How to use an external DAC with AV Surround Receiver - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 09-12-2011, 08:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello,
I'm building my new AV Surround Setup and I've been trying to figure out something.

I have an external dac which is mainly for stereo listening, but I'd also like to have the option to use it while in surround 5.1 when watching a movie.
I haven't bought yet my AV Receiver because I need this problem solved before I buy one.

Is there a way to connect my sources (HTPC, Streamer, Set-top box) to the AV Receiver using HDMI / Digital (Dolby Digital / Surround, DTS), and have receiver decode the signal, and convert to analog & amplify only for the RL, RR, Center, Sub, but keep the Front R, L digital and then output it to the dac?

I know that most receivers has a Digital Out, but I'm unaware if it can output Digital PCM L,R.

So ultimately, I need a receiver that can take the audio signal I'm feeding it, whether is it from HDMI, Opt or Coax and then output it as Multi-Channel (L,R) PCM through the Optical Out.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 12 Old 09-12-2011, 09:07 AM
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The only pre/pro or receiver I'm aware of that does this as described is the Accuphase VX-700. So in short, no you probably cannot accomplish this (I don't think the VX-700 is sold anymore, but I could be wrong; guessing the price will also be a concern but I'll leave that for you to decide).

What you could do is get a receiver with analog multi-channel inputs, and connect the DAC there - that'll bypass the receiver's internal processors. Connect devices twice or with loops on the receiver (really depends on the device), and switch between the receiver's internal processing and the multi-channel set depending on which device you'd like to use for decoding/processing.
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post #3 of 12 Old 09-12-2011, 09:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply.

First of all, the Accuphase VX-700 is way out of my budget

Second, I didn't really understand your solution. My DAC needs to connect to my Stereo Amplifier so I don't get what would be the benefit of connecting it to the a/v receiver.

Will the DVDO EDGE do the work for this? It has 6x HDMI Input, more than enough for me, and it is capable of DTS, DD, TrueHD and has the following outputs:

1x Optical Out (Goes to DAC, Stereo PCM)
1x HDMI Audio Only (Goes to AV Receiver)
1x HDMI (Goes to TV)

Would that work?

Thanks.
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post #4 of 12 Old 09-12-2011, 11:31 AM
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Why not sell the external DAC and just use your (to be purchased) receiver for both movies and stereo listening?

J Dunlavy:.. if you stop to think about it, no loudspeaker can sound more accurate than it measures ...
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post #5 of 12 Old 09-12-2011, 12:02 PM
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Most AVRs with a Digital Out (coax or optical) this jack is simply in parallel with a S/PDIF In.. So if the input source is HDMI there is no conversion down to Digital Out...

Not sure about all products but suggest you check this point with the target brand/product..

Just my $0.02...
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post #6 of 12 Old 09-12-2011, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by htcritic View Post

Why not sell the external DAC and just use your (to be purchased) receiver for both movies and stereo listening?

You're interested in buying it, obviously.
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post #7 of 12 Old 09-12-2011, 12:17 PM
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Home Theater Bypass... ?? Single source or do want them all to run through your DAC.
If your looking to just do music from a single source it can be done.
Depends on what your using to send out the signal. HDMI or optical or RCA...

Many people purchase a separate preamp - I suggest a Parasound 2100, which can be purchased here from AVS store for a very good price. You have to call them, its not listed on the website. There are others out there, but this unit has a subwoofer xover, which very few have, that is if you are running a subwoofer...

If your trying to extract 2 ch or multichannel from HDMI, you'll need a HDMI De-embedder, the best device that has been used is the Atlona AT-HD570 which will then give you optical out to your DAC and then fed into the Parasound, then to your amp. I have heard the difference and greatly expanded soundstage this setup provides. The Atlona will pass the HDMI straight through for multichannel audio and video.

Search the web for HT Bypass.

Here is the thread for the 2100... http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...ight=parasound

Here is a thread about the Atlona unit in use for this purpose.
http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=82217.0
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post #8 of 12 Old 09-12-2011, 09:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LosNir View Post

Thanks for the reply.

First of all, the Accuphase VX-700 is way out of my budget

Hey, you never know - some guys see that pricetag and laugh, others can't imagine paying that much; doesn't hurt to look.


Quote:


Second, I didn't really understand your solution. My DAC needs to connect to my Stereo Amplifier so I don't get what would be the benefit of connecting it to the a/v receiver.

Then I'm not understanding your question - you said you wanted something that can do DtoA for the main L/R channels, for stereo playback, independent of the 5.1 solution. What I suggested would let you bypass the 5.1/7.1 decoder in the AVR (again, except for a few units that digitize and manage their analog multi-channel (Accuphase VX-700 being one of them)), so you could use whatever external decoder/processor you wanted (I'm assuming this DAC has some featureset you like, hence the desire to retain it).

If you want the DAC *between* a receiver/preamp, but before a separate stereo amp (so it goes sources -> av receiver -> front L/R DAC -> stereo amp -> speakers), the only device that will do that, again that I'm aware of, is the VX-700.

However if you hooked it up via the multi-ch solution that I proposed, you'd still have it doing all of the processing for stereo listening, you'd just retain the AVR as an integrated amp, if you need to an add downstream for your speakers, that's fine too.

Alternately, the HT bypass solution that was proposed may be workable, Parasound has a new model that supports this, everything else I can think of will make the VX-700 look downright cheap though. You can also probably look at using a bypass switch and a "normal" stereo preamp (Emotiva for example).

Quote:


Will the DVDO EDGE do the work for this? It has 6x HDMI Input, more than enough for me, and it is capable of DTS, DD, TrueHD and has the following outputs

DVDO is a video processor, it's not likely the best choice here.


Again, I'm somewhat murky why you want/need this DAC integrated, unless it offers some feature/decoder that you can't get in a normal receiver (like AC-3 RF, as an example).

Basically your options are:

- Do exactly what you originally described, using the VX-700, unless you can find a similar unit, I don't know of any.

- Use the DAC upstream from the AVR as a decoder, connected via analog inputs of some sort.

- Drop the DAC and use the AVR's internal decoders.

- Get a stereo preamp or integrated amp/receiver that can do HT bypass (or that can work in that way), and connect the DAC to that, or use the DtoA abilities of that device.

Personally, I'd go with option 3, unless the DAC offers some feature you can't get in a modern AVR (And the only thing that comes to mind is AC-3 RF), in which case I'd go with option 2. Option 1 is already out because of price, and option 4 strikes me as overly complicated and redundant (more equipment than you really should need for little to no benefit).
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post #9 of 12 Old 09-13-2011, 09:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walbert View Post

...Again, I'm somewhat murky why you want/need this DAC integrated, unless it offers some feature/decoder that you can't get in a normal receiver ...- Drop the DAC and use the AVR's internal decoders.

Pretty much what I suggested earlier. I can't think of anything that he has mentioned that would create any need for an external DAC. I'd just get rid of it and use the DAC in my receiver. Simple. Effective. Equal SQ.

J Dunlavy:.. if you stop to think about it, no loudspeaker can sound more accurate than it measures ...
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post #10 of 12 Old 09-14-2011, 01:16 AM
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This whole thing is a non-starter really.

1. If FR/FL digital outputs are split from the rest and not going to pre-amp/AVR at all, how are you going to do bass management and volume control with the rest properly? That immediately rules out any audio de-embedder upstream to the AVR.

2. The Accuphase does not have HDMI in so you are confined to lossy MCH besides its cost and availability.

3. The Edge does not allow BOTH optical and HDMI audio out simultaneously, or a combination of 2CH and MCH out.

4. Using a different DAC to the FR/FL would cause imbalance to the sonic character to the rest, if the DAC does make a difference. If not, then there's no point using it in the first place.

Audiosceptics accept audio trials using 25 people. A recent Oxford study with over 353,000 patient records from 639 separate clinical trials shows for every 1,000 people taking diclofenac or ibuprofen there would be 3 additional heart attacks, 4 more cases of heart failure and 1 death every year.

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post #11 of 12 Old 09-14-2011, 09:04 AM
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You would need a separate preamp with home theater bypass to control the volume and bass management. With the HDMI de-embedder Otherwise in bypass mode everything just passes right through from across to amp.
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post #12 of 12 Old 09-14-2011, 01:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LosNir View Post

Hello,
I'm building my new AV Surround Setup and I've been trying to figure out something.

I have an external dac which is mainly for stereo listening, but I'd also like to have the option to use it while in surround 5.1 when watching a movie.
I haven't bought yet my AV Receiver because I need this problem solved before I buy one.

Is there a way to connect my sources (HTPC, Streamer, Set-top box) to the AV Receiver using HDMI / Digital (Dolby Digital / Surround, DTS), and have receiver decode the signal, and convert to analog & amplify only for the RL, RR, Center, Sub, but keep the Front R, L digital and then output it to the dac?

I know that most receivers has a Digital Out, but I'm unaware if it can output Digital PCM L,R.

So ultimately, I need a receiver that can take the audio signal I'm feeding it, whether is it from HDMI, Opt or Coax and then output it as Multi-Channel (L,R) PCM through the Optical Out.

Thanks!

I wondered the same thing as you originally when getting my receiver. I had a HTPC with a Music Streamer DAC, like you, and previously just used it with my 2-channel integrated amps. I loved the sound of the DAC with my stereo gear and I thought it was a the bees-knees for improving my MP3/FLAC playback.

In the end though, for my home theater needs, like others have also suggested, I just ended up connecting my HTPC audio using SPDIF cable to my receiver (first a Panasonic XR55, then later a Denon 1712 and 3311).

Using Media Player Classic Home Cinema edition on the HTPC (Windows 7), and installing the necessary codecs (AC3 Filters, etc), I can get surround sound via the SPDIF and my receiver will recognize it.

I love the Music Streamer DAC, but if you want to get surround sound, just use optical out, like SPDIF, or pass audio through your HDMI cable. In my case, I had to use a DVI to HDMI cable to connect my Nvidia 460GTX to my Denon, so I had to use SPDIF to pass the sound. If your motherboard optical out, you can get a soundcard, or just try sending audio over HDMI, provided you don't get HDMI handshaking issues like I did.

I don't really miss my Music Streamer now and just use it for another PC. The Music Streamer use asynchronous USB and helps solve jitter issues and all that jazz, but honestly, SQ-wise, I can't tell the difference from my SPDIF and my DAC now, in fact, using SPDIF, it seems clearer. It may because my RCA cable wasn't high quality when using it with my DAC and using SPDIF made me realize that.

Save yourself some headache and don't use the Streamer for surround sound. Maybe keep it in your system for 2-channel listening if you want, but for surround, go with SPDIF/COAX/HDMI. Way way way easier.
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