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TOSLINK system - advice, comments welcome

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All, I am a relative newbie to Macs/iTunes/iPods and have an opportunity to set up a new a/v system, with emphasis on digital music, in a new home. I have a fair amount of digital music in FLAC from my pre-Mac days and recently ripped my CDs in AAC for the iPod. I was planning to now convert and/or re-rip into ALAC.


For the system I expect to use 3 sources: PS3 for games and DVDs, Cable TV DVR for broadcast music shows, and Apple TV to pull from an external drive. I was going to feed all 3 into a new Samsung LED TV via HDMI, then take the TV's 2 channel stereo TOSLINK out into a Bel Canto S300iD with TOSLINK in and built-in DAC. The Bel Canto would power 2 Spendor A5s.


I don't have enough space or rear wall access for surround in my 13 x 13 "library," so this seemed like a good allocation of money in the right areas in order to get good power to some great speakers from a digital environment. And I know a lot of this is objective, but... if I am missing anything here or doing something the wrong-way or if you have any other comments or advice, they'd be most welcome.





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Nice idea. It could make a very enjoyable setup. Let us know how it turns out.


If I understand you right, you'll be using the tv to switch between your sources? If so, it's a convenient and logical setup - I've considered doing something similar myself but the idea broke down for various reasons:


a - I had a mac mini and got a dvi to hdmi adapter to link up, but found that although in theory this can transmit sound, the mac mini doesn't send sound through dvi. Also, the video quality was much worse via this route than via the computer video in on the tv. I believe that in your case the appletv does send sound via hdmi, so you're ok there.


b - My plan b involved trying the analog outputs from the tv - not as good as digital, but a step up from the built-in tv speakers - but once everything was connected I was getting an annoying hum (ground loop?).


c - Plan c was to try a dacagic, which let me connect the different sources via optical toslink (no ground loop). But I didn't end up keeping this setup because of the convenience factor: As well as switching input on the tv, I had to manually switch the dacmagic inputs.


I think your setup will avoid some/all of these. Here's some questions that come to mind, based on my experience:


a - Do all your source components send digital sound via hdmi?

b - Will the tv pass through this sound information 'untouched' to it's optical out? And where do you control volume (since the tv volume probably won't have an effect)?

c - What happens if the sound is, for example, 5.1 surround sound information?

d - Will there be a marked difference in sound quality if you bypass the tv and take sound directly via toslink from a source component to the bel canto? I know bits is bits and all that, but it's something I'd want to compare for myself.

e - Just out of curiosity, doesn't the ps3 have the ability to play back music and video, not to mention surf the web? In other words, duplicating the apple tv features.


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a) i believe so. b) i hope so. c) with a Sony it would be, but with Samsung, they say not. d) don't know yet, but agree it would be worth comparing. however, if it is better direct then I'm hosed 'cause with 3 different sources into a single rear input, that's not a viable solution with that amp. e) to my knowledge, the PS3 won't pull (or is it push?) music from the external drive.


i think i just have to plunk the cash down and try it. and if it fails, well, I get a good AV processor/receiver (NuForce, Parasound, Outlaw?) and do things the conventional way and am just "out" an extra-nice two channel amp. thanks for your advice.


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Hi Mark, If I understand this, you have already lost detail with the ripping to AAC, so you will need to re-rip to ALAC, converting will not restore lost information.

Have you investigated something like the popcorn hour line to replace the Apple TV, not as nice of an interface, perhaps, but features and can access net music, video. The popcorn hours can accept a NAS drive which would make PS3 I believe have access to music files from it. Sorry if this has more wrenches then help, but mainly wanted to address the re-rip issue, the rest are just options you may consider. Sounds like a fun project.


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You commented in your last post about possibility of looking at AV Processors - if so, and your happy buying second hand, a good pre-HD-audio pocessor may suit you with a two channel (rather than multiple-channel) power amp.


I've been looking at things like second hand Arcam AV9 or NAD Master Series M15 as good sound quality (in 2channel) with HDMI switching.






...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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