Re: OT question about sound cards/chip-sets and high-end music systems
Paul E Condon wrote:
I don't want to just hook it up and listen, because the cable run from
where I have computers to where I have my hi-fi is ~100ft and that
distance precludes listening to different CD copies on HD in quick
succession. And maybe it really is a good way to go, but my test
indicates it is bad because I make mistakes in my test setup. ...
Please, help with this perplexity.
You are certainly right to think about this carefully. Don't even think
about playing straight out of a computer card, and the motherboard sound
ports are even worse. Signal-to-noise ratio is very poor and it's a
devil of a job to keep the hum down to manageable levels. My best
results so far are from a USB 'card' with extra earthing and short audio
cables. Oddly enough, I can't tell the difference between a Creative
Live box and a very cheap VOIP USB handset with line in and out, apart
from the fact that the cheap one causes occasional USB problems on
Debian (both Etch and Lenny) which the Creative one manages to avoid.
Even the Creative one has poor PCB layout and, of course, unbalanced
inputs and outputs.
It's OK for background listening to MP3s. Being married, I'm not too
concerned about dynamic range, but it's certainly not good enough for
'real' listening. I still buy CDs, and I keep the computers off if I'm
listening 'properly'. But I listen mostly while I'm working, usually a
few feet from a couple of fans, and the computer system is good enough
And as to recording... again, the USB card has produced the best
signal-to-noise ratio I've managed so far, about 45dB, which is just
about acceptable for background listening, but a long, long way short of
the theoretical 96dB dynamic range that 16 bits should deliver.
I would assume there are professional sound cards or boxes which offer
decent quality, but I have no expectation of finding out about them.
Like you, I spent some money in the 1970s and 80s, but can't afford to
do so now. Probably a music shop would be a better place to ask than a
But ah, the convenience... I've learned what most people probably learn,
which is that assembling my favourite tracks, even a couple of hundred,
leads to repetition and boredom, especially if I'm not paying full
attention to it.
I now generally play random selections of music by genre, varying as far
as some I don't like much at all. It makes the good ones sound better
still, and avoids the anticipation of the next track. I know it sounds
decadent, but if I'm busy I don't like to have to stop to think about
what particular music I want next, or to pick a CD off the shelf. It's
like good radio without the boring people in between...