Connecting 6 active studio monitors to arduino

Hi, I'm new to the world of arduino, but I have been a programmer in max msp for some years, I will be using the maxuino external to do all the coding side of things. But my question is can I send different signals to 6 active studio monitors from an arduino. Eventually I hope to run 36 using the arduino mega, but for now I'm concentrating on a prototype. I have no knowledge at all in electronics so is there any components I would need between the arduino and monitors. This is for a sound art installation, based on gabor's ideas around granular sound. This means the signal needs to be very accurate. Thanks in advance :)

What is an active studio monitor and what sort of signal do you need to send it?

I’m thinking the Arduino may not be the best choice for this…

I’m thinking a computer with multiple soundcards… Maybe a USB hub and multiple USB soundcards. Most applications will only address one soundcard at a time, but if you are the programmer you should be able to do it. (For 6-channels you can simply use a 5.1 channel “surround sound” soundcard.)

You CAN get an approximately line-level signal (~5V peak-to-peak, 1.7V RMS) from the Arduino’s “analog” outputs and that’s a perfect level for driving an active monitor. (Actually it’s a little “hot”, but almost all monitors have volume controls, and it’s always better to have a bit too much signal than too little.)

This means the signal needs to be very accurate.

The Arduino doesn’t have a true digital-to-analog converter. It has 8-bit PWM that can approximate analog. So, you’d need an external DAC chip. (Or an audio “shield” i.e. an Arduino plug-in board.)

If you are going to send analog audio into the Arduino, it does have multiple analog inputs, but they are only 10-bits.

You may also need external memory because the memory is limited and storing high-quality uncompressed audio requires LOTs of memory. If you are using MIDI or generating tones in software, memory may be adequate.

What is an active studio monitor and what sort of signal do you need to send it?

It’s an audio monitor… A loudspeaker, usually high quality, designed for use in a recording studio. “Active” means it has a built-in amplifier like computer speakers. Hi-Fi speakers require a separate amplifier which is usually built-into the receiver.

DVDdoug: I'm thinking the Arduino may not be the best choice for this...

Or succinctly paraphrased, forget it!

You need a computer (e.g., a PC) or purpose-built hardware.

Perhaps you need to explain what this is actually intended to do, in order to get some (more) positive suggestions (along the lines of "DVDdoug" :D).

If you're just outputing tones, simple square waves, then you can certainly output a lot of signals. Browse the forum for my post "piano tones micros" where I created 13 output tones (based on 13 buttons) using an Atmega1284 and played them thru a sefl-powered speaker. You could do the same under software control vs reading button presses.

Here it is http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?topic=179761.0 Code, schematic, youtube video