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bobdupuy's picture
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PC only source programming and DAC's and Integrated amps

My office setup is my Dell Studio PC with a digital audio output connected to my old Onkyo TX-NR600 AV Receiver, recently liberated from my Home Theatre system. Connected to the Onkyo are 2 new Monitor Audio Bronze BX2's and a new Polk Audio PSW-110 sub. My only music souces are CD's and various international classical music channels on vTuner, such as RCO and BBC3, that I run through iTunes. I do this for 2 reasons:

1) I can set all of these up in Internet Songs, so I have in effect a folder of favorites that are very easy to access.

2) There is a nice graphic equalizer in iTunes that I have used to even out room acoustic problems in my office. (aside: Why doesn't there exist a good graphic equalizer for Windows 7? If I use Paradox or Spotify, I don't have access to any equalizer.)

The vTuner channels mostly have high bit rates, and the sound quality of my system is already very good, but I think it could be better with those very capble BX2's.

So I an thinking about replacing the Onkyo with a quality stereo integrated amp like the Yamaha S500 (the Marantz 6004 is too expensive for my budget). But I realize that my system is currently using the DAC's in my Onkyo, since I  sending digital output from the PC. So I would have to either add a DAC as well as the Yamaha or just leave the Onkyo in place ahead of the Yamaha just to make use of its DAC's. Will that work?

If I do buy a separate DAC, I believe I would prefer one with a digital audio input, rather than USB. The v-DAC Mark II looks good, but my God, it costs as much as the Yamaha.

So my questions are:

1) Will I probably get a lot of improvement by replacing the Onkyo with the Yamaha, with the rest of my setup the way it is now?

2) Will an exernal DAC show significant improvement over using the Onkyo for DAC purposes? Suggestions for a DAC?

3) Any other suggestions?

 

Anonymous
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RE: PC only source programming and DAC's and Integrated amps

1/ yes ...

2/ yes / audiolab mdac / music fidelity M1 / Arcam rDAC / schiit bifrost / Music Streamer II + / music fidelity V-DAC MKII / audio-gd NFB-2.32 ...

quadpatch's picture
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RE: PC only source programming and DAC's and Integrated amps

I think your money will go a little further on quality with a Stereo amp like the Yamaha (recievers are notriously poor for stereo), but don't under estimate a good DAC either. I can highly recommend the Arcam rPAC if trying to save a bit of cash, it's great for speakers and headphones (DAC & amp), some prefer it to the rDAC too.

I'd recommend getting the amp first, seeing how find the presentation and then come back here, give us a budget for the DAC and let us know how you would like the sound to change (warmer, brighter etc.)

bobdupuy's picture
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RE: PC only source programming and DAC's and Integrated amps

 

Thanks. You have made me aware of new options, but all pretty expensive.

Also I have not seen good arguments to favor USB over Digital Audio Coax, other than the latter still has to go through the sound card. But is there any real evidence that this presents any detriment to a pure digital signal? I definitely will not be using headphones.

quadpatch's picture
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RE: PC only source programming and DAC's and Integrated amps

If you get a DAC with Asynchronous USB you can keep jitter lower than with coax (I think). The rPAC has this and is only £150. My asyncronous desktop DAC has optical, coax and USB - USB sounds the best, according to others. I haven't tried it because USB is the most convinient and I don't have any 24bit/192khz music right now. As far as I know USB used to be considered inferior to other digital connections but this shouldn't be much of an issue, especially on newer DACs with async. I realise these topics are volatile, mostly I use USB because it's just so convinient with lots of computers and laptops.

Oh and if you want to get a pure digital signal simply use WASAPI mode on a music player like Foobar or JRiver.

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RE: PC only source programming and DAC's and Integrated amps

An Onkyo TX-8050 might fit the bill, or the Harman Kardon HK3490.

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RE: PC only source programming and DAC's and Integrated amps

quadpatch wrote:

If you get a DAC with Asynchronous USB you can keep jitter lower than with coax (I think). The rPAC has this and is only £150. My asyncronous desktop DAC has optical, coax and USB - USB sounds the best, according to others. I haven't tried it because USB is the most convinient and I don't have any 24bit/192khz music right now. As far as I know USB used to be considered inferior to other digital connections but this shouldn't be much of an issue, especially on newer DACs with async. I realise these topics are volatile, mostly I use USB because it's just so convinient with lots of computers and laptops.

Oh and if you want to get a pure digital signal simply use WASAPI mode on a music player like Foobar or JRiver.

 

On J River MC the best option IME is to use an asynchronous DACs own ASIO driver for USB cnnection - lower jitter than optical, and to my ears slightly livelier and more open (though to some it might be harsher of course)

bobdupuy's picture
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RE: PC only source programming and DAC's and Integrated amps

Yes I am a big fan of Onkyo AV Receivers. I replaced the TX-NR600 with a TX-NR709, which has the same networking capabilities of the TX-8050. They're nice, but completely useless for my office setup since I am connected to my PC there. All of the inputs and outputs are also nice, but not useful to me. I had been interested in the Onkyo A-5VL because it combines a DAC with an integrated amp, but the reviewers on this site panned the amp itself. In fact none of the Onkyo stereo amps seem to get high praise. I would kill for a readly good stereo amp with built in DAC and the kind of Audyssey MultiEQ XT room EQ that comes on the 709. Should be a lot cheaper on a 2.1 setup than the 7.2. I was not familiar with the HK3490, but I am going to check it out.

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