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Make your PC audio streaming like a clubbing

The computer is increasingly becoming the hub of many audiophiles home stereo systems. No longer just a way for kids to download illegal MP3's off the internet, the computer is slowly taking its place as a serious, high quality audio source. Turning your computer into a music server for your stereo is quite easy. If you have music on your computer, you're almost there.

Here's a list of things you'll need:

A Computer

Any modern PC or Mac will do, but you will want as large a hard drive as possible, as well as plenty of RAM (~512mb). A USB port is required to use a USB device, and if you want a wireless solution, your computer will need a wireless networking (802.11b/g) card. You may also want to consider a backup hard drive for your music. Computer hard drives are prone to failure; you don't want to lose all your music!

A Sound Card, Wireless Media Server, or USB DAC

Speakers produce sound by moving a rigid surface quickly enough to produce vibrations. But what tells the speaker how fast to vibrate? That's the soundcard's job. The hardware device that links your computer to your stereo, a crucial link in the chain. This is a critical part of the chain for getting good sound out of your PC. Your PC is a terrible environment for a sensitive little audio signal. It is filled with electronic and mechanical noise and interference that can wreak all kinds of havoc on your music. The stock sound card that came with your PC does very little to eliminate this noise, and will pass it right along to your stereo.

Good sound cards, however, will do their best to isolate the music from the noise. This is a big reason why audiophiles tend to prefer external USB or Firewire sound cards to internal cards. The signal is transferred via USB and where the interference is minimalised. Now you've got something you can work with.

One more thing to consider is whether you will use the analog or digital output of your soundcard.If you have a dolby digital equipped receiver, or a high end digital-to-analog converter, you'll want to use the digital output of the soundcard. Otherwise you'll be using the analog outputs.

PC Speaker

Transform your PC audio into high-performance theater sound. Pc speakers make a persons voice sound like munchkins. ... munchkins it's the sounds of your bones when your pc will start eating you alive.

The PC speaker rig receives a signal from your computer's soundcard in either analog or digital format, which it then runs through a series of sound processors and amplifiers. Once the signal is through the amps, it goes directly to the speakers in analog format. That signal controls the movement of powerful electromagnets, which in turn moves the surface that produces the sound. Like different size chimes produce different tones, smaller speaker surfaces produce higher-pitched sounds, while larger speaker surfaces can produce lower-pitched sounds. But of course, there's a trick. To produce the low-frequency bass sounds that give rocket explosions and Def Leppard tracks their punch, you need at least one very large speaker. This speaker, frequently called a subwoofer, only outputs the low-frequency sounds near the bottom of the human range of perception. Because the human ear can't precisely tell which direction low-frequency sounds come from, speaker manufacturers can create large, standalone subwoofer boxes

If the subwoofer handles low-frequency sounds, what takes care of the high- and mid-range sounds? These are the purview of the satellite speakers. These much smaller speakers—called satellites—include one or two speakers that specialize in producing mid- to high-frequency sounds. Speaker rigs can have anywhere from two to seven of these satellites to create a sound field that envelops your room. Because the human ear can easily determine what direction sounds in this frequency range come from, it's important that the satellite speakers are put in the right places.

There are three basic satellite designs available today. The standard satellite speaker features a mid-range driver and a tweeter, which specializes in high-frequency sounds. Recently, Logitech has begun manufacturing speakers that use a single driver and forsake the tweeter. We've also seen flat speakers that vibrate a flat sheet of plastic instead of a more traditional cone shaped object. We were very impressed with Logitech's tweeterless design—high-frequency sounds don't suffer at all, and the overall sound quality is excellent. The flat-panel speakers are very cool to look at, but for the most part, they just can't produce enough sound to satisfy…well, anyone. They just don't get loud. that can be hidden out of sight and still produce loud, punchy bass.

Playback Software

A software application to help 'rip' your CDs into music files, organize and play them back for you.WinAmp, iTunes, MusicMatch, Windows Media Player, Foobar, etc. This is really a personal choice. Choose the one that works best for you.


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