Guide to Audio Basics

Page 2 - Seeking answers? Join the Tom's Guide community: where nearly two million members share solutions and discuss the latest tech.

darreng101

Distinguished
Nov 12, 2010
20
0
18,570
1
Could we please start a sub-section to subwoofers about how they connect to a receiver eg line level vs speaker level inputs.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of running your speakers from the receiver via the sub and then out to the speakers?

Many subs have this option although I think higher end subs opt for line level only.

Cheers
 

davidwarner04

Honorable
Mar 6, 2012
4
0
10,510
0
few years ago I got my first guitar, a Yamaha Beginner Acoustic FG700. It has served me well
 

chugot9218

Honorable
May 8, 2012
143
0
10,660
9
Great article, very informative! I had a comment that I wanted to share about my experience with Pioneer's customer service (*hint* it was horrible!) but I also did not want to jack your thread. I felt the lack and poor quality of their service was enough that I would not purchase one of their products again. Just wanted to throw in my 2 cents, I noticed it was listed as a recommended receiver manufacturer ;).
 

blackhawk1928

Distinguished
Jul 15, 2008
236
1
18,860
15
Well, my list is not based on the quality of customer support. Its based on how good quality the receivers and equipment actually is.

Some companies have absolutely phenomenal customer service, but the equipment has horrible quality.
 

chugot9218

Honorable
May 8, 2012
143
0
10,660
9
Fair enough, I did actually receive a response from a manager and he was very apologetic, somewhat alleviated my concerns, but it was also concerning that my mainboard had to be replaced after 6 months. Audio quality wise I have few complaints but also little to benchmark it against.
 

Hueristic

Distinguished
Feb 23, 2007
2
0
18,510
0
First of all this was a great read, thanks a ton! Now what I'd like clarified is the SPdif section. I've found so much conflicting information on the subject that I am getting quite the headache. From what I understand it is a 2 channel (stereo) specification. But I have also read that it can and does carry other specifications compressed?

My main reason for this question is that I am trying to hook up a HTPC to a 7.1 receiver and my video is not hdmi. If I connect the hdmi from the video card then the system thinks there is another video stream (unacceptable). If I disable this display then the sound channels are also shut off. :(

 

musical marv

Distinguished
Feb 26, 2011
408
0
18,960
7
Excellent and very informative.

 

Deus Gladiorum

Honorable
Jun 29, 2013
94
0
10,610
18
Excellent guide! It very much helps that I already have an understanding of video and physics, but overall this is an excellent guide to someone like me who has never familiarized himself with anything related to how audio works.

I have a suggestion though, but bare with me because A.) I'm not finished reading this and B.) it might be difficult for me to explain:

For the layman, the one question that one might ask him/herself is, "well, if digital audio is composed of only dots while analog is continuous, how are these spaces or gaps in digital filled during the conversion from digital to audio?" Personally, I assume that these filled-in gaps in analog are essentially just spots that are devoid of any actual sound that a sound system is producing, and in its place are just background noises from any number of things in nature. Would I be right on that, and if so, if it's not already incorporated into the guide, perhaps it'd be beneficial to implement it as well?
 

tomc53

Estimable
Jun 6, 2014
52
0
4,610
12


That's a very good question. You are almost right, except that the digital must get converted to alalog or we wouldn't hear it -- the analog being a speaker. when a signal is converted from digital to analog, it really just becomes a string of voltages which are the sum of the digital numbers. the sound is theorhetically just pulses, with space between. What happens in practive, however is that electronics are not perfect, and the conversions take some tie to happen, so that the actual signal curves from from one level to the next, coming out looking very much like the original analog signal that we wanted to hear.
When digital recording first started and CDs became popular, the analog recording techniques were not quite as good as the digital ones, so that CDs sounded 'better' than the old analog. Basically, the OLD analog recording devices, such as magnetic tape, could not do a truly faithful representation of the sound, but only an approximation. In Studio recording the approximation was very good, but some of us oldsters remember cassette tape, which sounded nothing like the original, and it was easy to tell a recording from live performance. (Notwithstanding the old ads "Is it live, or is it Memorex".)Since the advent of digital recording and electronic music, it becomes difficult to tell a well reproduced recording from the original.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY