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Old Sep 5, 2010, 01:32 AM   #1
Velin
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Best Way To Connect Speakers To Mac Pro

Think I'm going to purchase some Harman Kardon SoundSticks II for my Mac Pro.

I currently have some good headphones and use the front jack. How do I hook up the three speakers? Do they all plug into one jack in the back? And what about the subwoofer, does it need a special jack.

Final question: is there something I could purchase to improve the sound that wouldn't be too expensive? I.e. is there some USB extension or sound jack item that I can buy, which will improve sound performance, and plug the speakers into that?

Don't know anything about computer sound or USB and sound, hence this question is noob.
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Old Sep 5, 2010, 01:42 AM   #2
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It's a single stereo jack that plugs into your computer. You just plug it into the stereo "out" on the back of the Mac Pro. This then plugs into the subwoofer, which has another two cables leading out of it which goes to the speakers. You then plug the power in and you are ready to go.

Make sure you plug it into the "out" jack on the back of your Mac Pro and not the "in" jack which is used for line-in. If you plug it in and don't get any sound, make sure you have it in the right plug.

As far as a USB sound device (also known as a DAC) there is literally everything you can imagine, from cheap to super expensive which will allow you to output sound from your Mac. The best ones use the FireWire or Optical Audio output connection on the Mac to do this. In terms of cost and quality, they vary a lot!

To be honest with those Harman Kardon speakers you really aren't going to have a noticeable improvement from using an external DAC. You are better off plugging it in directly, or if you want a slight improvement you could buy speakers which plug into the Optical Audio output port, since those have their own built in DAC.
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Last edited by ovrlrd; Sep 5, 2010 at 01:47 AM.
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Old Sep 5, 2010, 03:04 AM   #3
Velin
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or if you want a slight improvement you could buy speakers which plug into the Optical Audio output port, since those have their own built in DAC.
Awesome, didn't even know I had optical audio out on the Mac Pro. Are there one or two brands of speakers that I can get which use this port and have the DAC you mentioned? Would be interested in subwoofer and two satellites, would prefer to spend less than $500.
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Old Sep 5, 2010, 03:23 AM   #4
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Awesome, didn't even know I had optical audio out on the Mac Pro. Are there one or two brands of speakers that I can get which use this port and have the DAC you mentioned? Would be interested in subwoofer and two satellites, would prefer to spend less than $500.
If it has an digital optical input for the speakers, then it is definitely going to have a DAC built in or it would not be able to process the digital audio to analog (Digital-Analog Converter) in order to output the analog audio to the speakers.

Not sure what to buy though I haven't been in that market in a long time, but check out Klipsch and Logitech, they usually have pretty cheap ones. Maybe someone else knows a good one, sorry I can't help more.
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Old Sep 5, 2010, 03:44 AM   #5
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What exactly will said speakers be used for? Are they just for casual use? If so, just stick with the audio out jack in the back of the mac pro. Later down the line if you get some really nice (most likely very expensive as well) speakers, you can get a stand alone DAC and an amplifier etc. The Soundsticks II aren't bad at all though. good for the money. another speakers set in that price range is the swans m10. Several people have those on this forums. But right now, getting an external dac etc isn't worth it for the soundsticks. We'll talk when you get to the point where each speaker costs several hundred dollars.
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Old Sep 5, 2010, 03:56 AM   #6
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What exactly will said speakers be used for? Are they just for casual use? If so, just stick with the audio out jack in the back of the mac pro. Later down the line if you get some really nice (most likely very expensive as well) speakers, you can get a stand alone DAC and an amplifier etc. The Soundsticks II aren't bad at all though. good for the money. another speakers set in that price range is the swans m10. Several people have those on this forums. But right now, getting an external dac etc isn't worth it for the soundsticks. We'll talk when you get to the point where each speaker costs several hundred dollars.
That is basically what I was saying, you did it better though. Having speakers that accept optical input helps a little in terms of quality, but at that level of speakers it isn't really any different and it might even be hard to find 2.1 speakers that use optical anyway.

Also you can get pretty decent active studio monitors for cheaper than $300, but the cost of a DAC also brings up the price a bit. Ultimately without a lot of knowledge of what you are doing/buying, it is best to stick with a really cheap consumer-end 2.1 setup like suggested.
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Old Sep 5, 2010, 10:27 AM   #7
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...

Don't know anything about computer sound or USB and sound, hence this question is noob.
USB? The mistake that you are making is that you are looking for a computer solution to a sound system problem. Instead of looking for computer speakers, you should be looking for a sound system. Get the best sound system with optical input that you can afford. You may have to purchase the TOSLINK (optical) cable separately. Select optical output for your Mac's speakers. Select optical input for your sound system's source. You will have the best audio that you ever heard.
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