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I am currently using a Realtek ALC887 on-board sound chip connected through line-out to a set of recently acquired Raumfeld Stereo M speakers. Either the audio signal of my on-board chip is rather weak or my speakers are unable to amplify it properly: In order to listen to music on my computer at moderate volume levels, I have to turn the speakers' volume setting to around 60 %.

It gets worse when playing movies on my computer: During relatively quiet movie scenes the speakers sometimes go completely silent as if there was no audio at all. They seem to be unable to handle the faint audio signal coming from the on-board chip of my mainboard. It doesn't happen with every movie but often enough to be a nuisance. It's funny but I did not have this problem with my old set of low-end PC stereo speakers.

I've called up Raumfeld support and they've said that the speakers are only meant for listening to music and not for watching movies. The software of the speakers actually has an option to boost the line-in signal. However this comes at a significant loss in sound quality which is why it's not a viable solution for me.

My question: Could a better sound card help me here? Are there any sound cards that output a "stronger"/"louder" audio signal? If so, what exactly would I be looking for in a dedicated sound card? If not, what other options do I have?

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    650 quid for speakers that only do one thing? Really? Send them back. Speakers are not generally considered to be one-trick ponies. – Tetsujin Apr 4 '18 at 16:39
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During relatively quiet movie scenes the speakers sometimes go completely silent as if there was no audio at all.

Frankly, to me it sounds like your movie software is putting out only 2 channels from a 5.1 or more surround sound. "Completely silent" is not really plausible given a mere level mismatch.

Other than that, it is not uncommon for computer hardware to produce -10dB levels (consumer audio) while professional speaker line levels are at +4dB level.

According to the ads, Raumfeld M have unbalanced cinch connectors common for consumer-grade audio hardware. So it really sounds like you have misconfigured either the speakers or your laptop.

The speakers should get along with laptop levels (if they are expecting input from line-in rather than, say, Bluetooth).

Another possible problem vector may be a missing ground line. In that case, the difference of stereo signals is correct but the sum may be anything. If a ground loop (or proper ground connection) substituted on your old setup, you'd get a good signal while now you only get the difference. That's sort-of fine for signals panned hard to the left or right, but signals in the center (or the bass for signals recorded as stereo) will get lost.

This kind of problem is most likely if you get sort-of a tinny sound without good bass and without sensible stereo location.

One cause may be mismatched 3.5-mm (1/8") plugs and connectors. If the connector admits a headset (including microphone) and the adapter is just for normal stereo headphones or vice versa, for example.

  • Thank you for your suggestions! I am experiencing the issue both with 6-channel movies as well as 2-channel movies as well as rarely with music files that have been recorded at a low volume. My flat is definitely equipped with a ground line. The connector on my mainboard is clearly labelled "line out". – Bonilla Apr 5 '18 at 20:34
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There are sound cards with higher line out level, these are interfaces with a pro line out whose nominal level is + 4 dBu (compared to the -10 dBv of a consumer line out). That's around 1.2 V vs 0.3 V. But as your loudspeakers are expecting consumer line level (as the line input is on rca/cinch connectors), that is probably not the issue.

Have you checked that the output level on your computer is set to it's nominal level (at least) ? Have you tried to set it at it's maximum level ?

As mentioned here (Automatic standby) :

Important information regarding the line-in connection:

Unlike other sources, signals received via the line-in connection (such as when a TV is switched on) do not automatically restart from the standby mode. If you want to experience uninterrupted playback with devices connected via line-in, we recommend that you deactivate the automatic standby function.

That might be a possible cause of the sound interruption when the input level of the loudspeaker is low (as in quiet parts).

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The "Strength of the line-out" signal is actually completely irrelevant, so your question is moot. Most audio input connections have a very high impedance which means that they can be fed easily from very low-power signal sources. With analogue signal connections, it is the overall signal level / voltage that matters, rather than the overall 'power' of the signal source.

Obviously this does not apply when you are directly feeding speaker drivers from an amplifier, but in the case of this particular set of speakers, they sound like they are 'active' speakers, so you are not powering the speaker drivers directly and the high-impedance input state applies.

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