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So this week i have been trying to do some research on the best solution for my situation and this forum has some great info. I have the following

 

beolab 8000 active speakers

Sony TV

apple tv (second gen)

AC Ryan media player

Airport express

Sony bluray SP370

Digital cable tv set box

ipod / ipad doc

 

I would like to make the best of the digital outputs of the above and so started my search for a DAC with a pre-amp because I need volume control for the Beolab speakers after some reading here the Peachtree nova was mentioned. This would mean the following set up I had in mind - connecting the AC ryan, ATV, cable tv box, bluray and airport express using the toslinks and coaxial and then the ac ryan, cable tv box, bluray and ATV are also connected to the tv with HDMI cables.

 

But then someone in a HiFi shop the sales assistant mentioned looking at good AV amps because they have HDMI inputs and one or two toslinks, his point was why use HDMI into the TV for visual and then use the toslink or coax seperately for the sound as HDMI carry a good sound and all AV receivers have a DAC built into them because they need to decode the HDMI sound inputs and toslink inputs. So am I being mislead or would this be a better option. He also did mention that as I would be streaming music via airyplay on my phone and from my mac computer that I would not get the full quality so the peachtree could be a very expensive when a good AV amp does just as good job and allows me to add more things if and when i need to at a later stage.

 

It would mean i could look at more options and that I would put the AC ryan, bluray, ipad dock using apples ipod to HDMI connector) and Apple TV could all go into the amp via HDMI and the airport express would go into the toslink input allowing me to stream music.

 

He did mention the Yamaha RXV-767 which has 7 HDMI inputs and toslink and coax inputs and pre-amp outputs. I have also looked at some other alternatives and see that Marantz have now built in airplay with some of there amps too so this could also be a great solution. I had budgeted around 1000 pounds for either a AV amp or dac with a pre-amp. Would be great to hear some opinions on the above to help me make the best discussion. Many thanks.

 

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Generally a (standalone) DAC will be higher quality than an AVR.

 

If you wanted to go with the AV route for possible surround sound later, a processor such as Rotel RSP1570; Audiolab 8000AP or Marantz AV7005 would make more sense than an AVR.

 

For a DAC with full preamplifier functionality (i.e. woth analogue inputs, your options are limited, but if you looked at a iPod dock with digital output then thing like Wyred4Sound DAC1 would be an option.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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I think there are a couple of options for you. There are some devices that are essentially integrated amps with a DAC built in that are more control/system connection oriented (like the Peachtree product/s - in my opinion) and of course it also has the amplification. Then there are DACs that offer the flexibility of several inputs, remote input switching and volume control (like the Bel Canto that I use which I deem to be more focused on the DAC processing side with the added convenience features of multiple inputs and volume control - in my opinion again) but you need a separate amplifier. Of course neither of these solutions will offer the video switching which I would not want to introduce into a computer based system and you will only find that in an AVR or Surround Processor/Amp system.

 

The bottom line is I feel that a stand alone DAC will offer the very best in processing for computer based audio, next I would thing that an integrated amp with DAC focused on the computer based audio market segment and last would be AVR and Surround Processors which are more jack-of-all-trades performance wise. Again, all in my opinion. It is a matter of personal focus, interest and need.

 

"A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open."
Frank Zappa
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You can get AVRs with very good DACS in them, analogous to the Peachtree and straight stereo.

 

As for sound, well - listen to a few AVRs- The Marantz AV7005, NAD's, as well as some separates. Emotiva UMC-1 + a five or seven channel amp, etc.

 

Though sometimes treated as the unwanted stepchild in the audiophile world, AVR's and multi-channel Preamp/Amp setups can and do sound astoundingly good. :)

 

And an AVR can simplify a lot of things - especially with video processing. One and only connection to the television, for example, has an amazingly high "bang for the buck."

 

One other think, CD quality audio streamed over an Airport Express is full quality. There are, arguably some matters like jitter than may or may not be an issue with an Airport Express. But it in general sounds really good.

 

-Paul

 

 

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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That is sure a popular opinion these days, but I'm finding my ears are telling me otherwise.

 

Of course, you do have to Apples to Apples - if you are talking a $2000 AVR, then you are also talking at most, a $1K amp and a $1K DAC. Or a combination somewhere around 30% of that balance. Comparing a $5K DAC to a $5K AVR is not really fair.

 

I'm not jumping you for your opinion, just wondering upon what you are basing it upon.

 

-Paul

 

 

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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I did not see any indication anyone was speaking of ANY gear that expensive...In my experience, no AV receiver under $1000 has a dac as good as the V-dac, not to mention any other more expensive...

 

A good AV receiver with a price tag commensurate with that status, will have a better DAC, but one has to spend a lot to get a lot with receivers.

 

I have found you an argument; I am not obliged to find you any understanding – Samuel Johnson

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I have owned several very decent AVRs including a Denon 3805 and a NAD T765 and both performed very well but in no way, in my opinion, do they compare to an integrated amp and DAC system sonically on audio performance. Even if I still was interested in home theater function after my experiences with separate DACs I would probably want one with an AVR to ensure a better quality musical experience.

 

"A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open."
Frank Zappa
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Example please. Which models did you actually compare?

 

The T747 sitting right here sounds very good indeed. I'll put it up against any comparable standalone units, and buy the beer if it looses. It does list a little above $1000, but it is commonly available right now for $700 or so.

 

Using a V-LINK, it sounds better than a V-DAC, even when you connect the V-DAC with the same V-Link.

 

It also, astonishingly enough, sounds better than any other low end DAC I have tried as well, including our DacMagic, HRT Music Streamer II+, and a Peachtree iNova and a PS Audio model my buddy tried.

 

YMMV, and I do not doubt your experience.

 

But I also have found in my experience, that even though I expected an AVR to sound lousy, some of them sound every bit as good - or better - than any comparable standalone.

 

And certianly, if you add any kind of video in the equation, they come out with much much higher "bang for the buck."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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That is the issue...I have owned, in the last 4 years, a Denon, Yamaha, Sony and Onkyo receiver running from $400-700. I am presently using an Onkyo. The DAC in all of them were awful...they worked, but not even as well as the DAC in my iPOD.

 

I have heard a Denon AVR (model number forgotten) retailing for almost $2K and the DAC sounded pretty good.

 

It is not that these things have to sound bad. It is that they have to do a LOT and the DAC is an afterthought.

 

I have found you an argument; I am not obliged to find you any understanding – Samuel Johnson

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And still costs about $300 less than the Bell Canto e.One DAC you are using.

Alone.

 

I'm not sure you can compare a $2200 receiver against a $2500 DAC hooked up to a $1800 amp with $300+ Cardas XLR cables and connected to the source with a $90 USB cable.

 

Ie: Apples to Apples - T767 = ~$2200, comparison system, ~$6,900.

 

Though if I had to pick between your system and a T767 just for music, well, I know which one I would pick. :)

 

 

 

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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FWIW I use an AVR exclusively at the moment for my entire digital music listening. The built in DAC is good and the amplifier section robust enough to experiment with various speakers and configurations.

 

I personally like the flexibility of my AVR and the subjective simplicity of its settings: I'm always finding new stuff to do with it. For instance, I had a sub sitting around doing nothing but collecting dust. So I got to experimenting with the AVR and sub and found that I could route all the low frequency content from a single channel (any of my choosing) to the sub. In essence this means that though my user manual made no mention of this possibility (stating only that the dedicated dual sub outs on the AVR back panel are simply duplicated identically) I am now able to setup subs in a stereo configuration. I did it btw by routing the full range signal from my AVR's left and right pre-outs to two individual subs then using each sub's internal x-overs and EQ to balance. I haven't even mentioned the video section which is just as fun but not germane to the discussion.

 

Okay...granted I've painted a picture more to the liking of a tweaker, but I wouldn't discount an AVR or relegate one to the back of the queue necessarily. I have the Pioneer Elite SC-09TX which I believe they call the SC-LX90 in the UK btw. It was pricey when I bought it two years ago but you should be able to find them very inexpensively now that they've been discontinued. Anyway, maybe it is something you haven't considered: something like an SC-LX90, new or used. I believe it could be had for 1000 GBP but not entirely sure.

 

The only thing I'd say it lacks is better filters (and I don't mean DSP sound effects-those are fine). While it includes various filters that are poorly documented, what it could really use is something like an apodizing filter or a minimum phase filter but then again there is software for that. It does have an asynchronous sampling rate converter filter which is touted as having been included to control jitter on S/PDIF inputs. Oh, and it does not have a true usb input but it is a network AVR which is how I use it. In other words an AVR has its pros. Wait, important caveat: I haven't been able to get it to accept anything above 24/96... yet. It clearly states in the manual that it only accepts files up to 24/96 but I may yet find a way around that using a usb bridge or something to that effect.

 

Food for thought.

 

Rob C

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Your a bit high in your price calculations by quite a bit as I paid about $2800 for the two Bel Canto pieces new and I had more expensive cables on the NAD than on this system. Additionally I still preferred my previous Cambridge Audio 840A and DacMagic to the NAD and it priced out under $2000 . I am in no way saying the AVRs sound bad but I definitely feel better can be had for very similar dollars.

 

Additionally you added the $2200 of the NAD to your figures for my equipment to get to the $6900 figure. So, what we are really comparing on a dollars basis is $2200 to $2800 and not an outlandish comparison at all.

 

"A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open."
Frank Zappa
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I didn't add the price of the NAD T765 into that $6900 by the way, those are just the prices I had in my notes.

 

But doing a quick web search I come up with:

 

Wireworld Starlight USB Cable: $100 (http://www.google.com/products/catalog?hl=en&q=wireworld+starlight+usb&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&um=1&ie=UTF-8&cid=3510317555952596250&sa=X&ei=nkqRTffYMMTk0gG9luzqDg&ved=0CBwQ8wIwAg#ps-sellers)

 

Bel Canto e.One Series DAC 1.5:

I did give a list price on a DAC 3 vice a 1.5, the first price hit I got for a 1.5 was $1395 Euros, which is $1965 USD. (http://technologyfactory.eu/index.php?item=bel-canto-e_one-dac-1_5&action=article&aid=885&lang=EN)

 

Cardas Mircro Twin XLR : 1 Meter Pair $195 (http://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=CR300B&variation=1PXLXL)

 

Bel Canto e.One REF 150s amp: First hit was in $1,739 Canadian, which is $1,778 USD. (http://www.everestaudio.com/products/Bel-Canto-Design-REF150S-stereo-amplifier-ssi.htm)

 

That would be:

$ 100

$ 1965

$ 195

$ 1778

=======

$4,038

 

I'm sure one could do better than those prices, but it is still around twice the cost of a $2200 NAD T765, which is like spending twice the cost, even if you add in $100 to replace the USB cable with a good TOSLink or Coaxial cable.

 

Still, I do not dispute that your opinion is a valid opinion. I just think that part of the difference you are hearing is more in terms of the amp, not the DACs. You need to listen through the same amps, in my opinion, to get any true sense of what the DACs sound like. And also some people just don't like the 'NAD' sound.

 

I like the DacMagic a lot as well, but the DACs in the T747 (a serious step down from your T765) sound better than the DacMagic. At least when run through the same Amp.

 

In fact I am listening to Mark Knofler's _The Princess Bride_ soundtrack tough a DacMagic hooked to an Airport Express running into a NAD BEE325 over Vampire interconnects driving PSB Imagine Bs over cheap 12-guage speaker wire right now. :)

 

-Paul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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I'm not advocating that you change your opinion. It's fine with me for you to think anyway you like, even if I don't necessarily agree with everything you say. :)

 

I find that I have to question all my assumptions around here, elsewise someone else will point it out to me. Won't make me change what I like a bit, but it is fun to hear what other folks think and have found to be the best solution for themselves.

 

Miska almost has me convinced that his brand of software manipulation is as good as the hardware kind, but don't tell him I said that!! (grin)

 

-Paul

 

 

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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The math is still bad. The cables are a wash so should not be considered. The DAC retails for $1395 and the amp $1495. That still only makes the comparison $2890 to $2200 and as I said a fair comparison. My point is and was that I have not owned or heard an AVR that stands up to a separate DAC and amp system that is comparably priced ( remember I still preferred a less expensive CA system to the sound of the NAD AVR). again this is not a question of good versus bad but good versus better. It all depends on your personal need and interest. For me it was the introduction of the DacMagic with the NAD that convinced me a computer based audio system was viable. Prior to that running off the NAD's internal DAC I was not convinced and not satisfied.

 

"A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open."
Frank Zappa
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The cables still need to count, as there are no interconnects needed between the DAC and Amp with the AVR. That pumps your comparision prices up, even given the pricing you quote, to closer to $3200 than anything else.

 

Nine hundred to a thousand dollars makes a lot of difference.

 

And if you got that gear at those prices, then you are also aware you could get the NAD for quite a bit less as well. (Used gear, Audiogone, blowout sales, etc.)

 

As I said, that is your opinion, and it works for you. To my ears, the NAD DACs sound better than the DacMagic - by a large margin indeed. That's hooking the DacMagic up to the same NAD through quality interconnects by the way. Use a different amp, get different results.

 

Everyone has to trust their own ears in this, there are no hard and fast statements, no shortcuts to listening, and making assumptions will do nothing but cost you money.

 

-Paul

 

 

 

 

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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