VOGONS


First post, by ubertrout

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So, after getting into this hobby over the pandemic, I think my retro desk is approaching completion, and I wanted advice on routing/switching sound. I have 3 CPUs: a 486 DX2/50 (with the all-important turbo button) for DOS, a P2/350 for Win98, and a Core 2 Duo E8400 for WinXP, all of which (except mouse on the 486) use Ps/2 and VGA. I'm going to use a KVM for these machines, and since my understanding was that most KVMs either don't route sound at all or do a terrible job and add noise, I was going to use a separate splitter for audio. I was thinking of something like the Nobsound Little Bear MC104, although it occurs to me that might not be much of an upgrade from what's integrated to some KVMs. Are there other suggestions?

That would be simple enough, but I recently lucked out and got a Roland MT-100 for $10 at an estate sale. As I understand it this is in pertinent part a MT-32 under the hood, so I'm excited to try it out with all those late 80s and early 90s games on the 486. So I'm wondering if maybe I should really be looking at an active mixer so I can input the Roland and Adlib/Soundblaster sound separately and mix them in, or if I should just route the Roland to the 486's line in? Of course, with an active mixer I could also use it for the other machines. That's also much more expensive, of course.

Reply 1 of 7, by ahyeadude

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These stereo line mixers are great. https://www.rolls.com/product/MX51s

~$70 on amazon, but high quality made in the USA.

I've got two daisy chained together to mix all of my retro stuff and my modern workstation.

Reply 2 of 7, by ubertrout

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ahyeadude wrote on 2023-11-20, 23:16:

These stereo line mixers are great. https://www.rolls.com/product/MX51s

~$70 on amazon, but high quality made in the USA.

This looks like exactly what I wanted. Thank you!

Looking at their product line, this looks like it might be even better, no? Or is passive a bad idea: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MX41B … 4-channel-mixer

Reply 3 of 7, by Shponglefan

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Right now I use two things for switching and mixing audio:

1. Roland (Edirol) M-10MX mixer for audio sources I want to combine
2. RCA switch boxes for when I want to switch between audio sources

I have it wired so MIDI modules go into the switch box, then the output goes into the mixer along with any sound cards.

This allows me to toggle which MIDI device I want to hear, plus mix any digital sound from the sound cards with the MIDI audio.

I've also used the unpowered (passive) versions of the Rolls mini-mixers. They're decent, but the unpowered ones do suffer from a bit of volume loss. I imagine the powered version mentioned above probably mitigates that issue.

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486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards
Ultimate Windows XP build

Reply 4 of 7, by ubertrout

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Do you find there's any issue of hum or static with the mini-mixers? My speaker setup is plenty loud I find, but I want clarity.

...or at least no further degradation of the sometimes questionable audio we got from old sound cards.

Reply 5 of 7, by ahyeadude

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ubertrout wrote on 2023-11-21, 04:41:

Do you find there's any issue of hum or static with the mini-mixers? My speaker setup is plenty loud I find, but I want clarity.

...or at least no further degradation of the sometimes questionable audio we got from old sound cards.

It's only as good as its inputs. I had one particular 3.5mm to RCA cord that would pick up AC 60hz hum, replaced with a different (both were allegedly shielded) one and the hum went away. The noise floor is now so low that if I turn the headphone amp up all the way I can only hear faint sounds from my USB mouse as it moves around. At normal volumes its dead quiet. I have no idea how the USB mouse signal noise makes it into the audio path.

Reply 6 of 7, by Shponglefan

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ubertrout wrote on 2023-11-21, 04:41:

Do you find there's any issue of hum or static with the mini-mixers? My speaker setup is plenty loud I find, but I want clarity.

...or at least no further degradation of the sometimes questionable audio we got from old sound cards.

I haven't noticed any significant change in audio, at least not compared to the source audio to begin with.

The only thing is that with unpowered mixers there is some volume loss.

486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards
Ultimate Windows XP build