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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, here goes…


I would like to add a better pre-amp and DAC to my current receiver (Yamaha RX-V800) for 2-channel only, and I need some help on how to achive this. I am currently very happy with my system for home theater, but I would really like to add to my 2-channel listening experience. I do plan on getting some room treatments also, including some bass traps for the corners and some panels for the walls, if my wife allows!


Now, I had Monitor 5 v.2 fronts, Mini-Monitor v.2 rears, an LCR-350 center, and a Sunfire MKII Sub. Like I said before, my HT experience is as good as I could hope for. I have just recently decided to try to make this system into an excellent double duty, 50/50 HT / Music system (I know some say this can’t be done!) and here is the start of my plan:


I just traded my Monitor 5’s in (with Paradigms excellent 100% trade in policy) on my dream speakers, Studio 40’s. Now, this is one upgrade that I am likely to stick with for a long, long time, so that is one reason I went ahead and did this. It’s the rest of my system that I’m not as sure about what to do.


Let me also say that I’m not a real bass freak when it comes to music (now home theater, that’s a different story!), so I run the 40’s full range and turn my subwoofer off for music. Although this is the case, I still do love good tight clean bass (who doesn’t?).


OK, the 40’s alone added great improvement to my 2-channel system, so my plan has definitely started off on the right foot. They sound absolutely great. The only problem now is, my LCR-350 suddenly sucks! Anyway, the rest of my dilemma is where I get a bit confused and need some help.


I just bought a Carver AV-505 amp (80X5) from fellow AVS member “metallicafreak†and I should receive it within a week or so. My plan is to split the main pre-outs on my receiver and bi-amp the studio 40’s with 4 channels of the Carver (I’ll just leave the 5th channel unused). I thought that this would be a good start to see what extra amplification can do for my 2-channel setup.


At the same time, I wonder if the pre-amp and DAC in my Yamaha will be holding me back to the point where the amp won’t make as much difference.


So, I was reading another thread on this forum about 2-channel performance, and I found a few interesting ideas, but don’t know exactly how they are implemented.


Can I add any 2-channel pre-amp to my existing 5.1 system and share my main speakers between the 2? I saw something about a theater bypass, etc. Is this what the pre-amp needs? Will my Yamaha receiver allow me to send the correct signal to a pre-amp to achive this? My Yammy has a processor direct button that bypasses bass and treble. Does this need to be on for it to work correctly?


Is an $800-$1000 budget to add an external DAC and a 2-channel pre-amp even possible? Are there better alternatives? I have done a little research, and I saw a little Creek passive pre-amp for like $400 and a MSB Link III DAC for about the same I think over at audio advisor. Would this pair do what I want?


I know this is a lot, but if someone could help me out a little, I would owe you big time!


One more thing…as far as the hookup, I’ll take a stab at it, and if someone could correct me, that would be great also:


OK, I would go with a digital out from my CD player into the external DAC…


From the DAC into the pre-amp with a stereo pair of RCA cables…


Errrrrrrrr…...I think I’ve gone crosseyed.......
 

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I'll limit my response to my current configuration, which serves me well for both 2-channel music and movies. For 2-channel, I'm running an Ah! Tjoeb CD player into an Adcom GFP-750 pre-amp and using an Adcom GFA-555 mkII amp for the front L/R (with a REL sub). For movies, I use a Sony DB-930 receiver to run the center and surrounds. I don't have external DACs, b/c I like the DAC in the CD player. For non-CD sources, I live with the DACs in the Sony (not very good, IMO).


The key to making everything work is the PROCESSOR LOOP on the Adcom pre-amp. It allows me to run the L/R pre-outs from the Sony through the Adcom w/o any additional gain or processing and w/o the need to change interconnects. If you're going to use a separate pre-amp for 2-channel, it's imperative that you get one with a processor loop.


The situation becomes more complicated if you have only one source for both two-channel and movies (e.g., a DVD player). Most DVD players have only one digital out, so you would have to find a way to switch the digital out to the DAC (for 2-channel) or the HT processor (for movies). By using the DVD player as a transport only, and by switching the digital output from it BEFORE the DAC or HT processor, you may be able to avoid the need for a preamp with a processor loop.


Just some thoughts . . . . :)
 

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I was running a system similar to the one you described.


The Sony DVD had 2 digital outs. 1 went to the Denon receiver, the other to an outboard DAC and from the DAC to a preamp to a Bryston amp to Studio 60's.


The main out from the receiver went to the Aux in of the preamp. I just had to set the volume on the pre amp to the same level that I used to set the 5.1 levels for HT.


I bought a used Bryston .5B preamp for Can $500. It had no pass through, but also has no tone controls, so it was like it was not there for HT.


You should consider the M-audio super DAC it has 24/96 AKM DACs and if it was mainsteam audio it would cost alot, but it is pro audio gear and was Can $400. It is a great sounding DAC for the money.

www.midiman.net/m-audio.htm


My total outlay was 900 Canadian dollars (About $575 USD) for a great sounding front end.
 

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Hi,


To bring this project home for $1000 is going to take a little bit of devious buying and scouring of E-Bay. What you need is something like the Creek OBH-10 remote volume control. Now on one of the inputs you wire the front stereo output of your Yamaha RX-V800, on the second input you want your high quality DAC.


Right now my personal preference would be for a Perpetual Technology P-3A. This little unit is very compact, has a built in upsampler and does 96/24. What makes this unit stand head and shoulders above it's competition is it's ability to be easily enhanced with the Monolithic P3 outboard PSU, The P3 Signature upgrade and, ultimately, the P1-A jitter killer / upsampler / DSP which has a very sophisticated upsampling system built into it. I use this combo at home myself and it has proven itself superior to every DAC this side of DCS to date. You also get a 30 day money back guarantee with Perpetual Technology equipment. When I tell you this is the same stable that brought us the Swan Diva speakers you understand when I say that (IMHO) this equipment is incredible value for money. Another excellent alternative would be the MSB Link III DAC, but I tried the P3-A against a Link DAC and to my ears the P3-A sounded superior.


Now you hook up your CD player to the P3-A with a good quality digital cable (if you're handy with a soldering iron or know someone who is you won't go far wrong with Alan Mahers ultimate digital cable formula on the A/V Improvements forum) and you're set. Input one on the OBH-10 will give you home theater, input 2 will give you very high quality stereo from the P3-A.


I hope this is clear and if I can be of any further assistance then please do not hesitate to let me know.


Regards and best wishes,


David
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks so much for the help guys!



K-Wood,


I do have separate CD and DVD players, so that won’t be a problem. The CD player that I use as a transport is a 400 disc Sony megachanger. I know this probably isn’t the best, but the convenience is something that I can’t live without, especially with my Pronto remote and the supernudelist program to select my CD’s so easily from my couch (Thanks Leo Davidson!). Also, I barely make it through a song before changing discs sometimes!


Analogueaddict,


What you’re telling me is almost exactly what I’m planning on doing at this point. Audio Advisor has the Creek OBH-12 passive pre-amp for $300 and the MSB Link III DAC for $400. If I get those 2 pieces for $700, along with the Carver AV-505 (80X5) to bi-amp my studio 40’s, will this possibly be the improvement that I’m looking for?


One last thing, I know this is a whole other can of worms, but any more suggestions on cables? I suppose I will need a good digital optical cable, a pair of cables to run from the DAC to the pre-amp, and a pair of y-splitters long enough to run directly from the outs on the pre-amp to 4 channles on my amp?


Would bettercables be able to make these cables at the lengths that I need? If so, would they be on par quality wise with what I’m trying to achieve?


I’ve never spent much on cables and speaker wire, but I just want to make sure and get the best that I can out of this system, while at the same time making it affordable.


Once again, thanks so much for all the help, and any more opinions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks! David
 

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The simple approach would be to upgrade the cd player to one with the performance level you seek, and internal volume control.

Then you could run amp direct and completly by-pass the Yam.

An audiobuddy of mine uses a California Audio Labs cd player (it has tubes!) to feed his Adcom 5800 when he listens to 2 channel.

It has plenty of gain for the Adcom to rock his NHT2.9's, and a credit card sized remote for volume control. His cd unit is astounding sonically and was very affordable (forgot price). I'm sure there are other players with these features available.

Good Luck!
 
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