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New to a Stand-Alone DAC

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Rodney_Foxman, Jan 10, 2020.

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  1. Rodney_Foxman

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    I am a bit embarrassed to say that I have never had a stand-alone DAC, and never felt the need for one. With the reality of streaming music and playing music that is on my phone growing in my routine, I am beginning to see the need. Going back to the late '80s, I have always relied on the built-in DAC's of CD players, etc.

    So, I am much more of a budget-fi than a hi-fi guy as in, I really don't want to spend $200. I'd prefer to stay under 100 up to around 150.

    I watched Johnny Darko's intro to DAC review video and I know he likes the Schiit Modi3 for that price range. I have just become aware of the SMSL Sanskrit 10th for just under 100.

    The way my HT is set up, I am running the HDMI to the TV and running the optical out from the TV to the Rotel Pre-Amp. My Blue-ray doubles as my CD player, which runs to the TV, or I have a Denon 2930 for multichannel music that I use for SACD and can use as a CD player running directly to the pre-amp

    So, for the price range, would the DAC only be a benefit from my phone to the pre-amp or is it something I would want to run the optical into from the TV and then into the pre-amp?

    Secondly, the best sound and reliability for the dollar recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    A few question. Is your preamp surround or two channel? Is there a particular reason you run your sources to the TV then to the preamp? That's not really the way equipment is designed to be used. The preamp is intended to be the center of the system, not the TV.
     
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  3. Rodney_Foxman

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    Great questions, thanks. My Rotel pre-amp was built pre-HDMI, so I run my HDMI into the TV and out to the pre-amp via the optical. The Pre-amp is multichannel, it is the RSP-1066 and I run a 5 channel 120 watt Rotel amp. Before all the HDMI stuff, everything ran into the pre-amp, but as I transitioned to HDMI gear, it caused a change.
     
  4. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    Just a side comment, you're probably losing discrete surround sound by running it through your TV. It's not always the case, but about 98% of the time the TV outputs 2 channel through optical from sources connected to the hdmi input. You can still be getting sound from all 5 speakers, but it would be Dolby surround, which is two channel matrixed out to a low quality surround. That is, unless your TV is one of the 2% that pass through true 5.1.

    Anyway, you definitely want to feed the DAC directly to an analog input on the preamp. Odds are a new, good DAC will be better than what's in the Rotel. That tech has come a long way. As far as which one? Read reviews. I know the Schiits are generally quite highly regarded and a great bargain.
     
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  5. Rodney_Foxman

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    John,

    I really appreciate your input. I have felt like I am not getting the surround sound with movies that I should, but I really don't know a better way. Both my Blue Ray and my Tivo have HDMI outputs and if I recall, they don't have audio out. The Tivo might, but the Blue Ray does not. I am open to suggestions.
     
  6. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    To get discrete surround, or at least DD/DTS 5.1 (you won't get Atmos or HD audio) you need players with optical or coaxial digital outputs that can be fed directly to the receiver. Then... you have to change inputs on both the TV and receiver to change sources. Or, you need a new preamp that you can feed the hdmi to directly.

    There's also an option of using an hdmi splitter or repeater that has a compatible digital audio output. I know those exist, but I have no idea how well they work and what kinds of problems they cause.
     
  7. Dave Upton

    Dave Upton Audiophile
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    Rodney,

    I would suggest you run one of these between your devices and whatever HDMI switch you use, thus letting you get real 5.1 audio into the Rotel: https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=24278

    The signal chain would be source -> HDMI Switch -> Blackbird -> TV

    You would then run optical from the Blackbird to your Rotel.

    As far as DAC's go, give us a budget and what you are looking for. Are you a music listener looking for more resolution? The Schiit Bifrost 2 is a fantastic product at a reasonable price point, but not sure if it's in your budget.
     
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  8. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    There ya go. I knew there was stuff like that available. I've just don't have any experience with them.
     
  9. Rodney_Foxman

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    Thanks Dave, I'll check that out. :)

    My budget for a DAC is under $200, thinking around $100-150
     
  10. Wayne_j

    Wayne_j Producer

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    The stand alone DAC would do stereo only, and would require either USB from a computer or optical.
     
  11. Message #11 of 11 Jan 21, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2020
    mjcmt

    mjcmt Auditioning

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    Yes the Schiit modi3 is a great dac for the money. I use one in 2 channel system. It is not multichannel but excellent for optical from tv to dac, and coaxial from Blu-ray player to dac to an analogue 2 channel input via the rca jacks.
     

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