PC soundcard to studio monitor solution required

I have a X-Fi Platinum and a set of Adam A7 active monitors. What would be the best solution to use the speakers?

PC > ? > monitor cables (1/4" jack > balanced XLR)

X-Fi Outputs - Minijack (3.5mm) stereo/5.1 outputs at rear (preferable), Optical Out and sp/dif on front panel. The 1/4" out on the front panel is already taken.

I have 1/4" male to balanced XLR cables in the inputs on the back of the monitors.

What would be best in-between? Some sort of mixer? which one? An input for my Pod XT would be really handy too.

I believe an external DAC with balanced outputs would work, while not necessarily being cheap.

It’s a very nice piece of kit, but over my budget. I should have explained the speakers will be used for games, mp3s and only occasionally will i use it for the POD/Music creation. Budget is 100-200 USD. (or less)

I have 1/4" male to balanced XLR cables in the inputs on the back of the monitors.

There’s no such thing. You need circuity to change an unbalanced signal into a balanced one. A cable will not do that. (Unless it has circuitry concealed in it, I suppose.) You’re either going to be using a dodgy workaround like this, or spending more money than you have.

Actually, looking at the spec sheet for those monitors, they have RCA inputs. Use that. Either RCA-RCA if those RCA ports are outputs, or a 1/8-RCA converter cable. But don’t try to shoehorn an unbalanced output into a balanced input with a hackjob cable unless you have no other option.

Uh-oh. Now i’m confused.

The cables are just off the shelf ones i bought along with the monitors so i could plug them into the POD XT. The end I plug into the POD is 1/4" male the other is a round plug with 3 male connectors inside it. I thought they were balanced XLR connectors, but maybe it’s not balanced? It’s all stuff i already have and already works.


They are XLR connectors, but the signal is still unbalanced. Most gear that expects a balanced signal is OK with it, but you lose the noise rejection capabilities of a balanced signal.

Which is why I usually recommend not using a cable like that unless you have to. No point pretending that you have a balanced signal when you don’t. We used cable like that for a while for putting electric guitars into a mixer until we bought proper DI boxes, but it’s not recommended because over longer runs you still get interference.

I guess what I’m saying is that you get no benefit from that XLR cable, since it’s unbalanced anyway, so why not use the RCA inputs?

[EDIT]Just a note - that cable you linked has a TRS connector on the phono jack end, so it is capable of running a balanced signal. Your POD XT may even use that capability, and reading the specs it looks like it can. But your soundcard will not do balanced over 1/4". RCA is fine for that.[/EDIT]

Ah, that makes sense. Thanks.

So I can get a 3.5mm minijack L&R stereo cable that splits into 2 RCA connectors, and go straight into the speakers from the PC, and not have to bother with anything inbetween? I can just leave the cables I have with the POD for use whenever. Sounds good to me.

That should work. Keep cable runs as short as you can, but you should be good.