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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Please share your direct experiences with your high end 7.1 audio card analog out to your amplifier versus your dedicated receiver/pre-amp analog out to your amplifier...
 

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I had owned both a Onkyo 500 series, as well as a Yamaha (can't remember the model #). They were both in the $300 range of receivers. I've tried both the digital connection as well as analog out into a reciever and directly into a power amplifer's (AMC2445 and an Emotiva LPA-1) into 2 different pairs of speakers.

Comparing digital out vs. analog out


The digital out of my Asus Xonar D2X causes me to use the DAC's in the receiver, as well as it's amplification. The sound wasn't a night/day difference like going to an external amplifier. The amp has a much larger role in the sound quality than the DAC itself. I'm sure if I had a much more expensive receiver - these comparisons would be different. The largest difference with analog into the receiver was the ability to use Blu-Ray HD soundtracks. The sound was thinner in Dolby Digital for sure. Passing the analog signal gave a more fuller, detailed sound than a standard DVD.


Before BluRay, I was content with digital out as at that time I didn't have very good speakers to reveal any more details. After I got newer speakers, the difference in speakers made a larger difference and I could tell that analog out in Direct mode was the way to go as the speakers could now resolve more of the detail necessary. The fully lossless DTS-HD MA helped a lot of course


Comparing the receiver to the 2xAMC2445's


I paid $70 for a pair of these amps (local pickup), so price to performance was astounding. Considering I sold my receiver for $100.


The moment I went analog out to power amplifiers was something of a revelation for me. I could now hear everything at low listening levels. Little sounds like a piece of paper in someone's pocket was noticable. Foot steps were clear. Hearing people reach into their pockets would now be audible. Once I enabled Vista's Room corection and setup a microphone I was able to get a proper EQ setting and things just got better. The room filling experience that ensued was fantastic. The sound just got better and better as I turned up the volume as opposed to worse and worse with the receiver from added distortion. At this point in time, I wonder why I ever bothered with anything else, it just sounded that good. My wife - who normally doesn't notice anything was commenting on how good everything now sounded.

Comparing the 2xAMC2445's (90wpc) to the LPA-1


I paid $399 for this amp (local pickup)


The difference in the upgrade was immediately apparent. Although the AMC2445 was a HUGE upgrade over a receiver; the upgrade to the LPA-1 was a nice step up.


The biggest differences were the imaging of my speakers. The AMC amps just couldn't bring these speakers to create a nice stereo image. As soon as I used the LPA-1, the speakers opened up a bit more, sounded more natural in movies. The center channel benefited the most - the voices of the people in the movies just 'sounded' a lot more like the actual voices they represtented. In cars - Owen Wilson's voice was unmistakable.


The amc amps while very 'musical' they also sounded a bit harsh. The Emotiva amp got rid of both, and instead of everything being 'musical' - only the musical music sounded musical. The highs were much less abrasive and more coherent.



Music - 2.0 > Diamond 9.1's


REM - Losing my religion


While I love this song for the simple fact that it's just a classic. The AMC amps sounds more sterile, while the LPA-1 was more full bodied. The AMC amps had a tint of thinness in the sound despite only powering bookshelfs. The LPA-1 again dominated in pure imaging - I have to double check the center channel is off because the voices are coming dead center. The AMC's wouldn't do that.


Clarity - the signal was just coming through the speakers clearer. I could hear quieter background noises with less strain.


The added Bass became immediately apparent when I played Norah Jones feat. Peter Malick group - New York City; a track I downlaoded from hdtracks.com (very nice) in Flac.


The begninning of the track gave so much more bass and authority over the speaker that I had to confirm the sub was off. When I turned the sub on - it only went a bit deeper; but it was shocking just how much power was making it's way to these speakers.


The LPA-1 just keeps the signal nuetral, I'm not hearing an amp as much as I'm hearing what my speakers should sound like.


Movies - 5.1

Spiderwick Chronicles


With the proper EQ dialed in, I can't take the volume past 20% without making the wife upset. The sound is clear, I hear all the footsteps clearly. All of those lovely noises that previously hid themselves in the background are now clear as a bell.


During dialog scenes just hearing the actors taking breaths between lines.

Conclusion


Receivers make significant compromises in the amplification portion in order to fit all the features/convenience into 1 box. (Reference article to back this statement up - http://www.audioholics.com/education...r%20compromise )


DAC's inside a $300 receiver will be outperformed by a $300 PC soundcard. 1 piece of audio equipment made to make good clean sound output and that alone.


Power amplification has a larger effect on sound quality than DACs in and of themselves. While neither should suffer nor be discarded or overlooked - spending a few hundred on each will yield great results.


Great speakers on poor amplification never allows the speakers to reach their full potential, so a speaker upgrade without enough RMS power won't yield as much of a return as making sure w/e speakers you are going to buy will have sufficient enough power to return your investment for sound quality.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Wow thanks for the thorough overview from the home of Orange Country Choppers I suppose. I've read a lot of posts about the best sound cards and also modded sound cards sounding better than $3K receivers, and I've also read from others who have said that those same sound cards don't sound as good as much cheaper receivers.
 

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Orange County Choppers indeed, his daughter - Kristen Teutul was in my wedding (my wife's maid of honor)


The DAC being used on the soundcard is more than capable, and sounds great - revealing a lot of details. It could sound better, but it's not hideous by any means and the Xonar Essence ST that I will be purchasing later this year will be a nice upgrade over the D2X. I never owned a receiver with preouts, so I can't directly compare the sound quality with the same amps.


The bottom line is, for the modest price plugged into an external amplifier (this being the key) will provide way better results than equally priced reciever with internal amps being used.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by soulrider4ever /forum/post/16924809


Orange County Choppers indeed, his daughter - Kristen Teutul was in my wedding (my wife's maid of honor)


The DAC being used on the soundcard is more than capable, and sounds great - revealing a lot of details. It could sound better, but it's not hideous by any means and the Xonar Essence ST that I will be purchasing later this year will be a nice upgrade over the D2X. I never owned a receiver with preouts, so I can't directly compare the sound quality with the same amps.


The bottom line is, for the modest price plugged into an external amplifier (this being the key) will provide way better results than equally priced reciever with internal amps being used.

i am new at this whole htpc thing. But am trying to build me a premium htpc. And i see have alot of experience with audio. What is the name of the external amplifier you used?
 
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