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HELP!! Newbie question on going digital through a receiver


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I have a Denon AVR 3806 which I bought about 4 years ago, thinking I was going to do a home theatre set-up. I've never set up a HT system, and probably won't in the near future. My focus now is on computer audio. The Denon spec sheet notes that it has true 24-bit/96-kHz Digital Input Capability, but not 24-bit/192-kHz Digital Input Capability unless using a 1394 connector or a 'Denon Link' (which looks like an ethernet cable that can be attached a Denon Source that uses the Denon Link). The 3806 does not have a 1394 input (4806 does) and I do not have a Denon source that uses the Denon Link. What happens if I connect a 24/192 DAC to the 3806? Will it play at all? Will it convert to 24/96 and sound like crap? If I use the analog outs from a DAC, will that by-pass the DAC's in the receiver? If so, will the receiver send out 24/192 to my speakers?

 

Does it make sense to sell the 3806 and purchase something like the 24/192 matrix-mini DAC and an integrated 2-channel amp (focusing on audio) that accepts digital inputs? If so, who makes a decent amp that is designed for digital input under $1,000. My system info is listed below.

 

Thanks...it's been awhile and I haven't kept up to date on digital audio.

 

The specs note that the 3806 has :

24-bit/192-kHz DACs – Burr-Brown PCM-1791 2/8ch

 

Analog-to-Digital Conversion - Bit Depth/Sampling Rate 24-bit/192kHz; BB PCM-1804

 

Digital Inputs: Coaxial 2

Digital Inputs: Optical 5

Digital Outputs: Optical 2

 

Complete Specs:

Denon 3806 Specs

 

Senn HD 650, Perreaux Sihoutte SXH1 amp

Dell XPS 8100 Realtek HD Audio SC w/ Tru Studio PC software (Creative/THX) & Dell XPS laptop, Swann D1080 Mk II speakers

Denon AVR 3806, Denon DVD 1920, Revel Concerta F12 speakers, Monster HTS 3500 Mk II and various cables.

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Using a 24/192 source with the receiver should be possible though only via an analog connection. If you want to get that out to the speakers unaltered you'll need to engage the analog bypass (may be called Pure Direct). If you don't do that it will most likely go through a A/D-D/A step for the speaker distances, cross-over settings, etc... that is the normal operation.

 

I can't say if that set-up is better than another product, in my experience with the type of music I listen to, how critical I listen, room, speakers, etc... I'm hard pressed to tell much difference between the different receivers/pre-amps/amps I've had in my system (which have run the gamut of cost ranges). But then again I've also not A/B'd the equipment either so maybe there is a bigger difference, I just tend to sit back and enjoy what I have (having changed out some piece for one reason or another) and not worry so much about the rest.

 

Your question about the integrated amp is interesting, I've actually been thinking about that some lately. One of the things holding me back is I like what I get from my Onkyo receiver with the EQ settings. I have a single system for music and movies and find the Dynamic EQ settings beneficial in my situation so in some ways worry that with an analog integrated amp I'd actually loose something in the process, while it might give me a purer sound I don't know that it would give me as enjoyable one. I find the boost it gives beneficial since I am generally listening at lower levels (curse of apartment living). The same might be true of your Denon if you have automatic room correction on it - I realize some people might prefer a more pure path but it is one of things that might be worth trying and seeing what you think.

 

John

 

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Hi sawdin - I think you are a bit mixed up with what each audio device actually does. Hopefully I can help and not add more confusion.

 

DAC = Digital to Analog Converter

 

If you connect a DAC to your receiver the DAC outputs an analog signal to the receiver. Thus, the sample rate is inconsequential to the receiver. The receiver sends out analog audio to the speakers, not digital.

 

A digital amp would mean you don't need a different DAC. The amplifier would have a DAC inside to send analog to the speakers. Since we cannot hear a digital signal the conversion has to take place somewhere in the chain.

 

Analog to Digital Conversion is something you want to avoid like the plague unless you are transferring your vinyl record collection to digital files.

 

I recommend using the receiver's digital inputs to convert music up to 24/96 and using the receivers amp to send the analog signal to your speakers. This is a good start and least expensive. Hopefully your computer has an optical or coaxial digital output. If you have 24/192 music then pickup an external DAC.

 

If these options don't give you the quality you want then look to an external DAC, two channel amp, and make sure your software settings are correct.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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Q: What happens if I connect a 24/192 DAC to the 3806? Will it play at all?

A: Through digital input: I think if you only play content up to 24/96 that it should play. Check that it plays 24/88.2 or that might be another limitation. Through analog input: From what you said, it looks like your a to d will allow up to 24/192.

 

Q: Will it convert to 24/96 and sound like crap?

A: The receiver will do what it does and you will need to test how it sounds. My processor does it and its pretty good and allows some trebble and base adjustment.

 

Q: If I use the analog outs from a DAC, will that by-pass the DAC's in the receiver?

A: Assuming your receiver has that option it should bypass the dac and any dsp and just act as a preamp. If you can adjust base and trebble in this mode I suspect its not a true bypass.

 

Q: If so, will the receiver send out 24/192 to my speakers?

A: that is the six million dollar question....

 

Q: Does it make sense to sell the 3806 and purchase something like the 24/192 matrix-mini DAC and an integrated 2-channel amp (focusing on audio) that accepts digital inputs?

A: No it does not make sence to buy a dac and then use the digital input into the integreated amp.

 

Q: If so, who makes a decent amp that is designed for digital input under $1,000.

A: How about a firewire to spdif unit or usb to spdif unit or an audio card with digital out into a Rotel or Denon Integrated amp?

 

Jesus R

www.sonore.us

*made some changes for clarification

 

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Chris,

 

I was a bit confused by the Denon spec sheet listing that it was only capable of digital input at 24/192 if using a Denon Link or 1394, that is why I asked if using the analog outs from a 24/192 DAC into the Denon would possibly get around any compatibility issues. The Denon does have a "Pure Direct" setting: "When this mode is set, all circuits and processes not required for the selected input source (FL tube, video circuit and tone control, as well as digital circuitry and other unnecessary circuits for analog audio inputs) are automatically turned off so the music signals can be reproduced with high sound quality." Thus I believe I should be able to input 24/96 or 24/192 via analog inputs and not have the Denon perform any type of processing as long as I use the Pure Direct mode. Is that correct? Of course, that means if I want to adjust the sound in any manner (e.g., tone, equalizer), I will need to do so via software on my pc before sending it out? Is that correct? Alternatively, I could use a Sound Processor/EQ, but my guess is that the DAC's in those won't be very good (at least not in my budget range).

 

Regarding my asking about a 'digital amp', I should have been more clear in that I meant an amp that would be more 'digital friendly' in terms of accepting digital input. My computer has 1394 and an optical digital output, not a coaxial S/PDIF (due to the integrated sound card). My understanding is that optical connections are not as good as coaxial. Is that correct? I'd like to compare using the DAC's in the Denon to those in a unit such as the Matrix Mini ($335), CyroParts Pop Pulse ($249) or updated MusicStreamer II ($149, but less flexibility in terms of connections). The problem in trying the Matrix mini is that it cannot be returned.

 

Thanks for the help!

Dino

 

PS.. Nice site...I'm going to get MC 14 based upon your review.

 

CyroParts Pop Pulse

 

Matrix Mini

 

Music Streamer

 

 

Senn HD 650, Perreaux Sihoutte SXH1 amp

Dell XPS 8100 Realtek HD Audio SC w/ Tru Studio PC software (Creative/THX) & Dell XPS laptop, Swann D1080 Mk II speakers

Denon AVR 3806, Denon DVD 1920, Revel Concerta F12 speakers, Monster HTS 3500 Mk II and various cables.

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John,

Thanks for the reply. I believe you are correct, I would need to use the analog inputs and use "Pure Direct".

 

I am with you in terms of enjoying EQ settings/Sound Processing, and I would lose that using the Pure Direct settings. My favorite receiver was a Sony STRD 10115 purchased in 1994. You could select a frequency, select the shape of the curve around that frequency (narrow, normal and wide) and, I believe, the gain. I remember that using the "Church" setting w/ some older Chet Baker CD's was amazing. When I play those CD's on the Denon, I'm disappointed by the results, whether using Pure Direct or the DSP offerings. Yes, the Denon is probably 'cleaner' and more 'audiophile' in terms of not altering the original material, but it sounds FLAT/COMPRESSED w/ a narrow soundstage. I wish there was a sound processing EQ that would get close to what I enjoyed about that old Sony. If there was, couldn't I take a digital signal from my computer and feed it into a processor (but if the DAC in the processor is not very good, that could be a problem) and then feed that into a DAC and then feed that into the integrated amp? If the DAC in the processor was good, you could just feed the signal straight into the integrated amp. What about using EQ/DSP via software being sending the digital signal out from the computer?

 

Thanks for the reply!

Dino

 

 

Senn HD 650, Perreaux Sihoutte SXH1 amp

Dell XPS 8100 Realtek HD Audio SC w/ Tru Studio PC software (Creative/THX) & Dell XPS laptop, Swann D1080 Mk II speakers

Denon AVR 3806, Denon DVD 1920, Revel Concerta F12 speakers, Monster HTS 3500 Mk II and various cables.

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Jesus,

 

Thanks for the reply. You are correct, I need to use the analog inputs to the Denon and use the Pure Direct setting. If I want to use the DSP in the Denon, I can feed 24/96.

 

I do like the idea of an integrated amp, but I also like using EQ/DSP settings for many recordings, especially some older jazz recordings. In fact, I tend to fiddle w/ adjustments on most recordings if I'm listening intently as opposed to having something on while I work. Do you know if there are any good software EQ/DSP offerings that can be used before sending a digital signal out from the computer?

 

Thanks again.

 

Dino

 

Senn HD 650, Perreaux Sihoutte SXH1 amp

Dell XPS 8100 Realtek HD Audio SC w/ Tru Studio PC software (Creative/THX) & Dell XPS laptop, Swann D1080 Mk II speakers

Denon AVR 3806, Denon DVD 1920, Revel Concerta F12 speakers, Monster HTS 3500 Mk II and various cables.

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