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post #1 of 10 Old 06-17-2019, 08:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Question Home Theater DAC (Processor) Options?

Hey all,

Well, my VSX1121 is giving up the ghost after many years of service with the UE22 error and I'm not going to do the hot-gun fix and see if it lasts days to weeks and keep doing that over and over, and I'm ok with that. I am however using this as an opportunity to see what's out there now.

I was wondering what options there are for DACs these days, other than typical AVRs. I like to have an AVR (or maybe a DAC now) that simply processes the signal and passes it out line level to an external amplifier of my choice so that I can run separate amplifiers on various speakers in my arrangement. My VSX1121 had line out for all channels and two sub outs for this so I could use external amplifiers, making it basically a DAC in my use, as I didn't use the amplifier portion much anymore. So I'm wondering if there are DACs out there for home theater these days? The Emotiva BasX or MC700 came to mind (https://emotiva.com/collections/proc...roducts/mc-700). But I'm curious what other options there may be that do this as I don't care to have one with an internal amplifier for the speakers.

If there really isn't much out there in terms of the above, then I guess it's time to select a new AVR. I mainly am interested in 7.2 arrangement with my current speakers and current amplifiers and simply finding a decent AVR that has line out for each channel so that I'm not using the internal amplifier. So it doesn't have to be a robust powerful unit, mostly just a processor for my needs and I'm not particularly interested in anything but basic common formats as I'm not running ultra 4k stuff nor atmos stuff, etc. So it doesn't have to be a new AVR in that way. I could easily get another VSX1121 that is working and be fine with that honestly. But, might as well see what others options there are at this point.

For reference, this is 100% from a PC source with a 4k TV (I have a HTPC that is setup for movies, music and games as a steam box when used for games, but that's not important, mostly interested in how this will work out in multi-channel application for movies as music and games for me are completely stereo). I have looked into USB multi-channel options but I have no idea how that stuff works. But I'm open to anything at this point to learn more. Maybe a simple USB soundcard with multi-channel output can be used to just directly output to the amplifiers?

Ideas?

Nix the Integra 40, it cannot output to a 4k TV via HDMI appropriately, so removed this. Looks like for AVR the lowest I can go is the Denon X3400.

Oops, almost forgot, it will need to output to a 4k TV and not have issues with that (I've used devices in the past that really struggled with 4k TV and had to abandon HDMI output due to that with my VSX1121 for example and was just using optical).

Thanks!

Very best,

Last edited by MalVeauX; 06-17-2019 at 09:56 AM.
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post #2 of 10 Old 06-17-2019, 08:41 AM
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in common parlance, what you are looking for is a "Pre/Pro" preamp processor... if all you are doing is a 7.2, and no 4k, check out the outlaw 975.. (549), the other consideration, is what room correction software, Audessey gets a lot of recommendations. Dirac can also be considered as even better...

Denon 3400/3500 - mid-level model with full pre-outs and best version of audessey (xt32)

also take a look at : https://www.essenceelectrostatic.com...1-channel-dac/


good luck
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post #3 of 10 Old 06-17-2019, 09:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smithsabom View Post
in common parlance, what you are looking for is a "Pre/Pro" preamp processor... if all you are doing is a 7.2, and no 4k, check out the outlaw 975.. (549), the other consideration, is what room correction software, Audessey gets a lot of recommendations. Dirac can also be considered as even better...

Denon 3400/3500 - mid-level model with full pre-outs and best version of audessey (xt32)

also take a look at : https://www.essenceelectrostatic.com...1-channel-dac/


good luck
Thank you, that essence link looks pretty close to the sort of thing I'm thinking of and costs about what a typical AVR with similar options for pre-out do. Not sure if this can do room correction and stuff though, so maybe this isn't as useful for a living room setup? I'm not sure of course.

I'm mainly exploring non-AVR options due to size and heat. I mean, if I don't use the internal amplifier, then why get an AVR right? Granted, I'm not plugging 5+ sources into it either, I'm literally just running my PC's HDMI or optical into it and letting it do the processing and outputting the pre-out to my amplifiers. I suppose with lots of sources I'd better stay with an AVR, but with a HTPC source and HDMI output, I can go with a single smaller unit with less connectivity.

Then again, the Denon 3400 series seems to check all the boxes, including 4k (my TV is 4k) so that I'm not limited later on if I do add anything beyond my norm right now. It can probably drive my surrounds without effort too. My main thing is to drive my mains & front from dedicated amplifiers.

Very best,

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post #4 of 10 Old 06-17-2019, 05:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Hrm,

To help steer things, maybe some more info:

Have: 4k TV
Have: HTPC (HDMI output is ideal) as primary source (mostly AC3 audio sources for the multi-channel stuff from DVDs, the rest is stereo source digital audio)
Had: Pioneer VSX1121, but it died (UE22 error) and also could not use my 4k TV anyways as the HDMI was too old
Have: Polk M70 Series II as mains & center (3x) on 150 watt monoblock amps (A.S. AMP100's in bridge mode, one per speaker (3x))
Have: Polk M50 Series II as surrounds and backs (4x)
Have: Several BIC F12's and Polk 505's so I can run 2~4 12" subs well spaced out as needed via LFE & Y-splitters (one for each corner of the room).

I've yet to hear a receiver drive the M70's as good as the monoblock amps do even though they're not super powerful, but obviously handle more current and output than the 110watt per channel VSX1121. However, the M50's are easily driven as surrounds by the receiver, so I don't feel the need to have specific amplifiers for them. Mainly just the larger M70's that really do benefit from more juice. Eventually I'd like to get a better single 2 or 3 channel amp (Emotiva XPA3 maybe or the new Monolith 3 channel amps) but until then I'll use what I have (in the future I would likely replace my speakers with something several steps up, but I won't do that until I have a dedicated room to make it worth while; staying in the budget end until then).

I could replace my dead VSX1121 with a Denon X3400H for a decent price from AC4L. But, before going that route, I'm of course curious if there's non-AVR options to do the same thing. So then I looked into multi-channel DACs and there's not much out there, definitely nothing "budget" oriented either, so that of course steers me right back towards AVRs. If I do not go with an AVR I will have to get individual amplifiers for my surrounds which adds to cost while and AVR will drive my surrounds and I want pre-out options on the AVR to allow me to use the more powerful monoblock amps I'm currently using since no AVR is going to truly drive three M70's and surrounds to full dynamics.

So, just thinking out loud and looking at options for the processor/DAC at this point and how it might integrate into what I have to replace the VSX1121.

Just to keep some options in a spot that I've been looking at, or that were suggested that are not AVR's:

Quote:
Essence Evolve II 7.1 DAC (HDMI 2 & 4K)
https://www.essenceelectrostatic.com...1-channel-dac/

Emotiva BasX MC-700 7.1 DAC (HDMI 2 & 4K)
https://emotiva.com/collections/proc...roducts/mc-700
Thanks!

Very best,

Last edited by MalVeauX; 06-18-2019 at 09:11 AM.
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post #5 of 10 Old 06-18-2019, 06:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Hrm,

This also has me thinking... it may also be time to finally move on from my current external amplifiers. I'm currently using AudioSource AMP100's in bridge mode (150watts @ 8ohms bridged) for my M70 II's. I'm not sure of all the nuances in amplifiers, but I imagine the bridging cannot be without a penalty somewhere, compared to just getting a 200watt unbridged source, such as the Emotiva XPA-3 or Monolith 3 which seem nearly identical and are similarly priced. I of course have to wonder.... does 150watts vs 200watts even matter much in a fair sized room, or is it the quality of the operation that will matter more, one being a cheap bridged amp versus a higher quality unbridged amp? I'm ignorant on this front. I'm also of course ignorant to what's going on with the AMP100 anyways, going from 50 watts to 150 watts on the same speaker at 8ohm and whether or not it's doing anything truly useful other than getting louder. My understanding is that tripling the power isn't even doubling the perceived loudness (+3 SPL per doubling of the power here?), so really the 150watt bridged AMP100 should only be a little louder than when it's at 50 watt and stereo. But, shouldn't it help the speaker (in this case the M70 II) perform better since it has a suggested range upwards of 275watts (per Polk) spread over the 4x 6.5" woofers. In my head I think it would make sense going from 50 watts to 150 watts would be desirable for such a speaker. But, I'm not sure if my AMP100 is truly doing that, or if it's just math-fu. This has me wondering, does it make sense to spend $1k on an amp that will do 200 watts (unbridged) into these speakers, where going from 50 watts to 200 watts should result in twice the loudness, but I'm not looking to be louder, just looking to fill out the performance of the speaker from top to bottom (in this case I believe mostly he lower frequencies will fill out). Again, I'm ignorant on many fronts with the amps.

Very best,

Last edited by MalVeauX; 06-18-2019 at 06:55 PM.
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post #6 of 10 Old 06-19-2019, 02:46 PM - Thread Starter
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How does one approach room correction with a non-AVR multi-channel DAC or processor, like the Essence Evolve II-4K? I like that it's small, simple, and outputs to discreet amplifiers, but what about room correction and other variable settings that go into setting up a system in a room?

Very best,
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post #7 of 10 Old 06-20-2019, 08:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MalVeauX View Post
How does one approach room correction with a non-AVR multi-channel DAC or processor, like the Essence Evolve II-4K? I like that it's small, simple, and outputs to discreet amplifiers, but what about room correction and other variable settings that go into setting up a system in a room?

Very best,
https://live.dirac.com/overview/ and https://jriver.com/

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post #8 of 10 Old 06-20-2019, 10:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, I'll check into these!

Very best,
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post #9 of 10 Old 07-14-2019, 08:17 AM
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What did you end up getting? Emotiva MC-700 is on my short list along with Outlaw 976.
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post #10 of 10 Old 07-14-2019, 08:48 AM
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100% htpc and amps stand out.

An option might be to check out The Savoy build thread, and see what DesertDome and David did there.
I simply headed to eBay and found myself a nice slightly used Motu 1248 after a little seat time in
The Savoy, managed right after a nice holiday built around the 2017 KC HT Crawl (and that was pretty awesome).
The Savoy uses Audiolense but Dirac is available for pc. You also might find a cheaper MOTU will suit you, since usb
2.0 can handle 7.1. (I wanted to retain my Oppo 105, and add 7.1 (dual subs) .4, so I needed the usb 3.0 and extra
channels out.)

Unless your speakers are really inefficient and extremely high end, I doubt you will notice any difference between 150
watts and 200 watts, in a mid size room.
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