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whats the best way to wire monitor speakers to a PC?
Old 1st March 2014
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
whats the best way to wire monitor speakers to a PC?

I will be buying a set of monitor speakers soon and I am confused on what would be the best way to wire them to my PC in regards to sound. I have pretty much settled on a set of JBL LSR308s. The part that confuses me is that the monitors only have balanced inputs and the 3.5mm jack on my pc is unbalanced. I am on a budget and I want to be able to get the best sound out of them.

From what I have read giving them an unbalanced signal from my pc will not result in the best sound possible. I am not a DJ and I do not do any mixing I am just planning on listening to music on them. I have contemplated getting a sound card for them but I am looking for other options and since I wont be processing music I will not be getting the most out of the sound card. Would getting an external audio interface be better?
Old 2nd March 2014
  #2
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1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by bettersound ➑️
I will be buying a set of monitor speakers soon and I am confused on what would be the best way to wire them to my PC in regards to sound. I have pretty much settled on a set of JBL LSR308s. The part that confuses me is that the monitors only have balanced inputs and the 3.5mm jack on my pc is unbalanced. I am on a budget and I want to be able to get the best sound out of them.

From what I have read giving them an unbalanced signal from my pc will not result in the best sound possible. I am not a DJ and I do not do any mixing I am just planning on listening to music on them. I have contemplated getting a sound card for them but I am looking for other options and since I wont be processing music I will not be getting the most out of the sound card. Would getting an external audio interface be better?
Humm..You could try running them the way I'm running my set up..I don't have powered monitors ( as you do) but the set ups the same..I'm coming out of my interface unbalanced ( 1/4", you'll need an 1/4" adapter to hook your 3.5mm jack to), 1/4" adapter into an Ebtech Line Shifter out into the balanced inputs of a Hafler power amp. Works/sound fine!
Old 2nd March 2014
  #3
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🎧 5 years
I am thinking about getting a USB External interface. How are the Presonus audiobox USBs?

OK I want to make sure I have this figured out. my PC outputs an unbalanced digital signal via the 3.5mm jack. I can then hook up an external USB audio interface to the PC and from there the interface converts the unbalanced digital signal to a balanced analog signal that goes to the monitors. As long as i am using balanced lines(XLR or TRS) from the interface to the monitors everything is balanced correct? Would it make a difference which type of line I use for the monitors? Would there be difference is how music sounds if i do not use the interface and balanced signal?

When hooking up the USB interface do i have hook an audio line from the PC to it or does the signal travel via the USB?
Old 2nd March 2014
  #4
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ND5T's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
The presonus has balanced TRS outputs that go straight to your monitor so that will handle that part.

I would get the speakers, hook them to your sound card and see if that does what you are looking for first before,getting an interface that you won't really be using. The balanced line is better for noise which may or may not exist in your setup. Short cables are less prone to noise than long ones.

Good luck in your search
Old 2nd March 2014
  #5
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
A 1/8in insert cable will work. However, I would suggest getting an interface if you want to get the most out of your monitors.
Old 2nd March 2014
  #6
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Small format mixer
Old 3rd March 2014
  #7
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🎧 5 years
why do you recommend a Small format mixer instead of an interface? I will only be listening to music and not recording/editing.
Old 3rd March 2014
  #8
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Behringer UCA 202 will allow you to connect monitors to your PC USB port via RCA cables. Use 1/4 adapters if those speakers only accept 1/4 cables. It is something like $30 if you are on a strict budget.

I understand the need to save money. Suppose you spend $50 on Device A. But you really needed more features so you spend $125 on Device B. Then it turns out that you really needed Device C that is $200. By the time you sell A and B and take your losses, you would have saved money buying Device C in the first place.
Old 3rd March 2014
  #9
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jweisbin's Avatar
You might get it working by connecting your line outs, but you risk blowing up your speakers that way, because, from what I can tell, there is no gain control on the JBL's. That means you will have to control your volume from Windows (is that what you are using?) software. So just the startup chime could blow them up.

You really should get a decent interface with a volume control.
Old 3rd March 2014
  #10
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🎧 5 years
yes i amusing Windows 8.1. I didnt think about the gain, thanks.

also does the music travel through the USB cord from my PC to the interface?
Old 13th March 2014 | Show parent
  #11
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jweisbin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by bettersound ➑️
yes i amusing Windows 8.1. I didnt think about the gain, thanks.

also does the music travel through the USB cord from my PC to the interface?
sort of....

actually what is happening is the system (using whatever driver the interface uses), is converting the signal to digital information, then sending that to the "interface" (meaning some sort of outboard box or breakout cable), which is then converting that back to analog and sending to speakers or headphones.
Old 13th March 2014 | Show parent
  #12
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jweisbin ➑️
sort of....

actually what is happening is the system (using whatever driver the interface uses), is converting the signal to digital information, then sending that to the "interface" (meaning some sort of outboard box or breakout cable), which is then converting that back to analog and sending to speakers or headphones.
Well, sort of. What is on your computer is already digital.

Basically, your usb cable is sending the digital signal (all the "digital information") to your interface. Within your interface, you have a converter. That converts the digital signal to an audio signal. Basically it's translating the 0's and 1's into an analog signal. Same going back. It takes an analog signal, converts it to digital, and sends that digital signal into your computer.
Old 14th March 2014
  #13
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
I use a USB DAC that has balance outputs.

Cheers
Old 14th March 2014
  #14
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djmukilteo's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by bettersound ➑️
I will be buying a set of monitor speakers soon and I am confused on what would be the best way to wire them to my PC in regards to sound. I have pretty much settled on a set of JBL LSR308s. The part that confuses me is that the monitors only have balanced inputs and the 3.5mm jack on my pc is unbalanced. I am on a budget and I want to be able to get the best sound out of them.

From what I have read giving them an unbalanced signal from my pc will not result in the best sound possible. I am not a DJ and I do not do any mixing I am just planning on listening to music on them. I have contemplated getting a sound card for them but I am looking for other options and since I wont be processing music I will not be getting the most out of the sound card. Would getting an external audio interface be better?
If you are not recording and mixing music and these are for listening to music on your computer, don't buy studio monitors!.....
You'll be out $500 and will wonder why they sound so bad!
Old 14th March 2014
  #15
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
I'd suggest the same thing. If you're not going to be recording then you don't want studio monitors for just listening to music on. I really don't think you'll be happy. If it were me, for the same money as the LSR308s I'd get Blue Sky eXo2 | Sweetwater.com instead, and be a lot happy at the end of the day.
Old 14th March 2014
  #16
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🎧 15 years
Hi
Returning to the comments about balanced and unbalanced.
The sound quality from either SHOULD be identical whether you use a balanced or unbalanced connection HOWEVER computer manufacturers are rather sloppy in the design so the headphone outputs are NOT properly 'configured' internally for a really HIGH QUALITY audio signal that is properly filtered and grounded (inside the computer) so many seem to have issues with odd noises.
This is nothing to do with it being a 'unbalanced' signal, simply 'rubbish' design inside the computer where the 'ground' is actually noisy itself. In some cases this can be compensated for by wiring techniques, or 'isolating transformers' or whatever which can make it 'good enough'.
A separate interface box can help (but not guaranteed) but again whether it is balanced or not is in many ways not important IF it is basically designed properly.
Balancing can be a way of getting great performance (lower unintended noises) but is often seen as a 'band aid' for what is basically 'bad' gear, a computer being a prime example.
Whether buying 'monitors' for the intended setup is a good idea it is up to you.
Matt S
Old 14th March 2014
  #17
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🎧 5 years
"Balance" may matter ! In my system, XLR is far better than coaxial.
See post #5 of 191, wrote by Dan Lavry of Lavry Engineering.
The Lavry DA11: For your ears only
Old 14th March 2014
  #18
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Can a stereo TRS plug even be balanced though? I don't think it can, could be wrong but I really don't get how you can balance a stereo plug.
Old 14th March 2014
  #19
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🎧 15 years
Hi
A TRS plug can connect either stereo in an UNbalanced system or used as a mono 'balanced' setup. This is determined at system design time and not user adjustable!
Incidentally the 'balance' is poor at high (interference) frequencies as the connections are concentric and NOT equal capacitance to shield.
XLR connectors fare rather better at 'balance' through the connector.
A 'balanced' system using 'mediocre' circuitry will typically get you around 30 - 40dB reduction in LOW frequency (powerline up to say 10KHz) 'noise' pickup due to 'loops' over an unbalanced setup. This is often sufficient to appear 'good'.
True high quality balanced inputs would of course be better, be they laser trimmed 'dedicated' circuits or transformers. Note however that if the computer is emitting 'RF' rubbish very few balanced inputs can reject that, even the ones that are excellent at low frequencies.
Many if not most problems in this area are due to poor quality, inappropriate connectors and badly designed input and output circuitry that cannot cope with 'interference' signals either gathered (environmental) or transmitted by the cabling itself.
Matt S
Old 14th March 2014
  #20
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Well, he can't go balanced out of his soundcard unless he upgrades.

I just read someone saying that these could get blown by running them directly to the soundcard. That's true of everything. You just set the levels on the back so the max gain is not too loud when your soundcard is at the highest level. It's simple.
Old 15th March 2014
  #21
zez
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
I would suggest the Steinberg CI1. It's ridiculously good for the price, you can pick one up for 99$ on amazon and probably even cheaper somewhere else.
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