Answered How to use a digital source without Coax/Optical outputs?

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by smurggel, Dec 29, 2018.

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  1. smurggel

    smurggel
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    I hope this is the right place for posting slightly amateurish questions, but I'm looking to buy a budget system while getting as much value for my money as possible.

    I'm currently looking at the Onkyo A-9010 amp (with a built-in DAC), paired with the Mission QX-2's.

    I'm thinking of using my computer or iPhone as the source, so USB, wireless streaming (via an iPhone), or AUX (via my computers soundcard) are my only outputs.
    I don't trust the AUX output to be that great, so I have to pair either USB/streamed audio with the amp's coaxial/optical inputs.

    The alternatives I see are thus:
    Getting a separate DAC with an USB input. In that case, which?
    Should I pay slightly more for an amplifier with a USB input or streaming capabilities, with a decent built-in DAC? Note that iPhone's don't have AptX-bluetooth, so I'm a bit hestitant concerning that.
    I guess I can also buy a relatively cheap audio source (streamer) which actually has coaxial or optical outputs - I know there are also streamer/amp combos like the Bluesound Powernode 2i, but that specific one is out of my budget

    Or are there any other recommendations?
     
  2. Best Answer:
    Post #4 by BlueWizard, Dec 29, 2018 (1 points)
  3. Ugg10

    Ugg10
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    Buy a cheap sound card with digital output for the pc, can be had for a few £ on eBay. If you want to push the boat out the ASU’s xonar st/stx have good analogue outputs. Worth double checking your pc dies not have digital out, may have a toslink on the motherboard or one of the audio output may double up as a digital output.

    Example xonar dg/dgx (first is pci, second is pcie) £24 brand new 24/96 output. ASUS Xonar DG 5.1 Channel PCI Sound Card - Currys 4719543339978 | eBay
     
  4. smurggel

    smurggel
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    Thank you for the suggestion, I will look into that. As I've understood it, the audio source in terms of the digital components isn't that important (although I guess it CAN matter), as much as the DAC part itself. So a cheap sound card with digital outputs may be a great idea.
    Thanks!
     
  5. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    Best Answer
    A good Internal Sound Card is on way to go. Myself I used the built on the motherboard Realtek which has 24b/192k capability. But getting the higher bit rates is an advantage. Also, there are USB Interfaced, in essence, a external Sound Card, that are nice, but plan on paying for them.

    If you really are building a budget system, you could probably find a decent very low cost USB DAC on Amazon-UK. Certainly worth a look.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=USB+DAC&rh=i:aps,k:USB+DAC

    I'm told that if you get a very basic £30 Chromecast-Audio, that if you use the Bubble UPNP App, you can get full Network Streaming from the Chromecast device. So, that is one way to get full Network Streaming at a very low cost.

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bubblesoft.android.bubbleupnp.unlocker

    Another is to get the Yamaha WXAD-10 Network Streamer - £124 -

    Yamaha Wireless Streaming Adapter WXAD-10

    In this case, your phone is simply the control device for the Network Streaming, like a remote control. All the actual Streaming is between your computer and your Stereo or the Internet and your Stereo, and most importantly at full fidelity with no compression compromises.

    As to the A9010 Amp, that's decent for roughly £179, but if you can spend more, you can certainly get more. One of the best bargains would be the Yamaha AS501 (85w/ch, DAC) for about £270, though you can search for lower prices -

    Yamaha AS501 Amplifier with DAC - Superfi

    That's £100 more but it is also Double the amp.

    But, there is nothing wrong with the Onkyo for an entry level system, they are very clear amps.

    The Amp, or type and price of amp, seem to be sorted. The aspect in contention is the Streaming Aspect and how to accomplish that, and how much you are willing to spend to accomplish it.

    In Bluetooth, these devices from Avantree are both Transmitters and Receivers (select-able). Very long range, very low latency.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Avantree-B...rtified-Oasis-Supports-aptX-LL/dp/B01N2VKCO0/

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Avantree-B...Oasis-Plus-Supports-aptX-HD-LL/dp/B07BQYYDNJ/

    But if most of your network Streaming comes from the Internet, then the Chromecast-Audio is a bargain.

    GOOGLE Chromecast Audio - Curry's

    And if you want something a bit better, the Yamaha WXAD-10 is worth considering.

    Just a few thoughts.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
  6. Fred Smith

    Fred Smith
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    The UK version of the Onkyo A910 does not have a DAC but the European version (OP is from Sweden) does. I looked into this prior to buying an Yamaha amp.

    UK
    Onkyo | A-9010 (UK)

    European
    Onkyo | A-9010


    The Yamaha A-S501 would be a good alternative (I own own so slightly biased).
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2018
  7. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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  8. dannnielll

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    The number of options is endless .. nearly. And with a little bit of thinking around the problem loads of solutions.
    1. The Blue Wizard solution of getting a DAC either internal or external and feeding analogue signals. Into the amplifier.. if going that route I would recommend an external USB DAC box ,preferably one using usb class 2 ,which can operate at resolutions beyond 24 bit 96k.
    2. Getting a pc card with optical out or Coax out. It can be either internal or external The optical spdif has the marginal advantage of stopping potential hum from an earth loop.
    3. Buy a better Amplifier with usb inputs. Many of the slightly more expensive amplifiers have networking from home servers built in
    4. a midrange Blue ray disc player with USB input, network access and coax or optical out. .. such a device will see your computer on the internal home network and can drive the amplifier. Or you can just plug the hard drive into the player ..
     
  9. smurggel

    smurggel
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    Wow! Thanks for all the ideas. The Chromecast audio sounds interesting. 96kHz/24bit streamed via Wi-Fi, with a optical output sounds really great if it works. I don't understand everything 100 % but I guess the data gotten via wifi must be converted to S/PDIF and that's where the Yamaha WXAD-10 is better - although it doesn't allow for a DAC with only analog outputs.

    Otherwise it's a DAC or soundcard - but I'm unsure how the soundcard quality affects the sound in the digital S/PDIF outputs. Anyway, thanks.
     
  10. Ugg10

    Ugg10
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    The Chromecast is an interesting device as it uses a tablet or phone purely as a remote and internally hosts apps that talks directly to the inter/intranet.

    For example I use Spotify, the CCA is connected via the 3.5mm combined port using optical to a dac and then onto active monitors. Spotify need the premium service. I open the Spotify app on my tablet, start the track and choose the CCA as the output device. At this point the CCA connects directly to the internet and streams the music direct, you can then use the tablet for something else. The tracks can be changed by any machine with Spotify on it (phone, tablet, Mac, pc). And it works well. I think there are apps for streaming from a NAS or pc but others can talk to this better than I.
     
  11. smurggel

    smurggel
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    Thanks, I'll have to think about all this. A DAC/better amp seems like a straightforward and reliable solution though. I can't say that I understand the difference between an external soundcard and a DAC though - they seem like the exact same thing with similar outputs?
     
  12. dannnielll

    dannnielll
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    Yes you are right they are same function,.. Perhaps the point of difference could be that a Soundcard will also contain a headphone amplifier, whereas a dedicated DAC might be restricted to line level outputs. . I have picked up about 4 different usb powered external sound cards / DACs and while I may switch from one to another, the differences are not great. If you follow my earlier postings I have made references to them.
    The simplistic solution is to buy a Cyrus Soundkey ,plug it into the computer usb port,and connect a 3 .5mm stereo plug to RCA adaptor into your amplifier. The sound will not disappoint.,but the price might.
     
  13. Trollslayer

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    I have a PC with optical out on the motherboard with an optical cable to the AV receiver, works fine.
     
  14. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    The WXAD-10 IS A DAC (Burr-Brown 24b/192k), that's how it is able to convert Digital Sound to Analog.

    MusicCast WXAD-10 - Overview - Accessories - Audio & Visual - Products - Yamaha - UK and Ireland

    - (MP3, WMA, MPEG4 AAC) 48 kHz / 24-bit
    - (WAV, FLAC, AIFF) 192 kHz / 24bit,
    - (ALAC) 96 kHz / 24-bit


    If you have a quality Sound Card (Internal or External), it is going to sound good. But it seems you are building a budget system, so you have to accept limitations. If you have a quality sound card, then you don't need digital outputs, though it may have them. I didn't check the specs but I suspect those £50 Sound Cards have a very decent DAC in them, and the second one appears to be completely shielded. So, if you buy a Sound Card, it doesn't make sense to use the Digital Out, just use the Analog Out of the Sound Card.

    Keep in mind if your current computer has a Optical Out, then you can get an acceptable for an entry level system for about £25.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Converter-Digital-Adjustable-Optical-Coaxial-Black/dp/B074P5PHYM/

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Digital-Analog-Audio-Converter-Optical-black/dp/B0068IPE40/

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=Optical+DAC

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_s...=FIIO+Optical+DAC&rh=i:aps,k:FIIO+Optical+DAC

    Steve/bluewizard
     
  15. smurggel

    smurggel
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    I understand, so you'd have to rely on the WXAD-10's DAC being good, which it actually seems to be. There isn't much information about the quality on internal soundcard DACs, but as you say, they should at least be decent, but better than the ones in budget amplifiers?
    For about twice the price of a sound card I could get the Cambridge Audio DACMagic 100, and plug a USB into that, which sounds like a good solution. And thanks again for all the ideas.
     
  16. smurggel

    smurggel
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    Hey, sorry for coming back so much later, but in what way would the Sony A-S501 be better than the Onkyo A-9010? I know it's got more power, but I'm sure the Onkyo's got plenty enough for my needs. I can't really test either of them before buying but I'm leaning more towards the Onkyo. Would the Sony be the better choice of the two?

    Oh, and for the same price as the A-S501, there's also the Marantz PM6005.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019
  17. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    Yamaha ... Yamaha AS501 Integrated Amp with DAC (optical/coaxial), 85w/ch, Phono In, Sub-Out - £270 -

    Yamaha AS501 Amplifier with DAC - Superfi

    A-S501 - Overview - Yamaha - UK and Ireland

    Minimum RMS Output Power (8 ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz): 85 W + 85 W (0.019% THD)

    The Onkyo 9010 is cheap enough at £179 in the UK -

    Onkyo A9010 Integrated Stereo Amplifier - Superfi

    Power Output: 44 W/Ch (8 Ω, 1 kHz, 0.08% THD,2 Channels Driven, IEC)

    • Two Digital Audio Inputs (Optical and Coaxial)
    • Coaxial Supports Sampling Rates Up to 192 kHz/24-bit (Optical 96 kHz/24-bit)


    44w/ch is fine. Nothing special but fine. I used a 45w/ch Pioneer for years ... it's fine. But it is not 85w/ch.

    I'm not sure where you are, so you would have to check local prices.

    It is all about working out a reasonable and personal blend of value and power. I have a coupel of Onkyo 50w/ch Stereo Receivers, they are fine; I'm using one on my computer, but on my main system, up until recently, I used a 100w/ch Yamaha Stereo Receiver. The Onkyo are crystal clear, but not great shakes on bass. Though in general they do sound good.

    Here is one model down in the Yamaha, Yamaha AS301 60w/ch DAC - £229 -

    Yamaha AS301 Amplifier with DAC - Superfi

    A-S301 - Overview - HiFi Components - Audio & Visual - Products - Yamaha - UK and Ireland

    But keep in mind the Yamaha AS501 is only £40 more.

    It is about getting the most for your money, and finding a balance that works for you. I never said not to buy the Onkyo, I'm simply offering alternatives to consider.

    The Cambridge DACMagic 100 is a nice DAC, and has Optical/Coaxial/USB-PC for direct connec to any USB capable computer. I think this is about £169. Though it occasionally goes on sale.

    Cambridge Audio DACMAGIC 100 (Black)

    Cambridge Audio DACMAGIC 100 (Silver)

    Current price on the BLACK model is only £129.

    In a pure USB-Only DAC, consider the Audioquest Dragonfly (£89) -

    Audioquest Dragonfly Black USB Digital To Analogue Converter - Superfi

    If you are trying to build a low cost system, then search Amazon-UK for Chinese DACs of the type you need.

    If is all about working out your personal priorities and your working budget.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
  18. smurggel

    smurggel
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    Again, thanks a lot for the incredibly detailed responses. The Onky A-9010 + a DacMagic 100 sounds good, but I'll look into the Yamahas a bit more.
     

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