With improving technology and connectivity, our PCs are increasingly becoming the hub of our home lives, commanding a network of gadgets from games consoles to the television and audio systems.
Speaking of audio systems – while at home a lot of us like nothing more than to sit back and soak up the sound waves, but what if we were looking for the combined mammoth catalogue of music that a PC has at its digital fingertips, and the quality sound we get from a typical hi-fi setup? The array of all-in-one audio systems on the market won’t cut it this time; we’re going to interbreed our PC and our traditional hi-fi system, and here’s how.
The Sound Card
The first thing we’ll need is a quality sound card for our PC. The sound card processes all the auditory data from your PC and then outputs it in either digital or analogue form. Ideally you should choose a sound card with both an optical output and a digital output so you can decide which you prefer for yourself (the difference is minor and entirely subjective) – this will be clearly listed in the specifications of the sound card. Most computers are supplied with integrated sound, which for the most part is fine, but as we delve into hi-fi quality sound we will need something a little more as in hi-fi realm, every little detail is magnified and flaws are very apparent. One from Creative’s range of X-FI cards, or Asus’s Xonar range, or equivalent will do nicely. Check to make sure it will suit your PC’s motherboard, as these cards come in PCI and PCI-E (the port on your motherboard used by the sound card) varieties among others.
The next link in the chain is the amplifier or receiver. These receive the audio data and as the name would suggest, amplify it in order to drive the speakers. They are featured in all-in-one systems but you won’t see them, because they’re typically hidden within one of the speaker units. The main difference between an amplifier and a receiver is just that a receiver features a radio. You will want to choose a receiver/amplifier which has all the corresponding inputs to the sound card’s outputs. As a general rule, the more expensive an receiver/amplifier is, the more pleasing it will sound, but receiver/amplifiers have sound characteristics of their own (such as producing a warmer or colder sound) that will need to be countered with speakers of the opposite nature. Do your research on the particular amplifier or receiver that you are interested in. As a side note, Onkyo receivers feature a program called Audyssey which uses an included microphone to get an idea of the sound characteristics and then balance the sound to provide the best listening experience possible.
Next, we have our speakers. Speakers from the likes of Monitor Audio, KEF, Bowers and Wilkins and similar are all suitable for a home listening experience, and price once again rules quality here. There aren’t too many features to discuss when it comes to speakers and it’s an entirely subjective matter, but you should select a speaker that produces a sound of the opposite nature to your amplifier or receiver for the most neutral and pleasant sound possible.
Finally, we have our wires. A lot of manufacturers market expensive wires claiming all sorts of sound and clarity enhancing effects, but the truth is that these very expensive wires make very little difference and as long as the wire selected is thick enough (i.e the cross sectional area of the wire itself) and of a good quality (copper is a suitable option), and everything else is in check, the sound produced will be very pleasant!
Can I go wireless?
Sadly, there aren’t too many great options available to us that are wireless, as the transfer of data through air isn’t the most efficient process and a lot of sound quality is lost. Discreetly wiring your amplifier/receiver or speakers to a remote location is probably the best option if you want to retain the best sound quality, but note that if you decide to situate your speakers a greater distance from your amplifier, a thicker wire will be required.
Author Bio:- This guest post is Written by Michael Kelly for www.phoenixmachines.co.uk.