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5.1 Speakers on a Mini?
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e3mw
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 12:09 pm    Post subject: 5.1 Speakers on a Mini? Reply with quote

I was just wondering if anyone had any luck getting 5.1 sound to work on a Mini? When I plugged my speakers into the "Headphone" slot the sound quality was pretty bad, sounded underwater, I'm sure this is because the "Headphone" jack is just that: meant for headphones. Is there any adaptor, USB or otherwise that will let me hook my 5.1 speakers into the mini? Thanks!
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Last edited by e3mw on Sun Jul 24, 2005 1:51 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All I've heard is people using 2.1 speakers (2 satelites+sub), the JBL Creature 2's are very nice, and theyre on sale this weekend at CompUSA with rebates (normally 100, now 80 after 20$ rebate), my dad and sister just went out to get em for her laptop, when i get my mini I might buy em too.

EDIT: By the way, what model/brand are your speakers?
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yeah, im just using 2.1 altec lansing's on my computer...they sound pretty decent...just as good as my PC did on them
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e3mw
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WC3_Gamer wrote:
EDIT: By the way, what model/brand are your speakers?


Acoustic Authority 5.1 speakers.

They're very nice, just wondering if I could get them to work on the mini. I'm not opposed to just going out and buying some cheap 2.1's though.

Thanks for the help.
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Susurrus
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

e3mw wrote:
WC3_Gamer wrote:
EDIT: By the way, what model/brand are your speakers?


Acoustic Authority 5.1 speakers.

They're very nice, just wondering if I could get them to work on the mini. I'm not opposed to just going out and buying some cheap 2.1's though.

Thanks for the help.


There are a bunch of external sound cards that will provide 5.1 sound. This topic has been covered a lot here, so you can search the forums for an answer. Otherwise, the M-Audio Transit is a USB soundcard that will be perfect. Soundblaster also makes an Extigy brand which are USB-based soundcards also. I don't know how well they work with Macs, though, if they do at all.

Also, if you just want 2.1 speakers, which won't improve the sound quality above the Mini's built in crappy sound card, you could splurge for the Klipsch Promedia 2.1's. They're the best 2.1 computer set you can buy, pretty much. I would recommend the external soundcard option, though.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Headphone/audio line out

You should get very good sound quality if you use good speakers. I have Cambridge Soundworks. They are a higher end model. Wood Sub etc. They sound excellent.

I haven't tried hooking my mini up to an amp yet.

Don't buy cheap speakers. It's 2005 not 1985.

JBL Creature II 2.1 constantly get good reviews.
http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/reviews/comments/jbl-creature-ii-21-speakers-ipod/

Follow that link and you'll be able to find reviews on other brands as well.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bandit Bill wrote:
JBL Creature II 2.1 constantly get good reviews.

These are what I'm looking at getting.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bandit Bill wrote:
Headphone/audio line out

You should get very good sound quality if you use good speakers. I have Cambridge Soundworks. They are a higher end model. Wood Sub etc. They sound excellent.

I haven't tried hooking my mini up to an amp yet.

Don't buy cheap speakers. It's 2005 not 1985.

JBL Creature II 2.1 constantly get good reviews.
http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/reviews/comments/jbl-creature-ii-21-speakers-ipod/

Follow that link and you'll be able to find reviews on other brands as well.


The problem with any onboard sound is noise inherent in such close quarters design. There is a reason any onboard sound doesn't sound great from laptops, Minis, or mobo sound chips. Being so close to other high voltage components causes noise to enter into the audio subcircuit. Considering how unclean a lot of the power that runs a computer is, this isn't suprising. I wouldn't be suprised if the external sound cards clean up the USB/FW/external power some to get such high StN ratios and low thd+n values. These external cards alo provide built-in DTS or Dolby or AC-3 decoding, which will make the Mini run faster because all audio related work that the CPU used to do will now be done by the external card as long as the card supports that decoding in hardware.
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Bandit Bill
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

True S. but for most people the mini's output should be more than acceptable. e3mw was saying his speakers sounded bad and underwater. That's not a result of poor design. It's more than likely that the speakers were not plugged in properly (all the way) or something is defective.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bandit Bill wrote:
True S. but for most people the mini's output should be more than acceptable. e3mw was saying his speakers sounded bad and underwater. That's not a result of poor design. It's more than likely that the speakers were not plugged in properly (all the way) or something is defective.


Concurrence.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't expect all the bells and whistles as a full fledged pc.. this is a $500 value mac...its just to get your mac feet wet
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e3mw
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 1:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bandit Bill wrote:
That's not a result of poor design. It's more than likely that the speakers were not plugged in properly (all the way) or something is defective.


They were plugged in fine, however, I think my speaker setup has to accept all three signals: the Stereo (green) the Cent/Sub (Black) and the Sattelite (Orange). I was just providing it the stereo, so when the unit went to decode the sound it sounded pretty distant.

TheModWiki.org wrote:
Don't expect all the bells and whistles as a full fledged pc.. this is
a $500 value mac...its just to get your mac feet wet


/understood.

I'm not insinuating that I actually expected the mini to support 5.1 just that I'd like an option to hear something louder than the internal speaker, and without attaching myself to headphones and by using what i've already got in place.

You all will be pleased to know that I solved the problem temporarily by finding an old 3 way phono jack splitter of mine an inserting the male end into the mac mini and it branched out into three female plugs which provided signals for the stereo, center/sub output, and the sattelite output. Sounds great! All the speakers are recieving signals, but it's just split with stereo sound, all I needed, and I'm perfectly happy, it only cost me $0.00 ! Cool
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Bandit Bill
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 2:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm glad you got some good sound happening. But now I'm going to have to research 2.1 Audio.

Does 2.1 have a distinct channel to the sub?

I find it hard to believe you should need an adapter to make your speakers work.

People are buying 2.1 set-ups for iPods etc. I would doubt they are using adapters.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 2:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

2.1 Audio

Physically, this would be a pair of speakers and a subwoofer. In most cases, you can use a stereo, two-channel signal to drive this setup. When doing this, the receiver or the speaker’s internal crossovers determine what sound goes to the subwoofer. This separation of the channels was not done by the mixing engineer. The only way you can get a discrete subwoofer signal with this setup is with Multichannel Super Audio CD, DTS audio, DVD audio, or Dolby Digital signals downsampled to 2.1 audio. There are a few sources that are written specifically for 2.1 audio, but you will need to have the decoding hardware necessary for at least 5.1 audio to use 2.1 audio. Basically, if you have the equipment to support 2.1 audio with a discrete subwoofer channel, you have the equipment needed for a 5.1 system.
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e3mw
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 2:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think 2.1 works with just the stereo plug, because all you're dealing with as far as 2.1 goes is the Right Speaker, Left Speaker, and Sub. The sub frequency can be decoded from the stereo sound most of the time, it shouldnt need a direct line. (Notice I said most of the time, I have come across 2.1's with both Green (Stereo) and Black (Sub) lines.)

EDIT: Wow, that was from my head and it is pretty much exactly just like that description you just posted, Bandit. Lol Cool

5.1 deals with satellite Right's and Left's alongside the existing Right and Left, also a Center in most cases. Each speaker set needs a direct line because of 5.1 is 'supposed' to be surround, or 3D sound. It's a bit more complicated. Using the 3 way adapter that I found for mine just splits the regular Right and Left signal three ways into each speaker set. It's not true 5.1 surround sound, but with sound coming out of every speaker, how could I argue w/ it? It's all I really need since i'm not really interested in mixing 5.1 tracks in Garageband or iMovie.

As far as getting 5.1's to work without an adapter, or without a 5.1 sound card-- I'm not sure it can be done (this is totally depending on what brand of speaker you are dealing with, though.)
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Last edited by e3mw on Sun Jul 24, 2005 3:05 am; edited 2 times in total
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