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Fresher looking for help, please, please, please
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Old 1st November 2009, 04:56 PM   #1
gaohan_cn is offline gaohan_cn
diyAudio Member
Join Date: Nov 2009
Default Fresher looking for help, please, please, please

I spent my whole weekend trying to figure out how to build a low-end, but typical and working laptop-based audio system.

But I'm still unsure of one thing, can I really put them together, I'm completely lost in terms of various cable, sockets, output, input ports, which look very much similar to me, but probably incompatible with each other.

Now I got some clues more or less, it seems I need:
1. A laptop which I have one, so check

2. An external sound card:
My choices are limited as a result of limited budget:
(a) Pro-ject USB Box External Sound Card:
*Line-level output 1 pair RCA/Phono sockets
*Output voltage 0,775Veff
*A/D converter 16-Bit Delta Sigma
*Sampling rate 44,1kHz
*USB-input digital serial data protocol USB 1.1
(b) Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1
*High-quality, gold-plated RCA stereo and optical digital out for best audio performance, plus convenient Mic and Headphone jacks for internet chat
*USB Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 Sound Card
*Stereo RCA to minijack adapter
*USB Cable

3. Digital Audio to Analog Audio Converter, so called DAC
Well, again (sorry, if so disturbing...):
(a) Gefen Digital Audio to Analog Audio Converter:
*Converts digital audio S/PDIF or TOSLink signals to analog L/R signals
*Integrated digital interpolator filter and digital-to-analog convert (DAC)
*Accepts uncompressed digital audio input
*Samples at 32, 44.1, 48 and 96 KHz
*2-channel LPCM (Linear Pulse Code Modulation)
*24-bit S/PDIF incoming bitstream on left and right channels
*5V DC power supply
*Coaxial and Optical input ports (1 each)
*Right and Left RCA Stereo output port
(b) Pro-ject Switch Box Audio Switching Box (actually, I'm not sure is this a DAC):
*Gain 0dB
*Line-level inputs 1 pair RCA/Phono sockets,
3 x 3-pole co-axial Ř 3,5mm jack
*Line-level outputs 1 pair RCA/Phono sockets,
3-pole co-axial Ř 3,5mm jack
*Trigger input 3-pole co-axial Ř 2,5mm jack
*Outboard power supply 16V/1.000mA AC, suitable for your country's mains supply
(c) Musical Fidelity V-DAC Digital to Analogue Converter (For this DAC, I'm unable to find much information of specifications)
*24 bit 192k with true sampling
*The V-DAC has inputs for Coax, Optical and USB, standard RCA output and is powered by an included 12V DC power supply.

4. Finally, an Stereo Amplifier before we go to headphone
Since my budget is shrinking at this stage, there is only one choice:-)
(a) Pioneer A-109 40W Integrated Stereo Amplifier

*Output Power / Total: 60 Watt
*Direct Construction
*Twin Mono Symmetrical Construction
*Large Insulators
*Direct Energy MOSFET Circuit
*“DIRECT” Switch
*Wide-Range Linear Circuit
*Headphone Output
*1 x Speaker Outputs
*Two-Way Dubbing
*6 x Audio Inputs

5. A headphone!
Again, I have one, HD 380pro.

All right, any tips, recommendations?

Again, sorry if too disturbing, but please help.
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Old 4th November 2009, 08:49 PM   #2
dangus is offline dangus  Canada
diyAudio Member
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Vancouver Island
Fresher looking for help, please, please, please
I suggest starting simple, with a USB sound device that has line and S/PDIF out. The TI/Burr-Brown chips (PCM29xx, PCM27xx) are pretty good, but some of the C-Media chips may be OK too.

A Behringer UCA202 is about $40, and while it won't be the best ever implementation of the PCM2902, it does pack a lot into a convenient package. S/PDIF and line out, line in, and headphone out. There's also the UFO202, which has a phono input.

The ADStech "Instant Music" used the same chip, but has line in and out, and Toslink in and out; no headphone jack. Loopback tests show it performs better than the UCA202. Price is a bit higher, and it's physically larger.

Then all you need is an RCA patch cable from "line out" on the USB sound doodad to the receiver or amplifier. Get an S/PDIF DAC later, or just use a digital surround receiver (or processor) since those have S/PDIF inputs.

As for the amplifier, that shouldn't cost anything much. Working stereo receivers are getting chucked into recycling dumpsters or donated to thrift stores, or sold for a song at yard sales.

Last edited by dangus; 4th November 2009 at 08:52 PM.
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