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ssmaudio

What gear for multi-channel audio

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I'm trying to set up a rig with which I can play or stream multi-channel DSD files to my speakers.  I'm not an expert in this area (I've been playing SACDs so far), so am hoping you can help me.

 

I'm planning on using an Exasound e38 DAC that will decode the DSD and send the signals to a switcher and then to my speakers.  (The other input of the switcher will be my AV receiver that natively decodes DSD from SACDs etc.). 

 

Does this make sense?  Do I need a power amp between the DAC and the switcher?  Recommendations for the amp and switcher?  I'm an audiophile-at-a-reasonable-price.  My budget is say, $5k.

 

Please note that I don't care about the Dolby Atmos and all the other hype in that area.  I have another receiver that can handle all that.

 

Thank you.

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10 hours ago, ssmaudio said:

I'm planning on using an Exasound e38 DAC that will decode the DSD and send the signals to a switcher and then to my speakers.  (The other input of the switcher will be my AV receiver that natively decodes DSD from SACDs etc.). 

 

Does this make sense?  Do I need a power amp between the DAC and the switcher?

Are your speakers self-powered (i.e., do they have built-in amplifiers)?  Is the output of the AVR from the speaker terminals?

If the answers to these questions are No and Yes, respectively, then you will need an amplifier, preferably with a volume control for the exaSound output.  

 

Does your music player feeding the exaSound have a volume control?  The exaSound up/down buttons are not convenient, imho.

 

I do not know what your AVR is but some offer multichannel analog inputs and direct/unprocessed feedthrough.  That might be an alternative.


Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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The No and Yes are correct. Ok, so I need an amp. 

Would it work if I send the Exasound to a preamp and then to a receiver?  I’m thinking of the Parasound P7 & Marantz 7013 for example. I don’t know whether the Marantz processes the analog inputs (although rumor has it that it doesn’t); I’ll find out.  Do you know of any other receivers and preamps?

 

The other option is to have Exasound -> power amp -> switcher -> speakers. (My current AVR would be the other input of the switcher.)  Do you have recommendations for the power amp and multi-ch switcher for those of us on a medium sized budget? Say total for the two around 3k. 
 

thank you!

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1 hour ago, ssmaudio said:

The No and Yes are correct. Ok, so I need an amp. 

Would it work if I send the Exasound to a preamp and then to a receiver?  I’m thinking of the Parasound P7 & Marantz 7013 for example.

If you do this, you will be using the AVRs power amps and there's no need for the preamp.   The AVR will do the job.  That may be OK but it is the simplest solution.

1 hour ago, ssmaudio said:

The other option is to have Exasound -> power amp -> switcher -> speakers. (My current AVR would be the other input of the switcher.)  Do you have recommendations for the power amp and multi-ch switcher for those of us on a medium sized budget? Say total for the two around 3k. 

Not off the top of my head.  Speaker-level switchers are widely available.  Do you need a 5 channel amp?  What speakers/room/levels are you working with.


Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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I called Marantz and they confirmed that the SR 7013 doesn’t do any further processing on the surround inputs. So that’s very good. 
 

Regarding your other questions. Yes I was thinking of a 5 ch amp (don’t care about 7 ch etc.). I have Polk top-of-line towers speakers for L & R, matching Center channel, and some Polk bookshelves for the surround.. I don’t have a sub-woofer at the moment (do I need one? The Polk have woofers built in.)

 

I don’t have a dedicated built-to-order listening room, but rather have my living room set up as optimal as possible for listening. 
 

I’m not sure I know what you mean by your “levels.”

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4 hours ago, ssmaudio said:

Regarding your other questions. Yes I was thinking of a 5 ch amp (don’t care about 7 ch etc.). I have Polk top-of-line towers speakers for L & R, matching Center channel, and some Polk bookshelves for the surround.. I don’t have a sub-woofer at the moment (do I need one? The Polk have woofers built in.)

The problem with so-called "built in subwoofers" is that they cannot be placed separate from the main speakers to optimize their performance and, also, that they rarely perform as well as the ones that are not enclosed in quotation marks. 

4 hours ago, ssmaudio said:

I’m not sure I know what you mean by your “levels.”

How loud?


Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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I listen almost exclusively to classical music, and don’t listen to 1812 Overture, si not that loud. My current receiver is rated at 100W/ch I think. 
 

Re sub woofer: point taken. I have a sub woofer at my other fosse, so I can bring it over. 

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14 hours ago, ssmaudio said:

I listen almost exclusively to classical music, and don’t listen to 1812 Overture, si not that loud. My current receiver is rated at 100W/ch I think. 

So why do you think you need another power amp?

 

14 hours ago, ssmaudio said:

Re sub woofer: point taken. I have a sub woofer at my other fosse, so I can bring it over. 

You need to experiment carefully with placement since you will not have access to EQ if you are bypassing processing in the AVR.


Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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I assumed I did because will the exasound be able to drive the speakers directly? My current Yamaha amp is at 125W per channel continuous. 
 

regarding bypassing the EQ. I was concerned about that. But Georg from Exasound told me that you really don’t want to do any further processing on the signal—the extra ADC and DAC  step in the receiver. But I wonder if I’m my case, where I don’t have a dedicated listening room, whether it would matter much. Would it be beneficial to go ahead and do the EQ/room correction proceeding in the receiver?

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4 hours ago, ssmaudio said:

I assumed I did because will the exasound be able to drive the speakers directly? My current Yamaha amp is at 125W per channel continuous. 

I was suggesting that, if you are going to run the output of the exaSound through the AVR (bypassing all processing), you might just consider using the AVR's power amps.  That would eliminate the need to buy a power amp, let you use the volume control in the AVR and avoid purchasing a switch.  Why not start that way?

 

Now, I am not saying that you should not  go the other way because I do.  I have the MCH DACs connected to a switch and the switch selects between the DACs and the output from my prepro.  It feeds the power amp/subs that serve both.  This does sound better to me than running it through the prepro.

4 hours ago, ssmaudio said:

regarding bypassing the EQ. I was concerned about that. But Georg from Exasound told me that you really don’t want to do any further processing on the signal—the extra ADC and DAC  step in the receiver. But I wonder if I’m my case, where I don’t have a dedicated listening room, whether it would matter much. Would it be beneficial to go ahead and do the EQ/room correction proceeding in the receiver?

Tough choice.  I do the EQ/room correction in my server so that I can afford to bypass ADC/DAC.


Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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Ok i get it. Yes I’m going the AVR option. I’ve found the Marantz SR 7x/8x receivers that don’t have any processors like ADCs in the post DAC/analog in input  signal stream (I verified by looking at the schematic of the analog audio section; I was actually trained as an electrical engineer 30 years ago!). So I’m going to send the Exasound directly to the AVR and use its amp. 
 

So you do the EQ/room correction/ conversion in software and then send it to your amp?

 

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1 hour ago, ssmaudio said:

 

So you do the EQ/room correction/ conversion in software and then send it to your amp?

Yup.


Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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Ok one last question (I swear). Would you tell me your setup? What software do you use and how is it connected to your server and then to the amp?  What server do you use, whether with UPnP etc. 

 

just curious. Thanks much. 

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In my multichannel setup, I use Roon software for stereo and multichannel playback. Roon allows you to load convolution filters for sound equalization customized for your room. I find it to be terrific. 

I had my multichannel (and stereo) filters created by Thierry at home audio fidelity. You would measure your room acoustics (I’m not going into that here, but it’s really quite simple) and then you email those measurements to Thierry in France — and voila, the next day, you have filters emailed back that are customized for your room that you then import into Roon easily for great sound. 
 

These filters don’t work on DSD material in that format. Roon can convert DSD to 24/192 (surround) on the fly and then the filters will work. Kal can better explain the interfacing of an exasound DAC to Roon for this purpose. JCR 

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On 1/4/2020 at 10:04 PM, ssmaudio said:

Ok one last question (I swear).

One?   Ooops.  I wrote what follows the stuff about my main system before I reflected on the context of the question.  In the system where I use my prepro, there are several ways to do this but all include a MacMini running BootCamp/Win7, Jriver Media Center and DiracLive.  It accesses files located on QNAP NAS drives via wired LAN.  It can be connected to the power amps:I 

1.  Via HDMI directly to the Marantz prepro.  

2.  Via UPnP to the Marantz.

3.  Via USB to a multichannel DAC which feeds the multichannel analog inputs of the Marantz.

4.  Via USB to a multichannel DAC which connects directly to the power amps.  If I choose this option, I have a multichannel balanced signal switch to choose between the outputs from the Marantz and those from the DACs.

 

On 1/4/2020 at 10:04 PM, ssmaudio said:

Would you tell me your setup? What software do you use and how is it connected to your server and then to the amp?

Basically (in the other system):

1.  File storage on a hierarchy of QNAP NAS drives connected to wired LAN.

2.  PC-based (Baetis Prodigy-X) server running Jriver Media Center and DiracLive and connected to wired LAN.

3.  exaSound e38 Mk. II DAC with balanced XLR output and connected to server by USB. (Alternative is connection from server via LAN and exaSound Sigma Streamer.)

4.  Audio Research MP1 6 channel analog preamp with balanced XLR in/outs.  (Several alternatives to this including a direct balanced XLR connections from DAC to power amps.)

On 1/4/2020 at 10:04 PM, ssmaudio said:

What server do you use, whether with UPnP etc. 

See above.

 

Whew.


Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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My setup is:

 

Main computer running roon core software.

(wifi)

Exasound Sigma streamer -> Exasound E38mk2

Power amp

Speakers

 

Exa have volume control with hardware limiter (into the dac) to avoid to play too loud.

 

This setup is VERY stable and play perfectly.

 

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Pompon, how do you handle room correction/EQ?  Does Roon di that and then send it to the Exa?  Or your listening room doesn’t need it?

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10 hours ago, ssmaudio said:

Pompon, how do you handle room correction/EQ?  Does Roon di that and then send it to the Exa?  Or your listening room doesn’t need it?

 

Hi ssmaudio,

 

Acourate for EQ / digital filters. This product generate convolution files I can add to Roon.

https://www.audiovero.de/en/acourate.php

 

My main steamers are 3 way open baffle and I have subwoofers. I need 4 voices and it's why I took the exasound dac! 8-)

 

The sigma streamer support 8 channels over streaming ... perfect match and roon support multichannel convolution files over streaming.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

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