using a keyboard
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Old 23rd September 2007, 06:04 PM   #6
Shaun is offline Shaun  South Africa
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Just use the line outputs and all should be fine. Many computers have on-board sound cards, but these do not include amplification (it is usually located in the speakers), so the output levels should be fairly benign.

Although it is theoretically possible to damage an amplifier's input stage through overdriving it, it is a simple matter to always start up with the volume control set to min.

I second the comment about digital attenuators. Set it to max and use the amp's volume control.
Shaun Onverwacht
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