Audio Decision

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by HenMaster6000, Aug 3, 2004.

  1. macrumors regular

    OK, I'm thinking about making a big audio purchase. First however, I thought that before I blow a couple hundred bucks I'd consult the collective intelligence of the MacRumors forum goers. So here goes...

    Essentially, I want to connect my Powerbook G4 (1Ghz, 1gig) to a relatively simple home theater system. Here are my goals...

    1.) 5.1 Channel Dolby Digital Sound (for DVDs) synced with video on my monitor
    2.) Stereo and Dolby Pro-Logic surround modes for my iTunes music

    I've been researching for a couple months and here's my plan. First, buy an M-Audio Transit "bridge" for my computer. The M-Audio adapter will connect to my USB port and output my computer audio to an optical cable. This optical cable will then attach to a Sony DAV-FR1 receiver. The sony connects to its speakers and plays the music.
    It sounds like it will work, but I just wanted to ask a few questions-

    Will this work? Will my music be delayed through all this equipment?
    Does anyone have a set up at all like this?

    Thanks alot,
  2. jsw
    Moderator emeritus



    The setup you describe will work well with, as far as I can gather, minimal delay through the M-Audio (Sonica Theater, perhaps?).

    Perhaps you are firm about the Sony. It's a nice setup. However, it would appear that you cannot upgrade the speakers, as they seem to have odd-shaped plugs.

    I would suggest the Onkyo HT-770 (links are all to Crutchfield, though of course you might find better deals elsewhere). The Onkyo unit will have greater quality than the Sony, is 6.1 vs 5.1 (for future expansion), has three optical inputs, etc. However, you need to buy a separate DVD, thus making it about $100 more, effectively.

    However, I would strongly argue against tightly coupled all-in-one units like the Sony, where you can't replace/upgrade any of the parts.
  3. macrumors regular

    Thanks for the input. In my researching of these systems I did come across the Onkyo package you suggested. It's an impressive system, and I'll admit, it probably pumps out better sound. Yet my problem with it is a bit more superficial; it's way too big for me. The speakers are just too big for my dorm room, especially considering the space requirement of a 6.1 channel system. However, you do make a good point in noting the Sony's proprietary plugs, I'll definitely check that out.
    Moving back to the Onkyo...From what I understand, in a room as small as a dorm-room 6.1 channels is nearly impossible. But if I didn't connect the sixth channel to the receiver, would I be able to select a mode whereby the system would bypass that channel and revert back to 5.1? In other words, if you have a seven channel receiver must you use all channels? BTW DVD isn't important, this system is solely for the mac.

    Thanks again
  4. jsw
    Moderator emeritus


    You're never required to use all the speakers, and, in fact, it's very easy to use 5.1 setups with 6.1 or 7.1 receivers - you just select the 5.1 sound option.

    I'd still recommend separate components. I recommend Onkyo or Denon simply because, in my experience, they last longer than the others. I bought an Onkyo receiver my freshman year in college - 1983, before you were born - and it still works! Of course, I've moved on to bigger and better Denon and Onkyo systems since then. I'm glad to see you're looking for systems with digital optical in, as it might come in handy down the road for you.

    I currently have an Onkyo TX-SR502 (again, using Crutchfield just because it's easy) hooked up to my Mac, and it sounds great. Hook up a $150-$200 speaker set initially (like these) and upgrade later.

    Of course, if space is at a premium, consider a speaker-only setup (plus the M-Audio), like this Klipsch.
  5. jsw
    Moderator emeritus


    Just noticed you live in Andover - small world....
  6. macrumors regular

    Haha- that's a coincidence!

    All this info is great, thanks again. I just have one more quick question... do you think that $200.00 set of speakers (or a comparable pair) would sound good?
  7. jsw
    Moderator emeritus


    Well, obviously, if you spent more, they'd sound better (on average)... but I don't know what your total budget is. If it's $500 (same as the Sony), I'd recommend spending about $250-$300 on a nice A/V receiver (which should last a number of years) and whatever else you have in your budget on speakers. $200 speaker systems sound pretty good - probably as good as the Sony you had picked out. Especially since this is for a dorm room, and since speakers are relatively fragile things, and big speakers are out anyway, I think a $200 set would do just fine. If you can get to a Best Buy or Circuit City, you should be able to get enough of a listen to be happy with your purchase.

    Phenomenal speakers, driven by a cheap amplifier, sound terrible. Cheaper speakers, driven by a quality amp, sound pretty good. That's why I was recommending the split of a $300 Onkyo and $200 speakers. Plus, you can always upgrade the speakers in pairs, should you want, a bit at a time. For another $100-$200, you can step up a bit. I've had good luck with Infinity in this price range. For $500, you can get this Polk setup, which includes a subwoofer (special deal where you get one thrown in). That's a great-sounding setup and is the one my brother has in his computer office. However, it's $500. Plus the receiver.

    So, if you're looking to spend $500 total, I'd go with a $300 receiver/$200 speaker split (or maybe $250/$250) as the optimal way to maximize sound without sacrificing upgradeability.
  8. macrumors regular

    thanks for all your help
  9. jsw
    Moderator emeritus


    No prob. Post back or PM with your decision - now I'm curious....
  10. macrumors regular

    At this point, thanks to your advice, I've all but eliminated the Sony as an option, and am heavily considering the Onkyo receiver you suggested. I did a little bit of looking around and found a set of speakers that seem to fit the bill of a moderately priced surround package. Check out the Sony SA-VE367T speaker system(can't seem to post a link on Safari). I figure that for about a hundred extra bucks I get the full 6.1 channels, perhaps for future use, and an extra speaker I'll probably never use. Oh well. I guess I'll get the "sony" after all. ;)

    Thanks again for all your help
    You saved me from home theater hell.
  11. jsw
    Moderator emeritus


    No problem - and it wouldn't have been "hell" - it just might have bitten you a bit in the future. I have nothing against Sony whatsoever - like any company with a ton of products, some of their stuff isn't so great, some is good, and some is exceptional. Your original Sony product suggestion was a nice one - I just thought that it would limit you should you need to replace or upgrade any part of it. I know which speaker setup you mean - and I'm sure it sounds great (I think I heard it out in Best Buy, Circuit City, somewhere - the picture online looks really familiar).

    Have fun, and enjoy listening!


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