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Audio System for a Mac

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KenA

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Audio System for a Mac

PostSun Jul 19, 2020 1:16 pm

I am just beginning to put together a three manual Hauptwerk, which has been much delayed
by the Covid pandemic. I will be making use of an existing iMac. I also already have two sets of
quite good stereo speakers. Despite reading the Hauptwerk manual several times and studying
entries in this forum, I still have several questions on how to best configure my audio system,
while still keeping within a reasonable budget.
Initially of course, I will simply plug headphones into the headphone jack on the back of the
iMac. I also believe, from reading the manual, that I can replace the headphones with a pair of
stereo speakers and plug into the headphone jack on the Mac. Is this correct?
The next stage of audio could include a powered subwoofer, to which would be connected a
pair of powered stereo speakers. My understanding is that these can also be plugged into the
headphone jack on the Mac without an additional amp.
If I wish to use my existing two pairs of stereo speakers I will require an eight channel amp to
also allow for a subwoofer and headphones, and this would be attached to the Mac by means
of a thunderbolt or USB connection.
If I wanted to use all of the above, a subwoofer and now 3 pairs of stereo speakers, can the
powered speakers be connected to the amp?
I would appreciate comments on whether any or all of my proposed configurations will work.
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mdyde

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Re: Audio System for a Mac

PostMon Jul 20, 2020 4:39 am

Hello Ken,

KenA wrote:Initially of course, I will simply plug headphones into the headphone jack on the back of the
iMac. I also believe, from reading the manual, that I can replace the headphones with a pair of
stereo speakers and plug into the headphone jack on the Mac. Is this correct?


Correct, assuming that the stereo speakers are 'powered', i.e. have amps built in, or are amplified by some other means. The built-in output on the Mac is line-level (not amplified much) and has sufficient power to drive headphones directly, but could only drive speakers if they amplified/powered.

KenA wrote:The next stage of audio could include a powered subwoofer, to which would be connected a
pair of powered stereo speakers. My understanding is that these can also be plugged into the
headphone jack on the Mac without an additional amp.


Correct, assuming your powered subwoofer has a built-in stereo line output (as most do) designed for connecting full-range speakers (powered/amplified speakers). You would connect your powered subwoofer directly to the Mac's built-in output, then connect your powered stereo speakers to the subwoofer's cross-over output.

KenA wrote:If I wish to use my existing two pairs of stereo speakers I will require an eight channel amp to
also allow for a subwoofer and headphones, and this would be attached to the Mac by means
of a thunderbolt or USB connection.


If speakers/subwoofers are 'powered' then it means they have amps built-in, so need to be connected directly to your line outputs on your audio interface (or Mac's built-in line output, if connecting only a single stereo output). Powered speakers shouldn't be connected to amps, whereas non-powered speakers do need to be connected to amps (which should in turn be connected line outputs on your audio interface).

Thunderbolt/USB audio interfaces are available from various companies that provide multiple (e.g. eight) independent line outputs to which you could connect powered speakers/subwoofers directly, or non-powered speakers via amps. E.g. MOTU, RME, Focusrite and M-Audio make 8-output audio interfaces that are popular with Hauptwerk users.
Best regards, Martin.
Hauptwerk software designer/developer, Milan Digital Audio.
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KenA

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Re: Audio System for a Mac

PostMon Jul 20, 2020 9:27 am

Thank you very much for the thorough reply Martin. Since I am not an expert in audio things, this makes my way forward much clearer. Just one point of clarification. If go the 8 channel amp route, the powered subwoofer would not be connected to the amp, but directly to the Mac with a separate thunderbolt connection. It appears to me that one should either go with all powered speakers and no amp, or all unpowered speakers, including a non-powered sub woofer and and an amp such a Motu. Are there non-powered subwoofers?
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micdev

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Re: Audio System for a Mac

PostMon Jul 20, 2020 9:52 am

Good morning,

the powered subwoofer would not be connected to the amp, but directly to the Mac with a separate thunderbolt connection


The subwoofer will be connected to the audio interface using an audio cable (1/4, XLR or RCA depending on the type of connectors available on your audio interface).

Most subwoofers has built-in amplifier, are powered. You can easily use unpowered speakers (using an external amp) and a powered subwoofer (most HTS system are built that way) or go all the way with powered speakers and subs..

Note that the MOTU is not an amplifier but an audio interface (often multi-channels). If using speakers with an amp, your motu will be connected to the amplifier inputs and the speakers will be connected to the amp outputs. The powered subwoofer will be directly connected to the audio interface (MOTU for example).

If using powered speakers, all your speakers (including the sub) will be directly connected to the MOTU.

Hope this helps
Best regards
François

Virtually sharing my enthusiasm and experience with you
Worldwide technical assistance, consultation and ready to play system.

http://www.HauptwerkConsultant.com

AND Hauptwerk Support Manager
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KenA

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Re: Audio System for a Mac

PostMon Jul 20, 2020 10:14 am

Thank you for the further clarification. Bur I am still confused. What is the purpose of the audio interface (Motu)? So if I want to use my existing stereo speakers, I will require an audio interface plus a multi-channel amp. Could you give me an example of such an amp?
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johnstump_organist

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Re: Audio System for a Mac

PostMon Jul 20, 2020 11:27 am

The audio interface has the "DAC",s - Digital to Analog Converters, that will take the digital signal (that would sound like your phone trying to connect to a Fax machine) and turn it into analog sounds that will sound like music. Then the amp will amplify that analog signal to drive your speakers.
Are your two pairs of speakers identical? If not, you will be best using them as two separate groups in HW to play a Great/Pedal and Swell division as one example. To use them as part of one group where the different notes of one stop are sent to different speakers they should ideally be identical speakers.
John
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KenA

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Re: Audio System for a Mac

PostMon Jul 20, 2020 12:28 pm

I am becoming more confused. As should be evident, I do not know anything about audio
matters. I have been rereading the Hauptwerk manual pages 15 to 17.
On page 15 the manual states that Macs have good A to D converters and should perform well
by default. So why do you need an additional audio interface such as a Moto.
Page 16 states that I will also need a midi interface such as a Moto Microlite.
On page 17 it states that I also require VST and Audio Unit hosts. I have no idea what VST and
Audio Host units do.
It would be really helpful if I could see a a list of the sequence of required components between
the Mac thunderbolt outlet and the speaker input. From my viewpoint this all appears to be
hopelessly complicated.
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micdev

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Re: Audio System for a Mac

PostMon Jul 20, 2020 1:11 pm

Good afternoon Ken

the manual states that Macs have good A to D converters and should perform well
by default. So why do you need an additional audio interface such as a Moto.


- Mac built-in audio offers 2 analog channels. In your previous thread you were talking "multi-channels". While there are some possibilities (depending on model and hardware used) to have multiple channels from your built-in audio interface, the sure way is to use an external audio interface with multiple outputs (Motu, Focusrite, Presonus, RME etc)

....that I will also need a midi interface such as a Moto Microlite


- Depends on the type of MIDI connection you will use to connect your console. You can use a MIDI to USB cable (connected to one of your computer usb port), or a MIDI cable connected to an external audio interface (who often offers a built-in MIDI interface). Finally a MIDI interface can be used (should you need multiple inputs). Basically you have many ways/solutions to connect your MIDI devices to your computer.

it states that I also require VST and Audio Unit hosts. I have no idea what VST and
Audio Host units do


- Don't bother with that, unless you want to use some DAW software, you won't need it... and you don't need it to play Hauptwerk (in the configuration used by 90% of the users)

It would be really helpful if I could see a a list of the sequence of required components between
the Mac thunderbolt outlet and the speaker input. From my viewpoint this all appears to be
hopelessly complicated.


- If you use the built-in 2 channels analog audio output
- Left channel audio out to powered amplifier left
- Right channel audio out to power amplifier right

- If using an external audio interface (for multi-channels) connected using USB or thunderbolt
- Audio interface connect using USB or TB
- If using Power speakers
- Powered Speaker 1 connected to audio interface output 1
- Powered Speaker 2 connected to audio interface output 2
...
- Subwoofer Left connected to audio interface 7
- Subwoofer right connected to audio interface 8

- if using passive speakers
- Audio interface 1 connected to AMP IN 1 -> speaker 1
- Audio interface 2 connected to AMP IN 2 -> speaker 2
....
- Powered Subwoofer Left connected to audio interface 7
- PoweredSubwoofer right connected to audio interface 8

There are other possible configurations, these are some example.

Hope this helps
Best regards
François

Virtually sharing my enthusiasm and experience with you
Worldwide technical assistance, consultation and ready to play system.

http://www.HauptwerkConsultant.com

AND Hauptwerk Support Manager
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KenA

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Re: Audio System for a Mac

PostMon Jul 20, 2020 1:53 pm

Thank you. That makes lot more sense now.
Just for my information, what are VST and audio unit hosts, and also DAW software?
Could you give me an example of a multi-channel amp which would be suitable?

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