Help with my a/v setup please!

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by colinthejanitor, Oct 9, 2010.

  1. colinthejanitor macrumors member

    Mar 13, 2009
    I hope I'm posting this in the right section, if not please move it appropriatly.

    I'm driving myself insane here trying to complete my a/v setup and could really use some help. :)

    So this is what I currently have:


    Xbox 360 S | Atlona AT-HD620 | 27" iMac i7 | Razer Mamba | Drobo | Apogee Duet | Bowers and Wilkins P5

    Forgive me if my setup is a little unique but the way this works is the Xbox 360's HDMI output goes into the Atlona AT-HD620, gets upscaled from 1080p to 1440p and then displays on the 27" iMac. This includes the audio too, which goes into the mini displayport aswell as the video.

    Now all the iMac audio goes into the Apogee Duet except for the audio from the xbox which will only play through the iMac's speakers, which bring me neatly to the problem...

    I really want to invest in a nice pair of speakers for listening to music. The headphones on the Apogee's DAC are nothing short of fantastic but wearing headphones all the time isn't great and also I can't play games using headphones on my current setup. There is, however, a phono output on the Atlona AT-HD620 for audio throughput but I have reservations about the quality of the DAC inside this device. Obviously the iMac has an analogue out but I know from experience It's got a fair amount of noise on it.

    Now for the options:

    1. Buy some nice active speakers that will plug directly into the Apogee Duet and use the Phono output on the Atlona to get sound from the xbox to the speakers.

    This way is nice and simple but as I said before i don't know if I trust the DAC on the Atlona.

    2. Buy a stereo amp and some passive speakers, run the RCA output on the Apogee into it and the Atlona output on a separate channel

    This setup would be okay for the Atlona because I know the dac, but it gives us the same problems with the atlona.

    3. Buy an a/v amp with a digital input and a pair of passive speakers, run the optical out of the Xbox 360 into it and run the RCA output of the Apogee into a separate channel.

    This avoids having to trust the Atlona with my audio feed but requires more money for an a/v amp rather than a stereo one. I'm quite partial to this idea through because it leaves the dac of the xbox audio feed up to a box designed for the task.

    4. Buy an a/v amp with a digital input, feed the 27" iMac optical out into the digital input, plug the Xbox into a HDMI connection on the a/v receiver and output the hdmi to the Atlona for display.

    This method is reasonably future proof and would also mean i could plug more than one HDMI device (ps3?) into the 27" iMac. It also means the Apogee is only having to worry about inputing instruments into my computer. However I'm not sure about the quality of optical audio from an iMac.


    So these are the ideas I have had so far, I need your input! Have you had any experience with a a/v setup close to this? Am i being stupid in thinking optical audio carries over the DAC work to the amp being a good thing? As you can see i need a little help so thank you in advance!
  2. FX120 macrumors 65816


    May 18, 2007
    Just get a good set of speakers. I'd challenge you to be able to tell the difference between the DAC and operational amplifiers in the scaler and the ones in your duet in a double blind test when using a pair of speakers. Even less expensive parts these days are equal or superior to high end parts from 10-15 years ago, and any noise or distortion added will be inconsequential compared to the distortion of the transducers in your speakers and background noise from having an xbox on your desk.
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    I agree. Don't think so hard about the electronics. The speakers are what you listen to. You wrote a "book" about what are really second order details when what matters is the type and size of the speakers. After you have speakers selected then and only then worry about how to drive them

    That said the advice "Just get a good set of speakers" is much easier to say than do. Buying speakers is hard work. Yu have to audition many of them. Bring an iPod with music you know well.

    I can't recommend any speakers because I don't know the size of the listening area, the volume level you want or how much space you have or the budget.

    The other thing about speakers is how you place them in the room and the room itself matter quite a bit. Speakers many times sound different at home. Buy from a place that will let you return them
  4. Killyp macrumors 68040


    Jun 14, 2006
    I'd go for active speakers which you can plug into your Apogee.

    You haven't given any information RE budget, but I'm personally a huge fan of ADAM speakers, I own a pair of A7s and find them wonderful, very VERY musical and engaging to listen to, but also very accurate and arguably cost-effective (£700 for a pair of A7s which includes the amps as they're active/powered). They're the only speakers (or amp/speaker combo) I've listened to costing less than £1.5k which really give you a 'true' perception of depth from front-to-back in the stereo image.

    Their range is also very scaleable; a friend has A3Xs, which are considerably smaller, but also absolutely fab.

    +1 for auditioning though if you can.

    Whatever your speakers though, make sure you get them at ear height, and lifted up off the table. The reflection off your desk can completely destroy the sound of your speakers...

    Just my 2c.

Share This Page