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New audio system: Onkyo A-9010 + Wharfedale Diamond 220, setup for newbie


Radozzny
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Good morning all,

 

As I am a new member of this forum, also kind of newbie in audio systems and listening itself, I hope you would be able to help me with some questions I have regarding my new stereo system in house.

 

After searching through half the internet I bought Wharfedale Diamond 220 speakers with Onkyo A-9010 amplifier. Among with this i bought QED Reference Silver Anniversary XT speaker cable and Prolink RCA Futura FTC 103 cable to connect amplifier with PC. Indeed, I plan to use audio system only with PC or PS4/TV, that is why I am trying to get the best sound quality from the source i have.

 

I am not an audiophile, these are my first steps here and please advise me what else can I to do improve my quality. Previously I had casual 2.1 and now the difference in quality is really HUGE. I can no longer listen to any mp3, as on my previous audio it did not make a difference if i used mp3 or flac.

 

1. Is this DAC (Wolfson) in my Onkyo enough or should i buy a sound card to my PC?

 

2. For now I have my speaker connected directly with "nude" cable. Should I buy fork or banana plugs? Will it improve the sound?

 

3. I use foobar2000 with ASIO (hope i have configured it properly with instructions from the internet). Can I somehow check if I get Bit perfect quality in some of my FLAC files or it supposed to be done only by ear? Maybe you have any other ideas to play tracks with best quality possible?

 

4. I do also lack of bass a bit. Mostly I listen to Rock, Jazz and soundtrack from movies, but during a day it is a lot of hip hop pealing out of my speakers - that is where i lack bass the most, as i hoped it would get much deeper (even on loudness option). However my room is rather small for now, about 10m3 but it may get bigger with time. Any chance for improving?

 

Forgive me for such "amaterous" questions, but I am really new in this, already excited about the sound I am getting and I hope you would help a bit. My goal is to work out with my audio, listen in various configurations to know this world better.

 

Will be much grateful for any tip you can get me. Thanks!

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Hi,

 

Welcome to CA and congratulations on your audio upgrade.

 

I would like to comment on your connection between your PC and amp.

First, the European version of the A-9010 does not include the Wolfson DAC. The amp has only got analog inputs so the digital to analog conversion must be done outside the amp. That is why you need an RCA cable to connect the source to the amp.

You did not say what kind of soundcard you have in your PC. It is an important link in your chain as it provides the digital to analog conversion and the analog output. Perhaps you could improve the sound with a better soundcard or an external DAC.

 

p.s. If your Onkyo amp is the version with the Wolfson DAC included, it must have 1 coaxial and 1 optical digital inputs. Please check the manual or the rear panel. If you have those digital inputs, you can think of a way to connect your PC digitally for better sound.

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Hi and thank you for your reply,

 

To be honest I used RCA cable because there is no other way to connect amplifier with computer, as it is unfortunately integral soundcard. However I did connect amplifier with PS4 console with toslink cable so I do have analog and digital outputs.

Im pretty sure that this is a version with built-in Wolfson DAC as they informed me about that in shop where I bought it.

 

Please correct me if I am wrong.

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You are correct. If you were able to connect your PS4 with the amp through toslink (optical) then you have the Wolfson DAC in the amp. How do you find the sound of your PS4 through the amp? Is the sound quality much better than lossless files played on your PC connected to the amp through the RCA cable?

 

You still have a coaxial digital input on your amp to connect another digital source. Perhaps you could try a USB to coaxial adapter and connect the PC with the amp through coax digital. This way you could bypass the integrated sound card and send the digital signal to the amp's DAC like you did with the PS4.

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Thanks for advise!

 

I have not thought of this before but it may also be good solution. I had no chance of comparing the sound in PS4 as i had time only to check if its working with about 1-2 youtube videos. Ima check it later for sure.

 

However I thought that if I am using RCA cable i will be also able to transfer digital signal to my amplifier. But as you say if I use RCA it will bypass the Wolfson DAC and send signal directly to amplifier, right?

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Right. Your mini jack to RCA cable sends only analog signal to your amp. This way your Wolfson dac in the amp is not used. The DAC receives digital signals through the optical or coax digital inputs only. The RCA inputs on the amp are analog signal inputs.

 

Now, Youtube videos are not ideal to check the sound quality of the DAC in your amp. Is there a way to play lossless files on your PS4? I have never had a game console so I do not know. But I know that a PS3 is capable of playing even Super Audio CDs and bluray discs. So can you play CDs using the PS4?

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Unfortunately PS4 console does not support lossless files itself. I did not try Audio CDs, so that is also to check.

 

Will inform you later on about the results, but many thanks for advise :)

 

Shall I look for any particular adapter? Or may I just find the cheapest USB to coax adapter and it will also be fine?

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If you want to hear your audio cds through the Wolfson DAC, remember that you need to connect a cd player or your PC with a cd-drive to the coax or optical input of the amp.

 

I have never used a USB to coax adapter, I just know they exist. If I had to choose one, I would go for the Peachtree Audio t1 because it has galvanic isolation for USB.

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The PS4 doesn't play CD's. One thing you can do that will help a lot, is to set up a reference. With computer audio you need to do a lot of setup because there's so many options. I would find an old or cheap CD/DVD player that has some type of digital output. Plug that into the dac on your Onkyo and compare that with your PC once you get the USB to S/PDIF converter. You do this to make sure CD quality material on your PC is in the same league as playing the CD directly. If you notice a big difference between the 2, something's probably wrong. There's a very good chance the bass will improve in your system once you get a better connection. The headphone jack on your PC isn't the best for quality. Its made with the cheapest parts imaginable.

 

Other than that, do a lot of listening and speaker placement. There's no better way to learn than with actual hands on experience.

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Exactly, that is my goal for now. I will try to do just like you said and compare a CD/DVD audio with USB to S/PDIF converter. I may try to borrow them from somebody just to check this, just have to keep looking. Speaker placement is a bit difficult in such a small room, but I will try different options as well.

 

However thank you both for bringing some light into this one! If anyone has any further tips or feelings about my questions, please let me know as well.

 

I will revert with my thoughts about the sound once I do comparison like said.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi again,

 

After almost a month I finally had some time to explore the internet and I bought Creative X-Fi Surround PRO 5.1 to use it as a converter from PC to s/pdif out and finally to DAC in my Onkyo. I find it trouble to connect the soundcard properly as I have sound, but not all of my music files are working. I would like to check also if the sound im getting is bit perfect .

 

I am using foobar with ASIO/WASAPI plugin. On WASAPI it may work fine with spdif out but would like to check that.

 

IF you have any ideas please let me know.

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