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Old September 9th, 2009, 09:47 PM   #1
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Optical Monitors

Does anybody know of a good set of monitors that have a optical connection / input?

I have a 2009 MacPro and would like to take advantage of this high quality output...but I've (so far) only seen these connections in the computer desk type speakers (Logitech's z5500) and a few low end monitors (Edirol MA-15D's, Behringer MS40's).

I was hoping for maybe something a little more high end...any suggestions? And, yes I have a budget...but I'd just like to see feedback on what's out there for the money.
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Old September 9th, 2009, 10:05 PM   #2
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Well, optical connections are generally only found in consumer products in my experience. AES and S/PDIF are the digital standards of pro audio.

Ideally you should likely be looking at an audio interface to give S/PDIF, AES, and/or line-level analog outputs (the last being most common and compatible with pro monitors).

http://www.sweetwater.com/shop/compu...io_interfaces/
(Firewire and USB are generally higher quality than PCI-card based interfaces)
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Old September 9th, 2009, 10:29 PM   #3
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I have a $700 HP laptop with a S/PDIF output. Does that make it a "pro" laptop? I don't think so....but I could be wrong!!

I don't get why you provided me a link to Sweetwater?? I already have a S/PDIF (In & Out) and Analog Line (In & Out) on my MacPro.

I'm not looking to add components. I'm quite satisfied with what my MacPro has...(so far!!). Just want to utilize what I have in the most efficient way possible.
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Old September 9th, 2009, 11:47 PM   #4
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I never said consumer products couldn't be made that used pro connections.

The analog in/out and the optical jacks on the MacPro are designed for consumer use is my point. Hence they work with lower end gear. I got the impression you were looking for high end products, which is why I posted the sweetwater link.

Listen to audio through any computer's built in audio out, and then through a high quality external interface's audio out. Large difference in quality.

Plus the main input on most monitors is line-level (either balanced XLR or TRS 1/4"), which you'll only get out of your MacPro if you're using an audio interface. (plus the line out of the MacPro is -10dBV unbalanced vs. +4dBu line level pro gear is calibrated for so you'll need to turn them up louder than they were meant for.
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Old September 10th, 2009, 12:11 AM   #5
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Isn't, one of the advantages of the MacPro optical output, the ability to carry multiple audio channels for discreet surround sound playback?

In that case you might be better to optically connect to a surround capable audio amplifier to break out the stereo channels. This approach would give you more choice in speakers because they wouldn't have to be powered. ... and you could add speakers for surround.... and have a switching matrix so you could plug-in various audio producing objects.
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Old September 10th, 2009, 01:01 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Donkle View Post
I never said consumer products couldn't be made that used pro connections.
** Quite true...I never stated that you did so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Donkle View Post
The analog in/out and the optical jacks on the MacPro are designed for consumer use is my point. Hence they work with lower end gear. I got the impression you were looking for high end products, which is why I posted the sweetwater link.
** I suppose I wasn't quite clear in what I was after. Let me reiterate...I'm curious to see if there are "Monitors" that have an optical input and that are of a higher quality than the monitors I had previously listed. Like I stated in my previous post, I'm happy (currently) with my MacPro connection options. Are they the best? No. Am I looking for the best? No. I'm not and "audio" engineer/guru by any means...as you can probably tell. I'm just looking for suggestions...and yours are definitely worthy...if I wanted to expand and move up...I'll definitely consider those other interface options when the time comes for me to upgrade out of "consumer" land!! By the way, have you any experience with the Apogee Duet or One?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Donkle View Post
Listen to audio through any computer's built in audio out, and then through a high quality external interface's audio out. Large difference in quality.
** Haven't tried it...but I would tend to agree since if I was going to shell out bucks for an external audio interface, it'd better sound better than what's coming off the motherboard!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Donkle View Post
Plus the main input on most monitors is line-level (either balanced XLR or TRS 1/4"), which you'll only get out of your MacPro if you're using an audio interface. (plus the line out of the MacPro is -10dBV unbalanced vs. +4dBu line level pro gear is calibrated for so you'll need to turn them up louder than they were meant for.
** Thanks for that bit of techy info.; I did not know that...and will make a note of it.
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Old September 10th, 2009, 01:07 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Xaliman View Post
Isn't, one of the advantages of the MacPro optical output, the ability to carry multiple audio channels for discreet surround sound playback?

In that case you might be better to optically connect to a surround capable audio amplifier to break out the stereo channels. This approach would give you more choice in speakers because they wouldn't have to be powered. ... and you could add speakers for surround.... and have a switching matrix so you could plug-in various audio producing objects.
Do you have a setup like this that you currently use...or could recommend?

The reason I ask, is that I haven't even begun to think about this option...amplifier and passive monitors!!
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Old September 10th, 2009, 03:01 AM   #8
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The way I use the optical output is bij putting a DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) between my Mac and the power amplifier. It is nog a cheap solution but really the way to go if you want top quality. An amplifier of speaker with optical input has a DAC built in, but most of the time of much lower quality. I use an Apogee mini DAC.
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Old September 10th, 2009, 03:13 AM   #9
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I really love those Beringer MS40. They are not as low-tech as the price tag suggests.
Go to a shop and try them - best bang for the buck IMHO.

Frank
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Old September 11th, 2009, 03:20 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Frank Brodkorb View Post
I really love those Beringer MS40. They are not as low-tech as the price tag suggests.
Go to a shop and try them - best bang for the buck IMHO.

Frank
Hey Frank -

Do you have a sub hooked up to them? By looking at the specs on their website, those monitors didn't appear to have an option for connecting a sub....but I could be wrong.

AC
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Old September 11th, 2009, 03:50 PM   #11
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And I'm using the Edirol MA15Ds (albeit hooked up analog) in my (video) edit bay as nearfields. When I move my studio, I'll be buying larger and better midfields but the Edirols stay for nearfields.

PS. I do TV commercials and docs using them BUT I don't have any extreme low frequency material - I use mostly field acquired sound and know what I've captured so very little danger of LFE issues.
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