Confused about speakers and audio.

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by ebonics, Nov 18, 2008.

  1. ebonics macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Location:
    California. USA.
    #1
    Hey, rather than spread out these questions over several threads I'll just dump them all in one, and hopefully some knowledgeable people will kindly help my queries (which are probably idiotic).

    Can music play through all speakers on a 5.1 speaker setup (I'm not talking about SACD, etc, I mean connect to a computer playing CD's and MP3's). Because I thought music was 2.1, so does that mean 5.1 speakers (say for this discussion the Logitech z-5500) will only play music through 2.1, but if you watch films too, you'll them get surround sound?
    If you can get audio to play 5.1, how do you do it? And does it sound better than 2.1?

    What if the speakers I'm looking to connect to my computer don't have an inbuilt amp, Can I still use them?
    Would I need to hook up an amp, and how would I do this? Can I use any amp? i.e. a hifi amp, or do you need special connections to connect to a computer?
    I have a Macbook Pro BTW if that makes a difference.

    Why/When would I need to buy a soundcard? What does a soundcard do exactly? I gather the computer has one built in, so what does buying an extra one that connect via USB, Firewire or the express card slot do, the standard on doesn't?

    Can speakers without ampification be run through headphone amps like the ones here, http://www.headphone.com/products/headphone-amps/the-micro-line/ or here http://www.headphone.com/products/headphone-amps/the-desktop-line/ ?

    Do 5.1 speakers (once again, the Logitech z-5500 for example), automatically play DVD's as 5.1 surround sound, when connected straight into the computer? Or do I need to have a better sound card, or some other extra?

    Finally do 7.1 speakers work just like 5.1 speakers, or do they require extra setup?

    Sorry for so many questions, and sorry if so many are ridiculous, I'm just pretty lost of these things, and thought I'd just put it all in one thread.
    Thanks to anyone who can help me. :)
     
  2. zachsilvey macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2008
    Location:
    Battle Ground
    #2
    if you are plugging your speakers in with a regular headphone jack then you can only get 2.1 no matter what. Most macs have a toslink (optical) capability and that supports full surround.

    depending on your computer you might not be able to add a sound card, aka macbooks, imacs, mac minis. but all those computers have surround sound capability built in.

    depending on the size of the speakers, they might need to be powered, those amps are for headphones.
     
  3. ebonics thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Location:
    California. USA.
    #3
    Thanks you for answering some of my queries.
    Maybe I asked too many questions, but if someone could just answer the ones they know, that'd be great.
     
  4. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #4
    Your options are:

    1. Analog audio that provides two-channels (R&L). If you have a file encoded in Dolby Pro Logic II, you can get 5 channel audio provided your receiver can decode it.

    2. Digital audio that provides up to 8 discrete channels (7.1). Again, you need content encoded in that format (mostly AC-3 Dolby Digital, but also DTS with the right software) and a receiver that can decode digital optical audio.
     
  5. ebonics thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Location:
    California. USA.
    #5
    I guess that mainly leaves,
    What does a sound card do exactly and in what scenario would I need a usb/firewire/express card add on? (Using a Macbook Pro)

    How do I go about connecting an amp to the computer (using a Macbook Pro)? Do I need a special amp, or can I connect a normal hifi amp somehow?

    And do DVD's playing through the computer automatically play 5.1 surround sound through self amped 5.1 speakers connected straight into the computer?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  6. ebonics thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Location:
    California. USA.
  7. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #7
    For analog audio, all you need is a miniplug stereo to R&L RCA. for digital, you need a Toslink cable with a miniplug on one end for the Mac and a conventional plug on the other for your receiver. Your receiver must have an optical input, otherwise it won't work. I have this cable for my MBP.

    You can only get surround sound from a receiver capable of decoding the audio file in your media. Have a read here for a little background. Most DVDs have both 2-channel Dolby Pro Logic (or Dolby Surround) that works with analog connection, and a Dolby Digital 5.1 (and sometimes DTS 5.1) track that works with optical digital audio. If your receiver has an optical input, chances are it can decode DD and probably DTS. In DVD Player app, before you open a disc and with your receiver on and connected, you have to set the Preferences to send digital audio out. From that point on, that will be the default of DVD Player app until you change it. But this app does not do DTS, only DD.

    You'd be better off installing Plex, which is far superior than Apple's implementation for video playback. It plays substantially more video codecs and handles DD and DTS, and can extract DD and DTS from True-HD and DTS-HD, respectively, on the fly before sending the stream to your receiver.
     

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