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Apple TV 4 to Bryston bda2 DAC Sound questions


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Hi there, first post to the forum. Here's the background story.

 

I have an Apple TV4 connected to a HDMI audio extractor. Fiber Optic connected to a Bryston DAC input and RCA output connected to Yamaha 6290 Receiver which is connected to a Bryston 9BSST Power Amp. The HDMI out from the extractor is connected to the Yamaha Receiver as well.

 

I've found the audio select option on the receiver to select analog audio from the Apple TV 4 input instead of HDMI.

 

I'm playing FLAC files but my understanding is Apple TV 4 only transmits 48khz. The ATV4 is connected via ethernet to an Apple Time Capsule HDD where the files are stored.

 

My issue is I can't really tell a difference between HDMI and analog. I was hoping to achieve this "warm studio" like feel that I've read DAC's provide.

 

Any ideas as to why I'm not hearing a difference in sound quality?

 

My speaker setup are Klipsch reference RF-82 towers, Klipsch 15inch powered sub with same brand/model rear channels and centre channels. I understand the towers are quite sensitive and don't require much power to push them so obviously the power amp is overkill until I upgrade my speakers. I figured I start with heart of the system and work my way up from there.

 

I'm just wondering if connecting the HDMI out from the audio extractor directly to the TV instead of sending to Receiver for switching?? That shouldn't really make a difference but I'm puzzled at this point.

 

Any help would be appreciated.

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I'm guessing, but maybe you hear no difference because there is no analogue audio out for ATV4, so it is just defaulting to the same output either way?

 

Alternatively, if your HDMI to optical converter also is a DAC (with analogue out), maybe that DAC is indistinguishable from the one in your receiver.

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The lack of analog output from ATV4 is why I got the audio extractor. The toslink fiber optic goes from the extractor to the standalone DAC. Then the analog output from the DAC goes to my receiver. So with direct HDMI connection, the receiver does the analog conversion. I thought with how I have it set up, the DAC (which should have a superior d/a converter) would make a bigger difference. Could it be that I'm not getting the full resolution from the FLAC file since ATV4 tops out at 48khz??

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Thanks for the response. Why would anybody invest $$$ in a stand alone DAC than if its sounds the same as an avr? I'm confused also. I understand that most players/receivers etc have their own dac, I was just under the impression a high end stand alone DAC would sound significantly better?

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Maybe your system just isn't sufficiently expensive I mean revealing.

 

But seriously, the ATV resamples everything to 48 kHz, and both HDMI and toslink have their limitations, so my guess is the ATV4 and its connectivity is the bottleneck. You can't get out more than you put in, and this is most likely the limiting factor. The ATV isn't terrible, but it might place an upper bound on what you can achieve.

 

The sonic differences between DACs aren't overwhelming, and arguably different filters and up-sampling schemes within the same DAC might provide more significant differences than you might experience with two different DACs using the same filtering and up-sampling approach.

 

There are also a lot of people who claim the sonic differences between DACs are purely imaginary. Why buy a more expensive watch if they all keep time the same way?

 

One reason to pay more for a stand-alone DAC is so that the digital signal won't be molested like a typical receiver does when applying DSP etc. In that case, the more expensive DAC sounds better because it is doing less damage.

 

BTW, why buy an ATV4 and have to convert to optical, when an ATV3 is significantly less expensive and already has optical out?

 

As for making things sound "warmer", a competently constructed DAC should be transparent, and shouldn't impart sonic coloration. Some people equate "warmth" with even-order harmonic distortion. If you want that, you could always run it through a tube buffer (or emulate it digitally.)

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I figured the atv was the issue. I have a 3rd gen atv, I was just looking for one player do everything with a nice UI. This DAC was lent to me by a friend in the audio business so I'm glad I'm not out of pocket 2k+ for this DAC.

I'm pretty happy nonetheless with the output the ATV4 gives playing flac files. The Bryston 9b power amp works well and is pretty "revealing" I think at this point my speakers are highly sensitive and don't really take advantage of the power the amp has.

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I figured the atv was the issue. I have a 3rd gen atv, I was just looking for one player do everything with a nice UI. This DAC was lent to me by a friend in the audio business so I'm glad I'm not out of pocket 2k+ for this DAC.

I'm pretty happy nonetheless with the output the ATV4 gives playing flac files. The Bryston 9b power amp works well and is pretty "revealing" I think at this point my speakers are highly sensitive and don't really take advantage of the power the amp has.

 

I'm almost positive that you made a mistake somewhere. First thing I notice is FLAC. You don't say how you are getting signal to the Apple TV, but ATV doesn't support FLAC. (Neither does iTunes, so I'm assuming you're using different audio playback software).

 

Looking at your connections, it looks like you have a pair of stereo rca interconnects going from the dac to one of the inputs on the receiver, a different pair of rca IC's going from the ATV to a different input on your receiver and an HDMI cable going from the ATV to the receiver.

 

Without more info on exactly how the different pieces in your system work and interact with each other, what's going on here is a bit of a mystery. That said, it doesn't look healthy.

 

Instead of putting a lot of time into troubleshooting, I recommend that you set the system up so you can listen to the dac working properly and compare it to the system without the dac. The first thing you need to do is get a CD you know well, and use it for your testing. Start off by ripping it to WAV, not flac. Then connect your PC directly to the Bryston dac with a toslink cable. (also make sure you disconnect the ATV and your receiver from the system so it has no chance of effecting they system in any way). Then listen to the music you just ripped to WAV until you have a pretty good idea as to how it sounds.

 

To compare, disconnect the Bryston dac from the system and connect your computer directly to a toslink input on your receiver. Make sure the receiver is set to 2 channel playback, and not surround. I forgot to mention before that you should disconnect the center and surrounds from the system. Just unplug the interconnects for those channels on the Bryston amp. Do some more listening and think about how it compares to the system with the dac. Also, when you do the comparison, try to match the volume levels as close as possible. If you have an spl meter use it.

 

There's a reason I'm telling you to leave out the ATV in all this. Setting the system up the way I have you do it, will make it much easier to hear how the 2 dac's directly compare. You should hear a significant difference between the 2 setups. It would be a good idea to go back and forth a couple of times just to be sure you're getting it right. That said, there should be no question as to whether you hear a difference or not. If you have to nit pick by going back and forth to make sure you're hearing differences, I would say not to upgrade the dac at this point. It would probably be better to hold off and upgrade other parts in your system first. If you think the dac makes a big enough difference to keep, then we can work on configuring your system properly.

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On the ATV4, I downloaded an app called "one video" from the app store which plays pretty much any format you throw at it. I've tried VLC for ATV4 and although I love Infuse for my mkv. files, sadly it doesn't play ANY audio format....

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What I was trying to say in my last post is that I think you have it set up so that you may be running the signal through the same hardware without realizing it. That's why it sounds exactly the same both ways. Also, if ATV doesn't support flac, thats another big issue. So, instead of wasting a lot of time on diag, I think it would be a good idea to compare the Bryston dac with the one in your AVR directly. See if the difference in SQ is worth going after. If VLC isn't working, just use something else. But whatever you do, use WAV for any testing. Its comparable with everything, where flac isn't.

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Thanks 17629 for the in depth feedback.

 

I'll try to respond in order:

 

The ATV4 is streaming the flac. files via ethernet from an apple time capsule hdd. Software is "one video"

ATV4 HDMI connected to an AGPtek HDMI to HDMI + SPDIF + RCA L / R Audio Extractor | Converter

from that extractor, I have the fibre optic going to the Bryston DAC. The HDMI out from the extractor going into my yamaha AVR for picture and hdmi switching with all of my other components.

From the DAC, two rca's going to the AVR. I then select analog audio option for that input on my AVR to get the picture from HDMI and audio from the RCA's.

 

At this point I don't have a HTPC. Everything is stored on the time capsule and played through the ATV4

 

Don't really listen to a lot of cd's anymore. I would use a ps3 for cd listening which I currently don't have connected to the DAC.

It's funny some things I read say that modern DAC's in my yamaha avr for example are quite good and comparing to stand alone DAC's such as the Bryston won't make much difference. Other posts I read say that a stand alone DAC creates a beautiful sound stange as if you were right in front of the performer. I just don't think I'm getting full resolution from the file which is limited to the ATV4 output of 48khz?

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"It's funny some things I read say that modern DAC's in my yamaha avr for example are quite good and comparing to stand alone DAC's such as the Bryston won't make much difference. Other posts I read say that a stand alone DAC creates a beautiful sound stange as if you were right in front of the performer. I just don't think I'm getting full resolution from the file which is limited to the ATV4 output of 48khz?"

 

You can settle the debate right now. Connect your computer directly to the Bryston dac and do some listening. You're only talking about a few minutes to set it up. Just make sure that you are listening to lossless files (FLAC WAV...). Once you hear the system this way, you'll understand why I am recommending you do this. If you take the analog output on the Bryston dac and plug it into one of the inputs on the receiver, you're throwing your money away.

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Thank you.

 

 

So just to be clear.

 

 

Macbook Pro connected to Bryston DAC via USB.

DAC connected to Power AMP via RCA (remove AVR from equation)

Using VLC to play flac. file

 

 

 

 

 

 

Than, I will notice a big improvement over the previous setup?

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"Macbook Pro connected to Bryston DAC via USB.

DAC connected to Power AMP via RCA (remove AVR from equation)

Using VLC to play flac. file"

 

Correct.

 

"Than, I will notice a big improvement over the previous setup?"

 

Hopefully. You won't know until you try it. But I would be surprised if you don't here a nice improvement.

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Also if you are running analog outs from the dac thru the receiver to your power amp, make sure you have selected "Pure Direct" on the Yamaha to take as much of the processing as possible out of the equation. Otherwise it's all running thru the Yammy's dac and you lose the benefit of the Bryston dac. I have a Yamaha RX-V3900 and while its dac is pretty good, my Bifrost is noticeably better. It may not be an "Aha" moment but you should be able to tell the difference using the Bryston and Pure Direct on the Yamaha. Only you can decide if it's worth the $$.

Family Room: Panny TCP65S2, Panny BDP-55, DTV HR-24, SB Touch, Schiit Bifrost Multibit, Yamaha RX-V3900, Emotiva XPA-3, Rocket NM 550's, Rocket 150's, X-CS, UFW-10, Harmony 700.

 

Computer Room: Dell laptop, Uptone Regen Amber, Schiit Bifrost Multibit, Decware SE84C+, Zu Omen, ALO National, Mr.Speakers Mad Dog headphones

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Any benefit to using Audirvana plus software over VLC for playback??

 

I've always though VLC sounds harsh for some reason. I definitely wouldn't use it for music. A nice alternative is SMPlayer.

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There is no volume control in the DAC to control power amp and bypass AVR.

 

 

In this case you would use software to control volume. I know that you'll probably want to say resolution changes when you control the volume digitally. Its insignificant compared to the benefits you gain by not running the signal through the preamp of an AVR.

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Also if you are running analog outs from the dac thru the receiver to your power amp, make sure you have selected "Pure Direct" on the Yamaha to take as much of the processing as possible out of the equation. Otherwise it's all running thru the Yammy's dac and you lose the benefit of the Bryston dac. I have a Yamaha RX-V3900 and while its dac is pretty good, my Bifrost is noticeably better. It may not be an "Aha" moment but you should be able to tell the difference using the Bryston and Pure Direct on the Yamaha. Only you can decide if it's worth the $$.

 

+1, when using AVR always choose Direct/Pure mode.

 

External DAC is always better IMHO... I've even added one for the TV and the SQ has never been better, never mind most of it is compressed.

 

I've always though VLC sounds harsh for some reason. I definitely wouldn't use it for music. A nice alternative is SMPlayer.

 

No idea about SMPlayer, but VLC is a bad idea for anything audio.

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

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"No idea about SMPlayer, but VLC is a bad idea for anything audio."

 

Just to clarify, I was talking about SMPlayer for video. I've been using it for years, but it seems like people are just finding out about it, and are using it in mass. Any time you read any type of video player comparisons, it usually wins. But for audio, I would still use a dedicated audio player app.

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Just to clarify, I was talking about SMPlayer for video. I've been using it for years, but it seems like people are just finding out about it, and are using it in mass. Any time you read any type of video player comparisons, it usually wins. But for audio, I would still use a dedicated audio player app.

 

Thanks, I'll try to check it out.

 

I'm kind of big on 4K and upscaling with madVR and NVIDIA DSR. I've a tricked out HTPC that I use more than the OPPO. My player of choice is PotPlayer, been using it for like 3-4 years now. Before that it was VLC.

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

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