Affordable Atmos Preamp with digital Outputs - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 33 Old 08-20-2018, 05:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Affordable Atmos Preamp with digital Outputs

Hi there,


is there an affordable Atmos preamp that has digital outputs (for each channel)?
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post #2 of 33 Old 08-20-2018, 11:24 AM
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how do you define digital outputs for each channel? what would you connect these digital outputs to?
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post #3 of 33 Old 08-20-2018, 11:38 AM - Thread Starter
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I am not picky, optical outputs (SPDIF) for example.


Active speakers which use a DSP. I want to avoid an additional conversion: HDMI -> Sound decoder -> DSP -> Speaker Amp



and not: HDMI -> Sound decoder -> DAC -> DAC -> DSP -> Speaker Amp


The DSP will split the signal in multiple ways (3-way active front speakers).
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post #4 of 33 Old 08-20-2018, 12:31 PM
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If you have active speakers, wouldn't each speaker have an analog input? Why not connect each speaker that way to the preouts on the prepro? I guess I'm not familiar with using an optical input on each speaker.

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post #5 of 33 Old 08-20-2018, 12:55 PM
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I'm curious as to what active speakers will be used.

I saw something similar a couple of years ago when I was looking for new desktop PC speakers: the highly digital ones from Vanatoo.

I'd guess that no consumer-level with digital outputs for each channel exists at the moment. If I'm wrong about that, I'd like to know, although I have no immediate plans to get rid of my analog AV gear.
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post #6 of 33 Old 08-21-2018, 01:33 AM - Thread Starter
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The speakers will be DIY


There are plenty of Amps with analog pre outs, but what I want to avoid is the unnecessary A/D conversion.
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post #7 of 33 Old 08-21-2018, 05:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soldy View Post
The speakers will be DIY


There are plenty of Amps with analog pre outs, but what I want to avoid is the unnecessary A/D conversion.
Sorry this doesn't make any sense at all. Speakers don't play digital audio, amplifiers don't amplify digital audio so the digital has to be converted *before* it hits the amplifier. Why can't the pre/pro do the D-->A conversion? It's not being done an additional time, its only being done once - as it should be.

As the audio comes off the HDMI into the processor, it has to decode it to send the proper output to the proper speaker. Even if it were to send it as digital data via SPDIF, it would still have to decode it then reencode it to send digitally. It's not like it can just extract it from the stream. The dolby and dts libraries in the processors are literally libraries of code provided by dolby and dts, and they only decode. They don't reencode.

HDMI --> Processor decoder --> DAC --> Speaker amp with its DSP --> Speaker
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post #8 of 33 Old 08-21-2018, 07:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markmon1 View Post
Sorry this doesn't make any sense at all.

[...]

HDMI --> Processor decoder --> DAC --> Speaker amp with its DSP --> Speaker

It does make sense if you don't over simplify it. This is the bold part broken down into pieces:


HDMI -> Decoder -> DAC -> DAC -> DSP -> DAC -> amplifier -> speaker


The "D" in DSP stands for digital
And I want to get rid of the underlined conversions.


A DSP with digital input is the MiniDSP HD for instance. And the chain would look like this:


HDMI -> Decoder -> MiniDSP (includes DAC output) -> amp -> speaker

Last edited by Soldy; 08-21-2018 at 07:29 AM.
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post #9 of 33 Old 08-21-2018, 07:34 AM
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You may be way overthinking this all. All you need is an AVR with preamp outs. The AVR does all the necessary processing and DAC work internally, then outputs an analog signal to your external amp of choice. Now if you're worried on trying to maintain as pure of a signal as possible, just know that for short distances, RCA (aka unbalanced) is JUST fine for short distances between your processor and amp. However, if you want to go nuts, you can up your game to a higher end pre-pro and go with XLR interconnects (aka balanced). I used balanced XLR between my Yamaha CX-A5100 processor and MX-A5000 amp. That amp also does standard RCA which I've tried and found no difference (we're talking like a 1.5 foot cable here) but I went XLR because it looked gorgeous in my rack, I love XLR cable heads (they're not going anywhere), and to be honest, it was just plain fun. Yeah, I'm weird. Haha. It CAN make a difference though if you have some good distance between units, but that's typically not the case for most users.
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post #10 of 33 Old 08-21-2018, 07:44 AM - Thread Starter
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I know, but I don't want the AVR to the DAC work internally. That is acually the point, I want an AVR which doesn't have a DAC


Your suggestion with the balanced output is the next best thing. But there the signal is still unnecessary converted twice. If you have no DSP afterwards, than digital outputs make no sense



If there is no pre amp with digital output then I have no choice. But if there is, it would be the better solution in my case.
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post #11 of 33 Old 08-21-2018, 07:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soldy View Post
I know, but I don't want the AVR to the DAC work internally. That is acually the point, I want an AVR which doesn't have a DAC


Your suggestion with the balanced output is the next best thing. But there the signal is still unnecessary converted twice. If you have no DSP afterwards, than digital outputs make no sense



If there is no pre amp with digital output then I have no choice. But if there is, it would be the better solution in my case.
Sure, they exist e.g. Trinnov Altitude 32, but they're expensive. I can't think of an inexpensive example.
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post #12 of 33 Old 08-21-2018, 08:09 AM - Thread Starter
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That's one difficult choice: Should I get a pre amp or a new car
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post #13 of 33 Old 08-21-2018, 08:37 AM
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I'm betting that he wants to do active crossovers and/or biamp the speakers.... Its a lot less scary to use a DSP to make your crossover that allows infinite tweaking instead of committing yourself to a complex passive electrical circuit.


I get what you want to do and I think its not going to happen. You're in the .0001% of the market wanting something like this. Those of us using pre/pros are probably 3% of the market and those just using recievers instead of sound bars are probably 20% of the market. The only hope is if a manufacturer makes a proprietary system that uses amplified speakers. Even then you're going to be screwed because the interconnection/cabling is going to have to be reverse engineered as its probably going to send things like digital volume controls, power on/off, DPS maps for room correction etc to the speakers.

The only two systems I know of that operate like that are Meridian and B&O. Not Cheap for such an experiment. I don't know if either currently make an Atmos compatible system. If they do, good luck reverse engineering how the proprietary components talk to each other. Your best hope is to use 24bit DACs and a good reciever. If you are placing the amps/DSP at each speaker (internal?) your best bet is to run balanced XLRs instead of unbalanced RCA. If you are only going a few feet, there is no benefit to balanced cables (unless we're talking about pro audio where there is tons of gear and lighting controls that could produce massive EMI).

The only other thing I can think of that may do something like that is a dolby Lake processor. You would not be buying the mini-DSP and using the lake processor for everything at that point (up to 64 speaker outs on a Lake). You would also be spending megabucks. Speaking of megabucks, you could probably also do this with a Trinninov (Up to 32 speaker outs), again doing everything inside the processor for megabucks. Both of these solutions you would put your active amp in your speaker and run XLR to the speaker.
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post #14 of 33 Old 08-21-2018, 08:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Montucky View Post
You may be way overthinking this all. All you need is an AVR with preamp outs. The AVR does all the necessary processing and DAC work internally, then outputs an analog signal to your external amp of choice. Now if you're worried on trying to maintain as pure of a signal as possible, just know that for short distances, RCA (aka unbalanced) is JUST fine for short distances between your processor and amp. However, if you want to go nuts, you can up your game to a higher end pre-pro and go with XLR interconnects (aka balanced). I used balanced XLR between my Yamaha CX-A5100 processor and MX-A5000 amp. That amp also does standard RCA which I've tried and found no difference (we're talking like a 1.5 foot cable here) but I went XLR because it looked gorgeous in my rack, I love XLR cable heads (they're not going anywhere), and to be honest, it was just plain fun. Yeah, I'm weird. Haha. It CAN make a difference though if you have some good distance between units, but that's typically not the case for most users.

I can see what the OP is trying to do, but like most of you, I don't think it's necessary. I am wondering if there is anything in the commercial space from Crestron, QSC, etc that does what he is looking for? But commercial and affordable rarely go hand in hand.


Hijack, but do you like that Yamaha setup? That does a full 7.4.1(2) right? I am not certain on all the new HDMI specs, but does that setup do the HDR, Dolby, etc?
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post #15 of 33 Old 08-21-2018, 08:56 AM
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…..you could probably also do this with a Trinninov (Up to 32 speaker outs), again doing everything inside the processor...
Can and do, though my amps are external to the speaker.
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intuitively I understand it is best to avoid unnecessary A/D conversions, but....does it really matter?


could you discern the difference in a blind test?

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post #17 of 33 Old 08-21-2018, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by scotter View Post
I can see what the OP is trying to do, but like most of you, I don't think it's necessary. I am wondering if there is anything in the commercial space from Crestron, QSC, etc that does what he is looking for? But commercial and affordable rarely go hand in hand.

Hijack, but do you like that Yamaha setup? That does a full 7.4.1(2) right? I am not certain on all the new HDMI specs, but does that setup do the HDR, Dolby, etc?
I DO love the Yamaha. It's actually an incredible value all things considered. The matching amp is surprisingly quite the powerhouse, even when all channels are being driven. Been super solid and I have no complaints. I had it driving my retail store's dedicated theater room and it absolutely rocked the house. Would highly recommend it.

And you're right that I do believe Crestron, QSC, and the like would have something like OP's looking for, but I guarantee it ain't cheap. We're talking tens of thousands of dollars at the very least as it would definitely be a more commercial application. I bet even a Trinnov would be cheaper than going that route. Haha.
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post #18 of 33 Old 08-21-2018, 09:54 AM
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Short answer. "Affordable Atmos Preamp with Digital Outputs"? = a HARD no.
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post #19 of 33 Old 08-21-2018, 10:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markrubin View Post
intuitively I understand it is best to avoid unnecessary A/D conversions, but....does it really matter?


could you discern the difference in a blind test?
Ethan Winer's converter loop-back tests.

Only test I know of, Mark. AVS discussion here.
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post #20 of 33 Old 08-21-2018, 11:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Montucky View Post
Short answer. "Affordable Atmos Preamp with Digital Outputs"? = a HARD no.
Too bad, but thanks to all of you
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post #21 of 33 Old 08-21-2018, 12:14 PM
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Too bad, but thanks to all of you
You got it! That's what we're here for. Interesting question, though. Really. Good luck with your setup!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soldy View Post
It does make sense if you don't over simplify it. This is the bold part broken down into pieces:


HDMI -> Decoder -> DAC -> DAC -> DSP -> DAC -> amplifier -> speaker


The "D" in DSP stands for digital
And I want to get rid of the underlined conversions.


A DSP with digital input is the MiniDSP HD for instance. And the chain would look like this:


HDMI -> Decoder -> MiniDSP (includes DAC output) -> amp -> speaker
A DSP digitally modifies an analog signal. It doesn't mean it works on a digital signal. Your diagram doesn't make sense. It's not converted from analog to digital and back each time processing is done. Haven't you heard of things like the minidsp or amps that have DSP in them? They aren't also DACs. You're quite confused.

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Originally Posted by RUR View Post
Sure, they exist e.g. Trinnov Altitude 32, but they're expensive. I can't think of an inexpensive example.
I'd heard of the Trinnov, as the pre-pro that could process the most Atmos channels of any device on the market. (32, in its highest end version. 34 is the Dolby specified max for the home version of Atmos.)

I had no idea that it had digital outputs. I've never heard of AES. (Each AES port carries two PCM signals.)
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I'd heard of the Trinnov, as the pre-pro that could process the most Atmos channels of any device on the market. (32, in its highest end version. 34 is the Dolby specified max for the home version of Atmos.)

I had no idea that it had digital outputs. I've never heard of AES. (Each AES port carries two PCM signals.)
Yup. I've worked with some commercial QSC setups (at a cinema) and the Trinnov appears to basically be one of the closest things to a commercial cinema setup in your home. I want an Altitude 32 SOOOOOOOOOO badly it hurts. Do I have a place for it? No, but that's besides the point. Lol. It's an absolute beast.
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post #25 of 33 Old 08-21-2018, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by markmon1 View Post
A DSP digitally modifies an analog signal. It doesn't mean it works on a digital signal. Your diagram doesn't make sense. It's not converted from analog to digital and back each time processing is done. Haven't you heard of things like the minidsp or amps that have DSP in them? They aren't also DACs. You're quite confused.
It's probably a waste of bits to post this, but I suggest that you have a look at this one: MiniDSP DDRC-22D. https://www.minidsp.com/images/docum...f-DDRC-22D.pdf This is a version that only has digital inputs and outputs.
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post #26 of 33 Old 08-21-2018, 04:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markmon1 View Post
A DSP digitally modifies an analog signal. It doesn't mean it works on a digital signal.
A DSP works on a digital signal, not an analog signal. An analog signal must be converted to digital in order to apply DSP.

Quote:
Your diagram doesn't make sense. It's not converted from analog to digital and back each time processing is done.
Agreed.
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post #27 of 33 Old 08-21-2018, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by markmon1 View Post
A DSP digitally modifies an analog signal. It doesn't mean it works on a digital signal. Your diagram doesn't make sense. It's not converted from analog to digital and back each time processing is done. Haven't you heard of things like the minidsp or amps that have DSP in them? They aren't also DACs. You're quite confused.
LOL! Speaking from authority and being absolutely wrong -- certainly an AVS first !

A DSP, by necessity, works on a digital signal -- it is DIGITAL signal processor after all. Thus, in order for it to function with an analog signal, it needs an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) in front of it. And, once you apply the DSP's algorithms (FIR, IIR filters, etc) you need to convert back to analog at some point (hence, a digital-to-analog converter, DAC).

Therefore, a MiniDSP with an analog input and output has both an ADC and a DAC inside it, by necessity! You're the one confused!

Now, as for the original poster -- the answer is simple; NO! As others have said, processors with any digital outputs are expensive. And it's probably only because folks who require such a thing are in the minority and thus in a niche market wherein economies of scale are not as good. Same as folks are want a pure pre-processor vs. a receiver.

Finally, I recognize and appreciate the desire to have a "pure" signal path with a single DAC conversion before amplification, but I'd bet the benefits of performing the x-over / EQ in the digital domain overwhelms any ADC->DAC insertions into your signal chain incurred to do so.

Oh, and if you're going to do volume in the digital domain, as required by having digital outputs, you probably want better than 16-bit resolution typical of S/P-DIF interfaces (though it can support 24bits, I'm uncertain how much consumer gear allows it). Of course, high channel count and higher bitrates / depths is why things like AES67 exist, which, I believe, is what Trinnov supports.
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post #28 of 33 Old 08-21-2018, 11:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markmon1 View Post
A DSP digitally modifies an analog signal. It doesn't mean it works on a digital signal.

[...]
Your diagram doesn't make sense.

No offense but you don't seem to know what you are talking about
I already had a feeling this would come, that's why I posted: "The 'D' in DSP stands for digital". A DSP can only process digital signals.
My diagram makes sense and shows exactly how things go down, if the pre amp doesn't have digital outputs.


Quote:
It's not converted from analog to digital and back each time processing is done.
You are right, it is not. But I also didn't say it is. Thats just in this scenario.



Another thought: Since I come from the DIY sector it might be an option to modify an AVR and exctract the digital signals before they enter the internal DAC. But the money is a little bit to tight for such experiments. If any of you feel like trying be my guest. You could even tell people that it was your idea if it works







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post #29 of 33 Old 08-21-2018, 11:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DreamWarrior View Post
Finally, I recognize and appreciate the desire to have a "pure" signal path with a single DAC conversion before amplification, but I'd bet the benefits of performing the x-over / EQ in the digital domain overwhelms any ADC->DAC insertions into your signal chain incurred to do so.
My thought was, that it would add up. So not only would I have the x-over/EQ affect the signal quality but also the two conversions. Furthermore I think, that the impact in regards to quality are not very high if a good DSP is used (aside from the unavoidable delay).


Thx for the 24 bit tip.
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post #30 of 33 Old 08-22-2018, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Soldy View Post
My thought was, that it would add up. So not only would I have the x-over/EQ affect the signal quality but also the two conversions. Furthermore I think, that the impact in regards to quality are not very high if a good DSP is used (aside from the unavoidable delay).


Thx for the 24 bit tip.
I mean, certainly it will "add up" but that's not really the question. The question is, do the additional conversions add up to audible quality loss and, if so, does the loss overwhelm the gain from performing x-over/EQ in the digital domain? Only you can answer that, but see this post by @RUR from within this very thread and you can determine if you can hear a difference between samples that were digitized multiple times.

In my opinion, you're making a mountain out of a mole-hill. There are probably many other weaker links in your chain than an additional A->D->A process (e.g. your room, your speakers, etc). Sure, it's not perfect and "pure", but it's likely inaudible in all but the absolute best systems, in the best rooms, with the best ears. If that's you, then by all means, stress, lol. But, if it is you, be prepared to pony up the $, because it's going to cost you. Fortunately for me, my ears and room aren't good enough to resolve any detail loss from a few (dozen, lol) extra conversions -- I'd recon I'm the norm among people actually willing to admit their ears aren't golden, lol.
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