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AV receivers quality

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I have a mac mini connected to my integrated stereo amplifier via rca and I was thinking to upgrade.


My questions are:

can be an av receiver a good source for 2ch stereo audio connecting my mac mini to the receiver via optical (I was looking to a Yamaha rx v659 or v663, that has some good review for the 2ch stereo http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/receivers/yamaha-rx-v659/ ) ?


how much is the difference from a usb dac to the dac inside the reciever?

is the difference in price an effect of the different market share ( they sell a lot of av receivers and fews dac) or this is quality effect ( the standaolne dac is much better than the dac inside a av receiver) ?


Thanks for help me understand.






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I don't want to detract, but it all depends on so much more that the aspects you described. What speakers do you have? What's the acoustics of your room? Those are the two most important aspects in any system. Then, how loud are you intending to listen to music and movies? Are you going for 5.1, 6.1, 7.1 or something else altogether?


To answer your first question: AV receivers can be quite decent when it comes to 2-ch audio. Check out what Cambridge Audio has to offer. They are generally renowned for having excellent 2-channel performance in their AV devices. For the Yamahas you are considering, if you haven't already, check other forums for any deeper insight. For example:





Those are also better places to ask any more detailed questions about these receivers.


Regarding whether a dedicated DAC will make an audible difference in your system, the easiest would be to check for yourself. Some stores are willing to loan out devices for a while. Alternatively, online vendors usually have a 30-day return policy.


Keep us posted. Good luck! Best - MM





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Hi Zuli - MM pretty much said everything I was going to say. The difference between an external DAC and the built-in DAC on a receiver can be large or even nonexistent. Anyone with a black & white answer to this question is doing you a disservice.


One thing to consider about using an external DAC between a receiver and your Mac Mini is that some receivers will convert analog into digital then back to analog. This would negate the purpose of an external DAC.


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I can speak only from my own experiences and prefferences. I’m inclined to choose a receiver over an integrated amp primarily for the added flexibility for sources, and for the multichannel features., vs. an integrated amp. Usually.


It is also because for myself, I have a few systems on hand to use. Initially I went the route of ONLY using a receiver and was quite happy with it for some time.


Receivers, however good they are overall, are generally speaking, compromises. I’m hard pressed to believe the DAC within a receiver will out perform an outboard one, given values remain equal with both camps. Budgets likely will dictate just what performance level one acquires in those respects.


I’d probably not buy an outboard DAC simply to feed another 2 ch source into a receiver via analog inputs. “Why did I buy the receiver in the first place?” is a question I’d need to ask myself.


Just getting started and picking a receiver as the beginning point, I believe I’d be better off by upgrading my source (s) first… adding a better 2 ch amp later on… and then perhaps a preamp or DAC with variable gain… and/or a very good 2 ch preamp… or both… which is what I did.


The overwhelming majority of my audio $$ went into my stereo rig and it remains just so.


Receivers kill many birds with one stone and aren’t a bad place to begin, but I feel you want better stereo performance than what many of them allow for and I don’t blame you. I submit you get in where your budget and preffs allow for and then add on peripherals starting with source first. I left my DAC purchase to near the end of my 2 ch systems build. Partly due to technological changes that would have occurred along the way, and partly due to the cost of the few I had on my short list as all were over the $2K retail price point. Ultimately I needed also to make up my mind the features I wanted within the DAC itself and for what purpose was I going to use it. The USB feature played a big part in my decision making as well, so I wound up with one which provided for that added benefit too. As much as I like what it does, I doubt it will be my final DAC either.



Duiring my remodeling of my living/listening room lo these past several months, my listening sessions have been via my office system mostly. To break in my new Onkyo TXSR 805, Odyssey Stratos SE amp, and my Bel Canto DAC 3, I'm doing a lot of listening off the PC.


The BC DAC 3 is connected to the Onkyo, via analog, and USB from the PC. I've found no other way to feed digital signals directly into this receiver... The sound? Very good. In fact as good as my main CDP, a Sony SCD xa777es.


That being said however, a far better sound is had when I use the DAC 3 into my Thor preamp, and Dodd mono Block tube amps.


Overkill now? Certainly. The point is simple... the receiver is simply not on par with better 2 ch equipment and remains the limiting factor to better sonics.


Good luck.



Do the blindfolded squirrels juggling knives in my head bother you? If so, talk to the Elves, it was their idea to arrange some distraction so my more formidable psychosis could remain hidden.

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