Originally Posted by looreenzoo
Yeah I naively thought that a proprietary lossless compression format was enough, but it seems that no, also the digital out driver should be proprietary...
If your files are lossless CD quality, you're most of the way there, no matter what DAC you use. All things being equal, you want to do the D/A conversion as close to the speakers as you can, but as long as you keep the music lossless and avoid converting back and forth between digital and analog in the chain, you'll be fine. For computer audio, a good setup will be:
Mac --> Optical out --> Receiver --> Speakers
Mac --> HDMI out --> Receiver --> Speakers
Mac --> USB --> USB DAC --> Analog line out --> Receiver --> Speakers
That said, this setup is going to give you very good results too:
Ipod --> analog line out --> Receiver --> Speakers
The ipod/iphone DAC is actually quite good; the key is to bypass the internal headphone amp and just send a clean line-out signal (from the dock connector or dock connector/line out adapter) to the receiver.
Another option is an airplay receiver, which lets you use a wifi enabled mac, ipod or iphone to send the CD quality file directly to the receiver wirelessly. The airplay protocol actually upsamples the signal to 48khz/16bit, but since the new sampling rate is actually higher quality than a 44.1khz/16bit lossless CD rip, it can be considered effectively lossless even though its not technically lossless. Setup is very simple:
ipod/mac ))) wifi base station ))) receiver --> speakers.
and if you don't want to spring for an airplay AVR, you can also add airplay with a $100 airport express, which is a wifi base station with analog and optical audio out
ipod/mac ))) airport express --> optical out --> receiver --> speakers.