Help: Amp and DAC for computer audio - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 03-04-2013, 12:03 PM - Thread Starter
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I have a set of ELT 525 from the old AV123 company that went south. I am using them with my computer at the moment with a small little amp and its time to streamline and upgrade. I am looking for an amp and dac right now to go along with these bookshelf speakers of mine. At the moment, I have been looking at the NAD 316BEE and the Cambridge Audio 351A. I am looking at these as they are low profile and within a good price range. I also know that Cambridge Audio has the DAC Magic 100 and the DAC Magic Plus as well but I know nothing of a good DAC that would go nicely with the amps I have listed or something similiar. I listen to Dave Matthews, Norah Jones, Frank Sinatra and Classical.

Can you guys help me out here?
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post #2 of 18 Old 03-05-2013, 04:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Does anyone use a setup or anything like this for their computer audio?
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post #3 of 18 Old 04-07-2013, 11:48 AM
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I'm not on here all that frequently so I just saw your post. Hope you figured something out, but if not I'll share my experience.

I have a pair of ELT525M that normally reside as the rear surrounds in my living room. I haven't been able to use them for the last year or so they they sat... I actually pulled them out of storage and placed them on my desk just the other day. They have been here before and are very well suited for nearfield listening.

My setup is as such:
PC > ODAC > Musical Paradise MP-301 > speakers.

SInce the amp is a SE 6v6 tube amp it's only about 4wpc. I purchased it to pair with a pair of Tekton design 4.1 speakers. The pair ran under $500 shipped new and mate very well. The elts are a different beast, more low end but not as transparent in the highs. I'm actually considering picking up a t amp and using my tube headphone amp as a preamp to see how I like that combo.
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post #4 of 18 Old 04-08-2013, 11:18 AM
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I would suggest that you get the Cambridge Audio Topaz amplifier, which is only $349.

Then add a NAD DAC-1 for $200, and you will be in good shape.

Of course the Cambridge 351A does have its own DAC with a USB input included, and perhaps that is all you need to stream audio from your PC.

In that case the 351A is the obvious choice.
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post #5 of 18 Old 04-10-2013, 05:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brittonal View Post

Does anyone use a setup or anything like this for their computer audio?

Someone someplace has probably connected just about anything you can imagine to a computer.

While I haven't heard the exact setup you describe it really looks like it has a lot of promise. It is definitely closer than average to the high end of computer sound systems. The fact that AV123 went south and their leading light may have been a little dim in the ethics department shouldn't detract from the quality of the sound you hear.

From my perspective what your current system probably lacks is the ability for you to tailor its response to your listening environment.

The equipment choices I've seen discussed so far are a little dim in the adaptability department. I hate to sound like a broken record but if you are going the spend the kind of money involved with a NAD 316BEE ($379) and the Cambridge Audio 351A. ($550) would be better spent in an AVR. You talk about low profile but the 351A is about 3.5 inches high and the 316BEE is about the same. Put them together and you have a box 7 inches high while you can easily find AVRs that stack up lower than that.

A device like this would give you improved SQ by means of greater adaptability to your current situation:

http://usa.denon.com/us/product/pages/productdetail.aspx?catid=avreceivers(denonna)&catalog=&pid=AVR1713(DenonNA)
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post #6 of 18 Old 04-10-2013, 01:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

I hate to sound like a broken record but if you are going the spend the kind of money [it] would be better spent in an AVR

rolleyes.gif boy, if I had $1 for every time I read you recommending an AVR.... especially for someone posting in the TWO CHANNEL section wink.gif

Brittonal - have you considered peachtree amps? They offer quite a few different options, especially if you are open to finding one used. Also, used decco's are getting cheaper and cheaper, and that would be a once-and-done buy for your needs. They all have digital input/headphone amp/amp/etc. I have heard a few of the older designs and thought they sounded great. Also, Nuforce makes neat little (very little) all-in-one amps. However, the Nuforce amps don't offer a remote and have less powerful amps. A google search of your speakers tells me the ELT525 monitors are rated at 83db/8 ohm sensitivity. That's pretty low... do you know the power rating of your current amp? Does your current amp not get loud/full enough for your listening habits?

2.0 > 7.1
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post #7 of 18 Old 04-10-2013, 01:53 PM
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Why is it that 2 channel listeners have such disdain for AVRs? It may just be that Arny is right - all things being equal, in most circumstances an AVR is the better choice.

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post #8 of 18 Old 04-10-2013, 02:21 PM
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The simple fact is that AVRs have a lot of their cost determined by capabilities that are not needed for 2 channel audio. Why pay for what you don't need and won't use?

Add that to the fact that a lesser percentage of each AVR price dollar is dedicated to the important part for best sound quality, the power supply and amplifiers, and you have your answer.

The typical 2-channel integrated amplifier simply has a larger part of each dollar dedicated to a better power supply and amplifier circuit, and sounds better as a result.

Of course some people are nihilists who take the ridiculous position that all amplifiers sound the same and none of that matters. It is impossible for any person who is experienced

with the superior sound of high-quality audio systems to have a serious conversation with those who have their head in the sand, so it's best to ignore that and move on.
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post #9 of 18 Old 04-10-2013, 02:31 PM
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post #10 of 18 Old 04-10-2013, 02:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

The simple fact is that AVRs have a lot of their cost determined by capabilities that are not needed for 2 channel audio. Why pay for what you don't need and won't use?
This is true. An AVR would give you 3 to 6 amplifiers that you might not ever use, although many AVR's let you use them to drive other zones.

But the one thing that you can get with an inexpensive AVR that I have yet to find in a reasonably priced 2-channel system is room equalization (I may be out-of-date, however, please correct me if I'm wrong). I consider room-EQ one of the great recent advances in audio, yet it is still expensive anywhere but in an AVR (DIY solutions like miniDSP aside). To me, that is what makes an AVR attractive.

As far as power-supplies, yes, some AVR supplies are anemic. However, when not driving all channels, even the anemic ones can be adequate.
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post #11 of 18 Old 04-10-2013, 03:28 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

The simple fact is that AVRs have a lot of their cost determined by capabilities that are not needed for 2 channel audio. Why pay for what you don't need and won't use?

Add that to the fact that a lesser percentage of each AVR price dollar is dedicated to the important part for best sound quality, the power supply and amplifiers, and you have your answer.

The typical 2-channel integrated amplifier simply has a larger part of each dollar dedicated to a better power supply and amplifier circuit, and sounds better as a result.

Of course some people are nihilists who take the ridiculous position that all amplifiers sound the same and none of that matters. It is impossible for any person who is experienced

with the superior sound of high-quality audio systems to have a serious conversation with those who have their head in the sand, so it's best to ignore that and move on.
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1455620/nad-c-356-vs-outlaw-rr2150-vs-marantz-pm8004#post_22924275 eek.gif
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post #12 of 18 Old 04-10-2013, 04:44 PM
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This is true Mark. I'm upgrading my favorite 2 channel space to an AVR, not specifically for dynamic EQ but for bass management, neither is available in anything that I've found outside of an AVR without separates and significant expense. Whether I stick with room correction or not depends on my ears; crossover control is not trivial.

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post #13 of 18 Old 04-11-2013, 09:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

The simple fact is that AVRs have a lot of their cost determined by capabilities that are not needed for 2 channel audio. Why pay for what you don't need and won't use?

The above statement is yet another audiophile myth. It ignores the economic benefits of large volume production and economies of scale.

You can easily pay the price of a good AVR or more for either a DAC or an amplifier.

For example we have the following prices from previous posts in this thread:

NAD 316BEE ($379) and the Cambridge Audio 351A. ($550)

http://nadelectronics.com/products/hifi-amplifiers/C-316BEE-Stereo-Integrated-Amplifier

"Dynamic Power Reserves Continuous power is a conservative 40 watts and dynamic power, which is more important for music listening, is remarkably more than 100 watts! Far more usable power on tap than other amps at this price point."

A competitive AVR will have at least 80 watts continuous power and up to 180 watts dynamic power.

The AVR will have built in manual and automatic equalization or bypass all equalization for purists. It has effective bass management. And it has just about every kind of extant consumer digital input - no DAC needed!

The Azur 351 does have a limited USB digital input, but costs 50% more than the NAD .

http://www.cambridgeaudio.com/products/azur-351a-integrated-amplifier

Still has no bass management, equalization, etc. Power rating: "45W RMS into 8 Ohms".

Soneone mentioned Peachtree?

http://www.peachtreeaudio.com/products/amplifiers-dac.html

Lowest cost Peachtree alternative is pennies under $1k and has 65 wpc and a built in DAC with both coax and optical digital inputs. All very nice and good, but notice the price - at least 3X that of many good AVRs.

The fact of the matter is that I have a fair number of stand-alone 2-channel preamps, equalizers, crossovers, surround processors and amps sitting around the house, but an AVR is the one hooked to speakers and listened to because it is the simplest, most effective, best sounding solution to connecting the speakers and music sources at hand.

The only part of the AVR in my 2.1 system that is sitting idle is a $15 power amp chip, heat sink and a handful of passive parts for the 3 channels of power amplification that I don't use.
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post #14 of 18 Old 04-11-2013, 11:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

The simple fact is that AVRs have a lot of their cost determined by capabilities that are not needed for 2 channel audio. Why pay for what you don't need and won't use?

Add that to the fact that a lesser percentage of each AVR price dollar is dedicated to the important part for best sound quality, the power supply and amplifiers, and you have your answer.

The typical 2-channel integrated amplifier simply has a larger part of each dollar dedicated to a better power supply and amplifier circuit, and sounds better as a result.

Of course some people are nihilists who take the ridiculous position that all amplifiers sound the same and none of that matters. It is impossible for any person who is experienced

with the superior sound of high-quality audio systems to have a serious conversation with those who have their head in the sand, so it's best to ignore that and move on.

Care to support any of that rant with actual facts or evidence. Volume drives cost down and AVRs sell in volume. Lack of sales volume keeps the cost of 2-channel gear high - well, that and uneducated "audiophiles".rolleyes.gif
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post #15 of 18 Old 04-11-2013, 04:30 PM
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Not to throw fuel on the fire but I have been using a pair of mini Stratas along with various dacs and a two channel amp I had put together (see Class D Audio) for my computer audio. Plenty of power but after trying three/four dacs (usb in, spdif in...) I got tired of the mess of cables and not having any sort of base management in the analog realm so I picked up a Denon AVR 1613. Works fine and I haven't noticed a significant degradation in quality. Two spdif inputs, internet radio and is an airplay receiver when I don't feel like firing up the computer. Yes money is wasted on the HDMI switching and some other "features" but it cost less than the power amp and I can always gift it to one of the kids or re-purpose it if the wife relents and lets me put speakers in the bedroom...
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post #16 of 18 Old 04-17-2013, 04:54 PM
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Have you looked into Nuforce selection of small Icon-2 dac/amps, as well as all their other products for computer playback? Great stuff!
http://www.nuforce.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=8:icon-2&Itemid=373

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post #17 of 18 Old 12-27-2013, 09:43 PM
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+1 on NuForce. Just discovered and investigating for some of the features (integrated amps) and price points.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mjcmt View Post

Have you looked into Nuforce selection of small Icon-2 dac/amps, as well as all their other products for computer playback? Great stuff!
http://www.nuforce.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=8:icon-2&Itemid=373

still researching AVRs
Yahama, Denon, Pioneer, ... oh, my!
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post #18 of 18 Old 12-28-2013, 05:12 AM
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How about the Nuforce dda-100? I just got this little digital amp and am very impressed with it so far. It was awarded budget integrated amp by the Absolute Sound.
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