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Beginner explanations and setups

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hello, first post here, and really on any forum. I recently discovered "audiophile" and I know there is some different views on the word but that's not why I am here. 

 

I have some Vmoda M100s and they got me into the quality sound world. I know there are much better headphones so bear with me. I have a yamaha reciever and pioneer speakers along with a pioneer subwoofer. They are extremely basic best buy stuff. So thats what I have as a system right now. On to the main issue.

 

 I am very new to sound systems apart from hooking headphones to an ipod or connecting the speakers wires to the back of my reciever and am hoping someone can explain amps, pre amps, dac, and how to hook them up to speakers and headphones. 

 

So if anyone or multiple people can explain each or at least one of these and then how it hooks up to other pieces of the system that would be wonderful. And if anyone has advice on when/how to understand db and hz that would be nice too.

 

Sorry for being so new, just looking to get started and understand more about everything. Hope to hear from some of you guys

cheers

post #2 of 16
Hmm - the most basic questions are often the hardest to answer.

I think we better start with a few common and basic terms:

1) Media - the media is where the content you will ultimately listen to with your ears (music, speech, etc) is stored. In general, there are two types of media.
a) Analog - this is the old, pre-computer, pre-CD, pre-ipod standard. A cassette tape, vinyl album and FM receiver are all examples of analog media. Audio (sound) is analog - the sound waves that hit your ear drums are analog.
b) Digital - audio can be encoded into a digital stream of 1s & 0s that can be then be stored as data on a CD or as an MP3 file. The encoded bits must ultimately be decoded back into analog sound waves before they reach your ear drum.

2) Source - the source is the device that first reads your Media and starts the chain that ends at your ears. Since media can be either analog or digital, so the source can also be analog or digital. But, it's actually even more complicated than that. A source holding digital media might output EITHER an analog signal or a digital signal. An ipod contains digital media and outputs an analog signal out the headphone port. A blu-ray player reads digital media (a blu-ray disk) and can either output a digital signal out the HDMI port or an analog signal out the Right & Left audio RCA jacks. A PC can also be either a digital or analog source. The headphone port on the PC outputs an analog signal. A digital signal can also be output a USB port.

3) Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) - this is the device that decodes the digital media into an analog signal. Many digital source devices contain a DAC. The iPhone, Blu-Ray player and PC sound card all contain a DAC. There are also external DACs. The idea here is that the DAC built-in to the Source might not be the best quality - so, if your source can output a digital signal, then you can feed that into a higher quality external DAC. The external DAC will then do the decoding and output a "cleaner" analog, line-level signal.

Everything after the DAC is an analog device. The DAC outputs a line-level signal, which just means that the signal does not have enough voltage to drive a full-size speaker. "Line-level" is a signal that follows a standard set of specs in the audio world and allows different brands of analog devices to be hooked together. This includes the preamp, which takes a line-level signal and outputs a line-level signal. The preamp's job is provide controls on the analog signals - volume, tone, switching between sources, etc. An amplifier takes a line-level signal and increases it (adds "gain") to provide enough voltage and amperage to actually drive speakers or headphones. Speakers need much higher voltage levels than headphones, so the amplifiers need much more gain.

The various pieces can be combined into one box, or separated into multiple boxes. For example, a compact home theater receiver might have a built-in blu-ray player, built-in DAC, built-in preamp and built-in amp - all in one device. Or, each of those might be completely separate devices that are different brands. The iphone has storage to hold the digital media, a DAC, a volume control and a headphone amp.

I can't believe I typed all that out... wink.gif
Edited by billybob_jcv - 11/11/13 at 10:27pm
post #3 of 16

dB is just the volume. Anything specific you want to know in that regard? Hz is the frequency of sound. Try have a look at sineGen or perhaps some spectrograms for your songs (foobar has such a feature. In general go read around, have a look at Introductions, Help and Recommendations on the front page where useful links are to be found for exmple: Glossary of Terms

 

Try to come back with some more precise and less general questions.


Edited by davidsh - 11/12/13 at 1:32am
post #4 of 16
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

Awesome thanks guys. So I suppose the next step would be beginning to build a system any recommendations on any of that? I am home now so I will try to include some more specific specs about my current setup.

 

Speakers: Pioneers  http://www.bestbuy.com/site/pioneer-5-1-4-floor-speaker-each/5086937.p?id=1218610014331&skuId=5086937&ref=06&loc=01&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=5086937&extensionType={adtype}:{network}&s_kwcid=PTC!pla!{keyword}!{matchtype}!{adwords_producttargetid}!{network}!{ifmobile:M}!{creative}&kpid=5086937&k_clickid=451301d5-de6c-7b08-c3ed-00000fb8f55d&gclid=CPilqe7z37oCFe5cMgodiE8ATg

Reciever: Yamaha RX-V373

Sub: Pioneer - same type as the speakers

 

And then I have my Vmoda M100 headphones.

 

Also on the side I have an old turn table and a pyle pp444 phono pre amp that I can hook up to the reciever.


Edited by Saeglopur - 11/12/13 at 10:45am
post #6 of 16
What do you want/expect from a setup?
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

Ideally something affordable but good quality, but I'm definitely open to looking at higher end stuff. I listen to a very large variety of music, but primarily I like instrumental post rock stuff, and then some folk rock (frank turner). And right now I'm just using my speakers for movies and gaming and listen to music through headphones. So Id like to upgrade my music listening side of it right now. Eventually I'd like to build up an audophile system so if I could start somewhere with good equipment rather than lower line stuff that would be nice. 

post #8 of 16
What do you feel is lacking in your current set-up? What is the source device for your music? Do you currently have a CD player or a digital audio player (DAP) (eg an ipod or a PC) that you hook to the Pioneer receiver?
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

Right now I have an ipod that i hook up to the reciever via the usb port on the reciever with the ipod charging cable they come with. And seeing as I am rather new I can't say specifically what it may be lacking.  Is there anything I should look out for in sound quality or maybe some kind of test frequencies (I believe thats the right word choice) that I could play and listen to through my system to maybe find out what I might want to add?

post #10 of 16

^No, not really. Just... what could be better about your system sound wise? I mean just saying you want better quality sound doesn't really say much... A dedicated amp/dac might improve a little on your v-modas.

post #11 of 16
My advice is to do one of two things:

1) Read some of the many reviews about your V-modas. See if you agree with what other people say about them. You have both speakers and headphones. Think about how they sound different to you and which you like better. Then think about why you like one of them better than the other. Maybe you like that one has more bass, or maybe that one has instruments that are more clearly defined or that one simply makes you happier when you close your eyes and listen. Then, read some of the big comparison threads on head-fi and look for 'phones in your price range that seem to have the characteristics that you think might improve on your V-modas. There's no way to know for sure whether you will like a 'phone unless you listen to it yourself - but the research is kind of fun. Ultimately, you just have to take a chance and make the purchase. If you end-up not liking them as well as your V-moda, don't be disappointed - just think about *why* that is the case, listen for the differences - and then do it all over again, selecting yet another 'phone. You can either sell anything that you don't like as well (always keeping the one you like best), or you can simply keep all of them to add your collection and to use as future comparison points.

2) Stop reading head-fi. Seriously. Go and be happy with your V-modas. Don't worry about what else is available. Enjoy your music and don't look back. It will save you years of anguish and hundreds or thousands of dollars.

#1 is why the official head-fi welcome is:

Welcome to head-fi, sorry about your wallet...
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Haha yeah that's the thing though is I can't just stand by I have to experiment! Haha I suppose that's why I came here. I guess for right now I'm gonna look into buying headphones. Also with Christmas coming up, I was looking into the sennheiser hd 700 and 800 and then I was checking out the Audeez LCD 2 and I was wondering if you had any experience with them. I found a thread on it that helped a little. So I'm just looking for more opinions.

Thanks
post #13 of 16
I have briefly heard the LCD 2, LCD 3 & HD800. They do sound different, but they are all very, very good. You will find fans of all three on the forum. I have not heard the HD700. In that price tier, it is really mostly personal preference. You would probably prefer one to another, but it's doubtful anyone else could tell you information that would let you know that before you hear them.
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
Ok where would one go to test them out? I know it's gonna be different everywhere but I mean just generally. I'm thinking bit best buy so I was just curious what stores would
post #15 of 16
You aren't going to find anything close to a Sennheiser HD800 or Audeze available for demo at a Best Buy. The best they will do is order the Sennheisers for you at full retail price. IMHO, the best place to listen to a wide variety of head-fi gear is at a head-fi meet. Hopefully there might be one in your area in the future.
http://www.head-fi.org/f/24/local-regional-head-fi-meets-parties-get-togethers
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