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question about proposed audio/video setup

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I am looking to set my room with a sweet audio/video setup. I would like to be able to choose audio to come from my tv, or from my computer, and go to either my speakers, or to my headphones. My tv and computer will be connected via hdmi. Off my computer I will have a dac, going into a 2 input, 1 output switch. The other input will be coming from the tv. The output goes into an amp. The first switch let's me decide weather my audio input into my amp is from computer/dac, or tv. At the amp out, I'll have a 1 input, 2 output switch that lets me decide whether to send the audio out a set of speakers, or to headphones. If I choose to send through headphones, it goes to a 1 input, 4 output switch, where I'll have 4 headphones plugged in, and be able to decide which I'd like to use. My question is, will there be any noticeable degradation in sound quality over such a long chain. if I play audio from my computer, through headphones, the sound must go through a dac, a switch, a amp, then 2 more switches. I guess I could remove 1 switch and have my a/b/c/d switch coming off the amp, and one output to the speakers and the other 3 to headphones. I'm open to suggestions. I think the setup would be pretty sweet, but I don't want to spend a bunch, only to discover it sounds terrible going through so many things. From my understanding it's no problem going through a dac, amp and switch. Will going through another switch or 2 even be noticeable? Also, is there a way to dac the tv in a setup like that, or can I only take the audio, and amplify it and send out to the speakers? I am attaching a rough draft drawing of my first idea. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
post #2 of 6

That looks too complicated, and possibly even incorrect. Here's a few thoughts how I would run it:

- If your TV has an optical output, I'd connect it through the DAC with USB and Toslink inputs and use input selection on the DAC to toggle between TV and PC

- Not sure what kind of amp and speakers you have in mind, but switching between speakers and headphones after the amp may be a problem due to different signal levels required. If you have active speakers in mind that may work, but I would prefer to have separate volume control for the speakers.

- You could also consider a DAC/preamp/HPamp combo and have hour headphones switch plugged to the HP out in the DAC, and use the line out into the speaker amp (or directly to active speakers)

- That a/b/c/d switch seems like an overkill to me. Can't you just unplug one headphone and plug in another?

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for the input! I'm fairly new to all of this. I know what I want to be able to do with the setup, but I figured my approach may be off, which is why I figured I'd ask, cuz I'm a little dumb to this stuff still. lots to learn. Before I go too gung ho on my setup, I'd like to have a semi clear vision of how to go about it. I didn't realize I could plug both tv and computer into a dac, and use the dac as a switcher. I will be looking for that when I look at dacs now. I'm not sure what I'll get for speakers yet, nothing too pricy. a new thought is that I could grab a receiver to power the speakers, which brings plenty power, and independent volume control, and also eliminates another switch, as I can shut off the receiver when I don't want sound through the speakers. I'd just need a y cable coming from the dac, one side to the receiver, the other side to a headphone amp. Then possibly a headphone switcher off the amp, which would then be the only switcher. I guess I could plug and unplug headphones, but I hate the idea of wearing out the headphone port on an expensive amp, or even the jack on the headphone cable, especially a non removable cable. Thank you so much for the help. You gave me an idea for a much cleaner setup. It's not going to be a fast build, but I think I have a clearer idea of it now. More input and ideas are welcome smily_headphones1.gif
post #4 of 6
I agree with PleasantSounds - if we assume the speakers are powered speakers, then what you have would probably work, but I think the two switches after the amp are a mistake.

I would rather see a line-out from the DAC go directly to the powered speakers. There's no reason to send input to powered speakers through a headphone amp. I'm assuming the powered speakers have their own volume control.

As a general rule, you want to amplify a signal only once between the source and the drivers (speakers or headphones), and if possible, you want the amplifier immediately before the drivers in the chain.

I think I might give this little sucker a try, especially if your TV has a digital optical output : http://us.creative.com/p/sound-blaster/sound-blaster-omni-surround-5-1

I wouldn't use the 1:4 switch. I have yet to see switches similar to those that didn't eventually cause issues. The jacks are just not very high-quality and they can become scratchy & noisey. I suspect you will not change headphones as often as you may think. If you are really worried about the jack on the amp, then use a short good quality extension cable that you can leave plugged-in to the amp.
post #5 of 6

Happy to help. 

A few more thoughts:

- If you're planning to get a receiver, hold off the purchase of the headphone amp. The headphone out in the receiver may be good enough - at least to begin with.

- The same goes for DAC: receivers usually can handle this job quite well. This way you also avoid all the switches and y-splitters as the receiver can handle all these functions (except the headphone switch)

- In that setup PC becomes a HDMI input to the receiver and TV is HDMI output (no direct connection from PC to TV necessary). You may still need to feed the sound back from TV to the receiver (most likely via Toslink), if your TV is anything more than a dumb display - i.e. if you actually use the TV tuner.

- You are probably worrying too much about the durability of headphone connectors: they are designed to be used. In fact with time the contact surfaces can get oxidized or just dirty and re-plugging headphones may actually improve connection.

Have fun putting it all together!

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
Well I think my mind has been completely changed.. should be a cleaner, easier, cheaper setup.. gonna see what there is for dac receivers.. If they are all out of my price range, I'll look at getting a separate dac to feed into a cheaper receiver.. I'm sure a receiver would have more than enough juice to power any headphone. Maybe I can find some sweet holiday deals on equipment. appreciate the new perspective you gave me. I already have a microstreamer. Thinking of grabbing a fiio e12.. that will be good enough headphone setup for me for now.. The rest will come slowly. Getting too ambitious for my budget. I don't think I can afford all these projects I'm trying to take on.. I'm piecing together a custom build headphone. I'll definitely have questions about that. But now I'm rambling off topic.. lol.. The help is appreciated
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