A while back I got a Simplifi Simplifi 5075D USB amplifier to build up my home theater system. But there was a catch: Simplifi Digital did not support Linux or Mac OS X, and I was not going near Windows MCE in my living room. What to do? Ask Simplifi Digital for a loaner box to test out the cross-platform support!
I had been planning out my digital home theater system for a while, but always hit one stumbling block in designing the system: I needed a remote control to turn the amplifier on and off, and to change the volume, or I needed an IR blaster to do it from the computer. But an IR blaster doesn’t know if its turning the device on or off and can’t bring the amp to a known volume level at startup, say for use as an alarm clock or scheduling it to turn on your favorite show when you get home from work. Yes, I know some amplifiers have distinct remote control commands for ‘on’ and ‘off’, but that sort of esoteric minutiae is nearly impossible to figure out before buying the device.
What I needed was an amplifier that could be completely controlled by my home theater system, without any buttons, switches, remote controls, or strange serial protocols requiring one-off, hacked up cabling. Enter Simplifi Digital.
In a Nutshell
The Simplifi Digital 5075D USB amplifier works great under Linux, with many distributions supporting its 5.1 audio right out of the box. For those that don’t, you configure it just like a SoundBlaster 24-bit USB audio card (details below). The 5075D does not work under Mac OS X in anything but 2.0 channel mode. Instead, I recommend the Simplifi Digital 5075 Analog 5.1 amplifier and a Griffin FireWave 1394 sound card; this combination works in 2.1 right out of the box, and in 5.1 with Griffin’s drivers (details below).
Linux in Detail
Mac OS X in Detail