Importance of USB connections for integrated amp buying decision

Jeff49

Novice Member
This will be a very basic question for many of you, but for context, in my college era years, 8 track players and cassette tape players were the latest tech in music listening. After many years without a component hifi stereo system, I have decided to get back in the game. I currently don't have much music stored on my laptop, but am trying to evaluate the importance of buying an integrated amp with usb connections that would allow me to play music which I might choose to store on my computer or a thumb drive in the future. I am not finding many amps with usb connections for less than $1,000, so I am trying to decide if its worth stretching my budget just to get this feature. If I currently listened to music from my laptop it would would make more sense. My question boils down to this - in 2022 with many hi res streaming options, why might I want to store music on a hard drive to play through my system? I will have a turntable to play old vinyl albums and a CD player to play my CD collection. I realize that I may be missing something which is the reason I am posting this questions. Please educate this baby boomer on the subject.

Thanks!
 

TheHighFlyingBirds

Distinguished Member
Its not critical, but more connections means more options. If an amp doesnt have usb, there are several options you can take. First is a separate dac, these come in various options, e.g. the ifi zen dac which is just a usb input dac with headphone amp built in, or you could go for the topping e30 or zen one signature which are both multi input dacs. Secondly some cd players come with a usb input allowing for the addition of usb memory sticks with music. Or you could go for a streamer, with your pc transmitting music over wifi, e.g. the google chrome cast audio, although this is now discontinued, but at the time was a cheap way of streaming local files over your network.

To be honest, if you dont have that much digital music stored locally on a pc, I'd suggest a usb connection is not critical. If your music library grows then you can easily add a usb dac for not much, and the dac will probably better than what would come installed in an integrated amp.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I have no interest in streaming, or indeed ripping my CD/SACDs to a hard drive. I like my little silver discs and have invested in a fairly high end SACD player. We're both old, stuck in our ways and let's face it we grew up in the 1960s when music was great.;)
 

muljao

Well-known Member
If the extra cables of having an extra box don't matter you can buy an excellent ifi zen dac for relatively small money. This alone makes me believe you don't need an amp with a USB input or at least it shouldn't need to be a deciding factor
 

Jeff49

Novice Member
Thanks for the answers. A follow-up question. Would the sound quality of music played from my laptop hard drive be any better than music streamed through a receiver assuming a dac of the same quality?
 

TheHighFlyingBirds

Distinguished Member
Thanks for the answers. A follow-up question. Would the sound quality of music played from my laptop hard drive be any better than music streamed through a receiver assuming a dac of the same quality?
Do you mean streaming from somewhere like spotify vs your music on laptop? Or do you mean music on laptop via usb dac vs stream your music from the laptop to a receiver?

If dacs are of same quality then it'll come down to source file quality. The other factor would be how you are streaming, wifi or bluetooth? As bluetooth has a lower bandwidth than wifi, so high res files might be compressed if streaming over bluetooth.
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
Why not go for an amplifier now, that does what you need now, within your budget?

If you later decide you want to get into wifi streaming, computer sourcing, bluetooth connectivity, USB sticks, external drives, airplay, and the like, you can pick up a universal source such as the Yamaha CD-NT670D.
 

The latest video from AVForums

Samsung S95B QD-OLED Review - A Quantum Leap for OLED!
Subscribe to our YouTube channel
Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom