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5.1 DAC for Music

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Hello all, this is my first post here. Seems like there's a wealth of info here!


Anyway, I have an HRT Music Streamer II for my current DAC that I use with my current 2.1 setup (Magnepan 1.7's w/ Velodyne DD-12 sub). I'm looking to step this setup up to a 5.1 (or more) setup in the future. I am pretty pleased with the sound quality of the Music Streamer II, albeit it's my first DAC in the realm of "quality" DAC's.


I was looking to get a 5.1 PCI card or usb interface that would match or better the sound quality of the HRT MS II. Is there any card that someone could recommend that would work for this purpose? Do these cards handle all of you bass management? Is there something available that would allow me to run a S/PDIF in from say, an xbox, just to integrate my entire HT setup?


I should mention, 90% of my usage is for 2 channel music so I really don't want to compromise on that aspect.


Thanks in advance!!



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I was looking to get a 5.1 PCI card or usb interface that would match or better the sound quality of the HRT MS II.


There are plenty of pro/prosumer interfaces out there with 8 or more channels. Hard to say about sound quality since I'm not familiar with HRT. For Mac I would recommend Apogee, for PC probably RME. For more economical approach possibly M-Audio. For resonably priced but high performance "internal" prosumer interfaces I would definitely recommend E-MU 1616m PCIe.


Do these cards handle all of you bass management?


Generally no. Some of this may, or may not, be handled by the playback software. Bass management for multichannel music playback is problematic, since there are no good standars on how to deal with it, since most of the designs are for movie playback. That's why most of the multichannel SACDs and such are 5.0 channel.


Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

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Thanks for the response. I should have clarified what I was looking for. All of my music listening is 2 channel. All of my surround sound use would be for movies and some gaming.


If there were some way I could replace my current usb dac with a 5.1 device (whether it be a surround sound processor or whatever will do the job) that will allow me to integrate my HTPC setup.


I was thinking of two possible schemes:

Scheme A:

A surround sound processor that has inputs for my HTPC & XBOX that will not compromise on 2 channel audio quality. I was told there are some SSP's that have a good reputation as far as 2 channel audio goes.


Scheme B:

A high quality sound card with spdif in that I could use to output to my 5.1 system AND then take the spdif out from my tv to get my TV & XBOX sound via the soundcard (HTPC is always on).


Scheme B seems harder to pull off but I don't know if there are any SSP's that are good for music. I can't seem to find any info regarding this anywhere.


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Good SSP are mighty expensive. "Channel" the budget towards 2ch is what I would do. If you want surround added for movies in the same system, get a pre-amp with HT-bypass.


Fully Balanced Differential Stereo: Jamo R909 < Emotiva XPA-1 < XLR < Emotiva XSP-1 < Weiss DAC2 < Oyaide d+ FW400/800 < iMac < Synology DS1815+ NAS

Software: Amarra Symphony iRC, XLD, iTunes.

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You could try using an AV receiver with its built-in 5.1/7.1 TrueHD/DTS-MA DAC combined with a standalone integrated amp with an optional HT-bypass.


In the pure 2-ch music mode, run the 2-ch DAC such as the HRT Streamer II to the quality integrated amp to drive two front speakers and an optional subwoofer.


In the 5.1/7.1 HT mode, let the receiver handle the decoding. Run the pre-out for the front L and R channels into the quality 2-ch integrated amp. Let the receiver drive the center and surround speakers.


The HT bypass option could be used to avoid amplifying the HT front channel signal twice and to keep the volume level fixed for the HT use. But this optional is not essential IMHO.


The receiver can be further expanded with a DSP processor feeding to a multi-channel or of mono-block power amps.


The quality integrated amp can be expanded with a quality preamp feeding to the same multi-channel or mono-block power amps.



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