I am hooking up some Vandersteen 1C's to a 2 channel bedroom system. The source will primarily be my laptop which has USB but not optical outs. I would like to find a receiver that has an onboard DAC that would accept an USB line from my laptop. Don't need any other bells or whistles. Room is 12' by 14'. Recommendations? I suppose another option would be seperate amp and dac, but it would be nice to keep things small and relatively inexpensive. Thanks.
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For DACs, I have been very happy with Audio-GD. www.audio-gd.com They are direct shipped from China, but their designs and audible signature are very good. I have had an NFB-12 for a year and a half and it's great. It goes to work with me and I use it at home in my bedroom and at my computer as a DAC. It is a headphone amp, fixed level DAC, or pre-amp & DAC. The sound signature is very pleasant. Their newer designs use the Tenor TE8802 USB chip which allows all audio resolutions up to 24/192.
Another good option is the IBasso D7. This is a headphone amp/DAC which serves as a line-out DAC when you plug into the RCA's. At only $180 this thing uses an XMOS chip which also allows for 24/192 on Windows, and Linux. The sound signature on this one is not nearly as detailed as the NFB-12 I have, but it is still very good.
Another great option is the Cambridge Audio DACMagic 100 or DACMagic Plus. Both have XMOS USB chips so they allow 24/192 playback through USB. They have similar sounds, although I felt the DACMagic Plus had a more natural sound signature compared to the DACMagic 100.
Out of all of those options that I have had experience with, I would go with something first from Audio-GD that matches your desired budget, second would be the Cambridge DACMagic Plus.
My laptop is a few years old and does not have hdmi. The headphone outlet is a little worn and noisy if the jack is moved. I have used a fiio e7 from a usb port from the computer, then a headphone out from the fiio that is split into rca plugs into an old sony receiver. Sounds funky, but actually was not quite as bad as you might expect. Anyway, the object of this project is to come up with a cleaner, better sounding solution.
I tried asking Onkyo via their website. They gave me an unhelpful reply. That is the second time that Onkyo has failed to answer a fairly simple question.