HOWTO: Make a coax SPDIF output bracket - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 53 Old 02-20-2008, 04:02 PM - Thread Starter
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As the SPDIF Out bracket issue is a common one here, I thought I'd whip up a HOWTO re: building your own from mostly junk/leftover/"free" parts. This guide assumes the BioStar TF7050 motherboard, whose SPDIFOUT header has the ground and SPDIF OUT signal line pins next to each other. Some motherboards arrange the SPDIF signal and ground pins so they are separated by other pins.

This is a great "first timers" soldering project, as it's probably the absolute simplest wiring/soldering can get. This guide assumes basic soldering skills. Here are links to some beginners guides to soldering:

http://www.epemag.wimborne.co.uk/solderfaq.htm
http://www.elexp.com/t_solder.htm
http://www.vansairforce.net/articles...gTechnique.htm
http://solder.net/technical/tips.asp


DISCLAIMER: It is up to the reader to determine if your motherboard SPDIF OUT pinout supplies 5V TTL level or ~.5V - 1V coax-like voltage levels. Connecting a 5V source to a device expecting the lower non-TTL level voltage may damage your equipment.

Most motherboards have both an SPDIF OUT pin and a 5V pin on the same SPDIF header.

DO NOT CONNECT THE 5V for a coax (RCA) SPDIF connection!

The 5V pin is to provide power for an optical SPDIF (TOSlink) module, which we're NOT using in this HOWTO.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TOSLINK

http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/How_to_bu..._SPDIF_bracket

http://www.sys-concept.com/toslink_receiver.htm

From
http://sound.westhost.com/project85.htm

"TTL Transistor-Transistor Logic - used by nearly all digital logic circuits
TTL is typically (but not always!) 5V (on), and 0V (off). TTL is used as a matter of course within nearly all digital devices, and almost all logic ICs are compatible with these signal levels. TTL S/PDIF outputs are also provided on many sound cards. Many suppliers sell add-on units to accomplish TTL to COAX or TTL to TOSLINK conversion.

COAX Coaxial cable - 75 ohm cable connected with RCA plugs
The coaxial interface uses 75 ohm COAX cable with RCA (phono) connectors. Standard audio interconnect cables will work for transmitting S/PDIF over short distances, but anything over 0.5 metre or so should use 75 ohm cable. The unloaded signal is nominally +/-0.5V and must be terminated with 75 ohms on the receiving end - the resulting signal is +/-0.25V when terminated. Naturally, audio 'speciality' shops love to sell the 'ultimate' cable for up to several hundred dollars, but a cable which you can easily make yourself should cost no more than $10-20 using good quality 75 ohm cable and connectors.

TOSLINK An optical fibre connection
The TOSLINK interface uses optical fibre cables that plug into TOSLINK modules. These modules send or receive a TTL signal. Again, speciality cables will make no difference to the final sound quality, so don't be caught out by the glib sales person who insists that you have to spend serious money to get the best sound. Good quality fibre cables are essential however, as degradation of the optical signal will cause distortion, noise and even loss of signal in extreme cases."


PARTS LIST:
(See linked pics or pics attached to the end of this post)

Spare rear slot cover bracket. Extras are included with most cases, or cannibalize from an old defective ISA/PCI/AGP/PCIe card or old unused case, or remove one installed in your current PC and add the RCA jack to it.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...6&d=1204077907

A 4 pin "MPC" CD/DVD-ROM analog or 2 pin CDROM SPDIF digital audio out cable like these, packed for free with many CDROM/DVD-ROM/Writer drives. The 2 pin cable was included with Creative Labs SoundBlaster Live cards back in the day

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...8&d=1203645239

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...9&d=1203645239

http://www.cablewholesale.com/catalog/cdromcables.htm

EDIT 080916:
Another option is to use an old hard disk LED cable or other 2-pin motherboard panel wire (Reset, Power Switch, Power LED, etc) as shown in attached/linked below photo hdLED.jpg. Thanks to LT72884 for the suggestion! Any old case has plenty of these to salvage. Just cut off the LED, switch or whatever is on the end opposite the motherboard connector.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...9&d=1221612783

EDIT 090121:
If you can't find a 2 wire/pin assembly to cannibalize, Monoprice.com (forum sponsor) has some very low cost 2 pin SPDIF cable assemblies with nice insulation jacket. One 50 cent cable can make two coax SPDIF brackets if you cut it in two:

http://www.monoprice.com/products/pr...seq=1&format=2

Threaded female RCA ("cinch" for the Euro folks ) panel jack (you could try to cannibalize one from old electronics):

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...2&d=1233318465

http://www.radioshack.com/product/in...entPage=family

http://www.partsexpress.com/pe/showd...number=090-280

TOOL LIST:

Soldering iron
Solder
Wire cutters or good scissors
Xacto knife or single sided razor blade/boxcutter
Wire stripper or equivalent (your front teeth )
Drill- 13V-18V Cordless drills work great
1/4" drill bit for metal (for Parts Express or Radio Shack RCA Jacks shown)
File or deburring bit on a rotary tool (Dremel or compatible) for cleaning up drill hole if needed
Electrical tape or shrink tube

CONSTRUCTION:

If using the 4 pin "MPC" style analog CDROM cable:
With small wire cutters or a fresh X-acto blade, cut/trim off two of the pinouts on one end connector, keeping one black and one white or red wire intact in the black connector. The idea is to make one of the 4 pin MPC connector ends look like the 2 pin CDROM SPDIF connector (see attached pic), again assuming your motherboard SPDIFOUT and Ground (Earth) pins are next to each other.

Trim off the connector retention clip, too. Near the other end, cut off the connector and strip the wires enough to solder the wire ends to the RCA connector.

If the pinouts on your motherboard have the SPDIF OUT signal line separated from the ground line by one or two pins in between, just cut the 4 pin MPC connector down the middle and trim off the center pins you don't need, in order to create two separate signal pins, one for the SPDIF OUT signal pin and one for ground pin. Snip back the two unused wires of the 4 wire MPC cable assembly and wrap to the main bundle with electrical tape, to prevent accidental shorts.

If you use a 2 pin SPDIF CD/DVDROM audio out cable, you don't need to do no trimmin' Just cut near one end, or in the middle if the cable is long enough to make two- one for SPDIF IN or another OUT for another PC.

Drill a hole to match the size of the threaded end of the female RCA connector. See RCA connector specs from the links above. For the Parts Express RCA jacks linked above, a 1/4" drill bit should do.

Drill into the center of the slot bracket using any general purpose drill bit- most slot covers use soft metal. For harder slot covers, be sure to use metal-rated/hardened drill bits.

You could also drill and mount an RCA connector to the back of your PC case, instead. DON'T DRILL the back of the case with a motherboard already mounted! The metal filings/shavings will contaminate your motherboard and/or other components and cause shorts, burning out your motherboard, power supply or other cards/components. If you plan to drill or cut into your PC case, the case should be EMPTY. After drilling and de-burring the drill hole, be sure to clean out the metal filings. Blow out the case with a can of compressed air or a compressor, then wipe down the insides of the case. THEN mount your motherboard, power supply, etc.

A slot cover bracket will allow you to sell the bracket or use the bracket with the motherboard in another case easily, and avoids the metal filings/shavings contamination issue.

Pilot the threaded side (solder side) of the female RCA connector into the hole you drilled, from the external case side, and fasten with included nut and washer. The Ground lug goes on FIRST, BEFORE the washer (if included- I omit the washer, since the ground lug acts as a washer) and then the nut. After the nut is fastened, bend the ground lug up and away from the slot bracket or case at about a 45 degree angle to make it easy to solder (clearance).

Solder the black wire to the outer ground lug/washer, and the white or red wire to the center conductor of the RCA connector. See diagram below. Use smaller diameter, lower temp solder to make the job easy and not melt the center insulator in the RCA connector. Wire color doesn't matter, but its best for wire color assignments to adhere to known electrical standards- black for ground, white/yellow/green/$ANYCOLOR for the SPDIF signal out. Red usually means Power/voltage/"Hot".

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...2&d=1233318465

Wrap each solder joint with electrical tape, then wrap the connector/wire assembly with electrical tape for strain relief and also to prevent electrical shorts.

If you want to impress your geek friends, use shrink tube over each solder joint, then shrink tube over the RCA/wire end assembly . Thread the wires through the shrink tube before soldering.

Attach the connector you trimmed to the motherboard SPDIF Signal Out and SPDIF Ground, ensuring to match the black to ground and white/red/$ANYCOLOR to the SPDIF-OUT Signal, NOT the 5V/"Power" output!

Congratulations! You've completed your SPDIF output for your new uber Linux-powered media PC!

Enable SPDIF Output on your Soundcard in Ubuntu 8.04-9.04

(right click on Speaker icon in task bar systray, upper right)-> Open Volume Control
-> Preferences (near bottom right of dialog)
-> (check all options labeled "IEC 958", the electrical engineering term for SPDIF)
-> Close
-> Switches tab (appears after you enable the IEC958 options in Preferences)
-> Check all IEC958 (SPDIF) checkboxes
-> Close
LL
LL
LL
LL
LL
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post #2 of 53 Old 02-20-2008, 06:06 PM
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If the RCA plug contacts the case, couldn't you technically do without the ground cable? I wouldn't recommend it at all, I'm just wondering electrically.
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post #3 of 53 Old 02-20-2008, 06:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daravon View Post

If the RCA plug contacts the case, couldn't you technically do without the ground cable? I wouldn't recommend it at all, I'm just wondering electrically.

Probably, assuming there isn't excessive electrical noise in your PC and you have good ground continuity- try it and report back.
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post #4 of 53 Old 02-20-2008, 06:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Last year, some forum members have recommended this-
http://www.frontx.com/pro/p1062_030p2.gif

http://www.frontx.com/store/order_pb.html

but the pinouts are wrong for the Biostar TF7050PV, so you might as well make your own if you still have to hack up the motherboard-end connector, plus you still would need to drill out the case.

However, the frontX cable has a plastic insulated RCA end, so that may address the grounding issue.

If you're really worried about grounding, you could also simply splice and solder the motherboard connector you make from the MPC/CDROM SPDIF cable with a female RCA cable you cut from a commercial audio cable, and run the finished female RCA cable through a hole or empty rear case slot without a slot cover.
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post #5 of 53 Old 02-26-2008, 06:44 PM - Thread Starter
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I tested this SPDIF coax bracket design on a Foxconn 6150K8MA motherboard
http://www.pcstats.com/artvnl.cfm?articleID=1865

and SPDIF digital audio worked and sounded fine on a receiver, though I only tested PCM stereo and not Dolby Digital nor DTS, though I assume these bitstreams should pass fine from an appropriate software player and associated settings.

So, I'm confident this design should work with any motherboard SPDIF OUT header, assuming it's meant for a coax bracket (~0.5V level) and not optical, which requires the 5V pin to power the light used for the optical connection.
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post #6 of 53 Old 02-27-2008, 02:35 PM - Thread Starter
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If you need optical SPDIF, convert the coax bracket to optical externally with

http://www.cablewholesale.com/specs/10tr-08200.htm

or if you want to demonstrate your l33t g33x hardware haxor skillz, tear one of these apart and adapt to the inside of your case or custom bracket
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post #7 of 53 Old 02-29-2008, 09:07 AM
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They're all the same aside from the connector, right? Any reason I couldn't buy a bracket (ASUS has some for not too much money, for their motherboards, with coax + optical) and just change the connector for my motherboard?
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post #8 of 53 Old 02-29-2008, 02:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nybbler View Post

They're all the same aside from the connector, right? Any reason I couldn't buy a bracket (ASUS has some for not too much money, for their motherboards, with coax + optical) and just change the connector for my motherboard?

I probably wouldn't say "all" are the same- just be sure to check the pin assignments on any commercial SPDIF bracket you plan to buy.

If the pins are SPDIF, ground and possibly 5V (for brackets with optical SPDIF connectors), then yes, you should be able to use it on any motherboard with the same corresponding signal pins, cutting off the incompatible motherboard connector and soldering a connector compatible with your motherboard SPDIF pins. Modify an MPC 4 pin connector per the original post and solder the correct wires to the corresponding wires you cut from the commercial bracket.

The point of the HOWTO was for the new DIY'ers who may have spare parts lying around, enabling them to build a bracket for free.

But buying a commercial bracket and changing the motherboard connector to be compatible with your motherboard is a good option, too, especially if you need optical out, which requires the 5V pin to power the LED light- the "optical" part of the TOSlink connector

Besides, this HOWTO is in the spirit of the Good Old Days of avsforum (circa 1999 - 2002), when this type of post was the norm, and certain commercial interests hadn't overwhelmed and overly biased certain forum areas yet
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post #9 of 53 Old 02-29-2008, 03:37 PM
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I found the Gigabyte one at pcconnection.com. You don't have to change the pin-out for the TF7025/50. Optical doesn't work for me, but I prefer Coax anyway.
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post #10 of 53 Old 03-01-2008, 11:57 AM
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I just tried adapting my ASUS bracket to an MSI motherboard (pulling 5V from elsewhere on the board), and caused the optical out to fail (no more light, even back on the Asus board, though coax out still works on both). It's possible I just zapped it though. I have another bracket to wrec...err, try.

Update: Turns out it didn't work because the ASUS bracket expects to receive the TTL output from the ALC880 chip. The MSI board has a voltage divider on board to reduce the output to S/PDIF standard levels. I managed to get around this by soldering a wire on the input to the voltage divider and wrapping it onto one of the N/C pins and connecting the bracket there. Works now, even if this is a bit of an extreme. I needed optical and I didn't want to deal with an external device. I don't think the other bracket failed from being connected to the low-voltage output, probably I static-shocked it.
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post #11 of 53 Old 06-25-2008, 12:42 AM
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I have successfully used the FrontX adapter linked earlier in this thread connected to a Biostar TF720 motherboard. I had to move the white (S/PDIF) pin from the outside edge to the middle pin. This is easily accomplished by using a small flathead screw driver (eye glass repair kit) to lift the small plastic tab holding the pin in the connector then sliding the pin out. I mounted the adapter on an expansion slot cover.

- Jim
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post #12 of 53 Old 09-15-2008, 06:38 PM
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ello all. i have been trying all day to find a spdif out cable for my GA-M61PME-S2 mobo. then i can up with me own idea to make me own coax out cable. What i would like to know is if this tutorial will work for my board. i have 3 pins on the board. in the book, Pin number 1 is red wire, pin 2 is white and pin 3 is black and thats all i know. if you look at this link, you will notice it has 3 wires and both optical and coax.


all i need is coax and im curious if i need the 3 wires or what? I know that red is power or at least i think so.

I do not know which one is the actual spdif pin. any help would be cool

thanx
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post #13 of 53 Old 09-15-2008, 06:39 PM
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second post before i can post a link
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post #14 of 53 Old 09-15-2008, 06:40 PM
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three posts and now for the fourth
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ello all. i have been trying all day to find a spdif out cable for my GA-M61PME-S2 mobo. then i came up with me own idea to make me own coax out cable. What i would like to know is if this tutorial will work for my board. i have 3 pins on the board. in the book, Pin number 1 is red wire, pin 2 is white and pin 3 is black and thats all i know. if you look at this link, you will notice it has 3 wires and both optical and coax.

http://www.nix.ru/autocatalog/mother...byte/46229.jpg

all i need is coax and im curious if i need the 3 wires or what? I know that red is power or at least i think so.

I do not know which one is the actual spdif pin. any help would be cool

thanx
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post #16 of 53 Old 09-15-2008, 08:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LT72884 View Post

ello all. i have been trying all day to find a spdif out cable for my GA-M61PME-S2 mobo. then i came up with me own idea to make me own coax out cable. What i would like to know is if this tutorial will work for my board. i have 3 pins on the board. in the book, Pin number 1 is red wire, pin 2 is white and pin 3 is black and thats all i know. if you look at this link, you will notice it has 3 wires and both optical and coax.

http://www.nix.ru/autocatalog/mother...byte/46229.jpg

all i need is coax and im curious if i need the 3 wires or what? I know that red is power or at least i think so.

I do not know which one is the actual spdif pin. any help would be cool

thanx

According to page 27 in the manual for your mobo at
http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Support/M...ProductID=2755

Pin 1 is Power for optical SPDIF, Pin 2 is SPDIF Signal out, and Pin 3 is ground (Earth).

Just connect pins 2 and 3 to the RCA (cinch) connector with an old chopped down MPC audio connector or 2 pin digital out CDROM connector per the first post. The RCA center conductor gets soldered to the wire connected to Pin 2 and the RCA ground lug gets soldered to the wire conected to Pin 3 on your mobo.

Since your mobo SPDIF out pins are "bare", you could probably use an unmodified MPC CDROM audio out connector, just use the two adjacent pinouts with wires, orienting the connector appropriately.

Wire color doesn't matter, but its best to adhere to known electrical standards- black for ground, white for the SPDIF signal out. Red usually means Power/voltage/"Hot" per Pin 1 on your mobo. But you can assign any color to any pin, just keep them consistent with the RCA connector.
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post #17 of 53 Old 09-16-2008, 08:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rgb View Post

According to page 27 in the manual for your mobo at
http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Support/M...ProductID=2755

Pin 1 is Power for optical SPDIF, Pin 2 is SPDIF Signal out, and Pin 3 is ground (Earth).

Just connect pins 2 and 3 to the RCA (cinch) connector with an old chopped down MPC audio connector or 2 pin digital out CDROM connector per the first post. The RCA center conductor gets soldered to the wire connected to Pin 2 and the RCA ground lug gets soldered to the wire conected to Pin 3 on your mobo.

Since your mobo SPDIF out pins are "bare", you could probably use an unmodified MPC CDROM audio out connector, just use the two adjacent pinouts with wires, orienting the connector appropriately.

Wire color doesn't matter, but its best to adhere to known electrical standards- black for ground, white for the SPDIF signal out. Red usually means Power/voltage per Pin 1 on your mobo. BUt you can assign any color to any pin, just keep them consistent with the RCA connector.

if you dont mind me asking, how do you figure that power is for the optical and not for coax?

Also, where do i find the option here to have it email me when a reply has been posted?

Thanx guys. Im glad to know that pin 1 is power for optical because i would have added that to the coax and screwed my system over.
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post #18 of 53 Old 09-16-2008, 11:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LT72884 View Post

if you dont mind me asking, how do you figure that power is for the optical and not for coax?

Also, where do i find the option here to have it email me when a reply has been posted?

Thanx guys. Im glad to know that pin 1 is power for optical because i would have added that to the coax and screwed my system over.

The power pin provides the power for the light in an optical SPDIF module. There is no light in a coax SPDIF connector.
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post #19 of 53 Old 09-16-2008, 01:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rgb View Post

The power pin provides the power for the light in an optical SPDIF module. There is no light in a coax SPDIF connector.

thats what i was thinking. i just was not sure how it worked. so the bit stream comes into the spdif mobo pins and the optical jack somehow converts the bitsteam to light when the source is from the pins. so cool
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post #20 of 53 Old 09-16-2008, 01:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LT72884 View Post

thats what i was thinking. i just was not sure how it worked. so the bit stream comes into the spdif mobo pins and the optical jack somehow converts the bitsteam to light when the source is from the pins. so cool

It's simply converting the electrical 1's and 0's to light pulses from the LED in the optical module.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SPDIF
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post #21 of 53 Old 09-16-2008, 01:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rgb View Post

It's simply converting the eletrical 1's and 0's to light pulses from the LED in the optical module.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SPDIF

thats so awesome.. all right, well time to build a cable. Im using a 2 pin HDD LED cable. I put black heat shrink on the red wire, cut the LED off and added my RCA female.
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post #22 of 53 Old 09-18-2008, 06:06 PM
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What about a device to go from TOSLINK to Old fashion analog audio on two stereo RCA jacks? Is there such a device?
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post #23 of 53 Old 09-18-2008, 08:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GPowers View Post

What about a device to go from TOSLINK to Old fashion analog audio on two stereo RCA jacks? Is there such a device?

Why would you need that? Just use the analog out from your motherboard audio or sound card...

If you are referring to higher quality analog out, just use this $30 USB audio card, known to have excellent DACs:

http://www.turtlebeach.com/products/micro/home.aspx
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post #24 of 53 Old 09-19-2008, 10:14 AM
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This is for a new LCD tv that I want to connect some wireless Headphones too. I do not want to use the headphone jack it is hard to get to behind the tV. The only other audio out is TOSLINK.

So if i can find a TOSLINK to analog converter box i'am good to go.
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post #25 of 53 Old 09-19-2008, 06:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by GPowers View Post

This is for a new LCD tv that I want to connect some wireless Headphones too. I do not want to use the headphone jack it is hard to get to behind the tV. The only other audio out is TOSLINK.

So if i can find a TOSLINK to analog converter box i'am good to go.

The best choice would probably be

http://www.electotronics.com/index.a...&ProdID=100627

other options, but line level outs:

http://www.rackmount-devices.com/003-7774.html

http://www.amabilidade2002.com/toslink.htm
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post #26 of 53 Old 09-20-2008, 05:36 PM
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Thanks for the help Rgb. The rachmount device has an interesting two in and two out feature

I also found this one

Gefen - Digital Audio to Analog Audio Converter




Now I just need to pick one.

Thanks for your help.
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post #27 of 53 Old 09-20-2008, 08:11 PM - Thread Starter
Rgb
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Originally Posted by GPowers View Post

Thanks for the help Rgb. The rachmount device has an interesting two in and two out feature

I also found this one

Gefen - Digital Audio to Analog Audio Converter




Now I just need to pick one.

Thanks for your help.

Be sure to check if your TV can convert Dolby Digital broadcast audio to PCM- that Gefen D/A box probably doesn't have a Dolby Digital decoder
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post #28 of 53 Old 09-20-2008, 11:18 PM
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dose the rackmount box have that feature?
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post #29 of 53 Old 09-21-2008, 06:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by GPowers View Post

dose the rackmount box have that feature?

You'd have to check the feature list/manual.

This one definitely has a Dolby Digital decoder:


http://www.electotronics.com/index.a...&ProdID=100627

If you are lucky, your TV might have an option in its "setup" menus to output everything as PCM, i.e. the TV would decode and/or downmix Dolby 2.0/5.1 for the optical output.

You could also use a 3.5mm headphone extension cord to bring the headphone jack on the back of your TV out to the front/side.
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post #30 of 53 Old 09-21-2008, 03:01 PM
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You could also use a 3.5mm headphone extension cord to bring the headphone jack on the back of your TV out to the front/side.

Problem is, you plug in the headphone jack and the TV speakers turn off. So with an extension cord the TV speakers would ALWAYS be off. Thats why the rackmount box works. I would buy some better self powered speakers like the Audioengine 5 series speakers then have the wireless headphone on one output and the speakers on the other.

The manufactures are not too bright when they put a head phone jack on the back. Because when the TV is wall mounted you can not get to the head phone jack.
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