Is it smart to run both my computer and record player audio through an amplifier?
October 8, 2011 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to use the same set of speakers/studio monitors with both my computer and record player/amplifier? Is it possible/smart to run both the computer and record player audio through the amplifier?

My computer speakers died recently and I'm looking to buy a new set. However, I'd like for my next set of speakers to be very good (studio monitor quality) and used for my computer AND record player. Is that possible and/or smart?

I'm not really sure how this set up would be possible, though. I'm just starting to research this but I don't know where to go to read up on this. Anyone have any recommendations for websites or the speakers themselves?

Also, is it possible to run both the computer and record player audio through the amplifier?
posted by decrescendo to Technology (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes, it is possible.

If the monitors are powered (have their own amplifiers built in) you will need a mixer of some sort.

If the monitors are passive (require external amplification) you need an amplifier and a mixer, or a consumer level stereo receiver.

You may also need a phono preamp to properly amplify your record player.
posted by davey_darling at 10:33 AM on October 8, 2011

What inputs would a consumer-level stereo receiver have for the computer and record player? Is it all the headphone jack size?
posted by decrescendo at 10:39 AM on October 8, 2011

It would be Stero RCA inputs. You would use a cord like this to connect to your computer (Stereo RCA to Stereo 1/8")
posted by davey_darling at 10:41 AM on October 8, 2011

So the record player would be Stereo RCA to Stereo RCA?
posted by decrescendo at 10:43 AM on October 8, 2011

The consumer level receiver might have coaxial or optical digital nowadays too.

If you just want to switch between computer or record player, a receiver will work fine. If you want to mix the two inputs, you need a mixer.
posted by gjc at 10:45 AM on October 8, 2011

Yes. As I mentioned above, you want to make sure that your receiver has a dedicated "Phono" input, or you won't be very happy with the sound quality.

I always recommend pawn shops/thrift stores for this sort of purchase. Used stereo receiver amps are almost literally a dime a dozen, and there is some decent quality to be had in the sub $50 range.
posted by davey_darling at 10:47 AM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't think I'll ever need to play them BOTH at the same time, so I assume a receiver would work.

Currently, my computer has one of these outputs, too.

But, I think I want to put some sort of Squeezebox or Sonos streamer device in that would catch the audio, put it through the receiver, and then to the speakers. Not sure what type of interface it would have.
posted by decrescendo at 10:48 AM on October 8, 2011

Used stereo receiver amps are almost literally a dime a dozen, and there is some decent quality to be had in the sub $50 range.

So I shouldn't get crazy with a new one with bells and whistles for these functions?
posted by decrescendo at 10:50 AM on October 8, 2011

That's entirely up to you.

All you need for sure is something with two inputs, speaker outputs and a volume knob.

Tone controls or EQ is nice, everything above that is bonus.
posted by davey_darling at 11:03 AM on October 8, 2011

As Davey said, the receiver MUST have a Phono input for the record player to work properly.
posted by The Lamplighter at 11:34 AM on October 8, 2011

I'm assuming you want straight-up two-channel stereo.

The Sensible Sound reviews components that are not at the costs-more-than-a-BMW end of the stereo nerdfest. 6moons reviews some very pricey stuff but also interesting things like the T-amp. Used stereo gear can be found and priced at Audiogon. davey_darling is right in that you can find some very good-sounding audio components at thrift stores, estate sales and curbside with a "Free" tag on it.

As for your planned set of connections, mine is similar: I run Web streaming connections, a mt-daapd server, and a DLNA server through a Roku Soundbridge to my stereo via an aux input. DLNA is a media - not just audio - standard and it appears to have decent hardware support. Apparently mt-daapd is no longer being developed. Roku was the only non-Apple entity to have had a DAAP license, so playing from itunes to your stereo involves either an old Soundbridge or Apple hardware. The Soundbridge is no longer sold, and it doesn't have world-beating fidelity anyhow. Squeezeboxes sound better to my ears. Squeezebox has its own protocol but its server is freeware.
posted by jet_silver at 11:36 AM on October 8, 2011

Apple's Airport Express will stream audio (and video) from your computer over WiFi to a home stereo input (receiver/ amplifier).
posted by cbrody at 4:03 PM on October 8, 2011

The sound is in the amplifier. I'm not kidding: The amp has the biggest impact on the sound quality.

Budget for a really good amp. (They don't need to be that expensive.)
posted by krilli at 5:09 PM on October 8, 2011

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