Onkyo TX8050, handles FLAC, 100wpc, network stereo receiver, Spotify onboard (Premium) and heaps of digital inputs - no HDMI though. £350. Plenty of beef in it, but don't expect bells and whistles - it's a neutral amp, so if you're expecting something with a brighter or bassier sound, then you're wanting. Put it with some good speakers (don't skimp - it'll cope with good models easily enough) and you'll be laughing.
I downloaded The Yes Album at 24/96 off HD Tracks in FLAC and it's the best version I've heard along with the original Atlantic CD. Really nice mastering - lovely full mix but not boomy or bass-heavy. Everything in its place and well recommended.
The ADMs are a good option, but other actives are available too, so it's worthwhile seeking some to try out if you can. The ADMs you'll only hear on sale or return through the Distance Selling Regulations when you buy from AVI (can return them in seven days in good order if you don't like them, but you pay return postage), or in another owner's living room. There are a few dealers in the UK, but not many so you may find one nearby.
Onkyo TX-NR818 / Tannoy Revolution DC4 (bi-amped)
AVI Laboratory Series CD Player
im not too worried about the power, it's an led TV so not exactly a hog on power. What is your opinion on the cyrus streamers without dac and other such products.
I have no opinion based on experience, but I'm not one for believing in great differences between digital sources, hence my recommendation for the ADMs, as you will get more improvement changing speakers and amp than changing a digital source. I don't believe a dedicated streamer with integral amp is the way to go and you could short change yourself with less than optimal performance for your very nice speakers.
I guess it depends on how loud you like your music.
Mac mini > AVI ADM9Ts
I wouldn't use sonos, what would your opinion be of my tv as a source - it outputs PCM.
I don't see a problem.
interesting thoughts about the Sonos being a "dirty" source. Do you mind elaborating as Ihave not had the benefit of your experience comparing it to other sources?
FWIW I find it works extremely well with a decent dac and could be a great solution for the OP.
OK, on the Sonos question (though I know the OP has already excluded it, but @p_m_brown and @Overdose both expressed surprise at my earlier statement that I found Sonos to be a "dirty" source).
I have two sources piping ALAC files into my M-DAC: (1) PC via USB and (2) Sonos ZP90 via digital coax (FWIW: the coax cable is Chord Co Prodac Pro VEE3 interconnect, which retails at £65 but I got "free" with some other kit). Using the M-DAC's remote, I can switch instantaneously between the two, and I've spent about a week doing this, lining up the same tracks in parallel and switching between them over and over again.
OK, so only my ears and brain making the judgements, but I got a pretty consistent picture. Source (1) is OK, but (2) has smeared leading edges to the notes and an overall grainy sound, especially (but not only) at high frequencies. In addition to listening through the amp and speakers in my signature below, I've also spent a lot of time listening through Grado SR325is plugged into the M-DAC: same result.
I also spent two days comparing Sonos > M-DAC > Naim Superuniti against USB memory stick > Naim Superuniti: same result.
Why should this be? The theory is Sonos spent loads on the interface, and the after-sales service is excellent IME, but the electronics inside the (rather nice) boxes is cheap and nasty. That's not just my view. Go on to the Sonos forums and you'll find plenty of people who aren't happy with the sound.
So now I've given up using Sonos as a hi-fi source; it's just not a pleasurable experience. Problem is: I love the networking capacity and interface of Sonos, which are truly class leading IMO. (And also my family love it.) So I'm in a bit of a quandary about what to do with the new "big" system I'm building downstairs in the living room. Linn Majik DS is a nice, though pricey thought (hence my earlier recommendation to the OP.)
I hope that sheds some light.
What classical music are you listening to?
Maybe you need a better DAC.
It is if you want a specific mastering, say, that's only available on an HD Tracks FLAC release, or 2L, or similar. Otherwise, I stream some music occasionally through the TV, or off my PS3 from the Music Unlimited source. Sounds fine. No issues or noise.
Yes, but the media player in the TV (or any other equipment for that matter) converts the files to PCM and outputs PCM to a DAC, so I don't see the TV outputting PCM as a probem, or have I missed something? Surely that's the way it should work.
Edit: I see now. the Sonos being the problem and not the TV. I meant the TV, I guess you meant the Sonos.
Appreciate your thoughts. Must say, through my Leema dac, I'm really enjoying the sound, so much so that I flogged my CDP!
Synology 212j, Sonos Connect, Leema Elements Dac, Pro-Ject Debut, Arcam A38, Kef R100, Chord cables
I'm getting one. I'm on the waiting list to have my M-DAC upgraded by the saintly John Westlake himself, whose name shall be forever praised (along with the revered Martin Grindrod, of course).
Totally agree about the CDP: waste of space. DAC and streaming (from PC/Mac/streamer) is where it's at.
i don't understand this either, I play hd tracks through the TV now, I guess they are not hd as the PCM coming out of the TV? Maybe that's what you mean?
Exactly, or at least, normally, the TV wouldn't be - I've streamed via my Sony telly without a hitch many times. However, it's restricted to PCM, so if you want FLAC, or whatever, you lose out.
The caveat is on whether or not you reckon FLAC is worth having. With the Onkyo, I just plugged my flash drive into the USB (where I've temporarily stored The Yes Album download I picked up) and the TX8050 just decodes it and streams right off. I plug the same USB drive into the TV's USB and it doesn't recognise it. No comversion to PCM, nada. That's the problem if you source across a variety of formats in going through the TV, no biggie if you just want WAV / PCM though. Next gen TVs might handle said formats of course though.
No, but the TV is capable of playing FLAC files as far as I understand.
The ZP90 has relatively poor jitter performance (north of 250pS RMS if I recall correctly), though I am not sure I would classify that as 'dirty'. This is an order of magnitude worse than premium quality streamers. This used to matter, but these days most DACs have some form of jitter mitigation circuitry, and I am surprised that the M-DAC is sensitive to this. Any decent design of DAC shouldn't depend on the stability of the input S/PDIF stream for its local clock and therefore sound quality of a decent DAC should be independent of the streamer used.
yes, I understand that the DAC reclocks the signal from S/PDIF, but presumably this is still less optimal, at least as far as clock jitter is concerned, than piping the signal through asynchronous USB.
Also presumably there are other sources of jitter than the clock in the Sonos, e.g. the PSU.
Not looking to disagree, just trying to understand.
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