Originally Posted by noobtv
I wouldn't be too worried about bit perfect as long as the samplerate is the same as the source files but I definitely wouldn't be using youtube. Youtube is very ordinary audio quality.
The lowest quality I listen to is 320k MP3, with FLAC much preferred. From the PC I use foobar2000 and I set it to the ASIO output of my soundcard (Focusrite 6i6) so it automatically switches the samplerate to whatever the file is. Alternately I use HDMI to my Denon AVR.
Youtube sounds muffled and lacks dynamics and clarity to me. Youtube definitely wouldn't bring out the best in LS50s.
Also just my opinion but I can't hear a difference in quality between good quality DACs or Amplifiers (except valve amps). I haven't A/B'd though. I can hear a big difference in headphone amps though.
Personally I would go with an AVR with Audyssey (at least XT32) or Dirac and go via HDMI to that. Or if you're always using a PC as source, you can even do room correction using free software that runs on the PC (if you buy a UMIK-1) - REW, equaliser APO and Rephase
Audyssey XT32 and Dynamic EQ has been the biggest difference in sound quality that I've experienced (a lot of that may be due to my subpar room layout though, with a better room it may not make as much difference). I've bought a UMIK-1 to measure the room but have only just started experimenting with that.
I would look into room correction or room treatment before I spent money to get that 0.01% increase in quality from a different amplifier.
So that's the thing.. I have read some say that based on past blind testing, people were hard pressed to tell the difference between different amplifiers. But others claim they can readily hear a difference. I'm all about getting the most bang for my relatively budget bucks, wherever that big increase in diminishing returns kicks in... in other words, if I pay $500 for an amp, a $1000 amp would have to clearly be twice as good for me to make the move and not have buyer's remorse. Same for speakers. I'm not one who would find a 5-10% improvement at 50% higher cost to be worth it, personally.
I have been considering a Yamaha receiver like TS-R7810, which I think is 7.1 and is one of the few in its class that has all pre-outs an all channels. It is pretty current in its features and standards support.. including Dolby Vision. it can be found for about $400, sometimes less, has a direct mode for 2 channel audio playback, and YPAO for room adjustments. I could use for movies and music, listen to FM radio, stream, etc. But I wanted to make sure I get the most out of my LS50, and read enough posts from people who support the idea that separates would result in better sound, due to separate power supplies, better separation/isolation of parts which means less interference and noise, etc. Plus I liked the modularity of it.. being able to swap parts as I deem worthwhile..
So, I went with NAD C268 amp, an external dual Burr-Brown DAC, and no pre-amp.. it works fine for my purposes and does sound great.. I don't find the LS50 to be overly bright or harsh.. I think NAD has a tendency to be a bit on the warmer side, which may help balance things out.
So it makes me wonder if I should have gone with AV receiver and call it a day. For the room adjustments which I hear can make a good difference when you are limited in your placement options. It would be cheaper, simplify my setup and also make it more versatile.. but ultimately audio quality is most important.. but if it the sound quality sacrificed was like 5% or hard to notice, I'd rather go with cheaper and simpler.