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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been using Yulong D100 DAC (USB, w/headphone amp) for my headphones for some years, recently I am into speakers and would like to know that should I add a power amp, or sell the DAC and get a more expensive integrated amp? I think I paid $350-400 for the DAC when it first came out and I could sell it for $220-250 today, my budget for power amp is $200-300. So that would make my budget for the integrated amp in the $400-500 range. Mind you the quality of Yulong D100 is very good, it's close to some of the those in the $800-1000 range. My gut feeling is keep the DAC and get a power amp, but I had been out of touch with the music technology in the last couple of years so maybe there are better products today? What do you say?


Update: I just realized most power amps don't have volume control, and the volume knob on the DAC is only for headphone out, so looks like integrated amp is the way to go then? My source is computer and I can use the volume control in windows, not sure if that's not going to be a good idea.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by seiyafan  /t/1525614/which-gives-more-bang-for-the-buck-dac-amp-or-int-amp#post_24562731


I've been using Yulong D100 DAC (USB, w/headphone amp) for my headphones for some years, recently I am into speakers and would like to know that should I add a power amp, or sell the DAC and get a more expensive integrated amp? I think I paid $350-400 for the DAC when it first came out and I could sell it for $220-250 today, my budget for power amp is $200-300. So that would make my budget for the integrated amp in the $400-500 range. Mind you the quality of Yulong D100 is very good, it's close to some of the those in the $800-1000 range. My gut feeling is keep the DAC and get a power amp, but I had been out of touch with the music technology in the last couple of years so maybe there are better products today? What do you say?


Update: I just realized most power amps don't have volume control, and the volume knob on the DAC is only for headphone out, so looks like integrated amp is the way to go then? My source is computer and I can use the volume control in windows, not sure if that's not going to be a good idea.

The best and least expensive way to get a nice collection of power amps with a volume control is usually to obtain an AVR.
 

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That's actually a really good question, especially with all the interest in hi-end USB DACs lately. I really think that (good) integrated amps/receivers are the way to go. For example, you can get really good ESS Sabre DACs in manym Yamaha AVRs along with all the digital inputs you need (that also accomodate "hi-rez" music--but that's another story). In addition, you get multi-channel support. Of course, you "get what you pay for", but I think many high-end integrated solutions offer the best "bang for your buck".
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stanton  /t/1525614/which-gives-more-bang-for-the-buck-dac-amp-or-int-amp#post_24563831


That's actually a really good question, especially with all the interest in hi-end USB DACs lately. I really think that (good) integrated amps/receivers are the way to go. For example, you can get really good ESS Sabre DACs in many Yamaha AVRs along with all the digital inputs you need (that also accomodate "hi-rez" music--but that's another story). In addition, you get multi-channel support. Of course, you "get what you pay for", but I think many high-end integrated solutions offer the best "bang for your buck".

That's just it. There is no global rule that says "You get what you pay for". The option of getting far less than what you pay for is always there!


Segregating the same parts into a number of smaller separate boxes can be very costly. And it makes the system harder to set up.


ESS Sabre chips run as low as $16 each in pairs - production quantities would probably be half that or less.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk  /t/1525614/which-gives-more-bang-for-the-buck-dac-amp-or-int-amp/0_100#post_24563344

Quote:
Originally Posted by seiyafan  /t/1525614/which-gives-more-bang-for-the-buck-dac-amp-or-int-amp#post_24562731


I've been using Yulong D100 DAC (USB, w/headphone amp) for my headphones for some years, recently I am into speakers and would like to know that should I add a power amp, or sell the DAC and get a more expensive integrated amp? I think I paid $350-400 for the DAC when it first came out and I could sell it for $220-250 today, my budget for power amp is $200-300. So that would make my budget for the integrated amp in the $400-500 range. Mind you the quality of Yulong D100 is very good, it's close to some of the those in the $800-1000 range. My gut feeling is keep the DAC and get a power amp, but I had been out of touch with the music technology in the last couple of years so maybe there are better products today? What do you say?


Update: I just realized most power amps don't have volume control, and the volume knob on the DAC is only for headphone out, so looks like integrated amp is the way to go then? My source is computer and I can use the volume control in windows, not sure if that's not going to be a good idea.

The best and least expensive way to get a nice collection of power amps with a volume control is usually to obtain an AVR.

If you want the most bang for your buck, this is it. The reason has to do with the economies of scale . So many major brand surround receivers are made that it is very cheap per unit for what it is.


Now, if you want to impress foolish audiophiles who imagine that putting electronics in separate boxes magically makes it better than putting it all in one box, then you will want to choose something else. But that has nothing to do with actual sound quality.
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I see. Many years the trend was to separate everything to minimize crosstalk and interference, I guess these days that's not going to be a concern anymore.


So are all integrated amp called receivers these days? There is no integrated amp for audiophiles?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk  /t/1525614/which-gives-more-bang-for-the-buck-dac-amp-or-int-amp#post_24563344


The best and least expensive way to get a nice collection of power amps with a volume control is usually to obtain an AVR.

Actually I avoided posting my question in the amp forum because everyone there uses receivers, I guess these days receivers have caught up in quality even for audiophiles? That's interesting,
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by seiyafan  /t/1525614/which-gives-more-bang-for-the-buck-dac-amp-or-int-amp#post_24566395


I see. Many years the trend was to separate everything to minimize crosstalk and interference, I guess these days that's not going to be a concern anymore.


So are all integrated amp called receivers these days? There is no integrated amp for audiophiles?

Integrated amps as a separate product category have largely disappeared. Oh, a few still exist but they have shrunk to a tiny fraction of the market.


There are a few integrated amps at high prices for those who want to pay more for less.


Back in the day, the FM stereo tuner was an large, expensive part of a receiver. Today an entire near SOTA FM stereo receiver fits on one tiny chip with a dozen or so supporting components costing nearly nothing.


There isn't much cost or space saving involved in leaving it out.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by seiyafan  /t/1525614/which-gives-more-bang-for-the-buck-dac-amp-or-int-amp#post_24566395


I see. Many years the trend was to separate everything to minimize crosstalk and interference, I guess these days that's not going to be a concern anymore.

The architecture of receivers has undergone a dramatic change.


For example, a traditional preamp was half phono preamp and half line level and tone controls. The phono preamp completely disappeared with vinyl and the line level and tone control portions were miniaturized onto a chip.


The DVD introduced digital audio to the mainstream receivers, and DSP chips took over the majority of the signal processing load. But, being digital they don't take up a lot of space and they are largely invulnerable to crosstalk and interference.


Video switching and processing was added.


All of the functions of the front panel controls have been replaced with a display and a few push buttons, Most people hardly every touch their receivers, they use remote controls.


As I pointed out in another post the FM tuner which used to take up almost half the space in a receiver was miniaturized into a chip. The FM tuner circuits used to cover several large circuit cards and now they all fit into a matchbox-sized shielded box. About the only things that are recognizable from a mid-1990s receiver/amplifier are the power transformer, the power amps and their heat sinks.


Bass management and controlling multiple channels had to be added but they are now partially handled by the DSP and partially handled by the gain/switching/tone control chip that are already there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I am just a little paranoid that receivers might color the sound a bit to make them more suitable for movies rather than music listening. I need amps that have neutral sound.


I found this little amp that has volume control: http://www.amazon.com/AudioSource-AMP-100-Stereo-Power-Amplifier/dp/B00026BQJ6

But I am not sure of its quality.


I am not looking for something that's expensive, actually I wanted to get a parasound Zamp v.3, it has gain knobs on the back, not sure if that can be used as volume knob or not.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by seiyafan  /t/1525614/which-gives-more-bang-for-the-buck-dac-amp-or-int-amp#post_24566678


I am just a little paranoid that receivers might color the sound a bit to make them more suitable for movies rather than music listening. I need amps that have neutral sound.


I found this little amp that has volume control: http://www.amazon.com/AudioSource-AMP-100-Stereo-Power-Amplifier/dp/B00026BQJ6

But I am not sure of its quality.

I'm not sure either. you can find complete specs here:

http://www.audiosource.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/AmpGuide.pdf


It certainly has no better specs than a reasonably good low end AVR.


And speaking of the devil, here is a competitive AVR for just a few dollars less:

http://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/denavr1513/denon-avr-1513-5.1ch-home-theater-receiver-3d-ready/1.html


If you compare the specs the low end AVR has 50% more power and 50% as much distortion. All this is possible due to the economies of scale. AVRs are built in quantities on the order of 10,000 per month. Integrated amps are now specialty items and are small volume products in comparison.


Just goes to show you that there is always someone who is willing to sell you less for more! ;-)
Quote:
I am not looking for something that's expensive, actually I wanted to get a parasound Zamp v.3, it has gain knobs on the back, not sure if that can be used as volume knob or not.

Yup for only 3 times the street price, you can obtain even less for your money!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by seiyafan  /t/1525614/which-gives-more-bang-for-the-buck-dac-amp-or-int-amp#post_24566678


I am just a little paranoid that receivers might color the sound a bit to make them more suitable for movies rather than music listening. I need amps that have neutral sound.


I found this little amp that has volume control: http://www.amazon.com/AudioSource-AMP-100-Stereo-Power-Amplifier/dp/B00026BQJ6

But I am not sure of its quality.


I am not looking for something that's expensive, actually I wanted to get a parasound Zamp v.3, it has gain knobs on the back, not sure if that can be used as volume knob or not.

Most AVR's allow you to defeat the room calibration for complete neutrality. But the reality is that it improves sonics in most rooms so most of us tend to use it.. Personally I use the room calibration for movies but defeat it for music listening. There is no good reason for me to do that. I just still have some of those old audiophile preferences running through my arteries like you do.
 

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Bad thing about AVR's, they are not as reliable as they used to be. I've got a 1994 Yamaha receiver, still running strong as the day I bought it. My Onkyo 906 was in the shop two weeks after I bought, sat in a box for two years after that, and after a year it's not right again. My Yamaha TOL AVR - volume doesn't work on the unit (remote it works fine). That's the biggest issue with AVR's today - Arnyk is right, they make tons of them, and a lot of them have issues. Economy of scale for both price and reliability. An integrated amp - not much going on there - less things to 'go wrong'. And yes, because there are so few made they are more expensive but lets not always push stuff on people just because it works right for you. Nothing wrong with a nice simple integrated amplifier. For one thing you don't have to read an encyclopedia to figure out how it all works!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kpt_Krunch  /t/1525614/which-gives-more-bang-for-the-buck-dac-amp-or-int-amp#post_24601252


Bad thing about AVR's, they are not as reliable as they used to be. I've got a 1994 Yamaha receiver, still running strong as the day I bought it. My Onkyo 906 was in the shop two weeks after I bought, sat in a box for two years after that, and after a year it's not right again. My Yamaha TOL AVR - volume doesn't work on the unit (remote it works fine). That's the biggest issue with AVR's today - Arnyk is right, they make tons of them, and a lot of them have issues. Economy of scale for both price and reliability. An integrated amp - not much going on there - less things to 'go wrong'. And yes, because there are so few made they are more expensive but lets not always push stuff on people just because it works right for you. Nothing wrong with a nice simple integrated amplifier. For one thing you don't have to read an encyclopedia to figure out how it all works!

Truely amazing the far reaching conclusions that people reach based on a sample of at least 2.. Since my name was mentioned, I feel like I have the right and even responsibility to correct the above example of questionable logic.


The most critical thing we are facing now from the viewpoint of AVR useful life is a rapidly-moving technological world. That means that any AVR that is built today will probably be taken out of service due to obsolescence long before it stops reliably playing tunes.


One of my hobbies is visiting estate sales of which there are 5 or more every week in this community. About 1/3 of the sales have one or more AVRs for sale. I've learned how to read AVR front panels so that I don't even have to lock at the back of the AVR to see if there are any HDMI inputs. Why would I want an AVR that lacks HDMI inputs? How far back do we have to go to find AVRs that have HDMI inputs? 10 years?


One of the big changes that are in the works is wireless speakers. They mean that mainstream AVRs will no longer include what is today one of the biggest reasons to buy one - power amps. Every AVR, stereo receiver, mono receiver, or higher fidelity radio since 1922 has had a power amp in it.


On the horizon, every mainstrream AVR has no power amps. Why would anybody want an AVR with power amps? I want my AVR to be able to be a full participant in a wireless loudspeaker network! You think that AVRs are big empty boxes now? ;-)
 

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I would never buy an AVR that ONLY supports wireless (speaker) connections; similarly, I wouldn't want to make wireless speakers the focus of my home theater setup. These type of speakers (like Bluetooth jam boxes) are OK for peripheral/accessory speakers, but not for serious home theater or music listening.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stanton  /t/1525614/which-gives-more-bang-for-the-buck-dac-amp-or-int-amp#post_24601713


I would never buy an AVR that ONLY supports wireless (speaker) connections; similarly, I wouldn't want to make wireless speakers the focus of my home theater setup. These type of speakers (like Bluetooth jam boxes) are OK for peripheral/accessory speakers, but not for serious home theater or music listening.

While I can relate to the emotion, I have many times before seen handwriting on the wall turn into accomplished fact.


Here's a sample of the handwriting on the wall as related to this issue:

http://www.wisaassociation.org/


Doesn't look like a low-end effort for just extension speakers to me, but maybe I'm way wrong! ;-)
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk  /t/1525614/which-gives-more-bang-for-the-buck-dac-amp-or-int-amp#post_24601740


While I can relate to the emotion, I have many times before seen handwriting on the wall turn into accomplished fact.


Here's a sample of the handwriting on the wall as related to this issue:

http://www.wisaassociation.org/


Doesn't look like a low-end effort for just extension speakers to me, but maybe I'm way wrong! ;-)

So I checked out that link...and while it does seem to be a step beyond jam-box type speakers, I have a couple of concerns about the technology:


1) They're operating in unlicensed 5 GHz spectrum; while not as "crowded" as 2.5 GHz, it's getting worse by the day/week/month

2) I can't imagine a "distributed DAC" or "distributed power amp" design being as good (or as cost effective) as one in a centralized location (e.g. AVR or amp)

3) you still have to have some sort of central pre-amp/processor for switching, etc., so now you have to plug 4/5/6 things into 110v AC instead of just one (most speakers are NOT powered)


It will be interesting to see how successful it ultimately becomes.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk  /t/1525614/which-gives-more-bang-for-the-buck-dac-amp-or-int-amp/0_100#post_24601685


...

On the horizon, every mainstrream AVR has no power amps. Why would anybody want an AVR with power amps? I want my AVR to be able to be a full participant in a wireless loudspeaker network! You think that AVRs are big empty boxes now? ;-)

Regardless of what they make in the future, no AVR will ever be without power amps. "AVR" stands for "Audio/Video Receiver," and a "receiver" is a tuner, preamp, and power amp, all in one box. So what you are talking about is a tuner/preamp combo, not an AVR.


For my part, I do not expect to ever go with wireless speakers. I already have really good speakers, and they are likely to last the rest of my life. Also, wireless speakers will be inherently less reliable than unpowered speakers, which are so reliable that many can last many decades, if not abused. Consequently, it will likely cost one a good deal more over one's lifetime to go with wireless than to go with conventional speakers.
 
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