Using Oppo BPD-105 or Creative EMU-0404 as Pre-Amp/Pro in 2-channel audio setup - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 04-21-2013, 03:59 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm trying to put together a respectable 2 channel audio setup

Right now I currently have:
  • Odyssey Audio Stratos Stereo Plus (with the cap upgrade)
  • B&W N805 Speakers

I want to make that into a solid 2-channel digital only system, so I was thinking about adding one of the following:
  • Oppo BDP-105 as source, DAC, and preamp (no analog source capability needed)
  • Creative EMU-0404 as a DAC and preamp (fed with existing desktop computer)

Which of the above do you think would work better and why?
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post #2 of 8 Old 04-21-2013, 05:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Let me add that I already own a Creative EMU-0404 that is currently gathering dust - I'm just not sure how good it would work as a preamp to the above system. I would have to buy custom balanced cables (the EMU has TRS balanced stereo outputs).

The Oppo would be new. Is it better to connect the Oppo via balanced or unbalanced? I read that the balanced ouput on the Oppo has almost double the voltage output than the unbalanced. The Odyssey also has a 22k input impedance (I believe) and the Oppo recommends a 47k input impedance. I'm not sure what all this means, so please do enlighten me and let me know which is a better option and why
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post #3 of 8 Old 04-21-2013, 07:03 PM
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Hi Xirtam,

First of all, I should point out that the XLR connectors on the back of Odessey are not truly balanced, so using balanced interconnects will not buy you anything. Besides that, balanced interconnects would not offer any audible improvement in a situation like your.

I have an EMU-0404 PCI as part of a digital-audio workstation, and it is a solid performer. My EMU does not have balanced analog, so you must have a different version. Is your's the USB version with the external box? I thought that all of the EMU series also supported single-ended audio, so I'm not sure why you would need custom cables. I was able to get all of my cables from monoprice, but as I said, mine is not balanced.

The DSP software that came with my EMU makes a great full-featured mixer, and would make for a really powerful pre-amp, especially when you consider all of the DSP plug-ins that you can use for bass-management, room-equalization and dozens of other less-useful features. Anything an AVR can do, the EMU can do.

I am not very familiar with BDP-105, but earlier Oppos, like the 93, only supported DLNA for digital music from sources other than discs. I found DLNA to be more of a frustration than a solution. Maybe the 105 is different. I'm also not sure if the Oppo has some of the features you might want in a pre-amp.

My opinion is that you can go a lot further with the EMU than with the Oppo. And for a better price.
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post #4 of 8 Old 04-21-2013, 07:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkHotchkiss View Post

Hi Xirtam,

First of all, I should point out that the XLR connectors on the back of Odessey are not truly balanced, so using balanced interconnects will not buy you anything. Besides that, balanced interconnects would not offer any audible improvement in a situation like your.

I have an EMU-0404 PCI as part of a digital-audio workstation, and it is a solid performer. My EMU does not have balanced analog, so you must have a different version. Is your's the USB version with the external box? I thought that all of the EMU series also supported single-ended audio, so I'm not sure why you would need custom cables. I was able to get all of my cables from monoprice, but as I said, mine is not balanced.

The DSP software that came with my EMU makes a great full-featured mixer, and would make for a really powerful pre-amp, especially when you consider all of the DSP plug-ins that you can use for bass-management, room-equalization and dozens of other less-useful features. Anything an AVR can do, the EMU can do.

I am not very familiar with BDP-105, but earlier Oppos, like the 93, only supported DLNA for digital music from sources other than discs. I found DLNA to be more of a frustration than a solution. Maybe the 105 is different. I'm also not sure if the Oppo has some of the features you might want in a pre-amp.

My opinion is that you can go a lot further with the EMU than with the Oppo. And for a better price.

Thanks for the quote. I think it's worth dusting off the old EMU and giving it a try. I know the Odyssey's XLR connectors are not truly balanced, but the EMU 0404 USB only has 1/4" TRS plug balanced audio out and a small 1/8" stereo plug. Not that the balanced would give me any benefits over standard full-size L/R RCA plugs, but the 1/8" stereo plug might be a bottleneck.

Blue Jeans Cable makes balanced 1/4" TRS to XLR cables, so they're not really "custom".
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post #5 of 8 Old 04-21-2013, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by xirtam2005 View Post

. . . but the EMU 0404 USB only has 1/4" TRS plug balanced audio out and a small 1/8" stereo plug.
Ahhh . . . now I understand. And there may be a simpler solution.

Balanced TRS uses the tip for the non-inverted signal, the ring for inverted signal and the sleeve for ground. If you use just the tip and sleeve, and don't connect the ring, you have a standard unbalanced cable.

So by using a pair of these, you can use standard RCA cables.

But it might be better to use a pair of these, as it would be more rugged and it would work if you wanted to go balanced in the future. I believe this is similar to the Blue Jeans cable you alluded to.
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post #6 of 8 Old 04-22-2013, 04:19 AM
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Oppo's are great at many things, but being a pre-amp is not one of them... Yes it will work, but compared to a good quality preamp, you will hear a significant difference. You have some very nice equipment already (great speakers and a really nice amp) so why short-change yourself with skipping the preamp?

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post #7 of 8 Old 04-22-2013, 07:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Why do you say that Oppo is not a good quality preamp? Have you tried it before? What does it do wrong that you say "you will hear a significant difference"?

For example, are you saying that if I hooked the Oppo to the discrete inputs of a Yamaha receiver and used that solely as a pre-amp, that combo would sound better than using the Oppo directly as a pre-amp, or are you saying that if I bought a high quality dedicated preamp, such as Odyssey Tempest or Parasound Halo or similar then that would sound better than using the Oppo as a pre-amp? The latter I can see, but what about using the Oppo directly as a pre-amp vs. connecting the Oppo via analog to a receiver's discrete inputs and using it solely as a pre-amp?

I am leaning toward that EMU-0404. Why? Primarily cost and because I already have the EMU-0404. I'm ok with spending $1200 for an Oppo, but $1200 plus a quality preamp would at least double the cost, and I don't think the combo would be worth $2500+.
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post #8 of 8 Old 04-22-2013, 08:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiojan View Post

Oppo's are great at many things, but being a pre-amp is not one of them... Yes it will work, but compared to a good quality preamp, you will hear a significant difference. You have some very nice equipment already (great speakers and a really nice amp) so why short-change yourself with skipping the preamp?

What quality of preamp would the Oppo's preamp section be similar to? A good quality preamp is super expensive - much more so than the Oppo itself and makes that option very unattractive to me. The only reason why I'd go with a 105 over the older 95 is that the 105 could be used as a preamp.
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