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Need help connecting active speakers to a laptop.

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi, so I'm about to get a pair of Emotiva Airmotiv 5s (has RCA and XLR) and I just wanted to know what would be the best way i could hook it up to my macbook pro so as to get the best audio quality out of them. Would I need an external sound card? Anything else? I'm pretty new to this so any help would be appreciated!
Edited by veegee92 - 1/25/13 at 4:49pm
post #2 of 8
Easiest way would be to just use a 3.5mm stereo plug (headphone) to 2 RCA "y" cable (see example at link below). I would recommend trying that first and see how you like the sound. After that, you are looking at either a USB DAC or standalone DAC or Receiver with an optical input.

http://www.mycablemart.com/store/cart.php?m=product_detail&p=2300
post #3 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by PCMusicGuy View Post

Easiest way would be to just use a 3.5mm stereo plug (headphone) to 2 RCA "y" cable (see example at link below). I would recommend trying that first and see how you like the sound. After that, you are looking at either a USB DAC or standalone DAC or Receiver with an optical input.

http://www.mycablemart.com/store/cart.php?m=product_detail&p=2300

Agreed. Try hooking it up without a DAC first. You might be satisfied without one.
post #4 of 8
I have the Airmotiv 5's and currently have them connected directly to my computer using a $3 3.5mm to RCA adapter. I'm looking at either the Emotiva XDA-2 DAC or possibly the UMC-200 7.1 prepro so I can also use it as an HDMI+Audio switcher for several computers I have in my computer room. Emotiva has a couple more DACs/Processors coming down the pike that will probably have both analog and digital inputs, namely the Stealth DC-1 and Executive Pre-1. These two will be half-rack, 2U boxes instead of a full-rack box.

I'm getting absolutely NO background hum/noise on the Airmotiv 5's using the built-in Realtek ALC-889 chipset with an analog connection.

I'd consider the Emotiva XDA-2 because there are very few, if any, DACs in the $400 range that use the C-Media 6631 USB chipset that can stream 24/192 via USB. The only real negative is the lack of analog input on the XDA-2 for tape decks, turntables, etc.
post #5 of 8
That's some serious equipment you are thinking about, jevans smile.gif

But I think the OP could do very well without spending that much. For instance, I just bought the ODAC built by JDS Labs for $149. Would work great with your speakers. Nice thing about it for laptop use is that's tiny. Here it is next to my G400 mouse



Ever want to add a headphone amp to it, you'd have a nice portable setup to use with your laptop and good cans.
post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

That's some serious equipment you are thinking about, jevans smile.gif

But I think the OP could do very well without spending that much. For instance, I just bought the ODAC built by JDS Labs for $149. Would work great with your speakers. Nice thing about it for laptop use is that's tiny. Here it is next to my G400 mouse



Ever want to add a headphone amp to it, you'd have a nice portable setup to use with your laptop and good cans.

Yes. I actually took a look at this DIY design when I was researching DACs. That would be fine for a single source in using UAC1 but you'd still have the lack of 24/192 and 24/88 over USB. Any media in those formats would have to be down-sampled to 24/96 or 24/44. Getting the option for an analog input ( headphone amp ) would push the price to nearly $300 with the adapter. That is only $100 less than the XDA-2, which would be way more versatile and $300 less than the UMC-200, but we are talking about HUGE chassis compared to even the O2+ODAC. I'd probably opt for the Audioengine D1 at $170, which has the headphone input and supports all the proprietary SACD formats in a size that is about twice as thick as the ODAC... the differences between the AKM and ESS Sabre DAC not withstanding.
post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by jevans64 View Post

Yes. I actually took a look at this DIY design when I was researching DACs. That would be fine for a single source in using UAC1 but you'd still have the lack of 24/192 and 24/88 over USB. Any media in those formats would have to be down-sampled to 24/96 or 24/44. Getting the option for an analog input ( headphone amp ) would push the price to nearly $300 with the adapter. That is only $100 less than the XDA-2, which would be way more versatile and $300 less than the UMC-200, but we are talking about HUGE chassis compared to even the O2+ODAC. I'd probably opt for the Audioengine D1 at $170, which has the headphone input and supports all the proprietary SACD formats in a size that is about twice as thick as the ODAC... the differences between the AKM and ESS Sabre DAC not withstanding.

A majority of people don't own any music at that sampling and bit rate since CDs are 16/44, and even most bluray is only 24/48. And even if they did, I suspect that most would find it difficult (if not impossible) to tell the difference between the downsampled version and the original with a $500 pair of studio monitors. Even the XLR connections on those speakers are probably more beneficial as a marketing gimmick for Emotiva than they are useful for producing better audible sound.
post #8 of 8
If you find your getting a buzzing from your powered speakers just attach a ground loop isolator between the RCA connectors and speakers. Worked for me.
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