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DAC's, AV Receivers & analog/digital transfer between the two


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I want to connect an Intel NUC running JRiver to an Anthem MRX720 (which according to their literature has "Premium 32-bit 768kHz differential output D/A converters"). I know I need a DAC connected to the NUC in order to get the audio out of the PC. My question is...

 

Does the DAC between them matter as much if I am running digital between the two pieces and using the DAC in the Anthem? Or...am I better off going analog from the NUC connected DAC into the AV receiver?

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Run a HDMI cable from the NUC to the AVR. If its sound you can live with and even enjoy then there's no need for a DAC, the Anthem will be just fine.

Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world - Martin Luther

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As @master said ... you don't want a DAC (certainly don't need one).

 

You can either connect a HDMI cable from the NUC to an AVR which will transfer audio as well as video; or you want a USB to SPDIF converter and connect the digital output of that to an input on the AVR.

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, folks. I completely spaced on the HDMI output being an option. I hooked it up and it worked as advertised.

 

Curious...not that I'm looking to waste money...would I hear a significant difference with a dedicated DAC over the built in electronics in the NUC with the HDMI out? Trying to understand if because I'm letting the AVR do the DAC'ing, these things don't factor in and it then becomes more of "do I like the sound of the DAC in the Anthem" and less about the NUC electronics.

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Thanks, folks. I completely spaced on the HDMI output being an option. I hooked it up and it worked as advertised.

 

Curious...not that I'm looking to waste money...would I hear a significant difference with a dedicated DAC over the built in electronics in the NUC with the HDMI out? Trying to understand if because I'm letting the AVR do the DAC'ing, these things don't factor in and it then becomes more of "do I like the sound of the DAC in the Anthem" and less about the NUC electronics.

 

 

significant is the relative term there in question.

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Thanks, folks. I completely spaced on the HDMI output being an option. I hooked it up and it worked as advertised.

 

Curious...not that I'm looking to waste money...would I hear a significant difference with a dedicated DAC over the built in electronics in the NUC with the HDMI out? Trying to understand if because I'm letting the AVR do the DAC'ing, these things don't factor in and it then becomes more of "do I like the sound of the DAC in the Anthem" and less about the NUC electronics.

 

If you are enjoying the music then just do that. Don't overthink it.

 

Might be a good idea to borrow a couple of DACs and test it out, if you are inclined.

 

It all comes down to the DAC chip and more importantly the implementation. Certainly an external DAC with a better chip/specs and with better implementation will sound better... but its always the law of diminishing returns. How much will you pay for how little improvement?

Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world - Martin Luther

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Thanks, folks. I completely spaced on the HDMI output being an option. I hooked it up and it worked as advertised.

 

Curious...not that I'm looking to waste money...would I hear a significant difference with a dedicated DAC over the built in electronics in the NUC with the HDMI out? Trying to understand if because I'm letting the AVR do the DAC'ing, these things don't factor in and it then becomes more of "do I like the sound of the DAC in the Anthem" and less about the NUC electronics.

There is an argument both ways.

 

Many people will say the transport (in your case the NUC) matters very little; while others will argue about the smallest little detail to get the best they can.

 

A couple of things to consider. First when listening do you use any digital processing on the Anthem. If you do - and this include things like EQing using ARC and if you run a subwoofer the crossover settings - then the first thing the Anthem has to do with any analogue signal is to convert it to digital; so using a DAC in such a situation is less worthwhile (IMO).

 

Finally its all about expectation... how far are you willing to go to chase the unicorn of perfection?

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 perspectives. I think I will hold off on the DAC and use the money towards upgrading my speakers (which was already planned as my next purchase). My guess is I would notice more "improvement" with better speakers than I would with adding a DAC.

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There is an argument both ways.

 

Many people will say the transport (in your case the NUC) matters very little; while others will argue about the smallest little detail to get the best they can.

 

A couple of things to consider. First when listening do you use any digital processing on the Anthem. If you do - and this include things like EQing using ARC and if you run a subwoofer the crossover settings - then the first thing the Anthem has to do with any analogue signal is to convert it to digital; so using a DAC in such a situation is less worthwhile (IMO).

 

Finally its all about expectation... how far are you willing to go to chase the unicorn of perfection?

 

+1

 

The biggest impact in this setup would be the AVR re-digitizing the analog output from the outboard DAC as it comes into the AVR. This happens if you turn on *any* equalization, subwoofer management, ARC, etc., so the benefit of having an outboard DAC is minimized, if not neutralized.

 

Best just to run the input via HDMI and let the AVR's built-in DAC do that digital-to-analog conversion directly.

 

PS - Do as I say, not as I do - I currently have an iFi Micro iDSD in-line as an outboard DAC to my AVR ;) but I find more and more I'm bypassing it and just using the HDMI input.

John Walker - IT Executive

Headphone - MacMini running Roon Server > Netgear Orbi wireless > Blue Jeans Cable Ethernet > mRendu Roon endpoint > iFi Audio xDSD + iFi Audio xCAN > Focal Elegia

Home Theater - Mac Mini running Roon Server > Blue Jeans Cable HDMI > Pioneer Elite SC-81 > MartinLogan Motion series home theater speakers + M&K subwoofer

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Actually, the 720 supports DTS Play-Fi, as well as streaming from various sources.

 

That means you may not need a cable at all... And the 720 with ARC will most likely sound better than any DAC that costs less than the 720 did... (Just opinion, but the MRX series is on my radar for here, they sound very good indeed.)

 

There is a free app for PlayFi you can put on your NUC of course, but JRMC might actually stream to the 720 via DNLA. Make sure that the 720 and the NUC are both connected to your net, and give it a shot. ;)

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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