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Topic: hooking up amplifier to computer to use stereo speakers? (Read 1224 times) previous topic - next topic
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hooking up amplifier to computer to use stereo speakers?

I have some relatively nice stereo speakers my brother gave me and a friend just gave me a monster woofer. I pretty much listen to my music through my computer but have a comparative (to what I've been given) dinky pair of computer speakers that I've used - so this seems like an opportunity to listen to all the flac music I have to its fullest potential. It seems silly to upgrade my computer speakers to something equivalent to the stereo speakers that I now have - but caveat is I am ashamed to admit that I know little about how this might work?

I was reading and it seems like "all i need" is an amp but then again I'm not 100% sure about that. I had seen monoprices beautiful amps awhile back (which seem to no longer be available) and thought something like that would look really nice in my office but - I wanted to ask the computer audio experts first! Would an amp work in this situation or would i need to get something else or something in addition to the amp to make it work with my computer?

Re: hooking up amplifier to computer to use stereo speakers?

Reply #1
The only way to drive passive speakers is using an amp.
You can connect the PC to amp using the headphone out (3.5 to 2x RCA) or use a USB DAC.
TheWellTemperedComputer.com

Re: hooking up amplifier to computer to use stereo speakers?

Reply #2
Something like the Topping MX3 or SMSL AD18 would probably work. Both have connections for two passive speakers and an output for powered subwoofer. Connect via USB to your PC.

If you're ok with using headphone out on your PC, the Fosi Audio BL20C will do the job for less.

Re: hooking up amplifier to computer to use stereo speakers?

Reply #3
Here are some amplifiers.

If you buy an amplifier from an audio/video store they tend to be "specialty audiophile items" and more expensive than a receiver (which includes an amplifier).

Quote
I have some relatively nice stereo speakers my brother gave me and a friend just gave me a monster woofer.
Tell us about those.   Are the speakers marked with a wattage rating?  That would be the (approximate) maximum you can feed-in without damage.   You don't necessarily NEED that much amplifier power.

I assume the woofer is complete in a box?   Is it powered?  ...Does it plug-into the wall, or have a power supply? If so, it has an amplifier built-in.   If you have a model number and a link to the specs, that would be helpful.

Most "home theater" subwoofers are powered.    They are designed to connect to an AVR (audio video receiver) which will have a line-level subwoofer output.   The AVR has "bass management" (a built-in crossover) to re-route the bass to the sub , and it also decodes the "point one" LFE channel from movies for the sub.   (With regular stereo the LFE channel is lost.)

Or some powered subwoofers have a built-in crossover where the regular stereo signal passes-through and everything except the bass is sent-on to the amplifier.

A 5.1 Channel soundcard can also be used with a subwoofer, but if it's not powered the sub needs its own amp.

...If you don't already have some kind of crossover, a separate woofer/subwoofer gets more complicated.




Re: hooking up amplifier to computer to use stereo speakers?

Reply #4
If sending a headphone output to an amp line / aux input, I recommend fitting a resistor attenuator network in the connecting cable.  Not only to match the output voltage to the input sensitivity, but also to provide a DC path to ground so the driver is working as designed (and also doesn't shut off because it thinks nothing is connected).
It's your privilege to disagree, but that doesn't make you right and me wrong.

Re: hooking up amplifier to computer to use stereo speakers?

Reply #5
It is easier to damage speakers with an underpowered clipping amplifier than an overpowered one. I gave my neighbour my old Wharfedale speakers that I'd owned for a decade, and he destroyed them in a couple of months after hooking them up to an amp that he drove to full volume all the time.

Re: hooking up amplifier to computer to use stereo speakers?

Reply #6
Maybe so, but if you have to restrict the output of the PC to 1V when it can output 5V, you're losing a couple of bits resolution.

If your amp setup has to be run at max output to get sufficient volume, you've underspecified.
It's your privilege to disagree, but that doesn't make you right and me wrong.

Re: hooking up amplifier to computer to use stereo speakers?

Reply #7
Quote
It is easier to damage speakers with an underpowered clipping amplifier than an overpowered one.
That's a popular myth.  You can damage a speaker either way but going from a 100W amplifier just-below clipping to a 400W amplifier just-below clipping +6dB (4 times the power) is worse than boosting the gain by 6dB and "trying" to get 400W out of the 100W amp.

The 100W amplifier hitting 100W on the peaks might be putting-out 10-20W average and if you boost by 6dB the peaks will still be 100W but the average is increased to 40 or 80W and that higher average can damage the speaker.   Clipping introduces harmonics, but the harmonics are limited* and it's not as bad as increasing the high frequencies with the 400W amplifier.



* Worst case, when you push a sine wave so far into clipping that it's a square wave, half of the energy is in the harmonics and you can potentially get twice the rated powerout of an amplifier.   Most of that energy is in the lower-order harmonics, not the highest frequencies (Fourier transform).