Part 3: Assemble the Parts
By using a home theater PC getting maximum performance from the best home theatre speakers is made easy. Well, at least easier!
1. If you do not own an extra computer for this project, you could purchase one for around $350.00. I would encourage you NOT to use a computer that you use for other computing purposes.
2. If you have a High Definition TV you can hook up the computer directly and will not have to get an extra monitor.
3. Some of the software and hardware you will need for your best home theatre speakers and HTPC will only run on Mac or Windows XP. I have set up a dual boot system on my PC. You may wish to do this later also. All you need is a separate partition on the HD and a copy of the software you wish to use.
4. Download a speaker crossover program for the best home theatre speakers project: such as the Foobar2000 speaker crossover component, or Thuneau.com speaker crossover
. Most current programs require Windows XP. Make sure that it is compatible with your OS (operating system) and the firewire interface you are planning to build your own home theater with.
5. Download a playback program like I-tunes or Foobar2000. I like Foobar 2000 for music because it has an up-sampling component option that sounds better set to 16 bit, 88.2 kHz on my music systems.
6. If you will be using a firewire interface to build your own home theater, make sure you have a firewire card in your HTPC. Confirm in the Computer Management, that it is a ‘Texas Instruments’ chip-set.
7. ASIO compliant Fire-wire Interface or sound-card : Make sure to buy an interface or sound-card that will work with your OS and the software you intend to use.
8. Hook up the firewire interface using a quality fire-wire cable. The interface box must have at least equaled the number of outputs that you have individual ‘ways’ in your system. For example: 3 way stereo pair of speakers will need 6 output channels.
9. Install the software and hardware of an ASIO compliant firewire interface or sound-card. (Make sure that the interface or sound-card has INTERNAL ROUTING).
Also, if you intend to build your best home theatre speakers and use full surround sound make sure the firewire interface has enough outputs to accommodate or that you can daisy chain multiple firewire units together. (RME Fire-face can do this as well as many others)
10. Cables: line level and speaker: Make a diagram on paper of which inputs you are attaching each cable to. Mark the cable ends.
11. Within the sound-card or interface software: Route each corresponding input and output to reach its intended driver. You don’t want to send the sub-woofers signal to the tweeters.
12. Hook up the firewire interface’s analog outputs to your multichannel preamp or AV receiver analog inputs.
13. You may NOT be using the sub-woofer, center, and surround inputs and outputs of your pre-amplifier or receiver for their original intent. Typically, I use the main L and R for my mid driver, center and sub for the bass drivers and surrounds for the tweeters.
14. Hook up the analog outputs on your multichannel preamp to a multichannel amp or any combination of 6 amplifier channels (for stereo- 3 way). Keep in mind you may need more than one multi-channel preamplifier if going full surround.
If you have a powerful amp it would make better use of its power on the bass drivers than on the tweeters. This is where you can have some fun; you could power the mid drivers with a tube amp, the subs with a high powered pro amp and tweeters with a low powered solid state amp for example. Or you could just cheap out and use a receiver with multi-channel analog inputs. This may be a less expensive option for you to try.
15. Hook up the amplifier outputs to speaker cables and then to the individual speaker connectors. For a three way speaker, you should have 6 separate connectors. (three pairs- one pair for each ‘way’)
To build a set of best home theatre speakers with full surround you may need 10 to 12 channels of output. It depends on the number of ‘ways’ your speakers are and number of total speakers. Example: 5.1 surround, 6.1 surround, or 7.1 surround. (used with 2 or 3 way speakers)
16. For External Input: Blu-Ray, and DVD players; Connect your source components like DVD Player etc to a digital switch box if you are using one. Connect the output of the switch box to one of the SPDIF inputs on the firewire interface box. This allows you to bring in audio from any source like PS3,DVD, or Blue-Ray players.
If you are planning to build the best home theatre speakers using a PC, you may need to route a digital SPDIF coax or toslink cable out of the computer. This cable then sends signal back into the firewire interface or sound-card with gaming playback.
~You may need to install a separate sound card that has a digital output on it- into one of the PCI slots.
Send the digital signal out of the computer and into the digital input on the sound-card or firewire interface (or attach it to the digital switcher first- then the switcher into the digital input on the firewire interface box.
This type of set up is necessary when you have to output the sound from a game or internal DVD player and cannot assign it to go directly to the crossover program.
By outputting the signal to a SPDIF output you can then tell the PC crossover to take its input from the firewire interface SPDIF inputs. Basically, it makes a digital loop back into the PC.
One program sends it OUT; the other accepts the signal IN.