I'd like to preface this with something, if you dont mind. I do copious amounts of research on pretty much any topic, but Audio must be the most anemic, least enjoyable thing to research that I have ever had the pleasure to have as a hobby. I hate to start a thread on a broad topic such as this which should obviously be researched first... but I promise you, I have been researching constantly for 2-3 weeks now on a plethora of topcs and I just want to enjoy some music. Hence this thread.
Oh, also... I am probably going to ask some questions (assuming this thread takes off) about controversial issues such as the quality of digital connections and the pros and cons. I realize these issues immediately devolve into a pissing match between a few parties that more than likely make researching these topics the center of their life. If thats you (protip: If you google these topics and 9/10 AVS threads revolve around you debating, I am probably referring to you) please understand that while I like to learn, I have absolutely ZERO interest in understanding these topics as well as you do, so making this thread an argument about jitter really isnt helping anyone.
Ok.... To the topic at hand... What is your preferred setup for digital? I have 250+ gigs of music (and growing), at least 70% being flac, and ~15% being 24/96+. I am looking for input and opinions regarding setup.
Right now my setup is: HTPC > TOSLINK (from motherboard) > Marantz SR9200 > Paradigm Studio 60 v.3's.
First off, I kinda side with the camp that any D/A chip for the past 10 yrs should be able to be able to handle D/A conversion fine, so I am more concerned with sound signature, design, and a decent amp section, hence the SR9200. Its in fantastic condition and I bought it cheap on CL. However, since it has 24/192 DACs, I thought it would play 24/192 files. It wont play them. I've done some reading, but I cant tell if its because of the TOSLINK cable or not. I *think* its not capable, but the threads are full of debate and conjecture. Also, the SR9200 specifically has a '96kHz' light on the front, so I presume it maxes out at 24/96 as well. Although the literature doesnt say as much, it does imply it.So: What is the TOSLINK maxing out at, and just based off my crappy explanation, would you tend to assume the SR9200 only plays 24/96?
Second off, my motherboard TOSLINK out sucks. Its kinda loose and such. Again its not the end of the world (being digital and all), but theres no way im putting up with it. So, because of that and the above, I am trying to figure out the best way to output sound from the HTPC. I prefer to go Digital Coaxial... I dont have a great reason, pretty much thats what my research led me to believe has higher bandwidth and is slightly 'preferred'. However, I cant really find a decent soundcard with Digital Coaxial out that isnt 170 bucks (The Asus's), and they all headphone amps and bunch of junk I dont need. I could go USB > DAC > Analog on the SR9200, but Id prefer to use the internal DACs... again for no scientific reason. Rather because I dont see how a cheap DAC is going to be better than the onboard DAC's of my SR9200.So: What do you run? Are there any go-to soundcards I havent found when researching? Should I just go TOSLINK and stop worrying?
Third, this Marantz is pretty nice and I like the sound signature, but I can pick up a Anthem MCA20 for a very reasonable price and have been playing with the idea. So I could solve some of my issues (I assume the 24/96 max on the SR9200) by going amp + pre amp... but I probably would buy an older pre/sound processor (Im sure you see the trend here).So: Would it necessarily have the same issues (has 24/192 dacs but doesnt play 24/192)? I was thinking of matching the amp with an older Anthem Pre as well.Sorry for the long post. Figured it was better to air out my thoughts and hope you guys wanted to help. Please feel free to take the thread wherever as long as it revolves around the premise. I'd love to hear what you run, and why.