Unconventional Stereo System Issues

Rockwill1066

Novice Member
So, earlier today, I encountered a really catastrophic issue regarding my unconventional stereo system. I connected my Victorola TT with a red/white RCA cord, then I connected my pre-amp to my head-amp with an RCA > AUX splitter from the two RCA ports on my pre-amp to the single 3.5 millimeters "AUX IN" port on my head-amp. I, fortunately, heard the TT playing the record, although at a very low clarity but, after I attempted to use the head-amp with which both of my SOUNDBOKS 2 speakers are connected, in order to play music from my computer through a Bluetooth adapter inserted into the "AUX IN" port, I encountered the dreaded of issue of hearing absolutely no audio.

To provide some context, the exact same issue arose with my last head-amp of the same design, so I decided to order another one. After the first blow-out, I determined that the cause of the issue was the incredibly low-power phono audio signal, being far weaker than a digital signal, causing my battery to malfunction. After performing some research, reading the description of the page of the head-amp which states that it converts phono to RCA signals (and I, at the time, presumed that RCA could be converted to a digital signal with a splitter due to what I'm about to say), in addition to consulting with a friend of mine, and finally, making a post on a supposedly 'audiophile' forum on which someone, with great confidence and belief in their own veracity, told me that the arrangement would function, I decided to do what was said in the first paragraph. So, needless to say, I'm very desperate for someone with actual experience, diligence, and honesty to inform me of whether my new plan if implemented, will yield successful results. Of course, I appreciate any effort in regards to helping me resolve my issue but, if you're not confident that it will be successful, then I'd prefer you to mention your uncertainty in order to prevent the aforementioned situation. I've spent hours researching this topic and I still find it highly complicated and confusing, unfortunately.

My new plan consists of connecting the TT to the phono pre-amp with RCA cables, connecting my phono pre-amp to my Rockwell Equalizer (https://www.walmart.com/ip/Rockvill...Band-Graphic-Equalizer-EQ-VU-Meters/373722599) with RCA cables, connecting my Rockwell Equalizer with RCA cables to my ADC, and, finally, using a Coaxial > 3.5-millimeter AUX cable inserted into my head-amp. I would also like to know if it's possible for me to successfully use a CD Player, or Cassette Deck, in substitution for the TT with the same linear components of the plan above followed. Thank you for taking the time to read this in advance, and I would like to use this forum more in order to gain more understanding regarding the audio world as I do find it interesting.
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
I'm sorry, despite 25 years + in the audio industry, I don't really understand what you are talking about?

When you say head amp, what do you mean? An integrated amp, a preamp, power amp, what?

In basic terms, the output from a turntable is very low level and requires equalisation to make it suitable to feed into a line level input in the same way as you would use a cassette deck or CD player. A phono pre-amp provides the correct level of equalisation and amplification, so if you are using any other form of pre-amp, this probably won't work.

A graphic equaliser is not the right way of equalising a phono input, as the filter shape and "Q" or slope will not be correct. You might get somewhere close, but it won't sound great. Graphic EQs also create huge phase shifts, which further distort and change the sound.

I am not sure where Bluetooth and digital comes into this? Your signal should be remaining in the analogue domain throughout the signal chain.

In short, ditch the Graphic EQ and remove as much extraneous equipment from the signal chain as possible!
 

alebonau

Well-known Member
My new plan consists of connecting the TT to the phono pre-amp with RCA cables, connecting my phono pre-amp to my Rockwell Equalizer (https://www.walmart.com/ip/Rockvill...Band-Graphic-Equalizer-EQ-VU-Meters/373722599) with RCA cables, connecting my Rockwell Equalizer with RCA cables to my ADC, and, finally, using a Coaxial > 3.5-millimeter AUX cable inserted into my head-amp. I would also like to know if it's possible for me to successfully use a CD Player, or Cassette Deck, in substitution for the TT with the same linear components of the plan above followed. Thank you for taking the time to read this in advance, and I would like to use this forum more in order to gain more understanding regarding the audio world as I do find it interesting.
trying to digest this...

TT to phono pre amp with RCA... get this

Phono pre amp to Rockwell equaliser ? - why ?

Rockwell equaliser to ADC... why ?

Coax to 3.5mm - why ?

Head amp... what is this specifically ? brand make model. is it a head phone amp ? does it have a dac ? what other inputs does it have ? if just RCA inputs ? can you skip to chase and go turntable to phono pre amp via RCA... RCA from phono pre amp to headphone amp ? skip all the other gear and cables in between ? at least this will get some audio through the system... can then look to introduce other things

otherwise there is risk of so many components, so many cables, different signal levels. mis matches etc... perhaps to something in there not mis behaving ?

re the cassette deck yes could replace the TT and phono pre amp and feed the cassette deck into the "head amp" if if it s a regular headphone amp and most of these have RCAs to connect upto
 

Rockwill1066

Novice Member
I'm sorry, despite 25 years + in the audio industry, I don't really understand what you are talking about?

When you say head amp, what do you mean? An integrated amp, a preamp, power amp, what?

In basic terms, the output from a turntable is very low level and requires equalisation to make it suitable to feed into a line level input in the same way as you would use a cassette deck or CD player. A phono pre-amp provides the correct level of equalisation and amplification, so if you are using any other form of pre-amp, this probably won't work.

A graphic equaliser is not the right way of equalising a phono input, as the filter shape and "Q" or slope will not be correct. You might get somewhere close, but it won't sound great. Graphic EQs also create huge phase shifts, which further distort and change the sound.

I am not sure where Bluetooth and digital comes into this? Your signal should be remaining in the analogue domain throughout the signal chain.

In short, ditch the Graphic EQ and remove as much extraneous equipment from the signal chain as possible!
I understand that and I apologize for my ambiguity. I'll try to clarify.

I'm referring to a headphone amplifier with which both of my active/powered amps are connected. This video explains my configuration:
I understand what you mean completely and I knew that phono pre-amps convert the low-power/level phono signal into a higher-level/more powerful audio signal. However, I didn't previously know that a pre-amp was responsible for equalization. I used and have a phono pre-amp so it should be effective in converting the audio signal into a higher-level one.

I had no idea and I find that fascinating, especially regarding the slope and huge phase shifts although I don't quite understand them; I'll probably do some research on that later. My incentive for using the graphic EQ is that most of what I listen to is underground, extreme music that's incredibly poorly mixed to such an extent that I almost always equalize what I listen to. You've convinced me that I should definitely never use a graphic EQ when listening to classical music though.

My SOUNDBOKS 2 speakers are both Bluetooth speakers, however, you can't connect to both of them using your phone even though you can connect to them individually with a phone, so a headphone amplifier, which is the FiiO A3, is a necessity. Unfortunately, the signal cannot remain in the analog domain on account of the fact that my self-powered/active speakers are digital in addition to the headphone amplifier with which they're both connected.

Initially, I won't use the Graphic EQ and I haven't used it yet. I blew my head-amp without any Graphic EQ. If I verify that my configuration is functional without a Graphic EQ, I think I'll at least try to experiment with it for my poorly mixed music. I understand the importance of simplifying the signal chain and I'll keep that in mind certainly.
 

Rockwill1066

Novice Member
trying to digest this...

TT to phono pre amp with RCA... get this

Phono pre amp to Rockwell equaliser ? - why ?

Rockwell equaliser to ADC... why ?

Coax to 3.5mm - why ?

Head amp... what is this specifically ? brand make model. is it a head phone amp ? does it have a dac ? what other inputs does it have ? if just RCA inputs ? can you skip to chase and go turntable to phono pre amp via RCA... RCA from phono pre amp to headphone amp ? skip all the other gear and cables in between ? at least this will get some audio through the system... can then look to introduce other things

otherwise there is risk of so many components, so many cables, different signal levels. mis matches etc... perhaps to something in there not mis behaving ?

re the cassette deck yes could replace the TT and phono pre amp and feed the cassette deck into the "head amp" if if it s a regular headphone amp and most of these have RCAs to connect upto
Again, I apologize for the ambiguity and I'll try to clarify as well as I can.

I used a Rockwell Equalizer due to the fact that, in regards to most of what I listen to, the music is very poorly mixed and I rely on equalizers in order to compensate for that. Unfortunately, underground, old-school extreme metal is my favorite genre so there's not much I can do about that in particular, but I'm going to refrain from using the equalizer, to begin with. I haven't used my equalizer yet as, when I blew my headphone amplifier, I didn't even have the equalizer. My Analog to Digital Converter hasn't arrived yet so I haven't used that either although I decided to purchase it due to how my head-amp was blown through connecting it to my phono pre-amp with an RCA > AUX cable. Based on that, I concluded that the cause of my digital head-amp being blown is, most likely, the analog signal. I decided to purchase a Coax to 3.5-millimeter cable because there isn't a 3.5-millimeter port on the Analog to Digital Converter.

A head-amp is an abbreviation for a headphone amplifier which I should've specified; my apologies. I actually provided links for all of my audio equipment but, for some reason, the website doesn't allow new users to post links so all of those were removed. The head-amp that I used is the FiiO A3. Presumably, the FiiO A3 doesn't have a DAC as I couldn't find any information regarding that. The FiiO A3 only has an "AUX IN" 3.5-millimeter port and a "headphone icon" 3.5-millimeter port. I did connect my turntable to the phono pre-amp using RCA cables, and, furthermore, I connected my phono pre-amp to my headphone amp with an RCA to AUX splitter due to the lack of an RCA input on my headphone amplifier. If I skip all of the gear and cables in-between, I'll blow the head-amp again. To demonstrate visually what I mean:

1st Try: Turntable > Headphone Amplifier = FiiO A3 Headphone Amplifier permanently blown, but speakers still functional. I connected the Turntable to the Headphone Amplifier w/ an RCA to AUX cable.

2nd Try: Turntable > Phono Pre-Amp > Headphone Amplifier = FiiO A3 Headphone Amplifier permanently blown, but speakers still functional. I connected the Turntable to the Phono Pre-Amp w/ an RCA to RCA cable. I, then, connected the Phono Pre-Amp to my FiiO A3 Headphone Amplifier w/ a 2x RCA to AUX splitter.

3rd Try (planned but not executed because my third FiiO A3 hasn't arrived yet): Turntable > Phono Pre-Amp > Analog to Digital Converter > Headphone Amplifier. I'll connect the Turntable to the Phono Pre-Amp w/ an RCA to RCA cable. I'll, then, connect the Phono Pre-Amp to my Analog to Digital Converter w/ a 2x RCA to AUX splitter. Finally, I'll connect my Analog to Digital Converter to my FiiO A3 Headphone Amplifier w/ a Coaxial to AUX splitter because the Analog to Digital Converter, sadly, doesn't have an AUX output port.

All of the components, cables, and level signals are, without a doubt, causing an increase in complexity and therefore the probability of complications arise, which they have, so I concur. Whenever I blow my headphone amplifier, I add another level of complexity in an effort to make the audio signal being received by my digital headphone amplifier more compatible so that it won't be blown again. I cannot connect my speakers directly to the Turntable as both of my stereo speakers need to be connected to a headphone amplifier and, even if I were to try to connect the TT to one of the speakers individually, I couldn't because the TT doesn't have an AUX output an the speakers don't have any RCA inputs.

I'm glad that the process of connecting my Cassette Deck, or CD Player, to the head-amp can be direct and easy and I'll try that first although, if it functions without an equalizer, I'd like to use my equalizer in conjunction with both on account of the music I listen to. My Cassette Deck and my CD Player don't have AUX inputs nor outputs so I'll, at the very least, need to use an RCA > AUX splitter to connect them to my head-amp, so I was curious as to whether I can use my phono pre-amp and/or Analog to Digital Converter to convert the RCA signal to a digital one.

Hopefully, this video will provide clarification regarding my configuration:
 

Rockwill1066

Novice Member
Forgot to mention the Analog to Digital Converter that I'm going to be using; it's the "Analog to Digital Aluminum Audio Converter,Tiancai Audio Adapter for 3.5mm Jack or Stereo R/L to Toslink(Optical/SPDIF) and Coaxial,with Power Adapter and Toslink Cable" - Amazon Title.
 

alebonau

Well-known Member
I used a Rockwell Equalizer due to the fact that, in regards to most of what I listen to, the music is very poorly mixed and I rely on equalizers in order to compensate for that. Unfortunately, underground, old-school extreme metal is my favorite genre so there's not much I can do about that in particular, but I'm going to refrain from using the equalizer, to begin with. I haven't used my equalizer yet as, when I blew my headphone amplifier, I didn't even have the equalizer. My Analog to Digital Converter hasn't arrived yet so I haven't used that either although I decided to purchase it due to how my head-amp was blown through connecting it to my phono pre-amp with an RCA > AUX cable. Based on that, I concluded that the cause of my digital head-amp being blown is, most likely, the analog signal. I decided to purchase a Coax to 3.5-millimeter cable because there isn't a 3.5-millimeter port on the Analog to Digital Converter.
understand and no problem.... id say a good part of grief is trying to mix portable gear here in your "head unit" and the equaliser snd TT

can i suggest something like this ? with inputs, outputs. digital analog, ADC all probably you want and can feed a pc even via USB


or alternatively a little midi ?

above are jsut a couple of approaches to try pull everything together.. which is what i think you are missing with all the gear trying to integrate

another approach a affordable pre amp ? something like ?

amc xii pre amplifier ? very affordable but will integrated everything you want i think
https://www.selby.com.au/media/manuals/User Manual-AMC-XP.pdf

few options... all with headphone amps built in. and will help you integration wise... get away with trying to mix things through the fio thing
 

Rockwill1066

Novice Member
understand and no problem.... id say a good part of grief is trying to mix portable gear here in your "head unit" and the equaliser snd TT

can i suggest something like this ? with inputs, outputs. digital analog, ADC all probably you want and can feed a pc even via USB


or alternatively a little midi ?

above are jsut a couple of approaches to try pull everything together.. which is what i think you are missing with all the gear trying to integrate

another approach a affordable pre amp ? something like ?

amc xii pre amplifier ? very affordable but will integrated everything you want i think
https://www.selby.com.au/media/manuals/User Manual-AMC-XP.pdf

few options... all with headphone amps built in. and will help you integration wise... get away with trying to mix things through the fio thing
That would appear to be the source of grief, yes.

I'll do some research on those.

Yeah, my approach is scattered and convoluted so maybe employing one of those devices will help.

That could be in order and I'll take a look at that as well.

Thanks for providing all of these options for integration; that's, hopefully, what I need. Yeah, I suspected that that little amp is a little too little to handle all of the technical complexity.
 

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