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Using PC speakers as an additional reference – hooking them into an interface or PC s
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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Using PC speakers as an additional reference – hooking them into an interface or PC s

I am in the process of buying studio monitors and an audio interface, but I want to use my PC speakers (Altec Lansing ATP3, 2.1 system) as an additional reference in mixing and to switch back and forth between them and the studio monitors while I am composing and mixing.

I want to be able to switch between those two because I know my PC speakers well and I know how things should sound on them (I have been mixing on them for a few years, and listening to them even longer), and so that will help me learn the new monitors better, and will also serve as a good secondary reference.


So, I would like to know what would be the best way to connect the monitors and the PC speakers at the same time. I see several options:

1) Connect them both to an audio interface -- monitors to balanced TRS outs, and PC speakers to unbalanced RCA outs by using a 3.5 mm to RCA adapter.
-I am guessing that this option would work, since it should be possible to connect consumer speakers to RCA outs – but I don’t know are RCA outs on audio interfaces different and do they use a different output level than consumer speakers.
-I am expecting that then I would be able inside a DAW session to activate and deactivate Outputs 1-2 and 3-4 in my DAW (Cubase) and in that way switch between the monitors and PC speakers. Would this work or do you need some kind of hardware monitor selector even if you have an interface with multiple outputs?

2) Connect the PC speakers to the headphone output of the interface.
-It seems to me that this option would be less optimal than the first one, since the output impedance and power of headphone outputs of different interfaces is not the same, and so I am guessing that the output signal of the headphone outputs may not work with PC speakers in some cases or may even damage them.

3) Connect the monitors to the outputs of the interface, and leave the PC speakers hooked into the integrated PC soundcard.
-I am guessing that then I could switch between the monitors and PC speakers inside the DAW by selecting the interface ASIO driver or the integrated soundcard driver as the audio device that the DAW is using.
-This may be problematic, because switching between different drivers could be buggy and make the DAW crash.


Which of the three options above is the best?
I would like to know this because it will help me decide which audio interface to buy -- since only a few interfaces I found (Behringer UMC404HD, and Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 2nd Gen if I find it) have both balanced TRS and unbalanced RCA outputs (needed for option #1 above), and so it would be good to know is option #1 the best and should I therefore get one of those interfaces.
Old 1 week ago
  #2
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Bump!

Does anyone know an answer to this, or should I look elsewhere for knowledgeable people?
Old 5 days ago
  #3
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Is it possible that nobody is using PC speakers as an additional reference when mixing?
Old 5 days ago
  #4
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JayTee4303's Avatar
Don't pay so much attention to the connector, instead, pay attention to the signal it carries.

Line level is pretty much line level, with the exception of -10/+4 variations. Bet either one will make noise. Try it, then tune it up if need be.

I would avoid swapping soundcards while working in DAW.

MOTU PCIe-424 card in the control room here. Three 2408s plus one HD-192. Outputs 1 and 2 on 2408-1 drive HS-50s, stereo. Output 3 drives a third HS-50, summed mono.

The headphone output on 2408-1 feeds inputs 3 and 4 on 2408-1, simple loopback.

Inputs 3 and 4 on 2408-1 feed outputs 1 and 2 on 2408-2. The main volume knob on 2408-2 feeds a pair of 2 inch Dell PC speakers. Grotboxes. The headphone volume knob and jack on 2408-2 feeds a Crown D-75A which drives a pair of Senn 380s to skull melting SPL, if need be.

It works. My main monitors have a pristine signal path. The rest... do what I need them to do.
Old 4 days ago
  #5
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Hi, JayTee4303, thanks for the reply.

I am a beginner when it comes to gear, so I am not certain I have understood what exact routing you are using to hook up and feed your Dell PC speakers.

-Is the routing you are using maybe the following:
-Headphone output on MOTU 2408-1 --> Inputs 3 and 4 on 2408-1 --> outputs 1 and 2 on 2408-2 --> Dell PC speakers.
-Even if the routing is as listed above, I am not certain how it works exactly and what cables and connectors are used in it.
-Are you essentially routing to the Dell PC speakers the signal from the headphone output of the audio interface?

-Is it best to plug PC speakers into the headphone output, or RCA output, or the balanced TRS output of an audio interface (if the third option is even possible via some adapter)?

-Do you maybe know whether the balanced TRS outputs and the RCA outputs on audio interfaces both output signal on the same, line level, or do RCA outputs output signal on some different level meant for ordinary consumer (non-professional) speakers?



Questions for anybody reading this topic:
-If you are using PC speakers as an additional reference in mixing, do you have them hooked up to your audio interface or to your PC soundcard (while having only your studio monitors plugged into the audio interface)?

-If your PC speakers are plugged into your audio interface, have you plugged them into the headphone output, the unbalanced RCA outputs, or the balanced TRS outputs? Which of these outs are the best choice for connecting PC speakers?

-Do you maybe know whether the balanced TRS outputs and the RCA outputs on audio interfaces both output signal on the same, line level, or do RCA outputs output signal on some different level meant for ordinary consumer (non-professional) speakers?

-I am asking these questions so I would know whether, for the purpose of connecting both studio monitors and PC speakers, I need to buy an interface with minimum 4 outputs, and if so, is it better to buy an interface that has 2 balanced TRS plus 2 unbalanced RCA outputs, or an interface with 4 balanced TRS outputs (there are more models of this kind available).
Old 3 days ago
  #6
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stella645's Avatar
 

You definitely don't want them on a separate audio device....Get an interface with 4 outs and connect to the 2nd pair. They will work fine on balanced outs at line level.
Some interfaces will even let you switch direct from the front panel or you could set up Cubase control room to do the switching (Pro only)
Old 3 days ago
  #7
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stella645, thanks for the reply.

To double-check, is it certain that audio interface’s balanced TRS outputs (which I am guessing output a +4 dB line-level signal) won’t be too hot for and won’t damage consumer PC speakers (which have a cable ending with a 3.5 mm connector, and which probably expect a -10 dB consumer-level signal)?

-Has that been tested to work in the long term and to not damage consumer PC speakers?
-Does the interface or a 3.5mm to 1/4” TRS adapter automatically drop the level from +4 to -10 dB and so avoid blowing up or overdriving consumer PC speakers?

-Do audio interface RCA outs also output a +4 dB line-level signal, or a -10 dB consumer signal?
-Are they a safer option than balanced TRS outs for connecting consumer PC speakers to an audio interface, or does it make no difference which of those outputs we use?
Old 1 day ago
  #8
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Bump.
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