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Really confused about what I need...

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I have: Audioengine A5 (active bookshelf), Pioneer HPM-60 (passive bookshelf), Dayton Titanic Mk III (active subwoofer), AMB Gamma 2 Full++.

Problem 1) The Gamma 2 does not obey windows/OS level volume control. This is VERY annoying, as it means that I have to individually control every single application's volume individually. Its not that bad for music/video because thats just 2 apps. Its horrible for firefox, where each instance of flashplayer will create its own volume level. Its horrible for video games, where they default everythign to max volume and it takes quite a few clicks to get into sound properties.

Problem 2) I have no amp for the HPM-60 right now. On the back, they say they want 30 watts each, max of 60 watts each. They have a resistance of 8 ohms and a sensitivity of 92.5 db/W at 1 meter distance. They are about 5 feet (2 meters) away from my head. Does that mean I need a 2 watt per channel into 8 ohm amp to drive them to proper listening levels? 92db is a butt-ton. I dont know if I did that right. I'd love some enlightenment on this.

Problem 3) A5's, HPM's, and subwoofer each will have their own respective volume knob. Maybe the HPMs wont even have a volume knob depending on the amp. There is no OS level volume control. Software level volume control is very very finnicky. I have to set youtube about 3 pixels away from mute to make it a reasonable volume. Same with many other flash games/websites. Tons of flash games dont even have a volume control option built in.

Problem 4) A5's, if you turn them too low in volume (under 25%), will cut the active speaker out and only play out of the active speaker. Ideally, they should be played at 50% volume. They expect headphone-level voltage input, though. What i'm giving them right now is line level inputs. So I have them turned to the lowest possible volume without causing a channel imbalance, matched the subwoofer to their volume, and they are decent sounding so far. This is not at all ideal.

So here's the trickiest part: I need the OPPOSITE of a mixer. I THINK. A mixer takes a bunch of inputs, volume matches them, and sends it out of 1 output. I need to give the mixer a single input, send it to a bunch of outputs, and volume match the outputs.

What is this device called? Does it even exist outside of multi-thousand dollar studio equipment? I was looking at preamps but it seems that they are pretty expensive even by themselves. I was also looking at DIY solutions like distribution amplifiers and such, but didnt find too much.

So far the only solutions i've come up with is to 1) buy a new DAC and sell off this gamma2F++, or 2) find a preamp that has 3 seperate stereo channel outputs + headphone output (or 2) and then volume match the active/passive/sub at a proper volume, and THEN use the preamp to bring it into check. or 3) get a decent AV reciever that supports multiple sets of speakers and has a headphone jack, and use the headphone jack to power the A5's. A5's require either headphone output or pre-amp output.

As you guys can see, i'm in quite the tizzy. I'd greatly appreciate it if I could get some help.
post #2 of 7

As far as your problem with the Gamma2, I think you want to have Exclusive Mode disabled.

You go Control Panel > Sounds > Playback Devices, then select your Gamma2, go to its properties right there, then under the Advanced tab deselect the last two check boxes.

You may notice a small drop in sound quality as a result.  I'm not sure if anything can be done about flashplayer, though, unless it is youtube.

Edited by Mad Max - 6/14/12 at 10:34am
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Nope, exclusive mode is definitely enabled. I know I could solve part of my problem with a simple active preamp but I cant find something cheap and effective. if there was a tiny little high quality headphone amp sort of thing that could work while it was receiving power, I'd be sold. Similarly, if I had an active multi channel preamp with a gain of 2 or something, that could also feasibly work to help me control and volume match everything without having to make trips around the room every time I needed to get volumes matched up. Especially if it had a master volume control. Finding this design is the problem, though.
post #4 of 7

I wasn't asking you if it is enabled, I told you to disable it so that the OS volume can be your master volume control for everything.

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
Tried disabling exclusive mode. There is no change. I think the actual chip doesnt support OS level USB gain or something. when you apply application level gain, it literally sends the OS a different audio signal with the gain already applied, but when you tell windows to lower the volume, it sends the sound device itself the actual sound along with a flag that says "play this with a gain of -24db". I think that all the gamma 2 pays attention to is "play this" and ignores everything else. I think this is a problem with the way the USB board is implemented.
post #6 of 7

Wow, that's odd.  I have no idea what else to suggest.

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
preamp or receiver is basically the only way to go. Power amp for the passive speakers. That means i have 3 amplified devices: 2 sets of speakers and 1 subwoofer. If I keep computer at 100% volume and all applications at 100% volume, gamma 2 will be outputting at 1.7 volts RMS ish.

So basically, if I get a preamp, its gotta have a sub out and 2 stereo outputs. If i get a receiver, its gotta have a pre-out, a sub out, and i can forgo the amp.

Both preamp and receiver have way too many inputs for me to use. Thats definitely a problem. I just need a preamp with like 1 input. I only ever use 1 source. Since that is unrealistic to expect, considering most people wont buy a product that purposely only has 1 connectivity option, i think I have to either find a preamp that is cheap with the right number of outputs or find a receiver that is cheap.

the cheapest possible contenders so far are the HK3390 and the Pioneer 522-k. Both are about 250 bucks.

For preamp, i cant find a single thing except the Emotiva one, but that thing is 400 bucks. I dont know what to search for, which companies to search for except NAD and Adcom (just found those out from Reddit). The goal now is to beat 250 somehow, as that is the lowest price i've seen.

Alternatively, I could try to build a 3-channel active preamp that has a gain of 1 or 2 using opamps. I think it shouldnt be terribly difficult but I dont know anywhere near enough about circuits. I might be able to do it by making 3 CMOY designs linked up together and making a PSU that can drive all 3 at once.
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