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Can I ask for some some thoughts please on a possible hookup between my DAW mixer and home stereo amplifier?

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Can I ask for some some thoughts please on a possible hookup between my DAW mixer and home stereo amplifier?

Postby alexis » Tue Feb 05, 2013 1:24 am

Hello -

After burning a lot of CDs to play on my home stereo system to see how things might sound different there than at the DAW, I realized that with only 10 meters or so separating the two areas, maybe I could do it differently.

The back of the home amplifier has L/R inputs with what I think are called RCA cables, the cables look like this: [url=http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=picture+of+"RCA"+cable&id=7C28817C05FD40465A9EB19D973676700CF62147&FORM=IQFRBA#view=detail&id=6EDA5C7EA6D820DBD72417A9A78BCC4F1FE252C9&selectedIndex=117]The connectors look like the ones in this picture[/url] .

The amplifier inputs are labelled in two columns (L/R) as: "CD" ; "MD/CD-R In(Play)" , and "MD/CD-R Out (Rec)" ; and then "6 Channel Input" (which is for 5.2, I believe, it has "Main", "Surround", and "Subwoofer" labels).

I have balanced L/R outputs coming from my DAW mixer.

Would it work to make up a couple of T/S-to-RCA connectors and connect the two pieces of equipment over this distance?

Thanks for any thoughts!
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Re: Can I ask for some some thoughts please on a possible hookup between my DAW mixer and home stereo amplifier?

Postby The Elf » Tue Feb 05, 2013 9:00 am

There's no reason this wouldn't work, but there are alternatives.

I have a little docking station for my Archos player (you can do much the same with iPods) that lets me play up to 5.1 audio wirelessly from my network to my hi-fi (or take it with me to play in headphones), I use CD-RWs for my car (I get around a year of re-use from each disc) and Flash-RAM for the lady-elf's car. Maybe one of these methods can be put to use instead of cabling?
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Re: Can I ask for some some thoughts please on a possible hookup between my DAW mixer and home stereo amplifier?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Feb 05, 2013 9:31 am

With any unbalanced input device there is a strong likelihood of creating ground loops that will result in audible hum.

The easiest way around that is to use a line isolation transformer to both break the ground paths between the balanced and unbalanced equipment, and also to efect the format change from balanced to unbalanced.

The most cost-effective option I've found that maintains quality to a reasonably high standard is the ART CleanBox II. It has jack sockets on both sides, so you'd need TRS-TRS (or XLR(f)-TRS) cables for the balanced side, and TS-RCA-phono leads for the unbalanced side. It is best if you put the transformer box near the unbalanced equipment -- but keep it well away from any mains transformers in the equipment!

Amore versatile alternative is the ART DTI box, which does the same thing but has XLR, jack and RCA-phono sockets on both sides, so it works as a very handy connector converter as well -- and in your situation you could then use ordinary phono-phono cables for the hifi side.

Finally, be careful with signal levels. Most domestic hi-fis are designed to work with nominal -10dBV signal levels. Depending on your interface and its configuration, and whether you work with sensible headroom margins or no margins at all, you may well be generating balanced output levels of around +20 to +24dBu which will be way too hot for the domestic kit. So be prepared to attenuate the outputs feding the hi-fi by anything up to 20dB to avoid overloading it.

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Re: Can I ask for some some thoughts please on a possible hookup between my DAW mixer and home stereo amplifier?

Postby alexis » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:46 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:With any unbalanced input device there is a strong likelihood of creating ground loops that will result in audible hum.

The easiest way around that is to use a line isolation transformer to both break the ground paths between the balanced and unbalanced equipment, and also to efect the format change from balanced to unbalanced.

The most cost-effective option I've found that maintains quality to a reasonably high standard is the ART CleanBox II. It has jack sockets on both sides, so you'd need TRS-TRS (or XLR(f)-TRS) cables for the balanced side, and TS-RCA-phono leads for the unbalanced side. It is best if you put the transformer box near the unbalanced equipment -- but keep it well away from any mains transformers in the equipment!

Amore versatile alternative is the ART DTI box, which does the same thing but has XLR, jack and RCA-phono sockets on both sides, so it works as a very handy connector converter as well -- and in your situation you could then use ordinary phono-phono cables for the hifi side.

Finally, be careful with signal levels. Most domestic hi-fis are designed to work with nominal -10dBV signal levels. Depending on your interface and its configuration, and whether you work with sensible headroom margins or no margins at all, you may well be generating balanced output levels of around +20 to +24dBu which will be way too hot for the domestic kit. So be prepared to attenuate the outputs feding the hi-fi by anything up to 20dB to avoid overloading it.

hugh

Thank you The Elf and Hugh!

I have purchased the ART DTI box, looks like it'll be perfect. Thanks also for the usage tips (keep away from the power supply, attenuate). No wireless audio at home, but the mobile options are similar to what I use. But now I won't have to burn a CD every time I want to listen on the home "hi-fi"!

Thanks again -
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Re: Can I ask for some some thoughts please on a possible hookup between my DAW mixer and home stereo amplifier?

Postby alexis » Thu Feb 07, 2013 7:52 pm

Equipment arrives tomorrow, with any luck I'll have a bit of time to set things up this weekend.

Just to clarify, re: feeding a signal that is too hot to the home amplifier (which has RCA inputs) - is there a real danger of hurting it in a significant way (as I think Mr. Robjohns suggested), or is it just that things will come out too loud?

If true and permanent badness is a possibility, knowing myself and tendency to sometimes forget to to do things like turn down the volume ... would an attenuator or "limiter" of some sort be a good idea, placed between the ADT box and the amplifier (the latter which has RCA inputs, as above, called "phono" plugs also)? Or is there perhaps a single unit that combines these functions that might be recommended?


Thanks much!
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Re: Can I ask for some some thoughts please on a possible hookup between my DAW mixer and home stereo amplifier?

Postby Gone To Lunch » Thu Feb 07, 2013 8:49 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:With any unbalanced input device there is a strong likelihood of creating ground loops that will result in audible hum.

The easiest way around that is to use a line isolation transformer to both break the ground paths between the balanced and unbalanced equipment, and also to efect the format change from balanced to unbalanced.

The most cost-effective option I've found that maintains quality to a reasonably high standard is the ART CleanBox II. It has jack sockets on both sides, so you'd need TRS-TRS (or XLR(f)-TRS) cables for the balanced side, and TS-RCA-phono leads for the unbalanced side. It is best if you put the transformer box near the unbalanced equipment -- but keep it well away from any mains transformers in the equipment!

Amore versatile alternative is the ART DTI box, which does the same thing but has XLR, jack and RCA-phono sockets on both sides, so it works as a very handy connector converter as well -- and in your situation you could then use ordinary phono-phono cables for the hifi side.

Finally, be careful with signal levels. Most domestic hi-fis are designed to work with nominal -10dBV signal levels. Depending on your interface and its configuration, and whether you work with sensible headroom margins or no margins at all, you may well be generating balanced output levels of around +20 to +24dBu which will be way too hot for the domestic kit. So be prepared to attenuate the outputs feding the hi-fi by anything up to 20dB to avoid overloading it.

hugh

I did exactly this a while ago and it works brilliantly !

I have a MOTU 828 mk3 with balanced outs, and I just got a long cable to the ART box Hugh recommends.

I can now test/compare my mixes in my back bedroom where I do all my leisure listening, and it is VERY informative....also have a tuner plugged into my bedroom hi-fi so I can compare with broadcast tracks.

Also very interesting how simply not being in the familiarity of the working environment informs critical listening.
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Re: Can I ask for some some thoughts please on a possible hookup between my DAW mixer and home stereo amplifier?

Postby alexis » Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:10 am

Glad to hear, GTL!

Re: Hugh's comment about caution w/ sending a signal too hot to the home amplifier. My initial thought was buying some sort of hardware attenuator for protection, but the thought occurred to me that instead I could put a brickwall limiter in the last slot of the bus routed to the home stereo speaker.

Would that be safe enough, and if so - what is a good way of determining what level to limit the signal to?

Thanks much -
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Re: Can I ask for some some thoughts please on a possible hookup between my DAW mixer and home stereo amplifier?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:03 am

alexis wrote:Just to clarify, re: feeding a signal that is too hot to the home amplifier (which has RCA inputs) - is there a real danger of hurting it in a significant way (as I think Mr. Robjohns suggested), or is it just that things will come out too loud?

The risk is of overloading the hi-fi preamp input stage. You are unlikely to damage the preamp, but if the volume is turned up at the time you might hurt your ears and worry the speakers. So I would suggest that when you first connect this up you keep the hi-fi volume control down and only turn it up with care initially.

You will then need to establish the most appropriate output level to set for the computer interface outputs feeding the hi-fi, to deliver a level similar to that from your other hi-fi sources.

would an attenuator or "limiter" of some sort be a good idea, placed between the ADT box and the amplifier

It depends how convenient (or otherwise) it is to set an appropriate level from the computer interface, but certainly an attenuator at the hifi input would be one solution. I wouldn't recommend a limiter in the chain because that would affect the sound character of the music you're trying to assess.

If you're handy with a soldering iron it is trivially simple to build suitable attenuators with a few resistors. My approach would be to build a balanced 12dB or 20dB attenuator into the XLR plugs connecting to the transformer box. XLRs have plenty of space for the resistors.

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Re: Can I ask for some some thoughts please on a possible hookup between my DAW mixer and home stereo amplifier?

Postby Dynamic Mike » Fri Feb 08, 2013 8:24 pm

Could you patch the master bus to another mixer channel & simply use the channel trim pot in the mixer in 6.5 to attenuate it?
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Re: Can I ask for some some thoughts please on a possible hookup between my DAW mixer and home stereo amplifier?

Postby alexis » Sat Feb 09, 2013 5:51 pm

Firstly, thank you to everyone for helping me - I've now got Hugh's ART box set up, and can run sound from my DAW to the home stereo and it's wonderful!

And for now, as in Mr. Dynamic Mike's suggestion - I'm able to control the signal strength to the home stereo with a trim on my mixer. I'm running the signal out of my main monitor outputs, and listening at the DAW via headphones to make that work. If I switch my main monitor outputs to my main monitors instead, I can still control the signal strength to the home stereo with trim knobs by running the signal there via Direct Outs 1 and 2, but the potential problem there is that they have individual non-precisely calibrated trims and I suppose there's the risk altering the balance by not having exactly an equal amount of trim on the two channels. But I am VERY happy with the set up for now - thank you again!

Now I am getting greedy and would like to also listen to my DAW mix on the upstairs bedroom speakers. These are way too far to run cables to (and it is kind of messy looking, after all it's a house, not a studio). So, I think I'll at least start looking into wireless options like The Elf suggested way on high. Can anyone (The Elf, are you still reading this by any chance? ) share their experiences using wireless units for this purpose, what units they might be using, etc.?

Thanks!
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Re: Can I ask for some some thoughts please on a possible hookup between my DAW mixer and home stereo amplifier?

Postby The Elf » Sat Feb 09, 2013 6:05 pm

alexis wrote:(The Elf, are you still reading this by any chance? )
I am!

I have one of those very useful ART boxes for interfacing guitar pedals (and such as my Kaoss Pads) to my DAW - I could do with a dozen of them!

There are many wireless options for you. Many are dedicated streaming devices, but I have no experience of those. I use a Playstation 3 and an XBox for streaming (I have them wired, but wireless works fine too). I also stream stuff to my iPhone (I use the free 'Fusion Stream' app) and to the lady elf's iPad. It's all good.

For my mixes I pop them in my Dropbox and they're instantly available on any Dropbox-capable device. It means I can instantly share them with any interested parties too.

Lots of options!
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Re: Can I ask for some some thoughts please on a possible hookup between my DAW mixer and home stereo amplifier?

Postby Martin Walker » Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:18 am

Gone To Lunch wrote: did exactly this a while ago and it works brilliantly !

Me too, and it was well worth the effort despite having to drill holes through several walls


...Also very interesting how simply not being in the familiarity of the working environment informs critical listening.

I found that too - my sitting room hi-fi isn't quite as rarefied as my studio gear, but since I listen to the TV and all my videos through it on a daily basis it provides an extremely good reference, as well as more comfortable sofas and the means to put my feet up at the same time (it's good to be relaxed when you're listening if at all possible )


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Re: Can I ask for some some thoughts please on a possible hookup between my DAW mixer and home stereo amplifier?

Postby Gone To Lunch » Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:57 am

Martin Walker wrote:
Gone To Lunch wrote: did exactly this a while ago and it works brilliantly !

Me too, and it was well worth the effort despite having to drill holes through several walls


...Also very interesting how simply not being in the familiarity of the working environment informs critical listening.

I found that too - my sitting room hi-fi isn't quite as rarefied as my studio gear, but since I listen to the TV and all my videos through it on a daily basis it provides an extremely good reference, as well as more comfortable sofas and the means to put my feet up at the same time (it's good to be relaxed when you're listening if at all possible )


Martin

On the benefits of different listening environments, I also put a line into my kitchen, to feed some old hi-fi speakers from ebay, and that too is very informative, and I also bought a Behringer mini mixer so I could connect two pairs of deliberately bad speakers from a a well known hight st outlet and that too was a great help.

What is really interesting is that I use the non-studio monitors just described more and more, and trying to get a sort of lowest common denominator mix between all this stuff gives me the best results, as they all have obvious yet different weaknesses...
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Re: Can I ask for some some thoughts please on a possible hookup between my DAW mixer and home stereo amplifier?

Postby alexis » Mon Feb 11, 2013 5:17 pm

The Elf wrote:
alexis wrote:(The Elf, are you still reading this by any chance? )
I am!

I have one of those very useful ART boxes for interfacing guitar pedals (and such as my Kaoss Pads) to my DAW - I could do with a dozen of them!

There are many wireless options for you. Many are dedicated streaming devices, but I have no experience of those. I use a Playstation 3 and an XBox for streaming (I have them wired, but wireless works fine too). I also stream stuff to my iPhone (I use the free 'Fusion Stream' app) and to the lady elf's iPad. It's all good.

For my mixes I pop them in my Dropbox and they're instantly available on any Dropbox-capable device. It means I can instantly share them with any interested parties too.

Lots of options!

Playstation 3 and X-Box ... I believe we have at least one of those lying around, will have to see if they are wireless enabled. Am I hoping too much, or will those, with proper wired connections at each end, do the trick even if none of the home equipment is wireless?

Thanks!
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Re: Can I ask for some some thoughts please on a possible hookup between my DAW mixer and home stereo amplifier?

Postby The Elf » Mon Feb 11, 2013 6:04 pm

alexis wrote:Am I hoping too much, or will those, with proper wired connections at each end, do the trick even if none of the home equipment is wireless?

Wired networking is usually preferable, if you can manage it.

Your PS3/XBox will find your PC as a Media Server. WMP needs to be made aware of any media you want to share (video, music or photos), and then it will be available. It's all pretty straight-forward.
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Re: Can I ask for some some thoughts please on a possible hookup between my DAW mixer and home stereo amplifier?

Postby alexis » Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:23 pm

The Elf wrote:
alexis wrote:Am I hoping too much, or will those, with proper wired connections at each end, do the trick even if none of the home equipment is wireless?
Wired networking is usually preferable, if you can manage it.

Your PS3/XBox will find your PC as a Media Server. WMP needs to be made aware of any media you want to share (video, music or photos), and then it will be available. It's all pretty straight-forward.

Venturing into a new area, I have some questions, either for The Elf or someone else who might know and want to give him a break!

My computer isn't internet connected. The other computers are hooked up to the home wireless network, so I know I can get a USB device for the computer to tell it to find the wireless network in a similar fashion.

1) Will that then enable the X-box/Playstation to find the computer (after talking to WMP as described)?
2) Either blindingly obvious, or clearly wrong, but ... I'll need to connect the X-Box physically to the speakers/monitors at the other end from my computer, right? Will I need an ART box or something similar?
3) Is the range of the X-Box pretty good ("upstairs and down the hall"), or just mainly for across the room?

That's it for now ... thanks!
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