audio out pre amp

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
I have a mac mini and the audio is coming out soft, I am running it to my stereo which I thought had a pre-amp built in, but I have to turn it up to ~12 to get the same volume as FM or CD at 8.



Now my cunnundrem, where can I get an amp to fix this on the cheap, say ~$15-25, Radio Shack used to sell one but they seem to have stopped carrying it, any help is appreciated.



BTW: I also notice thaqt the range is not nearly as dramatic or rich coming from the computer as it is from, say the CD Player, my thinking is the amp should fix this too

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    crazychestercrazychester Posts: 1,339member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by a_greer

    I have a mac mini and the audio is coming out soft, I am running it to my stereo which I thought had a pre-amp built in, but I have to turn it up to ~12 to get the same volume as FM or CD at 8.



    Now my cunnundrem, where can I get an amp to fix this on the cheap, say ~$15-25, Radio Shack used to sell one but they seem to have stopped carrying it, any help is appreciated.



    BTW: I also notice thaqt the range is not nearly as dramatic or rich coming from the computer as it is from, say the CD Player, my thinking is the amp should fix this too




    That seems odd. When you say stereo what exactly do you mean? I run my iPod through one of those mini system things at work and it has no trouble cranking out the sound.



    I reckon old, second-hand, solid state stuff is just the ticket in this situation. Or at least it was. Seems it's not only getting much harder to come by but a lot more expensive as well. I picked up a Sherwood amp for about $AU50 (reduce that figure by about a third for US dollars) a few years ago. Very serious style of amp. The main reason I put it into semi-permanent retirement a while back, was because the neighbours would complain if the dial was much over a quarter of the way to maximum. That stuff was made before "Thou shalt ensure your products include built-in obsolescence" became the first commandment for electrical and electronic goods manufacturers.



    But it seems retailers, at least, are onto it. Because I still have need of a tape deck, when the Pioneer deck I bought for a song at about the same time as the amp, died recently, I thought I'd just pop out and grab another one for about 40 bucks. I eventually found one - an Akai even older than the Pioneer I was trying to replace. They had $205 on it. Interestingly, that was at a retailer whose main business is selling new equipment to the audiophile end of the market. But I'm sure there would be private sellers who don't realise the value of stuff like that.
  • Reply 2 of 18
    a_greera_greer Posts: 4,594member
    I have an aiwa ~250 watt bookshelf system with an aux phono(rca) input and I am just using the same cable that I used in my windows rig (a standard 1/8 to RCA stereo) the volume on the mac (software) is max.
  • Reply 3 of 18
    dfilerdfiler Posts: 3,420member
    You wouldn't by chance be using the phono input on an old amp would you?



    This would produce the symptoms you describe.
  • Reply 4 of 18
    a_greera_greer Posts: 4,594member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by dfiler

    You wouldn't by chance be using the phono input on an old amp would you?



    This would produce the symptoms you describe.




    no amp...just going from the mac to the input on the back of the bookshelf system
  • Reply 5 of 18
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,073member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by dfiler

    You wouldn't by chance be using the phono input on an old amp would you?



    This would produce the symptoms you describe.




    Just the oposite - putting it in the phono input would blast you out of the room.



    A phono input has an extra 40dB more gain + an EQ circuit. Your bass would be up 60dB and your treble would be up 40dB.



    a-greer: Do you have the sound control pannel maxed out? You may need to raise the volume up via control pannel. You can also fiddle with the eq settings to get more of the sound that you like.



    A computer has a big disadvantage over a CD player, even if you are using CD-quality audio signals on the computer. The crappy switching power supplied in computers put all kinds of garbage on the audio signal - that is why is is always best to use a digital audio out and an external D/A converter.



    Unfortunately, the mini has no digital audio out, so the airport extreme is your only option for digital sound.
  • Reply 6 of 18
    a_greera_greer Posts: 4,594member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by e1618978

    Just the oposite - putting it in the phono input would blast you out of the room.



    A phono input has an extra 40dB more gain + an EQ circuit. Your bass would be up 60dB and your treble would be up 40dB.



    a-greer: Do you have the sound control pannel maxed out? You may need to raise the volume up via control pannel. You can also fiddle with the eq settings to get more of the sound that you like.



    A computer has a big disadvantage over a CD player, even if you are using CD-quality audio signals on the computer. The crappy switching power supplied in computers put all kinds of garbage on the audio signal - that is why is is always best to use a digital audio out and an external D/A converter.



    Unfortunately, the mini has no digital audio out, so the airport extreme is your only option for digital sound.




    any cheap FW breakout boxes? and also, I have heard that the griffen iMic can do what I want but it doesnt make any sence, anything that small would be as bad or worse than the Mini...



    Volume in control pannel is maxed out, is there a system wide EQ?
  • Reply 7 of 18
    dfilerdfiler Posts: 3,420member
    Ooops, yes. Please disrgard my phono question. As e1618978 pointed out, this would result in overly amplified input rather than what you are experiencing.



    Another option is to get a USB output device. These plug into a USB port and can offer analog or digital output. I prefer other solutions but one of these might fit your needs.



    Here's the first one that came up when googling:

    http://www.oneusb.com/

    If you do go this route, I highly recommend doing a bunch of research. There are many products with vastly differing features and quality... for about the same price.
  • Reply 8 of 18
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,073member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by a_greer

    any cheap FW breakout boxes? and also, I have heard that the griffen iMic can do what I want but it doesnt make any sence, anything that small would be as bad or worse than the Mini...



    Volume in control pannel is maxed out, is there a system wide EQ?




    I thought that there was, but looking now, it it built into iTunes (so you can only EQ for iTunes).
  • Reply 9 of 18
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,073member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by dfiler

    Ooops, yes. Please disrgard my phono question. As e1618978 pointed out, this would result in overly amplified input rather than what you are experiencing.



    Another option is to get a USB output device. These plug into a USB port and can offer analog or digital output. I prefer other solutions but one of these might fit your needs.



    Here's the first one that came up when googling:

    http://www.oneusb.com/

    If you do go this route, I highly recommend doing a bunch of research. There are many products with vastly differing features and quality... for about the same price.




    And for an external D/A, you can pick up a used Adcom GDA 600 on ebay or Audiogon for $50 or so.



    I bought one, and later added a $250 custom output stage from www.kandkaudio.com (disclaimer - company run by one of my friends).
  • Reply 10 of 18
    a_greera_greer Posts: 4,594member
    Anyone know if the iMic outputs cleaner and louder than the standard port? the reviews don't mention it's output and that is what I need (although the input will allow me to get all of my VoIP stuffmoved tothe mac too)
  • Reply 11 of 18
    trick falltrick fall Posts: 1,271member
    Something doesn't seem right here. Before you spend money do you have an ipod or a walkman or something that you can plug into your stereo to make sure that it is the mac that is the problem?_ I don't have a mini, but on my G4 and G5 I've never had a problem getting enough level out of the built in sound card.
  • Reply 12 of 18
    a_greera_greer Posts: 4,594member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by trick fall

    Something doesn't seem right here. Before you spend money do you have an ipod or a walkman or something that you can plug into your stereo to make sure that it is the mac that is the problem?_ I don't have a mini, but on my G4 and G5 I've never had a problem getting enough level out of the built in sound card.



    Well,after turning everything in iTunes off, (audio enhance, cross fade, volume balance, EQ) I still get the same results, a little soft and , I guss the best way to describe it is compressed, no artifacts, but just not near as rich as FM or CD. (this is true in iTunes, Real, QT, WMP...)



    My shuffle is even softer than the mac when the volume is at a good level for headphones, but when I max the iPod volume out, it plays back over the stereo fine.



    UPdate



    Just found out that it has no amp of any kind, for lo signal, they recomend a turntable preamp...sounds odd...any chance that this would fix it?
  • Reply 13 of 18
    trick falltrick fall Posts: 1,271member
    Quote:

    Just found out that it has no amp of any kind, for lo signal, they recomend a turntable preamp...sounds odd...any chance that this would fix it?



    Sorry, are you referring to the sound card? I guess it's possible it just doesn't kick out enough level, but it is weird.
  • Reply 14 of 18
    mimacmimac Posts: 871member
    When you say the audio is coming out "soft" and the range is not as "dramatic or rich" as the CD player, then I might assume that you are playing MP3s or compressed music on iTunes through your stereo?



    Any half-decent stereo system will reveal the sound limitations of compressed music as compared to listening through small ear buds via an iPod for example. Music will generally sound flat or less dramatic as you say.

    If this is the case, try playing an uncompressed AiFF song.



    Other than that, the signal level from your mini should not matter that much if the connections at the back of the stereo are Phono (RCA) type as this connection usually has its own pre-amp.



    If the stereo has no pre-amp built in then instead of buying an expensive pre-amp, try the iMic.

    Its inexpensive, useful and I have personally used one (iMac to Hi-Fi 3.5mm stereo jack to 2x RCA cable) and it sounds great
  • Reply 15 of 18
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,073member
    Quote:

    Just found out that it has no amp of any kind, for lo signal, they recomend a turntable preamp...sounds odd...any chance that this would fix it? [/B]



    No chance at all.



    Even if it did work - it would be a more expensive fix than new powered speakers. My KOSS SXM/200 speakers are working fine with the mini - you could pick up a used pair of powered speakers for $5 at just about any thrift store.



    But I have a turntable preamp for sale - a Parasound P/SP (retail $120, I will sell for $80) if you want to ignore my advice.
  • Reply 16 of 18
    a_greera_greer Posts: 4,594member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by e1618978

    No chance at all.



    Even if it did work - it would be a more expensive fix than new powered speakers. My KOSS SXM/200 speakers are working fine with the mini - you could pick up a used pair of powered speakers for $5 at just about any thrift store.



    But I have a turntable preamp for sale - a Parasound P/SP (retail $120, I will sell for $80) if you want to ignore my advice.




    If amps are that expencive, I will just price out a nice Creative or Altec Lancing 2.1 sustem.



    Thanx all
  • Reply 17 of 18
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,073member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by a_greer

    If amps are that expencive, I will just price out a nice Creative or Altec Lancing 2.1 sustem.



    Thanx all




    That is the least expensive phono pre-amp that I know of. They run from $120 to $20,000.
  • Reply 18 of 18
    a_greera_greer Posts: 4,594member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by e1618978

    That is the least expensive phono pre-amp that I know of. They run from $120 to $20,000.



    HOLY CRAP my WHOLE stereo only cost ~$300-350
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