Re: [linux-audio-user] amplifiers

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Subject: Re: [linux-audio-user] amplifiers
From: Joern Nettingsmeier (
Date: Mon Sep 30 2002 - 09:37:59 EEST

Patrick Shirkey wrote:
> Jim McCloskey wrote:
> > I hope you'll forgive me if I ask a *really* basic question.
> >
> > I'm running a mix of Debian stable and testing. Kernel 2.4.18. I have
> > a Creative Ensoniq AudioPCI sound-card. I'm using the OSS kernel
> > drivers, but working up to switching to Alsa.

this is a very important step :)

> > I want to get better audio output---partially just for listening but
> > also because I'm doing more and more recording. I don't do games. So
> > for audio reproduction it's mainly a matter of DVD playing (opera and
> > jazz mostly, some rock). I use Xine for DVD playback; I also use
> > Ogg123 and Xmms for pure audio.
> >
> > So my very basic question is: how necessary or how advisable is it to
> > put an amplifier between the audio output jack and the PC speakers?
> > Has anyone got a recommendation for a good mid-range or mid-price
> > amplifier that would make a noticeable difference?

i think for opera and jazz you need something better than small passive
computer speakers, since the music has a very wide dynamic range and
needs great fidelity to be enjoyable.
i'd recommend getting either brand computer speakers with a decent amp
built-in, hooking up your computer to your stereo (which might pose hum
problems if they are fed from different power outlets) or going the
whole way and getting a pair of powered studio monitors (but then, this
is in the 1500$ range).

the problem is, while the ensoniq is an amazing card for its price, it's
not really up to high standards. the better your speakers become, the
more you will realize the deficiencies of your card... so if you are not
prepared to fork out more money, studio monitors are "too good for your
card" :)

> It really depends on your personal taste. If you are satisfied with the
> sound coming from your current setup then don't worry about it. But if
> you want to sell your music then you should try to get the best studio
> amp and speakers you can afford. Again that is a matter of personal
> taste. What are the dynamic ranges of the music you are producing? Do
> you have a lot of sub frequencies or are you concentrating on treble?....

important point. *if* you do mixing and even mastering, you need to hear
all the way down to the sub-bass. my mixes always fell apart when played
back over pa-systems and really good stereos, because my monitors
wouldn't play anything deeper than 100 hz, hiding a lot of garbage from
my ears. :(
> Of course you can't go wrong with Bose either. They have a nice
> selection at reasonable prices. That's what I'll eventually get (sigh.
> one day).

i beg to strongly differ.
the bose sat/sub combinations i heard were gruesome. they sound nice,
but they cheat. good if you want inobtrusive background music (and they
are very small, too). but for *listening*, they don't cut it. those
small sats don't go deep enough, meaning that the sub has to reach so
high that it can be located. very bad for orchestral music, unless you
enjoy the double basses siting under the sofa instead of to the right of
the celli :)

about 10% of the technical riders i get for pa jobs say it more
beautifully than i could: "no behringer, no bose". which i read as
"pretty much anything else" :)



Jörn Nettingsmeier     
Kurfürstenstr 49, 45138 Essen, Germany (my server) (Linux Audio Developers)

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