External DAC on my setup?

Associate
Joined
22 Jul 2010
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532
Location
Huddersfield, W. Yorskhire
I'm looking into getting a DAC for my current set-up, if of course I will gain from it.

My system is;

i3 Laptop >HDMI> Yamaha RX-A1010 > Sony LED/Monitor Audio BX2.

When listening to 2-channel audio (FLAC) I use Foobar on the laptop and Yamaha in Pure Direct mode.

Would I hear any difference with this set-up;

i3 Laptop >USB2.0> Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus >Digital Coaxial> Yamaha RX-A1010 > Monitor Audio BX2.

I'm think I'm just paranoid that the HDMI isn't a great carrier for pure 2-channel audio?

Maybe i'm wrong and a DAC would not make any difference at all with my current setup?
 
Associate
Joined
2 Feb 2012
Posts
440
I'm looking into getting a DAC for my current set-up, if of course I will gain from it.

My system is;

i3 Laptop >HDMI> Yamaha RX-A1010 > Sony LED/Monitor Audio BX2.

When listening to 2-channel audio (FLAC) I use Foobar on the laptop and Yamaha in Pure Direct mode.

Would I hear any difference with this set-up;

i3 Laptop >USB2.0> Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus >Digital Coaxial> Yamaha RX-A1010 > Monitor Audio BX2.

I'm think I'm just paranoid that the HDMI isn't a great carrier for pure 2-channel audio?

Maybe i'm wrong and a DAC would not make any difference at all with my current setup?
Digits is digits in this case. There would be no advantage going out of the DAC Magic in optical. It MAY sound slightly different as the clocking when converting to analogue will be slightly different. TBH, you'd probably get a better sound using the DAC Magic analogue outs (assuming the DAC Magic is better than the Yamaha DAC)...

Why are you worried about HDMI's ability to carry 2 channel PCM?
 
Soldato
Joined
4 Feb 2007
Posts
9,686
Location
Nuneaton, UK
I have been down this route, I tried the Musical Fidelity V-DAC II and it didn't give me any real benefit over the amps own DAC, I then also purchased a pre-amp but it turned out to be too bright for my speakers. I now have a Roksan Caspian DSP for sale, need to stick it in the MM.
 
Associate
Joined
2 Feb 2012
Posts
440
I really don't know why I think this - maybe I'd just be better getting a dedicated 2-channel amp for the FLAC's - but then I wouldn't be able to connect it to my laptop other than via HDMI or USB (DAC again?)
Just leave it as it is. The only thing you might want to change is to an external DAC which is better than the amps internal one. HDMI does audio fine ;)
 
Soldato
Joined
15 Jun 2006
Posts
3,896
Location
Swindon
Setup sounds like it'll be fine how it is. If you're looking to spend on an upgrade then room acoustics are usually a seriously neglected area.
 
Man of Honour
Man of Honour
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23 Dec 2002
Posts
9,540
Location
London
The AV amp will be the key bottlneck, keep it in the chain will restrict the ability of any DAC to perform at it's best.
So if you're really intent on improving your system go listen to either a seperate DAC/stereo amp combo, or a stereo amp with a built in DAC (they do exist).

Why not prove it to yourself either way. Take your Yam to a decent dealer and listen to say a £1k DAC/amp combo to see if it sounds better. Not suggesting you spend that much, but it should at least give you a feel for what you'd get for the dosh.
 

Ste

Ste

Soldato
Joined
18 Oct 2002
Posts
2,787
i3 Laptop >USB2.0> Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus >Digital Coaxial> Yamaha RX-A1010 > Monitor Audio BX2.

^ Absolutely not - the dacmagic will act as a passthrough and make zero difference. The point of them is to use their analogue outs as they will be much better than the analogue outs you're using on the AV amp.

This would make a difference, assuming your AV amp has the right connections

Connection 1: USB --> DAC magic+ USB in (now async in the +, will be optimal connetion) --> DAC magic analogue out --> AV amp analogue in
Connection 2: Standard HDMI straight into amp.

Then you just set your PC to output over HDMI by default and set foobar to use the Dac Magic USB connection via WASAPI. Your films and games will continue as is, but when you want to listen to quality 2.0 you switch the AV amp to use the pre ins that are being fed by the DM analogue outs. And stick it in 'pure' mode or whatever (bypass?) to kill any signal processing.

As mentioned an AV amp is always an obvious bottleneck in any 2.0 system. If you've got the cash to spend on a DM+ you'd be wise to find another £150 and buy a secondhand integrated stereo amp (e.g. Audiolab 8000A).
 
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