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audio out of laptop help needed


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Hi all,


I have a laptop that is mainly used for watching films during shows but is sometimes used for audio playback into the PA from the headphone socket ( either via a DI box or sometimes straight in to the mixer)


The headphone socket is bust- £90 to repair.


so I thought of a cheap usb audio adaptor (£3 from ebay)

then I thought usb sound interface ( uca202 from Beringer(sp) or edirol ua1ex

then I thought "aha I have firewall why not a firewire audio interface- fca202

Then I thought " I have a spare pcmcia slot why not a sound card


Then I stopped thinking as my head was starting to hurt lots!!!!!


so my many thoughts and questions are:


£3 adaptor from ebay- crap? but ok for watching films?


Usb adaptor- good idea (no need for DI box) but more stuff to carry and uses up another usb slot

any ideas on quality?


Firewire- better idea (never use the port) but more exspensive and bulkier to carry


PCmcia card more exspensive but can stay in the pc so less to carry but not sure of the line output quality


at the moment I am considering buying the £3 ebay thing just to see what its like with a view to buying one of the other three if its really crap.


any thoughts before my head explodes


many many thanks in advance



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had a cheapo usb sound box.... awful.... just awful....


The noise floor was so high you could hear it on low volumes, and it also changed whenever I moved my USB mouse around...


I can, on the other hand, highly recommend the entire edirol FA and UA range, with the exception of the UA-1010. My m8 had bad experiences with that. I personally own the FA-101 and it's a fabulous piece of kit. Well worth the 200 odd quid it costs

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For only £3 I'd probably give the cheapie a try for watching films during tech weeks...not that sound EVER has time to loaf around of course! However, I wouldn't try it for any professional use.


For simple 2 channel playback (and recording for that matter) I've also used Edirol USB (I think it was the UA25 but it was a couple of years back). It worked fine, had a nice low S/N and basically did what it said on the box.


There are certainly PCMCIA and Cardbus solutions out there...and lots of Firewire ones too. I personally have an M Audio Firewire box buts that's because, for certain things, I need 32 simultaneous channels...perhaps overkill for you! For simple stereo, USB, PCMCIA or Firewire would all work well so I'd go with whichever suits your size/weight/budget best. I definitely WOULD try to get a unit with balanced outputs for the pro side of your needs.



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thanks for the feedback.


I will probably go for the cheapy just to see- will report back


the edirol ones sound good and I've seen one on ebay




but they are quite bulky (to go with the gazillion other things I have to carry) and they are unbalenced


also on ebay are



which is firewire and balenced outputs


and http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vie...A:IT&ih=003


which is unbalenced but nice and small


any thoughts on these?




I'm not sound I'm video


hence the time to loaf around!!!!


so when I do do playback its only usually walk in music or a little wmv etc

often the companies have di boxes with them.


but heres a question


when sound plugs into my dvd (un balanced?) they put DI boxes in

yet when they put a cd player in they dont

whys that?


could I get away with puting the unbalenced o/p into the stereo(twin phonos or twin mono jack) inputs of the mixer?


cheers chaps

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I can take an educated guess as to why people tend to put DI boxes in circuit when they tie into your PC. Laptops are notorious for having noise problems due to a mixture of how their power supplies handle earthing and also due to the internal architecture. This doesn't happen every time but it's a frequent enough problem that I suspect many sound engineers just reach for the DI box as a matter of course.


As for whether you can get away with unbalanced connections, the answer is a definite "sometimes, maybe". Quite often you can plug in an unbalanced lead and have no problems. However, it's pretty much inevitable that you will at some point suddenly have noise problems....and it's some kind of rule of physics that this will happen at an important gig when you're running late and have no time for troubleshooting! Seriously, unbalanced is always a bit of a risk, but how badly you might be affected depends on all sorts of things including the length of the interconnect and how much electrical noise is present near you. I personally try to avoid unbalanced wherever I can.



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Another possibility is that your DVD player has a commercial /semi pro (-10dBV) level output and they need to adjust it to fit in with their probably pro (+4dBu) systems. On a lot of stuff you can do this with special boxes/adaptors for that exact purpose, but they may just decide it's simpler to DI your equipment into the mic/line signal path.
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I've been using an external soundblaster 24 for about a year now. I've had no problems with it. It's driverless and works straight away with mac's and PC's.


when you say internal sound blaster

do you mean a pcmcia card?

what is the model and what outputs does it have?

I think more careful reading is in order.



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I bought a Behringer FCA 202 for school - two unbalanced inputs/outputs from the fire wire connection.


Take the output from my Lap Top though the FCA 202, then the Soundcraft mixer amp and nominal 250W rms later, try to play "spot the hiss" - I loose. Great bit of kit for what it can do - I bought it to start multi tracking for kids to produce their own CD of work.


Now I use a dedicated PC and a Tascam 8 input firewire interface.


Thats my two pence.



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I'll second Bobbsy on the fact laptops are notorious for noise, I've yet to find one who's internal sound has been as clean as I've wanted. Sometimes it's just constantly annoying, other times it's fine until you move the mouse / click something / launch an intensive application - it really doesn't seem quality sound output is a priority at all! I've noticed the same problem but to a lesser extent on some motherboards with integrated audio, but that's drifting a bit off topic.


I got an external Terratec Aureon soundcard last year, I can't remember how much I paid for it exactly - it was a lot more than £3 though. Probably about the £20 mark, and it might be overkill for what you need it for, it's got optical in/out, 5.1, line in as well as mic / headphone sockets. But to my ear at least, it does sound lovely :P

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