VOGONS


First post, by Shreddoc

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I know there are regularly other mixer threads so, not sure if this warrants a new thread. But it seems to be a particular setup I've not heard of before. So if anyone has relevant info it would be greatly appreciated.

Here's the thing: I've got multiple sets of good quality (for computing purposes!) bookshelf speakers in the 20W ballpark range. The world is full of these things, for next-to-nothing costwise. Made in Japan stuff like Sony, Panasonic, or later multimedia stuff where the amp died, like Edifier. The speakers themselves can be had at any thrift store for $10, and are often of superior build quality and sound than various revered made-of-plastic PC speaker sets like the Rolands used by LGR.

In an ideal world I'd want a, I believe they're called "powered mixer", whose output could power such speakers without the irritating need for a separate amplifier module, and which would double as the ubiquitous Mixer For Our PC that so many of us seem to require, to deal with our various MIDI modules and sound card outputs.

My initial research was disheartening as the scene is full of "industry"-scale stuff, powering 10 x 500W this-and-that, expensive price brackets, tons of unnecessary features, etc. Making me think : either I'm really barking up the wrong tree here, or else I need some advice.

On a separate-but-related chase, I've tried a couple of Aliexpress-sourced <$20 amp modules and they really left something to be desired - noisy and/or simply do not do the basic job competently. So I'm left with an overflow of awesome PC speakerage and scratching my head as to how I'm going to appropriately power them at a scale fitting the PC world.

What do you guys think???

Reply 1 of 16, by kolderman

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I use a powered mixer as a kind of preamp feeding powered stereo speakers. The inputs are a headphone dac for most of my pcs which have spdif out, and regular line out for the rest, and my midi stack. Don't know if I would ever bother trying to power passive speakers with a powered mixer...what's the point here? Ghe sound from old games is not high fidelity enough to need hifi quality speakers.

Reply 2 of 16, by Pierre32

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kolderman wrote on 2021-06-19, 00:00:

Don't know if I would ever bother trying to power passive speakers with a powered mixer...what's the point here?

Making use of passive speakers that are lying around!

I've got a lovely pair of Compaq branded passive speakers. They do ok hanging off an SB16 that has an internal amp, but they're basically limited to that scenario. So I've gone down the Shreddoc line of thinking often. Personally I'd probably go with a line mixer + standalone amp. Either way the challenge is the same: How to make use of perfectly good passive speakers, with gear that suits the desk.

Reply 3 of 16, by Jo22

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Hi, please keep in mind that vintage amplifiers often used true sine ratings,
which didn't take music into account,
but were real values, at least, while in todays world, they use PMPO.

And PMPO is the one with the ridiculous high numbers, sadly. To increase sales, I guess.
So in some case, a 500w amp of today can't cope with a 20w amp from the 70s/80s.

In an ideal world, other ratings would be used.
RMS is not ideal, either, but at least uses a scientific model (based on pink noise).

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 4 of 16, by Shreddoc

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kolderman wrote on 2021-06-19, 00:00:

I use a powered mixer as a kind of preamp feeding powered stereo speakers. The inputs are a headphone dac for most of my pcs which have spdif out, and regular line out for the rest, and my midi stack. Don't know if I would ever bother trying to power passive speakers with a powered mixer...what's the point here? Ghe sound from old games is not high fidelity enough to need hifi quality speakers.

Excuse any confusion, but certain references I read implied that powering passive speakers is one of the primary purposes of a powered mixer.

I guess I see where you're coming from, but your mindset that modest bookshelf speakers are over-the-top for PC usage doesn't fit how I see things. For one thing, plenty of old games use redbook audio, and for another, computers have a lot more uses than just games, so in my view limiting oneself to poor quality plastic toy speakers with very limited range and no volume headroom is a choice I'd never make personally. But I can see how certain use cases and people would be entirely satisfied with it. Viva la difference!

My philosophy is the same philosophy which drives any effort of preservation or to keep quality hardware out of landfill by taking extra effort, and in doing so create for oneself quality setups and capabilities that many others pay good money for.

Pierre32 wrote on 2021-06-19, 00:25:
kolderman wrote on 2021-06-19, 00:00:

Don't know if I would ever bother trying to powe passive speakers with a powered mixer...what's the point here?

Making use of passive speakers that are lying around!

I've got a lovely pair of Compaq branded passive speakers. They do ok hanging off an SB16 that has an internal amp, but they're basically limited to that scenario. So I've gone down the Shreddoc line of thinking often. Personally I'd probably go with a line mixer + standalone amp. Either way the challenge is the same: How to make use of perfectly good passive speakers, with gear that suits the desk.

Concisely well put (a skill I don't have, 🤣).

Speakers are one of those things you see a lot of when thrifting. Even in my little old town, over the past year I've seen a handful of well branded, wooden-construction, Made In Japan, magnetically-shielded ~15-25W bookshelf speakers. In my niche view, these things are absolute gold, you couldn't suit the range and volume requirements of PC world better.

The problem (such as it is - moderately first worldy) is a common one, I suppose : the market is saturated with all-in-one New Plastic, leaving only tiny niches for enthusiast component products.

Upon reflection you're probably right in your approach to keep the amp + mixer separate. Not least because, at least we have some easy available market options with regards passive mixers. And there are a lot of small amps/modules out there, just a matter of finding the rare gold that isn't cheap corner-cutting crap or expensive boutique pay-us-200%-for-our-fancy-design. Just good, competent, technically sound gear at a fair and appropriately-modest-for-the-context price.

Jo22 wrote on 2021-06-19, 04:11:
Hi, please keep in mind that vintage amplifiers often used true sine ratings, which didn't take music into account, but were re […]
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Hi, please keep in mind that vintage amplifiers often used true sine ratings,
which didn't take music into account,
but were real values, at least, while in todays world, they use PMPO.

And PMPO is the one with the ridiculous high numbers, sadly. To increase sales, I guess.
So in some case, a 500w amp of today can't cope with a 20w amp from the 70s/80s.

In an ideal world, other ratings would be used.
RMS is not ideal, either, but at least uses a scientific model (based on pink noise).

Absolutely. Similar principles exist in the world of guitar amps which I used to play with. You stick a 5 watt valve amp next to your grandma and turn the volume up to full and she's not going to be making you a nice dinner that day. 😉

Reply 5 of 16, by kolderman

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Shreddoc wrote on 2021-06-19, 20:56:
kolderman wrote on 2021-06-19, 00:00:

I use a powered mixer as a kind of preamp feeding powered stereo speakers. The inputs are a headphone dac for most of my pcs which have spdif out, and regular line out for the rest, and my midi stack. Don't know if I would ever bother trying to power passive speakers with a powered mixer...what's the point here? Ghe sound from old games is not high fidelity enough to need hifi quality speakers.

Excuse any confusion, but certain references I read implied that powering passive speakers is one of the primary purposes of a powered mixer.

In my case I had tried a passive mixer, but the signal drop was so severe that I could not get reasonable volume even turning the speaker controls up quite high. My powered mixer avoids this, but also acts as a boost for low input volumes, meaning I can avoid turning the speaker volume up too high and suffering the resultant background hiss. I don't know if my powered mixer is capable of driving passive speakers or not. I suppose I can see why if you had some spare speakers lying around you might do that....however even if I were to get some quality bookshelf speakers (which I have considered in the past) I would certainly get active ones.

Reply 6 of 16, by Shreddoc

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kolderman wrote on 2021-06-19, 21:27:
Shreddoc wrote on 2021-06-19, 20:56:
kolderman wrote on 2021-06-19, 00:00:

I use a powered mixer as a kind of preamp feeding powered stereo speakers. The inputs are a headphone dac for most of my pcs which have spdif out, and regular line out for the rest, and my midi stack. Don't know if I would ever bother trying to power passive speakers with a powered mixer...what's the point here? Ghe sound from old games is not high fidelity enough to need hifi quality speakers.

Excuse any confusion, but certain references I read implied that powering passive speakers is one of the primary purposes of a powered mixer.

In my case I had tried a passive mixer, but the signal drop was so severe that I could not get reasonable volume even turning the speaker controls up quite high. My powered mixer avoids this, but also acts as a boost for low input volumes, meaning I can avoid turning the speaker volume up too high and suffering the resultant background hiss. I don't know if my powered mixer is capable of driving passive speakers or not. I suppose I can see why if you had some spare speakers lying around you might do that....however even if I were to get some quality bookshelf speakers (which I have considered in the past) I would certainly get active ones.

Which particular model of powered mixer do you use in your setup?

Reply 7 of 16, by kolderman

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Shreddoc wrote on 2021-06-19, 21:44:
kolderman wrote on 2021-06-19, 21:27:
Shreddoc wrote on 2021-06-19, 20:56:

Excuse any confusion, but certain references I read implied that powering passive speakers is one of the primary purposes of a powered mixer.

In my case I had tried a passive mixer, but the signal drop was so severe that I could not get reasonable volume even turning the speaker controls up quite high. My powered mixer avoids this, but also acts as a boost for low input volumes, meaning I can avoid turning the speaker volume up too high and suffering the resultant background hiss. I don't know if my powered mixer is capable of driving passive speakers or not. I suppose I can see why if you had some spare speakers lying around you might do that....however even if I were to get some quality bookshelf speakers (which I have considered in the past) I would certainly get active ones.

Which particular model of powered mixer do you use in your setup?

Some thing from china (on the left next to the headpheon dac).

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Reply 8 of 16, by BitWrangler

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I had a tendency to pick up boomboxes or midi systems or hybrids of the two with aux inputs for cheap. Eschewing all PC speakers as exploitationally awful, like you'd need to spend $200+ to match the quality of a $50 boombox. Best bang for the buck I'm finding these days is discarded iPod and other mediaplayer dock speakers. However for my "main rig" setup I have a 5.1 mini home theater type set that I found at a yard sale. Those are freaking spooky really, like crunching leaves behind your right ear when something coming... very immersive. Anyhoo, yeah a couple or three watts out of an amplified soundcard seems to drive up to about 6" cones okay... another setup I had once was some warfdale curb find parcel shelf car audio speakers, glommed into old coffee cans. Failing that, you can find some small amplifier kits, you probably don't need the watts you think, 5 can be plenty.

Unicorn herding operations are proceeding, but all the totes of hens teeth and barrels of rocking horse poop give them plenty of hiding spots.

Reply 9 of 16, by Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman

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Shreddoc wrote on 2021-06-18, 23:37:

In an ideal world I'd want a, I believe they're called "powered mixer", whose output could power such speakers without the irritating need for a separate amplifier module, and which would double as the ubiquitous Mixer For Our PC that so many of us seem to require, to deal with our various MIDI modules and sound card outputs.

There is a lot of cheap audio mixers from China, ranging from twenty to sixty US dollars. Unfortunately, they are not powered mixer, ergo you'd still need an amplifier to drive your speakers. I don't see it as a problem though, since cheap, chip-based amplifiers like Tripath and TPA are plenty cheap, and the sound isn't bad either.

unexpectedly-good-TPA-3116-driving-B-W-DM302.jpg
My Bowers & Wilkins DM302s, powered by a cheap TPA 3116D2.

See the photos above. My B&W DM302s sound pretty good when driven by cheap TPA amp, and B&Ws are notorious for being power-hungry, perhaps due to their unforgiving impedance dips. Yet, that little 3116D2 did a pretty good joob driving the B&Ws.

So, instead of looking for (possibly expensive) powered mixers, why not go the separates route?

Never thought this thread would be that long, but now, for something different.....
Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman.

Reply 10 of 16, by gdjacobs

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Shreddoc wrote on 2021-06-18, 23:37:

In an ideal world I'd want a, I believe they're called "powered mixer", whose output could power such speakers without the irritating need for a separate amplifier module, and which would double as the ubiquitous Mixer For Our PC that so many of us seem to require, to deal with our various MIDI modules and sound card outputs.

Powered mixers usually start in the 2x100W range for sound reinforcement in smaller venues. Anything smaller is likely to be a mono public address amp with really bad distortion issues. Not a problem when driving a high efficiency, narrow range horn. I doubt it would be satisfying for you, though.

I suggest an active stereo mixer with sufficient channels from Behringer, Rolls, Peavey, etc. Check your local used market for deals. If you don't require channel mixing, use an audio switch. Couple it with a TPA3116 based amp for loads in the 20W range you've described.

All hail the Great Capacitor Brand Finder

Reply 11 of 16, by Shreddoc

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gdjacobs wrote on 2021-06-20, 11:30:
Shreddoc wrote on 2021-06-18, 23:37:

In an ideal world I'd want a, I believe they're called "powered mixer", whose output could power such speakers without the irritating need for a separate amplifier module, and which would double as the ubiquitous Mixer For Our PC that so many of us seem to require, to deal with our various MIDI modules and sound card outputs.

Powered mixers usually start in the 2x100W range for sound reinforcement in smaller venues. Anything smaller is likely to be a mono public address amp with really bad distortion issues. Not a problem when driving a high efficiency, narrow range horn. I doubt it would be satisfying for you, though.

I suggest an active stereo mixer with sufficient channels from Behringer, Rolls, Peavey, etc. Check your local used market for deals. If you don't require channel mixing, use an audio switch. Couple it with a TPA3116 based amp for loads in the 20W range you've described.

Thanks, that sounds fairly definitive.

Reply 12 of 16, by gdjacobs

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Shreddoc wrote on 2021-06-22, 00:41:

Thanks, that sounds fairly definitive.

Not sure I'd go that far. There might be something out there that will work for you. Some options turned up on Alibaba, FWIW, when I was searching, but then they have everything, including some products I suspect don't actually exist.

All the amplified mixers I'm aware of are generally built for higher output due to the market segment they service. That, along with no significant market segment I can think of which would require a ~20W amplified stereo mixer, makes me suspect long odds for you to find what you're looking for.

All hail the Great Capacitor Brand Finder

Reply 13 of 16, by BitWrangler

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You could grab your generic 4 channel mixer from a fleamarket and go through something like this though... https://www.amazon.ca/Kinter-MA170-Channel-Di … 5089468-5260506

Unicorn herding operations are proceeding, but all the totes of hens teeth and barrels of rocking horse poop give them plenty of hiding spots.

Reply 14 of 16, by Shreddoc

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gdjacobs wrote on 2021-06-24, 19:03:
Shreddoc wrote on 2021-06-22, 00:41:

Thanks, that sounds fairly definitive.

Not sure I'd go that far. There might be something out there that will work for you. Some options turned up on Alibaba, FWIW, when I was searching, but then they have everything, including some products I suspect don't actually exist.

All the amplified mixers I'm aware of are generally built for higher output due to the market segment they service. That, along with no significant market segment I can think of which would require a ~20W amplified stereo mixer, makes me suspect long odds for you to find what you're looking for.

For sure - Aliexpress was one of my first ports-of-call to see what (possibly) exists. But there's a lot of cost-cutting crap and misleading advertising on the online markets, so I won't be buying anything without local endorsements of specific items, or at the very least, chipsets (e.g. the aforementioned TPA3116 wrt amps).

I've more or less given up on the idea of small, quality, powered desktop mixer, at a cheap price. Seems it would be a pretty niche unicorn, and would probably involve the pick-any-two rule at best.

At this stage, leaning towards a 3116 amp paired with bog-standard known-brand ordinary small mixer.

Incidentally, what's the difference between boards stating vanilla 3116 and boards stating 3116D2 ? anyone know? or are they the same thing?

Reply 15 of 16, by gdjacobs

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Shreddoc wrote on 2021-06-24, 21:02:

Incidentally, what's the difference between boards stating vanilla 3116 and boards stating 3116D2 ? anyone know? or are they the same thing?

Pretty much all such amps I've found are TPA3116D2 based. TI has two products listed -- one being a standard part and the other being automotive rated.

All hail the Great Capacitor Brand Finder

Reply 16 of 16, by Shreddoc

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gdjacobs wrote on 2021-06-26, 22:20:
Shreddoc wrote on 2021-06-24, 21:02:

Incidentally, what's the difference between boards stating vanilla 3116 and boards stating 3116D2 ? anyone know? or are they the same thing?

Pretty much all such amps I've found are TPA3116D2 based. TI has two products listed -- one being a standard part and the other being automotive rated.

Thanks. From brief further research, it seems that the "...3116" referred to in some online listings is merely a lazy abbreviation of "...3116D2".

Now to decide whether to do something with a local bare board or alternatively choose one of the million iterations of pre-baked Aliexpress Special... (trivial) decisions decisions...