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Need a way to quickly switch between speakers and headphones without crawling behind my computer.

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hey guys. Kinda new to audio equipment so this may need to be moved, and I apologize in advance if that's the case.

I currently have an old Logitech system (2 speakers and a sub) along with a control dial (like this one: http://www.freeimagehosting.net/uploads/00b35819b3.jpg). I'm always listening to music throughout the day, and when it's late I'll plugin my ATH-M50s to the aforementioned control dial, and listen through those.

I've decided that I want to invest in a new audio setup for my computer this holiday season. I've been eyeing the AudioEngine A5+s, as I've seen a lot of great reviews, as well as the ASUS Xonar Essence STX.

My question however isn't so much related to the equipment as it is to the headphone connectivity. As I mentioned, it's currently incredibly easy for me to just pop in my headphones when I need to keep volume at a minimum. Being that the speakers don't have a headphone jack, is there an easy way for me to switch between speakers/headphones when need be? My computer is in a cabinet in which the back is inaccessible, so having to crawl behind my desk and fiddle with the wires to swap between the two would be a nightmare. I've read about DACs but I'm not sure if that would be a solution to my problem.

Any suggestions much appreciated!

EDIT: THIS ISSUE WAS RESOLVED BY USING THIS SETUP: http://tinypic.com/r/287qis0/5


Edited by tmilton22 - 12/2/13 at 2:51pm
post #2 of 12

Hey 

 

I have a USB DAC feeding a head amp. Using MediaMonkey I simply change the computers output between the SPDIF which feeds my AV AMP and the USB output to the DAC.  This routes the sound where I want from a software change.

 

The A5+ is a powered speaker right? So you're not going to be able to pull the signal from there and will have to do it earlier in the chain.

 

The ZERO DAC (ebay) is a decent piece of kit for the money (I had one a few years back) and has the advantage of being able to pass the signal back out like a pre-amp, to your speakers or to the inbuilt head amp. It also has a handy three inputs IIRC (optical, USB and SPDIF).

 

I would suggest that's the most convenient solution and also will give you and SQ boost IMO.

 

HTH

 

Miraboy

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

First off, thank you a ton for the quick response. I really appreciate your advice!

That being said, I must admit that I'm not very well-versed in terms of audio, so much of what you said is very fuzzy to me. I'm not familiar with amps, which is evidently going to be a necessary part of the process.

From what I think I can understand however, you've got a DAC running from your computer's USB port (used for your headphones), and then your SPDIF going to your speakers, and you're using MediaMonkey to alternate between the two.

I'm not exactly sure what you mean when you say I'll have to pull the signal from "earlier in the chain".

If I were to buy the DAC you recommended, I could plug that into my computer's USB and plug my headphones into it, and then run an SPDIF cable from my soundcard to my speakers?

I'm truly sorry for making you explain this to me like a 5-year-old, I just want to make sure that I'm understanding properly before spending money on something that may not work. Thanks again.

post #4 of 12

Don't be sorry - wanting to learn stuff is what makes us human :-) (oh, and getting it wrong too). You actually got it right anyway, more or less.

 

So your PC either has build in audio and / or a sound card (although you only need the former if you are sending the digital signal somewhere else to be decoded, i.e. turned into something analog that can then be amplified).

 

You send the signal, either by USB or Optical or SPDIF to the ZERO DAC (or equiv). This then decodes the digital signal which you can choose to route to your active speakers (they are active as the amplifier is built into them) or to the inbuilt headphone amplifier.

 

The connection between the ZERO DAC and you speakers will be normal analogue RCA cables as AFAIK the speakers don't have a DAC stage in them,so the amp will need the analogue output.

 

So you need only one USB cable from PC to DAC and one set of normal stereo RCA cables from the DAC to the speakers.

 

At the press of a button, and as if by magic, you can choose where you want the sound to go.

 

Easy eh?  ;-)

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

Excellent! Thanks again for the quick response, you've been more of a help to me than the countless hours I've searched on the internet tonight haha. Just to be 100% positive here, I've created an image (it rivals Picasso) to map this out for myself, perhaps you can correct me if this is wrong:

http://tinypic.com/r/3481u6f/5

If this is correct, I wouldn't really need to purchase a soundcard, being as I'd only be using USB. Hoping I understood you correctly!

EDIT: I just read somewhere that if you do gaming, a USB DAC may not be a good idea. I do play games occasionally, so if there's any way to keep that an option, that'd be great. Perhaps I could connect the Soundcard to the DAC using SPDIF rather than using a USB DAC?


Edited by tmilton22 - 12/2/13 at 2:09am
post #6 of 12
post #7 of 12

There are several popular solutions to this common problem.

 

The most straightforward is to get yourself an audio interface that sits on your desk and has individual gain controls for speakers and 'phones. That way you can leave everything connected. Basic models start at around $100.

 

Some examples.

 

http://www.steinberg.net/en/products/audio_interfaces/ur_series/ur22.html

 

http://www.creative.com/emu/products/product.aspx?pid=20347

 

Personally I would recommend spending a little bit more to get more than one stereo output pair. 

 

Something like

 

http://uk.focusrite.com/usb-audio-interfaces/scarlett-2i4/specifications

 

Alternatives would include getting a monitor controller, a small mixer or even a distribution amp.

 

http://www.native-instruments.com/en/products/traktor/dj-audio-interfaces/traktor-audio-6/specifications/


Edited by RonaldDumsfeld - 12/2/13 at 3:26am
post #8 of 12

The external USB DAC is essentially behaving like a sound card.

 

Your image is 100% correct.

 

I play games and have no issues using an external DAC - that sounds like utter tosh to me from someone who doesn't know what they're talking about, being blunt about it.

 

The advantage of this solution over others is the leap in sound quality you will experience especially through headphones,.

 

All the best

 

M

post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmilton22 View Post
 

...

My question however isn't so much related to the equipment as it is to the headphone connectivity. As I mentioned, it's currently incredibly easy for me to just pop in my headphones when I need to keep volume at a minimum. Being that the speakers don't have a headphone jack, is there an easy way for me to switch between speakers/headphones when need be? My computer is in a cabinet in which the back is inaccessible, so having to crawl behind my desk and fiddle with the wires to swap between the two would be a nightmare. I've read about DACs but I'm not sure if that would be a solution to my problem.

Any suggestions much appreciated!

 

Hmm... doesn't your integrated audio + its mixer panel let you make those needed connections (front L/R, rear L/R (quad speaker setup))?

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RonaldDumsfeld View Post

There are several popular solutions to this common problem.

The most straightforward option is to get yourself an audio interface that sits on your desk and has individual gain controls for speakers and 'phones. That way you can leave everything connected. Basic models start at around $100.

Some examples.

http://www.steinberg.net/en/products/audio_interfaces/ur_series/ur22.html

http://www.creative.com/emu/products/product.aspx?pid=20347

Personally I would recommend spending a little bit more to get more than one stereo output pair. 

Something like

http://uk.focusrite.com/usb-audio-interfaces/scarlett-2i4/specifications

Alternatives would include getting a monitor controller, a small mixer or even a distribution amp.

http://www.native-instruments.com/en/products/traktor/dj-audio-interfaces/traktor-audio-6/specifications/

Between a USB Audio Interface and a USB DAC, would one be a better option than the other?
post #11 of 12

Same thing really. An interface is more versatile is all.

 

 

 

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 

Wonderful, It's always nice to have options.

I really appreciate everyone's help in this thread! I think I'm finally ready to purchase the pieces I need to get started.

 

EDIT: To anyone else who may stumble across this in the future, this was the solution that we came up with in this thread: http://tinypic.com/r/287qis0/5


Edited by tmilton22 - 12/2/13 at 2:50pm
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