Hi,One of our PCs is failing to play MIDI files. As it is a very old desktop XP PC, we have decided to replace it and I am tasked with doing so. However, since upgrading the analogue side of the system last year and as the current digital implementation is poor, I planned to completely redesign the digital side of the system. This requires a report with proposed spec to be written up for approval. I haven't put pen to paper as yet but have some ideas and would like some advise.The current digital AV side has 2 PCs, one primarily for playing music slides and the other primarily for AV content like word slides and video presentations. We also have a CD/DVD player. These can all play sound through the desk but only the last 2 connect to the video projector.We have for many years relied on recorded music in our services but recently some musicians have joined the church and now do some live music. It is likely we will continue with recorded music for the majority of services.I would like to combine word slides with recorded music files to release people from projection. However when we have live music, we will still need to run word slide projection. I don't believe the sound operator can do both jobs effectively.The requirement for constructing play lists from digital AV files remains so I am looking for alternative equipment options for constructing and playing the play lists as we do currently with the Desktop PCs using windows media player (audio only). My concern is that PC have a long standing reputation for poor PSU, internal shielding and high RF and EM interference. I note, there are some better shielded sound cards available these days. The PCs have in the past caused issues with ground loop hum. Possibly this has been due to a combination of things that have been attended too, including isolation using audio transformers. So I am interested in non PC alternatives if they exist or better ways to set them up to avoid noise issues (inc fans) etc.I had a brief look at "all in ones" the other day but I don't know how this option compares for sound quality S/N performance etc. While digital devices generally have internal DACS, I am considering connecting all such devices through an external HDMI control center DAC to drive FOH sound and projection. This keeps AV output in synch and reduces desk input channels to just 2 (split tracks) instead of the 6 currently used. This releases more channels for live sound. It's expensive though!Any comments or suggestions for things to follow up are most welcome.Ken
Hi,Any comments or suggestions for things to follow up are most welcome.Ken
You just need a modern PC with an HDMI or display port. Delay is adjustable in software so I don't think plucking the audio off the HDMI is the best idea. You could use the DAC in the projector if it has one and put a DI up the projector and run a balanced line back to the board (1 input, you don't want stereo and should not be running any stereo through the PA. All stereo sources should be mixed down to mono).I would personally just run a decent external USB audio interface. So many good choices in the $100 range.As far as the PC what's your religion PC or MAC? You really can't go wrong with anything in the i5 class, dedicated video and 16G of RAM. OS on SSD and a quick large hard drive for media. On the PC side you should not even need to spend $1000.00 I am not sure what premium those Apple thingies. bring.
I understand this may seem overkill but essentially I want to identify the best performing option, then work back from there to an affordable agreed solution. So the basic principles are, use the best available source, mess with the signal as little as possible, keep the interconnects short and to the best standard, keep the S/N as low as possible, keep interference as low as possible, keep PSU and earth reference issues minimal. I agree with the need for HDMI as it's the only interconnect that supports uncompressed lossless HD bitstream. Delay I have found, depending on device doesn't necessarily work in the way you would like to use it. It is difficult to predict whether this will be useful to the system you end up with. It may be more flexible in a PC than other types of AV products. Using the projector DAC if it has one) effectively doubles the signal cable run and number of connections which is unacceptable. The mixer output is indeed MONO however the digital files and CDs they were ripped from include some split tracks. It is necessary to bring split tracks into the board as separate channels so the vocal track can be blended with the stage vocal and then balanced against the instrumental track. Some of these split tracks are so unbalanced, this is just not even optional, each of the 3 devices that may play split track must input the mixer as stereo. They never play together so could be selected externally from the mixer provided queuing is available. To my knowledge, USB does not support an uncompressed lossless audio bitstream (at least in earlier windows versions). In any case, the only way we can currently switch projection between A/V sources, is by IR remote control which is unreliable at the distance. This is a major reason that I am leaning towards the HDMI control centre, to switch between AV sources. However, I have seen HDMI switch boxes which appear to allow AV source switching. This might allow us to use a single less expensive DAC. The two less expensive options are functionally the same as a control centre. I guess part of this is the idea that investing is a single common external DAC should be better value for money than relying on possibly dubious inbuilt ones that are subject to higher noise interference within the PC case. As to OS, unless there is some clear AV performance difference, windows is the most likely path for familiarity and software availability reasons. I hope to make all media files available on a local WIFI network so other ministries may access them without booting the main PA but the PA will always have a priority hard wired network connection to them.Currently, the pressing questions I have are around source device type, the rest is just setting the contextual scene and my current thinking for now: Is there a realistic non PC option for playing off play lists? Which will give the cleanest sound, Desktop, All in one or Laptop etc?The last is a big question as it includes power supply and earth reference stability as well as RF and other induced electrical effects, case shielding etc. I am interested in the all in one PC option as it seems like a light weight computing option and therefore I suspect the PSU might have less adverse effects but it depends how well it's designed and constructed. For me, these devices are unfamiliar. I am concerned about this because PCs will share the same power and earth system as every other AV device in the system and in my experience PCs don't share well in this respect as they are not primarily designed too.Regards,Ken
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