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Topic: computer, Mixer, Receiver and Surround sound... Oh my! (Read 9179 times) previous topic - next topic
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computer, Mixer, Receiver and Surround sound... Oh my!

I am trying to figure out just what I need to get.  I just built a new computer system and got a really nice HDMI projector for our church.  I put an HT Omega Striker 7.1 surround sound card in the computer .  Now, I would like to find a way to integrate it into our sound system.  The sanctuary is 50' wide and about 60' long.  I expect we will only use the surround with movies.  However, I was hoping to use the computer to play music in between services as well.  For that I would like to come through the mixer board.  I am not sure what the best bang for our buck is.  My budget is small because of the equipment I have just purchased, but I can probably manage another $500 or so.  We have a bunch of speakers available, PA or Monitors.  I thought about something like this.  But I think I a 7.1 receiver might be better suited to power the surround.  I realize it's a bigger room than most "home audio" systems are designed for.  I just would like to avoid being stuck with 2 channels run to the mixer board.  The distance to the front speakers is probably my biggest concern.  If you need more info, just let me know!  Thanks in advance.

computer, Mixer, Receiver and Surround sound... Oh my!

Reply #1
I wouldn't use "computer speakers" or small "home theater" speakers in a room that size. 

You didn't tell us anything about the existing PA system...

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We have a bunch of speakers available, PA or Monitors.
  You already have them, right?  If so, I'd use those for the surround speakers.  And I'd use the existing PA speakers for the front channels.

3 or 5 additional PA speakers and a home-theater receiver is probably the most economical solution.  PA speakers are usually efficient, so I'm pretty sure you'll have enough power from any home theater receiver.

You can route the front (left & right, or center) audio through the existing mixer, and use the receiver to drive the remaining movie channels.  That means you'd have to control the surround-speakers with the receiver volume control, and the front
channel(s) with the mixer. 

If you need to compromise, I'd rather see a 5.1 system (with a subwoofer) than a 7.0 system (without a sub).  If you've got a "big" PA speaker with good bass, you may be able to use it as a subwoofer, but you'll probably need to get an amp for it.  Most home subwoofers are "powered" (built-in amp).  Pro subwoofers come both "passive" and active/powered..

I assume you have a stereo or mono mixer, and I'd be surprised if you have 6 or 8 extra inputs for the movie sound...  .  In order to run the surround sound through the mixer, you need an input for each channel, and you need a mixer with 6 or 8 bus-channels (sub-mix channels).  Typically, you'd find something like that in a recording studio, or in a theater...  It's probably not what you have in your church set-up.  You might be able to rig-up something similar by adding a couple of little, inexpensive, mixers...  But that would take some thought.  (And it might be "messy" to operate.)

And if you run all of those channels through your mixer, you're going to need amplifiers (a stereo amp for each pair of speakers), because most receivers don't have analog surround inputs.

If you can run all of the channels through your mixer, you have the additional advantage of being able to use all of the speakers for "fill" during church services.  (If you only use the surround speakers for movies, people will probably tell you that the speakers were "not working" during the service, but you may have to put up with that!)  Another option might be to physically re-wire the rear speakers (etc.) for "movie night".

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The sanctuary is 50' wide and about 60' long.
A big room with reasonable acoustics can help a lot.  I've had my (large) home speakers in a "dance hall", and it's amazing how much better they sound in a bigger room.  Even a boom-box probably sounds better in the sanctuary (at a reasonable distance) than it does in your living room!

computer, Mixer, Receiver and Surround sound... Oh my!

Reply #2
You didn't tell us anything about the existing PA system...

We currently are running a 12 channel Fender Mixer with an 8 channel Fender PA.  The main speakers are 2- 15" Electra Voice speakers.  For Praise & Worship, we run our own amps on stage and feed into another 8 channel PA.  We did this mostly so that we could control our sound on stage instead of at the sound booth, as we don't have a dedicated sound guy, yet.  Most of what we have is a hodge podge.  I'm trying to upgrade a little.  I am working on getting a 32 channel Mackey mixer.  Instead of running the 2 EV speakers, we are thinking of going with some good quality smaller speakers, and more of them, and then add a dedicated Sub.

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You can route the front (left & right, or center) audio through the existing mixer, and use the receiver to drive the remaining movie channels.  That means you'd have to control the surround-speakers with the receiver volume control, and the front
channel(s) with the mixer.


That's possible, but I was hoping to use the fiber output on the card.  Also, wouldn't running the front/center channel off the mixer mess with the surround sound effects?

I'm wondering if maybe I could get the surround receiver and then use an A/B box for the speakers.  That way, they could all be tied into the mixer, but for movie night, I could flip to B channel and direct the input from the receiver instead of the mixer....  What do you think?

computer, Mixer, Receiver and Surround sound... Oh my!

Reply #3
Quote
I'm wondering if maybe I could get the surround receiver and then use an A/B box for the speakers. That way, they could all be tied into the mixer, but for movie night, I could flip to B channel and direct the input from the receiver instead of the mixer.... What do you think?
  That sounds like a good solution.  And, it sounds like the simplest solution which is important when you don't have a "sound guy".  I think you've got enough mixers & mixer inputs, but re-configuring for movies & chruch could get messy.

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The main speakers are 2- 15" Electra Voice speakers....  Also, wouldn't running the front/center channel off the mixer mess with the surround sound effects?
I was thinking that your main PA speaker(s) might be located in the center, and they could serve as the center channel.  Routing some of the channels through the mixer shouldn't mess-up the surround as long as everything goes to the right place...  It depends on if your main speakers are in the center, or mounted left & right, and it depends on if it's a stereo or mono set-up.  Mono is common because the people on the left & right sides of the room need to hear the same thing. 

Oh...  If you run some analog channels to the mixer and others via digital/optical to the receiver, you might get a slight delay with the receiver's AC3/DTS decoder.  (On my home system I can detect a delay when I'm playing a DVD and I have both the analog TV sound and the digital receiver sound on.  The delay is not enough to cause a "lip sync" problem, but I can hear it with both "systems" on.)

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Instead of running the 2 EV speakers, we are thinking of going with some good quality smaller speakers, and more of them, and then add a dedicated Sub.
I guess it depends on how good the "smaller" speakers are.  I'll bet those EV speakers sound nice!

computer, Mixer, Receiver and Surround sound... Oh my!

Reply #4
I stopped in at Sam Ash yesterday and nosed around a bit.  I spoke to a guy about this, and he made some suggestions. I figured I'd post them, just in case someone else is looking to do the same thing we are.

He suggested that I go with a Behringer ADA8000.  This has the optical input with 8 analog outputs.  However I would need 8 amplifiers to do this.

He also suggested that I go with this Mixer.  I could use all the sliders on the right for the surround. 

I think it still sounds easier/better to go with a good surround receiver and just switch the speakers that we need for normal service....

Oh, BTW, yeah, those EV's are nice.  I will probably take your advice and put them as the center channel.

computer, Mixer, Receiver and Surround sound... Oh my!

Reply #5
That Behringer box works with things that use a multichannel ADAT interface.  I presume cards like that exist for PCs, but that's more money.

How about a standalone Dolby Digital processor like a Technics SH-AC300 or SH-AC500D (with DTS)?  About $100 on eBay.

Or, maybe this is the best solution: get a home theater receiver that has 7.1 preamp outs.  Send the front channels to the mixer, and use the receiver to drive the surrounds.  One affordable receiver that got good reviews and had preamp outs was the Pioneer VSX-816.  Pre-HDMI receivers can't be worth much these days.

 
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