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Playstation 3 Audio With a Computer Monitor

I gave myself a home project--upgrade / reorganize my home studio so that it is both more comfortable and more like a proper man-cave.  As a man-cave cannot be complete without a game console, a PS3 was high on the agenda since my wife commandeered the living room PS3 for Netflix viewing.  I thought it would be relatively easy to connect a PS3 to my PC monitor.  The video part was easy of course--just plug in the HDMI cable (duh).  However, the audio part was an unexpected challenge.  Since I'm such a nice dude, I share my story for the benefit of others.

HDMI Audio Didn't Work
My Dell monitor has HDMI-in and a random mini-plug jack that says "audio out."  I assumed incorrectly that I could connect headphones / speakers to this and be done.  Nope.  That jack was totally useless.  I couldn't get sound to come out of that thing no matter how hard I tried.  After a bunch of googling and fiddling, I gave up.

Output PS3 Audio Via the RCA Jacks
So I set the PS3 to output the audio via the RCA jacks, while keeping video on HDMI.  My kick-ass JBL studio monitors have RCA audio ins, so I connected the cables to these.  This worked, but the audio was freakin' loud.  Even the volume controls on the monitors themselves proved useless--setting to 0 was silent, while 1 was too loud.  Plus, the knobs on the studio monitors are in the back, and I don't like adjusting them because I set them perfectly for my Mac.  I use my Mac audio device (Apogee Duet2) to control the master volume.  Unfortunately, the PS3 has no master volume control.

How About Headphones?
PS3 has no headphone jack, so I got a simple converter to change the RCA audio plugs to mini-plug.  I connected headphones and got audio.  But again, there was no way to control the volume.  Games were OK, but Netflix was too loud.

My Solution: A Simple Volume Control
I figured my problem would be solved if I could just find a simple volume controller to put between the RCA audio out and the speakers / headphones.  I found a nice one made by Fostex (http://www.fostexinternational.com/docs/products/PC-1eBW.shtml).  It was only around $12 and much smaller than expected.  Now I can control the volume of the signal coming out of the PS3, so my JBLs don't explode.  It sounds awesome--a testament to man-cave engineering!

Other Ideas
While researching my PS3 audio problem, I had some other ideas which may be more suitable.  I didn't pursue these; but in theory they should work.
  • I found a bluetooth audio transmitter that allows you to use a bluetooth device (e.g. wireless headphones / speakers) with a non-bluetooth mini-plug audio device (e.g. old-school iPod, PS3's audio out, etc).  I may eventually check this out since it would be cool to use my bluetooth headphones with my PS3 (e.g. late at night).  I'm not 100% sure if this would solve the volume control problem, but most all bluetooth devices have an integrated volume control, so it should work.  Here in Japan the tech manufacturers Logitec & Buffalo offer these devices.
  • Use corded headphones with their own volume control.  I've seen some headphones that have a small volume slider built-in.  In my case I wanted the flexibility of using my headphones and speakers, so I went with the separate volume control.  My Jabra bluetooth headphones have an option to use them cabled, so I did try this at one point.  Unfortunately, the volume control didn't work.  I assume that's a bluetooth-only feature, which is why I think you'd need corded headphones for this.
  • Get the "official" PS3 wireless headphones (http://us.playstation.com/ps3/accessories/wireless-stereo-headset-ps3.html).  Most PS3 audio devices are only used for game chat.  This really sucks because I thought I could just pair my bluetooth headphones with the PS3 and be done.  Nope!  However, Sony's official PS3 wireless headphones look like they do both the chat and game audio.  I didn't go with this option because I already have so many headphones and didn't want to spring for yet another pair.  Also, this again would be a headphone-only solution.
  • I know you can also connect the PS3's audio to an amp for more control.  I personally try to keep my setup simple (things get out of control quickly); and living in Japan, space is a constant concern.  If you have the space and money, go for it.  7.1 optical audio must sound amazing.

Please let me know if you have any other ideas!

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