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Receiver/DAC for computer audio

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hi,
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.
post #2 of 12
The new Pioneer AVRs support it including async USB (in theory it provides lower jitter). I have not yet tested that but it is advertised to be there smile.gif. The SC-67 and SC-68 even play DSD ("SACD") streams over USB (though not sure if it does that when acting as a sound device).
post #3 of 12
The two top Pioneer AVRs are rather large and overkill for the bedroom 2CH use not to mention price, seems a drastic remedy just for a USB input. A laptop with only USB output for sound, not even HDMI or analogue headphone output? How does it send out video?
post #4 of 12
I will let someone else suggest an amp. I haven't had any first hand experience with budget amps yet. I have heard the Music Hall A15.2 continuously recommended, and I believe Harmon Kardon has a budget 2 channel integrated amp. I don't think you need a full blown Audio/Video Receiver.

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.
post #5 of 12
AudioLab M-dac will be a very cost effective solution
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the replies. I am looking into those products. I am also wondering about Peachtree Decco or Decco2 refurbished units. I do not have any experience with Peachtree and their listed output in watts is fairly low. Any advice about them?
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Killian,.ca,
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.biggrin.gif Anyway, the object of this project is to come up with a cleaner, better sounding solution.
post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by GregH1 View Post

Thank you for the replies. I am looking into those products. I am also wondering about Peachtree Decco or Decco2 refurbished units. I do not have any experience with Peachtree and their listed output in watts is fairly low. Any advice about them?
They are pretty good. They do run out of juice if you play them loud. Or at least with inefficient speakers. But otherwise for computer audio they provide a very compact and nice solution. I don't care for the tube in there as I think it just adds bad distortion smile.gif. But some like them on some content.
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks Amirm, I had wondered about, as their website states, "a tube section which smooths the sound." With my various systems I have been interested in neutral equipment, if you follow my meaning.
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Still, the idea of an integrated amp and dac for 2 channel in a clean package is appealing. I would have thought that it would have a larger market and more offerings, but maybe it doesn't.
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Does anybody know if I connect my laptop to an Onkyo TX-NR 515 via USB, will it use its DAC to process the audio signal?
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.
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by GregH1 View Post

Does anybody know if I connect my laptop to an Onkyo TX-NR 515 via USB, will it use its DAC to process the audio signal?
If it produces sound, the answer is yes smile.gif. Often the USB is only there to play files from memory card and such. That functionality is distinct from it acting like a sound device to your PC. If it does act like a sound card then it will definitely use the DAC as there is no other way to do its job.
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