Originally Posted by Schonen
I was reading a thread over at hardocp.com where this person was poo-poo-ing all over receiver DACs and claiming they were far inferior over soundcard DACs. Why would a decent quality receiver cheap out on the DAC when DACs bought in bulk do not even cost much? This is a test I did on a friend a couple of years ago.
Emu0404 as a DAC only >audiolab 8000A headphone out
Emu0404 as a DAC only > headphone tube amp
spdif from mb>Denon 789 headphone out
...and the winner was...drum roll please...Denon789
So, how can that be if receivers have crap DAC?
EMU has some AKM DAC and Denon I think is a Cirrus Logic.
So you're comparing different amps and different DACs at the same time and trying to draw conclusions about the DACs?
You would have absolutely NO idea in that situation if what you are hearing is the result of your preference for your receiver's DAC or a preference for it's headphone output.
Most of the people who make these threads are just looking for people to agree with them about the conclusions that they have already formed, but if you are at all interested in doing comparisons that are actually meaningful, this is where you could start:
You need to test your other headphone amps while using your receiver as a DAC, and you need to test your receiver while using your EMU 0404 as a DAC.
To test your other amps using your receiver as a DAC, run an RCA cable from a Tape output on the receiver to the input on your headphone amp.
To test your receiver using your EMU 0404 as a DAC, run an analog cable from your 0404 into any of the analog inputs (AUX, etc) on the back of your receiver. The only possible issue being that some newer digital receivers will convert anything on the analog inputs back to digital meaning it would ultimately be using the receiver's DAC anyway. Hard to say without knowing more about your specific model if it will do that or if it will pass along the unmolested analog signal like it should.
I am not surprised that you found the built-in headphone amp from a higher-end receiver to sound better than your headphone amps. You'll notice that no one over at HardOCP was saying that receivers aren't good for powering headphones - they were discussing the DAC specifically. You on the otherhand have tried to compare too many variables simultaneously to be able to draw any meaningful conclusions about the underlying DACs.