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newbie question about connection a sound card and to a stereo

By marklbishop ยท 6 replies
Oct 28, 2005
  1. I am a newbie to PC audio and to this board, so thank you to any assistance ahead of time.

    I want to connect my computer to my stereo so I can listen to my digital music through my house (my stereo has speakers in the walls throughout my house). I've tried wireless and I've given up - my walls are too thick and the quality is just poor enough to annoy me. So now I'm left with wanting to run a cable through my basement from my den to my living room (about 40 feet of cable is needed). I've run the monster cable and it works. However the sound quality is poor at best. I think it is probably my sound card. I have a Dell 8500 with the standard integrated sound card. I'm no audiophile, but I want to get decent sound. I'm not a gamer and I don't want to spend $100 on a complex gaming sound card. Am I correct in thinking that a sound card could make a difference? And what kind of sound card can help for this? I see SoundBlaster Live! cards for $15 on ebay - would these help? I just have so little experience with sound cards that I don't know what makes a difference.

    Thanks for your help in advance.

  2. tdeg

    tdeg TS Rookie Posts: 109

    Any SoundBlaster Live card would be an improvement.

    40 feet of cable could be the problem. Do you have flouresent lights in your house?

    Something like a network media streamer might be more what you want.

  3. marklbishop

    marklbishop TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I actually have this:

    And it works so-so, but with my thick walls, the connection is not strong enough to prevent gaps and skipping and dropped connections. I've tried range extenders, external antennas, upgrading my router... After trying this solution for about 6 months, I've given up.

    I've tried hooking up my laptop to the 50 foot cable, and then I tried hooking up my laptop to a 3 foot cable. Both times the sound was the same medicore quality so I figure that the cable (which is a high quality Monster cable) is not the limiting factor.

    I just want to make sure that if I do go ahead and purchase and install a new sound card, that it's not for nothing. And I want to figure out what the difference between a basic SoundBlaster Live! type PCI card and something like the Sound Blaster Audigy2 ZS Platinum.

  4. waxyj

    waxyj TS Rookie

    A new soundcard might be what you need, however another thing to check out is the adapter you're using between the pc and stereo cable. Some Stereo-mini to RCA adapters are better than others and it might be worth spending ten dollars to get the swanky gold-plated one.
  5. marklbishop

    marklbishop TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks. I'll look into that.
  6. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,018

    Also.. what's the quality of the audio you are listening to?

    I'll say most MP3's are very, very poor quality... low bitrate and made to be smaller in size. Smaller/compressed MP3's can sound decent on generic PC speakers, but sound absolutely horrible and "tinny" on a decent stereo system or speakers.

    Sometimes, you can check the quality of your audio files by right-clicking on them and selecting Properties. In the Properties window, go to the "Summary" tab on the top, then click "Advanced" if there is such a button. Scroll to the part that says "Audio" and there may be a bitrate and other information about the music file.

    Over my sound system, anything at or below 96kbps sounds bad. Even some 128kbps bitrate MP3's also sound tinny or crappy. I've been ripping my own music to 192kbps, which take up much more space on disk, but sound much, much better over a decent set of speakers/sound system.

    Edit- click below for an example of an MP3 that has the bitrate in the file summary. I own this CD and when I converted it to use on my computer, I decoded it into MP3 specifying a 192kbps bitrate for higher quality. Note- not all MP3's will have this:
  7. marklbishop

    marklbishop TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Tomorrow I'll try listening to different bitrate songs. 90% of my music is ripped at 160kbps so hopefully that's not too much of a problem.
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