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post #1 of 31 Old 02-14-2020, 05:11 PM - Thread Starter
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How to connect DAC

Hello

I was wondering of getting a DAC for my system, and in that regard I was wondering about how to connect it to my system.
I was thinking as follows.

Option 1: PC >> DAC >> Power Amp >> Speakers
USB XLR

Option 2: PC >> DAC >> AVR Marantz SR7012 >> Power Amp >> Speakers
USB RCA RCA

To me option 1 seems to be the best but then I would have to switch between RCA and XLR input on the back on the power amp (Bryston 4SST 2) every time I want to listen to music or watch tv/films.
Today I use the marantz as input of all my devices through HDMI, even my PC where my music comes from.

What is best?
Go through the reciever with RCA out on the DAC and use pre outs to the power amp or
go directly to the power amp with XLR from the DAC?

I cant possibly be the first with this "problem" tried to google it.

Appreciate any input from you guys

Thanks
Pete
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post #2 of 31 Old 02-14-2020, 05:24 PM
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Option 2. There will be no audible difference. Just Understand that if you have room correction turned on or any other processing, there will be additional ad/da conversions as well as possible down-sampling.

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post #3 of 31 Old 02-14-2020, 08:05 PM
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One hookup idea comes immediately to mind. I will assume here that you find an outboard DAC that sounds better to your ears than the DAC section in the Marantz AVR. (It is a possibility, but no way to know for sure without an in-home comparison.)

I recall someone in a similar situation who I think also had a Bryston power amp. For music use he connected his variable-output DAC or a preamp directly to the Bryston's XLR inputs (he may have used RCA to XLR adapters). His AVR's front main preamp outputs were connected to the Bryston's RCA inputs. He then reached behind the Bryston to flip the XLR/RCA selector switch as needed. I doubt this could cause a problem, but to be safe I suggest asking Bryston if any potential damage could occur. (I was unsure if this is what you described earlier or if you meant connecting/disconnecting/re-connecting, etc., interconnect cables to the Bryston.)

Another possibility is a switchbox that allows you to select between two line sources (Marantz and DAC) to feed the Bryston. Examples:

http://www.homehifi.co.uk/S/tc-721.htm

https://www.schiit.com/products/sys

Note that I have no experience with these products.

Good luck!

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post #4 of 31 Old 02-14-2020, 09:53 PM
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The DAC in the Marantz is a very good AKM 32bit, 192k DAC. No need to bypass it. Have you considered using HDMI out of the computer to the SR7012 or have the scaremongers successfully scared you into thinking those are bad "because they have bad jitter"?

Mlknez is correct that there will most likely be no sound difference unless you buy a horrible external DAC in which case that will sound bad.

Having an audio system where a switch on the rear panel of one of the devices needs to be switched periodically is unthinkable to me but one of the weird beliefs in parts of the audio community is that whatever method is most complex, inconvenient, and awkward is audibly the best:

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In A/V reproduction accuracy, there IS no concept of "accounting for personal taste/preference". As art consumers we don't "pick" the level of bass, nor the tint/brightness of a scene's sky, any more than we pick the ending of a novel or Mona Lisa's type of smile. "High fidelity" means "high truthfulness", faithful to the original artist's intent: an unmodified, neutral, accurate copy of the original master, ideally being exact and with no discernable alterations, aka "transparency".
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post #5 of 31 Old 02-15-2020, 02:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex F. View Post
One hookup idea comes immediately to mind. I will assume here that you find an outboard DAC that sounds better to your ears than the DAC section in the Marantz AVR. (It is a possibility, but no way to know for sure without an in-home comparison.)

I recall someone in a similar situation who I think also had a Bryston power amp. For music use he connected his variable-output DAC or a preamp directly to the Bryston's XLR inputs (he may have used RCA to XLR adapters). His AVR's front main preamp outputs were connected to the Bryston's RCA inputs. He then reached behind the Bryston to flip the XLR/RCA selector switch as needed. I doubt this could cause a problem, but to be safe I suggest asking Bryston if any potential damage could occur. (I was unsure if this is what you described earlier or if you meant connecting/disconnecting/re-connecting, etc., interconnect cables to the Bryston.)

Another possibility is a switchbox that allows you to select between two line sources (Marantz and DAC) to feed the Bryston. Examples:

http://www.homehifi.co.uk/S/tc-721.htm

https://www.schiit.com/products/sys

Note that I have no experience with these products.

Good luck!
Yes this is what I was thinking. I will ask Bryston if this is harmful for the power amp to be switched back and forth.

The DAC I am going for is the RME ADI 2. As you say I am not sure if its gonna sound better, but I am going to try it. If not Ill return it.

Today I have my PC connected with HDMI so I get the best sound out of my PC as possible.
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After you try the RME or any other outboard DAC, please post an update on whether you found a worthwhile sonic improvement or not. It is fun to experiment. Sometimes a significant improvement is the result, other times it may be a big disappointment. But it is always a learning experience.

Have fun!

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post #7 of 31 Old 02-15-2020, 06:18 PM
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Talking about a USB DAC it appears that not every computer sounds the same when connecting a USB DAC. Windows 10 has some audio related improvements over Windows 8 not shure if that will improve audio. Stuff like Asus claims quality motherboards for gaming with improved audio...For instance the Maximus Hero VIII:
. ''It’s based around the quality Realtek ALC 1150 codec and then Asus adds
an ESS ES9023P DAC, a Texas Instruments R4580 headphone amplifier, an
NEC UD2-4 5NU de-pop relay, Nichicon audio capacitors and a dedicated
clock. That should all add up to a cleaner, more detailed and generally
more pleasing sound than more basic offerings.''
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post #8 of 31 Old 02-15-2020, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by 8mile13 View Post
Talking about a USB DAC it appears that not every computer sounds the same when connecting a USB DAC. . . "
Be careful about digging around in what the professional computer review world thinks about DACs because your preconceived notions might have its bubble burst. They apply scientific objective protocols to preclude expectation bias and loudness differential preferences by using blind testing and careful level matching, hence they end up exposing the truth:

"I sank $2000 of my own money into the DAC2 HGC last December, so I subjectively wanted it to sound better than everything else. Tests have shown that it doesn't. I was surprised, but, having been personally involved in the evaluation and believing in the integrity of what we set up, I rationally accept the findings.

Of course, we're ready for the audiophile community to rise up in arms about the statement you'll read next, but it's true that neither an intermediate enthusiast nor a serious one with ~$70,000 in gear at home were able to reliably tell apart any of the four devices once we properly set up a blind test with accurate volume-matching. We actually enjoyed them all as great audio experiences."

Contestants: "Four different devices are on the bench, ranging from $2000 all the way down to $2: the Benchmark Media Systems DAC2 HGC, JDS Labs' O2+ODAC, Asus' Xonar Essence STX, and Realtek's ALC889 multi-channel codec. That's a 1000x factor in cost."

"Using world-class headphones, a $2 Realtek integrated audio codec could not be reliably distinguished from the $2000 Benchmark DAC2 HGC in a four-device round-up. Again, all four devices sounded great."
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post #9 of 31 Old 02-15-2020, 07:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
Be careful about digging around in what the professional computer review world thinks about DACs because your preconceived notions might have its bubble burst. They apply scientific objective protocols to preclude expectation bias and loudness differential preferences by using blind testing and careful level matching, hence they end up exposing the truth:



"I sank $2000 of my own money into the DAC2 HGC last December, so I subjectively wanted it to sound better than everything else. Tests have shown that it doesn't. I was surprised, but, having been personally involved in the evaluation and believing in the integrity of what we set up, I rationally accept the findings.



Of course, we're ready for the audiophile community to rise up in arms about the statement you'll read next, but it's true that neither an intermediate enthusiast nor a serious one with ~$70,000 in gear at home were able to reliably tell apart any of the four devices once we properly set up a blind test with accurate volume-matching. We actually enjoyed them all as great audio experiences."



Contestants: "Four different devices are on the bench, ranging from $2000 all the way down to $2: the Benchmark Media Systems DAC2 HGC, JDS Labs' O2+ODAC, Asus' Xonar Essence STX, and Realtek's ALC889 multi-channel codec. That's a 1000x factor in cost."



"Using world-class headphones, a $2 Realtek integrated audio codec could not be reliably distinguished from the $2000 Benchmark DAC2 HGC in a four-device round-up. Again, all four devices sounded great."
I'm betting you cannot prove this...just your word correct?...glad all DAC's sound the same to you as that is what I'm assuming by your post correct?

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post #10 of 31 Old 02-15-2020, 07:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete123
... I was wondering of getting a DAC for my system, and in that regard I was wondering about how to connect it to my system. ...
What is it about your current DAC that makes you feel it is lacking?

Personally, I'd just go:
PC --> Marantz --> power amp --> speakers

If you feel that you must have a separate DAC, try both connection methods...
Quote:
Option 1: PC >> DAC >> Power Amp >> Speakers
USB XLR

Option 2: PC >> DAC >> AVR Marantz SR7012 >> Power Amp >> Speakers
USB RCA RCA
...and go with the one that sounds best to you.
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post #11 of 31 Old 02-15-2020, 07:56 PM
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I'm betting you cannot prove this...just your word correct?...glad all DAC's sound the same to you as that is what I'm assuming by your post correct?
Did you read the 19 page long linked to test? The test was of just four DACs, ranging in price from $2 to $2000, and those four, in that test, to those two listeners all sounded the same, so how does that prove "they, as a class of goods, all sound the same"? Wouldn't one need to test all DACs on all people to prove such a claim?

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post #12 of 31 Old 02-15-2020, 08:04 PM
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Did you read the 19 page long linked to test? The test was of just four DACs, ranging in price from $2 to $2000, and those four, in that test, to those two listeners all sounded the same, so how does that prove "they, as a class of goods, all sound the same"? Wouldn't one need to test all DACs on all people to prove such a claim?
You tell me.

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post #13 of 31 Old 02-15-2020, 08:16 PM
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You tell me.
"You can't prove a negative." for example, in the ongoing debate over if some reindeer can fly, or not, there is fundamentally no way to prove that there isn't a select group of them that can. The only way to prove it is to test every single one, and that obviously can't be done. For some "believers" this proves in their mind that "some reindeer can fly", just like their parents taught them.
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"You can't prove a negative." In the ongoing debate over if some reindeer can fly, or not, there is fundamentally no way to prove that there isn't a select group of them that can. The only way to prove it is to test every single one, and that obviously can't be done. For some "believers" this proves in their mind that "some reindeer can fly", just like their parents taught them.
Ahh....but you should first know and prove HOW they fly in the first place...

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post #15 of 31 Old 02-15-2020, 08:29 PM
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Ahh....but you should first know and prove HOW they fly in the first place...
Not really. It could be some magic we don't know about just like the claimed difference between DACs might be due to some property we don't know how to measure. . . . I'm all for properly conducted listening tests.
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Not really. It could be some magic we don't know about just like the claimed difference between DACs might be due to some property we don't know how to measure. . . . I'm all for properly conducted listening tests.
Yes really...and it's all in the analog output stage with different DAC's...that you can measure...no magic required...

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Yes really...and it's all in the analog output stage with different DAC's...that you can measure...no magic required...
But just because you can measure something doesn't prove you can necessarily hear it; for that you need a properly controlled listening test.
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
Be careful about digging around in what the professional computer review world thinks about DACs because your preconceived notions might have its bubble burst. They apply scientific objective protocols to preclude expectation bias and loudness differential preferences by using blind testing and careful level matching, hence they end up exposing the truth:

"I sank $2000 of my own money into the DAC2 HGC last December, so I subjectively wanted it to sound better than everything else. Tests have shown that it doesn't. I was surprised, but, having been personally involved in the evaluation and believing in the integrity of what we set up, I rationally accept the findings.

Of course, we're ready for the audiophile community to rise up in arms about the statement you'll read next, but it's true that neither an intermediate enthusiast nor a serious one with ~$70,000 in gear at home were able to reliably tell apart any of the four devices once we properly set up a blind test with accurate volume-matching. We actually enjoyed them all as great audio experiences."

Contestants: "Four different devices are on the bench, ranging from $2000 all the way down to $2: the Benchmark Media Systems DAC2 HGC, JDS Labs' O2+ODAC, Asus' Xonar Essence STX, and Realtek's ALC889 multi-channel codec. That's a 1000x factor in cost."

"Using world-class headphones, a $2 Realtek integrated audio codec could not be reliably distinguished from the $2000 Benchmark DAC2 HGC in a four-device round-up. Again, all four devices sounded great."
My post was not about DACs. It was about getting a different sound out of a USB DAC connecting it to laptops/PCs.
I own a irdac USB DAC. When i connect it throu my AVR to my laptops playing a song on Foobar2000 using the irdac audio 1.0 driver HD600 headphone sounds not as good as when i do the same connecting it to my pc which has a Maximus Hero VIII motherboard. The sound is fuller and there is more bass. I wonder why that is.
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post #19 of 31 Old 02-15-2020, 10:54 PM
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I own a irdac USB DAC. When i connect it throu my AVR to my laptops playing a song on Foobar2000 using the irdac audio 1.0 driver HD600 headphone sounds not as good as when i do the same connecting it to my pc which has a Maximus Hero VIII motherboard. The sound is fuller and there is more bass. I wonder why that is.
Headphone jacks on AVRs are notoriously not so good. They often have a poor output impedance which can (potentially) alter the frequency response, depending on the headphone load. Also because it is cheap and simple, the vast majority of designs simply take the receiver's high amplification speaker outputs and bring them down to a more appropriate level using resistors, often low quality 640k, or so). This means we needlessly hear all the added noise, hiss, hum, distortion, and frequency response errors of the main power amp stage, every time, even though all we want is a headphone level signal.

Much better is to connect a dedicated outboard headphone amp either directly to the source of choice or to access the signal while still at the lower "line level" in the AVR, such as from an RCA pair of tape record out, line outs, audio outs, pre outs, or zone outs. All of these bypass the main power amp noise/distortion stage problem.
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
Headphone jacks on AVRs are notoriously not so good. They often have a poor output impedance which can (potentially) alter the frequency response, depending on the headphone load. Also because it is cheap and simple, the vast majority of designs simply take the receiver's high amplification speaker outputs and bring them down to a more appropriate level using resistors, often low quality 640k, or so). This means we needlessly hear all the added noise, hiss, hum, distortion, and frequency response errors of the main power amp stage, every time, even though all we want is a headphone level signal.

Much better is to connect a dedicated outboard headphone amp either directly to the source of choice or to access the signal while still at the lower "line level" in the AVR, such as from an RCA pair of tape record out, line outs, audio outs, pre outs, or zone outs. All of these bypass the main power amp noise/distortion stage problem.
I use AVR headphone jack a lot with the hd600 sounds clean to me. I always use source direct setting on Denon AVR. Will it sound different/better/cleaner when i use headphone amp like JDS labs O2 and connect it to the RCA on the back of the AVR?
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I use AVR headphone jack a lot with the hd600 sounds clean to me. I always use source direct setting on Denon AVR. Will it sound different/better/cleaner when i use headphone amp like JDS labs O2 and connect it to the RCA on the back of the AVR?
That would be an absolutely, without a doubt, 100% definitely maybe. Sorry I can't be more definitive.

Here's a graphic (a measurement I took) showing how the electrical frequency response of the headphone jack on my cheap DAC (Behringer UCA202) is altered simply due to the load of various headphones, including my HD600s I "wore" on my thigh with my Sony MDRV6s on my other thigh. Note: these curves have to do with how the impedance of the particular headphone in question plays with the output impedance of the particular headphone out. My point is, how your HD600s interact with your particular device would likely be very different.

These sorts of changes are subtle but potentially perceptible. The changes in the acoustical frequency response from fundamentally changing headphone model would of course be much more profound than these electrical changes due to impedance changes.
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Originally Posted by Alex F. View Post
After you try the RME or any other outboard DAC, please post an update on whether you found a worthwhile sonic improvement or not. It is fun to experiment. Sometimes a significant improvement is the result, other times it may be a big disappointment. But it is always a learning experience.

Have fun!
Yes thanks, I will report back when I get the RME.
I am expecting some serious improvement connecting the RME to my system over the Marantz, when I am investing 1100 USD in the RME ADI 2 DAC or else I will return it.
I will try different ways of connecting it as option 1 and 2 in my first post.
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I am expecting some serious improvement connecting the RME to my system over the Marantz . . .
We have a name for that in science. It is called expectation bias. All humans suffer from it, without exception, and the ones who claim they are immune to it are retailer's "dream customers". They often push their clients to "trust your ears" but we know from scientific studies that doing this under sighted conditions has issues.

The way we get around it is to use blind testing, ideally double blind with careful level matching using instrumentation such as a cellphone SPL meter app listening (from a fixed tripod position) to a 1kHz test tone from each device and matching them to at least .2dB if not .1 dB. This requires the help of a friend to act as the test administrator. Their job is to do the actual switches outside of listener's view so the listener has to I.D. the difference by sound alone without knowing what DAC is in actually in use at any given time. This way we can be certain one's subliminal expectation bias nor subliminally detected level differentials aren't influencing one's perception, as Nousaine explains happens all the time.

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post #24 of 31 Old Yesterday, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
That would be an absolutely, without a doubt, 100% definitely maybe. Sorry I can't be more definitive.

Here's a graphic (a measurement I took) showing how the electrical frequency response of the headphone jack on my cheap DAC (Behringer UCA202) is altered simply due to the load of various headphones, including my HD600s I "wore" on my thigh with my Sony MDRV6s on my other thigh. Note: these curves have to do with how the impedance of the particular headphone in question plays with the output impedance of the particular headphone out. My point is, how your HD600s interact with your particular device would likely be very different.

These sorts of changes are subtle but potentially perceptible. The changes in the acoustical frequency response from fundamentally changing headphone model would of course be much more profound than these electrical changes due to impedance changes.
My laptop is set to ''16 bits, 44100 Hz'' the Maximus Hero VIII was set to ''16 bits, 48000 Hz'' maybe that is why it sounded somewhat different. The problem with headphone amps is that expectations are often to high, at best there will be subtle differences i think.
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post #25 of 31 Old Yesterday, 09:58 AM
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I own a irdac USB DAC. When i connect it throu my AVR to my laptops playing a song on Foobar2000 using the irdac audio 1.0 driver HD600 headphone sounds not as good as when i do the same connecting it to my pc which has a Maximus Hero VIII motherboard. The sound is fuller and there is more bass. I wonder why that is.
Asus sure has a ton of sound manipulation gimmicks. [I own some Asus stuff by the way so it is not like I have it in for them.] I wouldn't be surprised if some are secretly EQ they aren't spelling out to the user how to defeat:

- Sonic Sense Amp
- Sonic Studio settings
- Smart EQ
- Bass boost
- Smart volume
- Voice clarity

I myself have on more than one occasion thought I was hearing unprocessed sound only to later discover some setting, deep in a menu and not readily apparent from an examination of the main display panel, was accidentally left on when I wanted it off.

Also their notion you'd want different settings for different types of games makes no sense to me and reminds me of the gimmick on TVs which suggests how we set our color/tint/gamma etc. should be different if watching a comedy rather than a drama. That's absurd and a stupid marketing decision not made by people with brains. We might want different settings based on changing room lighting conditions but based on the movie's story? Really?

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post #26 of 31 Old Yesterday, 10:03 AM
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My laptop is set to ''16 bits, 44100 Hz'' the Maximus Hero VIII was set to ''16 bits, 48000 Hz'' maybe that is why it sounded somewhat different.
The simple resample circuit is usually pretty innocuous in casual use but for critical evaluations for things like "Is Hi-Res audible?" it is critical we use higher quality ones than the free ones, IMO.

Yes, it is best (at least theoretically) to not resample in the first place.
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post #27 of 31 Old Yesterday, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
Asus sure has a ton of sound manipulation gimmicks. [I own some Asus stuff by the way so it is not like I have it in for them.] I wouldn't be surprised if some are secretly EQ they aren't spelling out to the user how to defeat:

- Sonic Sense Amp
- Sonic Studio settings
- Smart EQ
- Bass boost
- Smart volume
- Voice clarity

I myself have on more than one occasion thought I was hearing unprocessed sound only to later discover some setting, deep in a menu and not readily apparent from an examination of the main display panel, was accidentally left on when I wanted it off.

Also their notion you'd want different settings for different types of games makes no sense to me and reminds me of the gimmick on TVs which suggests how we set our color/tint/gamma etc. should be different if watching a comedy rather than a drama. That's absurd and a stupid marketing decision not made by people with brains. We might want different settings based on changing room lighting conditions but based on the movie's story? Really?
I see that Asus stuff ''SupremeFX Hi-Fi'', i turned everything off what there is to turn off. The Denon AVR also has some of that. I just want a neutral sound.

I rarely use the PC/monitor...more of a laptop guy. I just used it to check out stuff on my big screen TV with the 16 bits 48000Hz stuff coincidentally turned on. That is were i noticed some audio details..must have been the unusual listening circumstance and maybe combined with the 16 bits 48000Hz stuff..
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post #28 of 31 Old Yesterday, 03:19 PM
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i turned everything off what there is to turn off. The Denon AVR also has some of that. I just want a neutral sound.
I was of the mind that's essentially what the "Pure Direct" button does on my prepro but for some strange reason when I compared the incoming source directly at the source vs. having passed through my prepro in "Pure Direct" [PD] mode I was still hearing a difference. Some would've assumed "Preamps sound different and that's what you were hearing" but I didn't buy that and did more digging, measuring, and testing.

Long story short, I discovered that while PD for analog inputs was indeed turning off all processing, for digital ins the slightly different "distance" correction for my L and R speakers was being maintained. What infuriated me is not only was I in PD mode but also I had turned off every single other feature, including Audyssey, yet the digital delay correction was still going on.

I reported this in the forum and krabapple tested his AVR. Even though he had a different model, different brand, different year, and different version of Audssey his was exhibiting the same weird quirk.
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post #29 of 31 Old Yesterday, 06:16 PM
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I was of the mind that's essentially what the "Pure Direct" button does on my prepro but for some strange reason when I compared the incoming source directly at the source vs. having passed through my prepro in "Pure Direct" [PD] mode I was still hearing a difference. Some would've assumed "Preamps sound different and that's what you were hearing" but I didn't buy that and did more digging, measuring, and testing.

Long story short, I discovered that while PD for analog inputs was indeed turning off all processing, for digital ins the slightly different "distance" correction for my L and R speakers was being maintained. What infuriated me is not only was I in PD mode but also I had turned off every single other feature, including Audyssey, yet the digital delay correction was still going on.

I reported this in the forum and krabapple tested his AVR. Even though he had a different model, different brand, different year, and different version of Audssey his was exhibiting the same weird quirk.
Right. I think what they mean is ''for the most part'' when they speak of stuff like pure direct. I think it is marketing related since they can not call such setting ''for the most part pure direct'' LOL
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post #30 of 31 Old Yesterday, 09:58 PM
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What is it about your current DAC that makes you feel it is lacking?
Answer: marketing campaigns and the forum Audio Science Retailer, erm, I mean Review.
---

"Honey, did you hear that? I think the low level linearity of our current DAC's left channel might be a little off."

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