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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I am looking to find and possibly repair the weakest link in my modest 2 channel/office setup. Currently I am running Infinity Primus 162's as my speakers, a Denon 1610 as my reciever/DAC and getting the music via HDMI from a ATI 5450 card that is sending either WMA lossless audio (from CD's I ripped) or Pandora.


I am wondering if I would see more of a benefit from:


1) Going with a good internal soundcard (like the HT Omega Claro ) and sending the signal out via RCA's to the Denon or Yamaha


2) Going with a cheap internal soundcard (like this ) to send signal out via Coaxial or SPDIF (mobo board headers for this are broke) to an external DAC (like the AMC DAC-8 to the Denon or Yamaha


3) Not touching anything as the DAC in the Denon is fine.....


Option 3 is obviously the cheapest as I dont have to do anything, but I am trying to work my way up the audio chain to build a nice little rig and dont know if the DAC's in the Denon are up to par with either a nice internal soundcard's DAC, or an external DAC.


Option 2 would cost me ~120 so its still cheaper than Option 1...


Any thoughts and opinions would be appreciated...
 

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^^^


option 3...
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by EndersShadow
So I am looking to find and possibly repair the weakest link in my modest 2 channel/office setup.
With the quality of contemporary source gear and amplifiers being where they are (very transparent), the weakest link is just about always speakers and their interactions with the room.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by geekhd
With the quality of contemporary source gear and amplifiers being where they are (very transparent), the weakest link is just about always speakers and their interactions with the room.
So then I guess my question is what reasons are there for someone to buy a external DAC?


If I were to say have around 150 dollars what would you say would make the biggest improvement to my setup (room treatments are not an option currently
, nor do I really want to have to purchase a new set of speakers)?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by EndersShadow
So then I guess my question is what reasons are there for someone to buy a external DAC?


If I were to say have around 150 dollars what would you say would make the biggest improvement to my setup (room treatments are not an option currently
, nor do I really want to have to purchase a new set of speakers)?
You are using a receiver with digital in.


Many (like me) do not want a full sized receiver in their computer setup and yet we want quality sound that really needs digital out from the computer.


So, I use digital out from my computer to a Beresford Caiman DAC/pre (note that I also get my volume control here) and have only a small box sitting on my desk. This then goes to a TCA Gizmo amp (soon to be replaced with a Parasound Zamp v.3) that sits on my sub.


As to the best way to upgrade with $150, find a used sub.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by EndersShadow
So then I guess my question is what reasons are there for someone to buy a external DAC?
Usually for placebo effect and status symbol.

Quote:
(room treatments are not an option currently
Room treatment dose not only mean hanging those commercial panels. It's to remedy acoustic problems caused by the room. There are may ways to do it, planters, books on shelves, sculptures just to name a few. Do a search on this forum for acoustic treatment.
 

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If you want upgrade then speakers go first, receiver - second. Keep HDMI connection as it is. External DAC does not make sense at all. Pro audio card will work if you decide to go with powered speakers and drop receiver from your setup.
 

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I was recently in your situation and after trying all three options i found option 1 to come out as a clear winner. There is more detail, it is more analog sounding, and more enjoyable. I have two computer setups, with both of them running analog outputs from soundcards into integrated 2 channel amps. I tried running optical from the onboard soundcard to a Musical Fidelity X-DAC v3 and then into an integrated amp. Surprisingly i slightly preferred the onboard soundcard analog output directly into the integrated. Stepping up to a dedicated audiophile sound card from the onboard will help too, but not completely necessary if you have a newer intel board which will conform to the Intel "HD audio" specifications. My smaller desktop setup is: onboard soundcard -> NAD C 372 -> Paradigm SE1's. It does pretty well. I would eventually like to put a dedicated soundcard in the PC. My main setup, which also has a PC source, is: Asus Xonar Essence STX -> Anthem Integrated 225 -> Paradigm Studio 60's. This setup sounds stunning. I have tried putting a high quality Arcam cd player as a source, but found the PC came out on top in A/B tests. Oh, i have also tried option 2 on my main setup which used to have a Yamaha RXV1900 receiver instead of the Anthem integrated. I found option 2, running HDMI from the PC into the Yamaha receiver, to sound the worst. Running analog to the Yamaha receiver was better. Experiment for yourself. Also, check out ComputerAudiophile.com, it is a great resource.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ok... So here is where I think I am going to start. I am going to purchase a HT OMEGA STRIKER 7.1 (purchase date unknown). I will use the Center/Sub output via a 3.5mm to dual RCA connection for the sub. I will then manually set the crossover frequency for it.


I will use the coaxial out to the receiver via SPDIF (if using the Denon) or Y Splitter (if using the Yamaha).


Then at a later date I will be removing both of those and adding a dedicated 2 channel amp (100 wpc @ 8ohms max). Then at a later date add in a DAC if I still think I need it, and if not upgrade my speakers...


Anyone see any problems with this upgrade path or want to recommend a different soundcard?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by EndersShadow /forum/post/19519799


Anyone see any problems with this upgrade path or want to recommend a different soundcard?

If you want good sound DO NOT use multimedia sound card. (Semi-)Pro card is the surest way to go.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by EndersShadow /forum/post/19519799


Ok... So here is where I think I am going to start. I am going to purchase a HT OMEGA STRIKER 7.1 (purchase date unknown). I will use the Center/Sub output via a 3.5mm to dual RCA connection for the sub. I will then manually set the crossover frequency for it.


I will use the coaxial out to the receiver via SPDIF (if using the Denon) or Y Splitter (if using the Yamaha).


Then at a later date I will be removing both of those and adding a dedicated 2 channel amp (100 wpc @ 8ohms max). Then at a later date add in a DAC if I still think I need it, and if not upgrade my speakers...


Anyone see any problems with this upgrade path or want to recommend a different soundcard?

Save your money on that sound card and buy a simple one with SPDIF out - connect that to your receiver - and connect all speakers and sub to the receiver.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by rick240 /forum/post/19520814


Save your money on that sound card and buy a simple one with SPDIF out - connect that to your receiver - and connect all speakers and sub to the receiver.

Thats basically what I have now (using HDMI). I am looking basically to get a nice dedicated amplifier so that I have the flexibility to add in 4 ohm speakers at some point if I want to. My Denon cannot that kind of load with any amount of power.


So with the goal of connecting my computer to a dedicated 2 channel amp for my fronts and incorporating in a sub at some point, what suggestions are there? I would prefer to try and simply the amount of gear so dont want to get a receiver w/ pre-outs and then an amp on top of that.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by EndersShadow /forum/post/19521700


Thats basically what I have now (using HDMI). I am looking basically to get a nice dedicated amplifier so that I have the flexibility to add in 4 ohm speakers at some point if I want to. My Denon cannot that kind of load with any amount of power.


So with the goal of connecting my computer to a dedicated 2 channel amp for my fronts and incorporating in a sub at some point, what suggestions are there? I would prefer to try and simply the amount of gear so dont want to get a receiver w/ pre-outs and then an amp on top of that.

You currently have digital out of your PC - and that's a good thing.


If you really want an amp, that's OK - but lack of an amp is not the weakest link in your system.


Right now (as I understand) you have no sub - that is the weakest link in your system.


If you get rid of your Denon and buy an amp and a new soundcard, unless you spend a lot of money to get a soundcard with excellent DAC capabilties you will be introducing a new weakest link into your system - the new soundcard.


If you want to keep best quality from your PC you will keep digital out and either have a receiver (as you do today) or a DAC/pre and an amp. Unless you are thinking the purchase of new 4 ohm speakers is imminent, the best improvement you could make is a sub. If new 4 ohm speakers are imminent then either replacing your receiver with one that can handle 4 ohm speakers or with a DAC/pre and an amp would be a good step.


There are some good soundcards out there - but as you have probably guessed I am a major supporter of digital out from the PC
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I realize no sub is the weak point, but that plan is in action. I plan to take my PSW125 from downstairs and move it up here, but only after I purchase my SVS PC-12NSD sub for downstairs.


The main problem I have is that if I am not using HDMI I cannot send out via Digital from my motherboard if thats what is suggested. The Optical and Coaxial connection on my motherboard are not functioning.


I am not aware of any DAC that currently takes HDMI hence my questions about a soundcard. So given that fact you would suggest just getting a cheap soundcard with Digital out to a DAC and then to an amp. I get how that would be hooked up.


What I am trying to figure out is how I would connect from DAC to sub.
 

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I don't know of any HDMI DACs either.


Does your PSW125 have line level stereo inputs and high-pass outputs? If so then you connect the DAC to the sub and then the line-outs from the sub to the amp.


If the sub doesn't have those then you will need a crossover as well. Something like this .


I have been using a Gizmo amp which has a built-in crossover (my sub doesn't have high pass line outs). I am planning to upgrade the amp to a Parasound Zamp so i will have to either upgrade the sub (thinking of the SVS SB10-NSD when it comes out next year) or get something like that Reckhorn.


It sounds like what you have works for now, and your next steps will include buying a bunch of stuff.


Again, one of your future options is just to replace your current AVR with another AVR that can drive 4 ohm speakers when you get those speakers. This may be the simplest upgrade (and not needed until you are buying 4 ohm speakers).
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by EndersShadow /forum/post/19523373


I realize no sub is the weak point, but that plan is in action. I plan to take my PSW125 from downstairs and move it up here, but only after I purchase my SVS PC-12NSD sub for downstairs.


The main problem I have is that if I am not using HDMI I cannot send out via Digital from my motherboard if thats what is suggested. The Optical and Coaxial connection on my motherboard are not functioning.


I am not aware of any DAC that currently takes HDMI hence my questions about a soundcard. So given that fact you would suggest just getting a cheap soundcard with Digital out to a DAC and then to an amp. I get how that would be hooked up.


What I am trying to figure out is how I would connect from DAC to sub.

You could try the Tascam US-144MKII for $120 via Amazon (if you don't like it Amazon will print out return postage for you even).


It's a external USB sound card with both SPDIF and RCA Analog out. It's a 24/96 DAC. It even has a headphone amp and Microphone in.


I use this with my Vista based laptop for the MIC in and Room EQ Wizard with a Behringer ECM8000 Microphone.


There have been some complaints early on about the Tascam drivers. But the 2.0 drivers seem to be fine.


I would just keep the receiver for now. But for $120 that you can totally return you may want to play around with it.
 

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I've been pretty happy with my M-Audio soundcards so far. First a Delta 2496 stereo model , then upgraded to the 1010LT for 7.1.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by EndersShadow /forum/post/19523373



What I am trying to figure out is how I would connect from DAC to sub.

I guess when it is all said and done this is the crux of the matter.


Most of your 'audiophile' class dac's are not going to have sub management or the ability to pipe out an LFE signal on a dedicated output.


A lot of them are strictly 2 channel devices.


This is where you need to look at the pro route. You may not want to hear this but the Behringer DCX will do what you want:


1. It will take S/PDIF into it's AES/EBU port (input C)

2. It will let you set an x-over points for your l/r speakers and sub

3. It will let you split the signal on it's six outputs 1 to Left, 2 to right, 3 to sub.


As a matter of fact the Behringer manual has a walk through for a 2.1 setup.


Now with that being said if you want to spend more $$ you could go with this dbx drive rack 260+ but I believe it doesn't have a AES/EBU input. Analog only.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jinjuku /forum/post/19574158


I guess when it is all said and done this is the crux of the matter.


Most of your 'audiophile' class dac's are not going to have sub management or the ability to pipe out an LFE signal on a dedicated output.


A lot of them are strictly 2 channel devices.


This is where you need to look at the pro route. You may not want to hear this but the Behringer DCX will do what you want:


1. It will take S/PDIF into it's AES/EBU port (input C)

2. It will let you set an x-over points for your l/r speakers and sub

3. It will let you split the signal on it's six outputs 1 to Left, 2 to right, 3 to sub.


As a matter of fact the Behringer manual has a walk through for a 2.1 setup.


Now with that being said if you want to spend more $$ you could go with this dbx drive rack 260+ but I believe it doesn't have a AES/EBU input. Analog only.

Hehehe...you wont want to hear this but my final decision on this was to do the following:


Sell my Denon 1610 and purchase the HK 3490 (which has a sub out). Then add a 2 channel amp to it at a later date (maybe a Behringer, Crown, or Parasound not sure). I just need to purchase a cheap soundcard with a optical or digital out for my computer to connect up the HK. I could also potentially instead of just a cheap soundcard purchase one of the more expensive ones and use the RCA out's but I dont think thats gonna be what I do.


All this will happen eventually
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by EndersShadow /forum/post/19574222


Hehehe...you wont want to hear this but my final decision on this was to do the following:


Sell my Denon 1610 and purchase the HK 3490 (which has a sub out). Then add a 2 channel amp to it at a later date (maybe a Behringer, Crown, or Parasound not sure). I just need to purchase a cheap soundcard with a optical or digital out for my computer to connect up the HK. I could also potentially instead of just a cheap soundcard purchase one of the more expensive ones and use the RCA out's but I dont think thats gonna be what I do.


All this will happen eventually

As much as I like HK products, and as well as the HK 3490 does for the price and convenience, not to mention it has great 4 ohm capabilities, there simply isn't enough management in it for my tastes.


That is my only beef with it.
 
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