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What to get for my new Setup!?


jb5200
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Hey Everybody,

 

Thanks for all of the help getting my netbook setup and now that I have it working I am still not all that satisfied, although I think it is probably the best it will sound it isn't all that great.

 

So I will be buying a new computer (PC, sorry MAC fellas & waiting for Windows 7) and going a whole new route. I am going to get a desktop and get a higher end card instead of using the USB-DAC combo I am currently using. Below is my current setup and I am looking for some input as what to get for my new setup to give me the best sound but I will have somewhat of a budget of around $1500:

 

PS Audio DL III DAC

Yamaha RX-V1600 pre

Emotiva XPA-1 Monoblock amps

Paradigm Signature S8v2 speakers

 

I have read some reviews on some of the better cards and I think I have settled on getting a Lynx but I don't know which one will work for me b/c my DAC doesn't have an AES connection. Do I even need to use my DAC or will the card be sufficient enough since it will be a higher end card?

 

So I am looking for suggestions on:

1. PC (about $1000)

2. Card (Probably Lynx but which one and how to set it up?)

 

Thanks,

 

jb

 

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I think you're looking in the wrong place to find improvements. If you have $1500 then I would be looking at replacing the preamplifier. The Yamaha RXV1600 is great as a multichannel device, but is lacking for purity and transparency. You need to be looking at a good 2channel preamplifier, preferably with an AV bypass function.

 

I don't know what equipment is available to you, but for me a good place to start looking would be the Rotel RC1580, though only becase I am familiar with Rotel's sound and their range - there are many more options available and a dealer will be able to help you best. Another option would be a DAC such as Benchmark DAC1 USB, Lavey DA11 or Wavelength Proton, all of which have volume control for connecting directy to a poweramp, if you have some way of switching 2 preamps into your DAC.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...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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Thanks for the suggestions. I am definitely going to replace the Yammy b/c I know that its preamp section is marginal at best but I want to get out of the USB functionality due to its limitations and I want to be able to play some hi rez stuff and USB limits me to redbook. At least mine does.

 

I am also looking to the future to see if hi rez blu ray audio or some other format ever takes off I won't have to upgrade in a year.

 

jb

 

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If you can manage to locate the PC server outside the listening room, take a look at Chris' earlier article of "Compiter Audiophile Servwr for a Song" which mated a standard, budget Dell with a Lynx AES16 and Media Monkey to good effect. Total expense around $1000 which would leave something for looking at a second hand pre-amp.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...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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in that budget range and to maximize your money build the machine youself if you can and control the quality of the parts! If you can't build it (nothing wrong with that) and decide on a dell as Eloise noted make sure the pci slot is full height and the lynx cards are full height and 1/2 length give or take.

 

Regards

 

Jesus R

www.sonore.us

 

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Thanks, I love this site! I really don't want to build a computer due to the fact that I will probably do something wrong. I will check out that article by Chris, whew it's a bit lengthy. After just reading a pinch of it I just want to see what you guys think. So I need to pick your brain.

 

I already have an older Dell Dimension 4600 with XP sp3 loaded as my main computer. I have upgraded it with 2 GB of RAM but it only has an 80 GB HDD so I use an external. I was planning on replacing that when Windows 7 comes out to upgrade so I have SATA, larger hdd, faster, etc.

 

Now with my current dilema of the little netbook - USB - DAC, I thought about keeping that desktop (4600) as my main computer and buying a new one and using that one solely for music thinking it would work a little better. My other question is if I get Lynx AES16, do I need my PS Audio DAC or how would I connect it to my (for the time being Yammy). Sorry if this is covered in Chris's article I haven't had a chance to read it.

 

Thanks

 

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"My other question is if I get Lynx AES16, do I need my PS Audio DAC or how would I connect it to my (for the time being Yammy)."

 

Unlike some of the other Lynx cards, the AES 16 only deals with digital signals (no DA in the card) so you will still need your PS DLIII.

 

Personally, I would look into some of the external solutions like the forthcoming Weiss INT202 and Wavelength Wavelink or some of the current solutions like the Stello U2 or Empirical Audio off-ramp. That way you don't need to change your netbook solution.

 

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I like the idea of a dedicated machine new or other wise. The dell you have is fine for every day internet surfing:) The thing that bugs me is going with windows 7 from the get go. I would give that time to air out;) I agree with Eloise that the yamaha would be a good start.

 

The AES16 is not exactly usable with the PS Audio DAC. The PS Audio DAC has the spdif input and not aes. You could convert the signal, but that is two steps forward and three steps backwards.

 

Better an analog card into the rotel 1580 Eloise wrote about if you don't end up with a more expensive aes dac and pre-amp combo.

 

Regards

 

Jesus R

www.sonore.us

 

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Another suggestion if possible upgrade order IF one of your main aims is to use higher res audio.

 

1) Analogue preamplifier (preferably with AV bypass) and add

2) M-Audio Transit to allow 24/96. While not the last word in SPDIF interface, this was mentioned in Stereophile as beig a worth alternative to the BelCanto USB Link at

Eloise

---

...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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the PS Audio DL III DAC has a usb input as well as the spdif input. He could just use the usb input, but he wanted something better. He asked about the ase card, but that really needs a proper dac/pre combo or a dac and pre. I assumed those were over the top and thus recommended the analog card to a new pre-amp.

 

Regards

 

Jesus R

www.sonore.us

 

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Yes I know the PS Audio DL III has USB but it's limited to 16/44.1 and the OP commented that they wanted to use High Res material. The M-Audio Transit is a good value way to do this if your DAC supprots 24/96 via SPDIF. The Transit may also improve on the USB connection.

 

If the OP has a limited budget I really think improving the pre-amp is going to do a lot more than spending similar amounts on a new PC and Lynx card and maybe replacing the DAC.

 

I'm not sure many analogue output soundcards are going to improve on the quality of his existing PS Audio DL III DAC. If a new PC is decided on then a ESI [email protected] card maybe a good budget alternative ad an either be connected to a DAC via SPDIF (upto 24/192) or has analogue outputs.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...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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You Guys Frickin Rock!! Thanks for all of the great advice. Let me give you a little background for those who haven't read some of my other posts.

 

I am new to the computer audio - My main source was an Oppo 983 player which, not audiophile quality but for my budget was darn good! My buddy has the same amps, same speakers, a Yammy 2500 (older model but a step up from mine) preamp, and a Dell XPS desktop w/Vista using a Cambridge DacMagic USB using Winamp and no matter what I bought or did his was always better (at least in his eyes/ears). But I hate to admit it, it was very impressive! My sound was always just OK.

 

So I thought, OK I will just by a cheap Netbook, PS Audio DAC and External and I should be golden with not that much more invested. Well ever since July when I made this switch everyone on this site has helped me through a ton of stuff to get it to sound about as good as it is going to sound - but again now it is a small pinch up from just OK - not the level of my friends sound. Do you know how frustrating that is b/c this guy, regardless of what is actually happening he likes to brag about what he has, everything is always better than mine.

 

So we did A/B testing between the DAC's and the PS Audio is better - fuller, more bass, a little more lively so I know it isn't that. So I figure to get what I want I need to get rid of the USB connection and do it right. But b/c my buddy get such good sound using USB it brought me to think it is the PC/OS to be my problem so I started this thread to start over to do it right this time - New PC w/high end card. Based on my budget I know I probably am limiting myself.

 

But I am extremely intrigued by the M-Audio transit or the other ESI [email protected] card. How much is the [email protected] card? I couldn't find it on their website. I have a Yammy RX-V3800 reciever that I use for my theater but I would like to think the analog is a step up from the 1600 so I am going to try and switch those to see if there is any difference. If I go the route of the [email protected] I would keep the old Dell for daily purposes but get a little better one just for audio.

 

What do you guys think of that? Or what would you do? For $100 I am almost tempted to keep the netbook and try the M-Audio transit to see what happens so I can play my semi hi-rez (24/48) stuff. Trust me I will be replacing the Yammy sometime, I am just using it b/c I used it upstairs but now I don't have a system up there so I am just using in the meantime.

 

Sorry for the long post but this is probably one of the most frustrating things for me - I was almost tempted to sell off all of my stuff and find a different lifestyle - no lie!!

 

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jb5200 ... one thing I would say to you is that you need to remember WHY you are getting all this HiFi stuff - to listen to music. Put your favorite CD on (via iTunes or whatever) and ask yourself ... does this move me.

 

Another thing to try is to plug the digital out from a CD player (or DVD player) into the PS Audio DLIII and see what you think to the audio quality using a CD transport. If you are disappointed then its unlikely that its the computer source that's the major source of your woes.

 

I'm now back onto pre-amps again (what a surprise I hear you cry). I have the Yamaha RX-V3800 and while it's great with home cinema stuff, it really is lacking as a pre-amp for analogue source. From reading what you are saying today I assume you no longer use it's multi-channel functions? I noticed you use the Emotiva poweramps so you may find their pre-amp interesting - it's $400 and IIRC Emotiva allow you to home demo.

 

The ESI [email protected] card is listed on Google Shopping at a little under $150. Add a basic Dell for $400 and control it all remotely via your NetBook you should have the makings of a a good system.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...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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Thanks, I have definitely thought about the Emo USP 1, I love Emo products - excellent quality at very reasonable prices and I will probably get a UMC or XMC when they actuall come out. The only problem is I don't have a sub right now and my room is pretty big and in order to get any weight, room-fill bass I need the eq and processing of the yamaha. I like hard rock and hip hop so this really makes a big difference.

 

I am seriously looking at the M-Audio transit (ebay for about $90 shipped) or buying a used Dell and get the ESI-Julia card and run it into the PS Audio - that way I won't need to use the USB and limit myself. Does anyone have any experience with either of these or know how good they are?????

 

I am leaning towards the latter, the only reason is b/c (I know I shouldn't do this) when I compare my buddies system to mine the only difference is his DAC (which mine is a little better) and the computer/program and his sound is very impressive from USB none-the-less.

 

I am going to run a few tests this weekend - try the 3800 analogs, connect the Oppo into the PS Audio, and maybe even try Winamp to try and narrow some of this down.

 

I will report back my findings and in the meantime if anyone has any other suggestions or routes I should take I am welcome to all!!!

 

Thanks

 

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If you're looking for room correction facilities - maybe instead of a pre-amp might be worth looking at Lyndorf or Tact - this will incorporate both pre-amp AND DAC into a single unit with full room correction which may be advantageous for you.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...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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Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

OK, so I finally had a chance to do some testing to try to figure out my deal and I just wanted to see what you guys thought.

 

I switched out the computer for the Oppo player and connected it into my PS Audio and no fuzz so I narrowed the DAC out (not to mention that my buddy and I did our A/B test with his).

 

Next was for the preamp. I switched out the Yammy RXV1600 for the RXV3800 thinking that the 3800 theoretically should be better. Exact same sound! Same fuzz! In fact the 1600 actually sounded better b/c I had the EQ tweeked for full range w/o sub and the 3800 I use strictly for theater with a sub so that wasn't tweeked b/c I only use the sub for theater.

 

So although the receiver not being the best preamp it was not causing the fuzz. I listen to a lot of Hard Rock - Breaking Benjamin, Cold, Chevelle, 10 Years, etc. and the fuzz I am referring to is anytime the music really kicks in, there is distortion fuzz. Anytime there is just a single instrument playing or just a vocal singing it isn't there but once all of the instruments kick in and it speeds up that's when it is fuzzy.

 

So let's see...the DAC is out, the preamp is out, the amps are out since I would have heard it with the Oppo. That leaves the netbook which I kinda thought right away.

 

Rather than spending a bunch of money I think I am going to get a desktop to replace the HP netbook. I was going to get a new computer anyway b/c my old Dell is 10 years old and uses old tech. (IDE, etc.) so I think I am going to keep that one and use it only for Internet and misc. things and the new desktop for strictly music.

 

Any suggestions as far as a good desktop to get, of course I am going to max it out with RAM and Internal HDD's? I don't think I am going to go full soundcard right away, I think I am going to just first try it with my PS Audio w/USB to see what sound I get. Then, from there I probably update to an Asynch USB DAC in the future since that is really the simplest route. Again, any suggestions for the desktop - I will probably wait til Black Friday since it's only a month away.

 

Thanks

 

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