My cobbled together sound system- Please review

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Recently I started using my old 1996 era OEM type IBM 2.1 speakers. These were bundled with Aptiva Pentiums back in the day. They are great, nice quality drivers, a deep woofer and a good tweeter per unit. The amplifier circuitry (TDA1552Q Based) is contained in the right speaker as are the input jacks, left speaker output RCA port, 12v DC power input port, and a mysterious port marked “Sub”. I'm told there never was an IBM subwoofer that went with it.

I’ve been told that back then they coupled good drivers, where as now they use single rancid "full range” satilites with one speaker per unit with the overly bassy subwoofer.

Back in 2009 I bought a 1999 era Cambridge Soundworks 4.1 system at a thriftstore for $7.It had little cube satellites and a midsized subwoofer. One of the cubes was missing so I ran it in 2.1 config, which was all I wanted for my desk.

The volume control was a detachable cord which was probably just a pair of male audio plugs (one for front and one for rear) connected with a good heavy quality pot (I opened it to see once) connected to two more male audio plugs to go to the input female ports in the rear of the subwoofer which contains the amp. Totally disconectable, not like more common systems where it is hardwired. There is a knob in back to control just the sub woofer.

Till then it was the best I ever owned. It was deep bass but the cubes were a little inferior. Long story short I got used to the IBM’s, I hooked up the Cambridge Soundworks 4.1 system after a month of being in mothballs and it sucked. Lots of bass, the cubes sucked for midrange.

Back to the IBM’s: The mids are good, the highs are nice, but the lows are a little weak, even when I turned up the bass control.

I looked at every wire very closely on both systems. Both systems had very strong points, the CS system having a good quality subwoofer and amp, and the IBM’s having nice speakers but no subwoofer. So I disconnected the crappy cubes, and took male-male audio cord from my collection and plugged the mysterious “sub” port on the IBM’s to the “Front” input on the rear of the Cambridge Soundworks subwoofer/amp. Sending the low frequency tunes to the subwoofer to deal with.

Being that I eliminated the bottleneck volume control, routing the tunes directly to the (Front) input would give it full volume. there are no cube speakers, hooked to the sub, its job now is just to take the low freq from the IBM's and amplify it and send it to the subwoofer. The bass can be controlled with the knob in back or as I found out the bass knob on the IBM speaker. It controls the low freq going out too, interesting.

It has been said that the IBM’s could work better with a wallwart with more amp output. Originally it had a proprietary male male cord which tapped into a proprietary female port on the IBM computer which used the 12v system in the computer and it could draw the amps it needs.

Sick of having to deal with the fat old fashioned iron transformer wallwarts, I made my own power supply to run both systems. Took a 300 watt ATX powersupply, tore it apart, desoldered ALL DC lines and removed them.
Soldered to the circuit board two cut off male plugs from two old wall warts I had no use for. Made a wire bridge for the circuit that turns the powersupply on (green wire to ground) hot glued everything to take the stress off the connection, and trapped the cords under the board before I screwed it back down. used the original big black plastic grommet and led the wires out there. Nice and neat power box! Delivers CLEAN DC power and enough amps to take full advantage of the amplifier’s circuitry. I may open it up and rewire the fan inside to 5v as aposed to 12v. with these loads, nothing is getting really hot any more. Hell only 72 watts is being used MAX from a 300 watt powersupply.

I put the sound system back together, the IBM speakers hooked to my laptop, these take care of the highs and midrange. The sub frequencies are sent out to the Cambridge Soundworks subwoofer box, with the volume control dongle and cube speakers disconnected and put away.

The whole setup is powered by a clean power producing ATX supply. Acer Netbook with Winamp playing “The Killing jar” by Siouxsie And The Banshees to test.

Dear god does it sounds good! The power of the bass, the fine mids and crisp highs! It can go VERY loud and not distort. Wow. the quality is great. And the subwoofer is conviently controled by the power button and bass control though the IBM speakers.

Plus no more hummmmmmmm from the pathetic iron core wall warts. And if I disconect the subwoofer, I think the IBM’s sound better because of the extra amps! So each system adds inly its best and I discarde the weak points from each system.

Also something I sometimes not see: The IBM speakers have a...............headphone jack!AND its right there in the open not hidden like a dark secret in the back and under things!

Plugging in my Seinheiser headphones terminates everything properly leaving no buzzzzz in the subwoofer I was afeaid of, and sends the tunes where they belong.

I have this woofer kindly given to me by a TV repair shop, its out of a huge projection TV. It will fit in the subwoofer and it is the same ohm rating, and more powerful and obviously more expensive. Might screw it in there sealing any gaps with hot glue.

That was fun I'm proud that I made it all work.
What a convenient post for the first page.

I'm glad you got it all together and it's sounding good.

I was looking for surround stuff as my mum is about to buy a new TV and.... DUN DUH DURRR.... a large flat screen (PLAZ-mar).

She's been going on about freesat (since the first and last year of the virgin* bundle came to over a thousand pounds) and sound quality. I checked out freesat, it looks rubbish. And I said, probably better off forgetting TV sound quality and spending the 100 on a stereo for it.

I know chipamps are getting good results for people now, quickly and easily, so was curious to know how hard it'd be to get a surround sound happening.

*I signed the house up to virgin after the leaflet said "fibre optic" on it and had a picture of a fibre, and I specifically asked on the phone "Will you be running a fibre up to the house?" "Yes.". Day of the install... "Nah! You're not allowed fibres inside domestics. Toxic fumes if there's a fire innit."
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