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crjackson2134
May 6, 2013, 06:32 PM
Hello, I'm new to the world of Macs and OS X, so be patient with me. In my previous ancient system, I had 5.1 sound for years using a SoundBlaster 24-bit live card, and Altec-Lansing 5.1 speaker system. The setup was not 'Pro' grade by any means but they sounded pretty sweet to me.

So I dropped $5K on a new Mac Pro (which I really do love) but I'm stuck with 2.1 audio and it is much less pleasing to me. I've searched high and low for a compatible PCIe sound card, but alas, I can't find one. I even purchased a Creative Labs PCIe sound card that FALSLY boasted PC / MAC compatibility. Now, I'm pretty sure it is compatible if you boot Windows on your mac, but I hate windows and left it nearly 10 years ago for Linux (which happily supported all my hardware including the sound card).

So, here I am... Killer (to me) Mac Pro with weak 2.0 sound. How can I inexpensively restore my 5.1 sound with equal (to sound blaster) quality?

If there are solutions (not junk) in the $100'ish range, please post a link and your recommendations.

Thank you for your indulgence...



Irishman
May 7, 2013, 07:06 AM
Hello, I'm new to the world of Macs and OS X, so be patient with me. In my previous ancient system, I had 5.1 sound for years using a SoundBlaster 24-bit live card, and Altec-Lansing 5.1 speaker system. The setup was not 'Pro' grade by any means but they sounded pretty sweet to me.

So I dropped $5K on a new Mac Pro (which I really do love) but I'm stuck with 2.1 audio and it is much less pleasing to me. I've searched high and low for a compatible PCIe sound card, but alas, I can't find one. I even purchased a Creative Labs PCIe sound card that FALSLY boasted PC / MAC compatibility. Now, I'm pretty sure it is compatible if you boot Windows on your mac, but I hate windows and left it nearly 10 years ago for Linux (which happily supported all my hardware including the sound card).

So, here I am... Killer (to me) Mac Pro with weak 2.0 sound. How can I inexpensively restore my 5.1 sound with equal (to sound blaster) quality?

If there are solutions (not junk) in the $100'ish range, please post a link and your recommendations.

Thank you for your indulgence...

Welcome to the world of Macintosh! Where everything is 3x as expensive as it is on the PC! LOL

Seriously, do you want 5.1 for games or movies?

crjackson2134
May 7, 2013, 09:07 AM
My speakers are 5.1, and yes I do watch movies on the Mac. I listen to music as well, and I know that MOST music is only stereo, but even that sounded better. I understand that 2 channels is still 2 channels no matter how many times you split it, but all the science / physics aside, 5.1 sounds better, especially on movies and music DVD's that my church produces.

ChrisA
May 7, 2013, 03:23 PM
Take the optical audio output from the Mac and run a fiber cable to your A/V receiver. That will work.

The other way is to buy a USB audio interface and do about the same thing

Irishman
May 7, 2013, 04:57 PM
My speakers are 5.1, and yes I do watch movies on the Mac. I listen to music as well, and I know that MOST music is only stereo, but even that sounded better. I understand that 2 channels is still 2 channels no matter how many times you split it, but all the science / physics aside, 5.1 sounds better, especially on movies and music DVD's that my church produces.

If you've got your speakers already, pick up something like the Griffin Firewave. It decodes and plays back surround sound on your Mac. Use this only if your Mac Pro has a Firewire port on it. It is not cheap, though (discontinued by Griffin), but it is known to work up through Lion (per reviews on Amazon)

http://www.amazon.com/Griffin-4019-FIRESS-FireWave-Surround-Sound/dp/B000A09IUS

It will work for all your stated uses, music, movies, and even gaming.

crjackson2134
May 7, 2013, 06:09 PM
If you've got your speakers already, pick up something like the Griffin Firewave. It decodes and plays back surround sound on your Mac. Use this only if your Mac Pro has a Firewire port on it. It is not cheap, though (discontinued by Griffin), but it is known to work up through Lion (per reviews on Amazon)

http://www.amazon.com/Griffin-4019-FIRESS-FireWave-Surround-Sound/dp/B000A09IUS

It will work for all your stated uses, music, movies, and even gaming.

Great, I was looking for a specific recommendation like this. I thought about the USB devices I've seen on Amazon but I'm skeptical about their quality. Most of them just look cheap and I was hoping someone could point me in the right direction.

I can't understand why no one makes PCIe consumer grade sound cards.

MacUser2525
May 7, 2013, 06:14 PM
but it is known to work up through Lion (per reviews on Amazon)


Works in Mountain Lion as well I have one (two actually one is a spare) only problem is you need a firewire 800 to 400 adapter cable, got that on Amazon.

crjackson2134
May 7, 2013, 06:51 PM
Works in Mountain Lion as well I have one (two actually one is a spare) only problem is you need a firewire 800 to 400 adapter cable, got that on Amazon.

Great info. I'm going to order one.

Irishman
May 7, 2013, 06:59 PM
Great, I was looking for a specific recommendation like this. I thought about the USB devices I've seen on Amazon but I'm skeptical about their quality. Most of them just look cheap and I was hoping someone could point me in the right direction.

I can't understand why no one makes PCIe consumer grade sound cards.

Well, the thinking on that is this: since the interior of your computer is a noisy and vibration-ridden area, you want your sound card as far away from that as possible, which makes a solution like the Firewave ideal. In this case, exterior is better than internal.

crjackson2134
May 7, 2013, 07:19 PM
Which is all probably valid, but if they make them for the PC market they could make money in the Mac market too. I had really good sound on the PC with an internal card, no reason to think the Mac would be any less. Was there ever a time when internal cards were made for the Mac.

crjackson2134
May 7, 2013, 07:47 PM
I just ordered one for $36.00, I hope it was a good buy...

ChrisA
May 8, 2013, 02:15 AM
I just ordered one for $36.00, I hope it was a good buy...

The Mac Pro already has Optical digital audio input and output TOSLINK ports. These will connect your computer directly to any TOSLINK (AKA S/PDIFF) device. mOst mid to higher end home equipment has s/pdiff. Most A/V receivers, TV sets and DVD/ Blu Ray plays have s/pdiff optical ports now

You asked why there are no internal audio cards of good quality. Because it really can't be done because of the size. A good interface need space for the jacks and the control knobs and UV indicators and so on.

For the best sound quality the volume control know must be physically located on the device where the dial to analog conversion happens. Any digital volume control must reduce the dynamic range. There is no place to put those on an internal card. So everyone working with high end sound uses external boxes (using USB or Fire Wire) that have real knobs and jacks on them.

Irishman
May 8, 2013, 08:58 AM
Which is all probably valid, but if they make them for the PC market they could make money in the Mac market too. I had really good sound on the PC with an internal card, no reason to think the Mac would be any less. Was there ever a time when internal cards were made for the Mac.

Yeah, I got what was probably THE only Soundblaster card for Mac back in about 1999-2000, when Deus Ex was out.

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I just ordered one for $36.00, I hope it was a good buy...

Where'd you find it for that price? Even Amazon was over $200! Hell, for $34 it's a gimme!!

nizmoz
May 8, 2013, 09:13 AM
http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Soundblaster-Surround-System-SB1095/dp/B0044DEDCA

Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro USB Audio System with THX SB1095

It will work for sound, just not microphone (at least I haven't gotten that part to work on my IMAC.

Irishman
May 8, 2013, 09:16 AM
http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Soundblaster-Surround-System-SB1095/dp/B0044DEDCA

Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro USB Audio System with THX SB1095

It will work for sound, just not microphone (at least I haven't gotten that part to work on my IMAC.

Good to hear. What speakers do you use?

nizmoz
May 8, 2013, 10:09 AM
Good to hear. What speakers do you use?


I have an older set of Dell Surround 5.1 speakers for now. I will post the link this evening if I can remember on how to setup this device to work with surround sound properly so you can review it.

Edit: I was able to find it.

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3622064?start=0&tstart=0

crjackson2134
May 8, 2013, 12:37 PM
Yeah, I got what was probably THE only Soundblaster card for Mac back in about 1999-2000, when Deus Ex was out.

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Where'd you find it for that price? Even Amazon was over $200! Hell, for $34 it's a gimme!!

A guy on ebay had a couple of them. Even if it doesn't work out for me I can get my money back.

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http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Soundblaster-Surround-System-SB1095/dp/B0044DEDCA

Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro USB Audio System with THX SB1095

It will work for sound, just not microphone (at least I haven't gotten that part to work on my IMAC.

Cool, the AD said it didn't work for MACs so I passed it by when looking. If the one I purchased doesn't work out I'll have a look at this one. To be honest I'm looking forward to it being on the Firewire port instead of the USB port. I actually have more faith in the Firewire port not having hiccups.

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Good to hear. What speakers do you use?

I have an older set of Altec Lansing speakers (http://www.tweaknews.net/reviews/altec215/) that I really like. If I were an avid audiophile I guess I'd go for the Logictech speakers with optical input and be done with it, but those are some pretty expensive speaker for a casual listener. Maybe next tax season I'll do that.

crjackson2134
May 10, 2013, 01:57 PM
My FireWave (http://www.amazon.com/Griffin-4019-FIRESS-FireWave-Surround-Sound/dp/B000A09IUS) just arrived. I plugged it in and it was instantly recognized. I haven't hooked up the speakers yet though. I'll do that later on tonight and and see if it meets the need. I'm pretty confident it will though.

crjackson2134
May 10, 2013, 06:38 PM
Hooked up, significant reduction in volume at the master control. In other words, I have to crank it up to get the same level of volume I had before on just 2 clicks. Not a problem though, the 5.1 sound is much more life like and sounds great.

Also, most of the inexpensive sound boxes produce 16-bit sound, this one produces 24-bit sound. So, except for the volume, my sound is back where I want it. Thanks for everyone's input.