DAC for PC or USB to SPDIF/Optical Converter?
May 18, 2015 at 8:35 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 11

CyberAthlete

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Hi everyone!
 
Wanted your two cents. I am almost done putting together my two channel set up.
Here is the config:
 
Dell Slim Tower PC (no expansion slots)
Harman Kardon HK 3490 Stereo Receiver (Optical Input, Coaxial)
 
Not sure what to get as I prefer using the Optical IN on the receiver for my audio signals. In which case would it make more sense to get a USB to optical converter or a DAC?
 
I am ok with using the DAC within the HK receiver.

I was looking at the Titanium X-Fi HD and using the optical out there and then connecting to the optical IN on the receiver. If I use the optical connection then the X-Fi is not processing the signal correct? Rather just taking the USB signals, converting them to optical and then sending them through to the receiver? Where the receiver will do the DAC? 
 
I can get the X-Fi HD for $60 so thinking if that's the most effective and cost solution route. Thanks!
 
May 18, 2015 at 9:58 AM Post #2 of 11

imeem

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i assume the reason why u want usb to coaxial/spdif is because your computer don't have a coaxial/spdif  port? 
 
if u get the x-FI HD and connect it to your receiver via optical, it will bypass your soundcard, but it will still process it such as those gaming features. But it wont use the dac on the x-fi HD. 
 
May 18, 2015 at 10:08 AM Post #3 of 11

CyberAthlete

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My computer does not have an optical or coaxial connection. It is as barebones as you can get. zero expansion slots, zero RAM expansion, zero additional SATA for Hard drives. It also only has 3 USB ports (Which works).
One HDMI, and then the rest are analog connections.
 
So if I use the Soundblaster X-Fi HD then I am still using the sound sig of the creative and not the receiver? I am just trying to get my files to the receiver and then use the receiver sound sig...thx!
 
May 18, 2015 at 10:18 AM Post #4 of 11

imeem

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optical out from x-fi HD to optical in to Receiver, it will use the dac on the receiver. 
 
If u didn't buy the receiver, try buying one that supports HDMI. So for example, hdmi out form your computer to hdmi into your receiver. I think that's a better route than buying a usb to spdif/coxial converter as it seems more direct. 
 
May 18, 2015 at 10:27 AM Post #5 of 11

CyberAthlete

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Ah of course the  HDMI route...oh well it's too late I picked up the receiver for a steal of a deal and honestly any receiver with HDMI is not at a bargain price with the rest of the specs.
 
This receiver is 120W per channel @ 8 Ohms
Has a separate subwoofer out as well (for the sub in my setup)
 
I've had a hard time finding a receiver with at least 100W per channel at 8 ohm for less than $499 with subwoofer out and those are not HK either.
 
But as long as the Soundblaster X-Fi HD acts as a pass through for the signal i think that's pretty much all I need. Thank you!
 
May 18, 2015 at 3:41 PM Post #6 of 11

cel4145

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I've had a hard time finding a receiver with at least 100W per channel at 8 ohm for less than $499 with subwoofer out and those are not HK either.


No. It's actually very easy (e.g. the Denon E300). Moreover, the HK 3390 does not have bass management for using a sub like an AVR would. Not saying you got a bad receiver (I have the HK 3390). Just wanted to clarify. :)

A Xonar DG or DGX would do equally well as a sound card to connect via optical to your receiver if you want to save a little money.
 
May 18, 2015 at 4:11 PM Post #7 of 11

CyberAthlete

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Thanks for the response :)
 
My sub has built in bass management where I can select it's volume and crossover frequency :)
 
Setup details
Speakers: Polk Audio LSiM703 bookshelves x2
Sub: Martin Logan Depth i
PC: Dell Intel Celeron (J1800) (2.50 GHz) Compact PC. No expansion slots (no sound card add ons), No RAM upgrade, No PCI-E, No additional SATA. Also fanless CPU so absolutely quiet PC. No fans inside. No need for any of that. This PC is only serving as hard drive storage and a way to play all my digital collection via a two channel setup
Receiver: Harman Kardon HK 3490 (No HDMI, No USB) but does have Optical input (#1 preference) and Coaxial Input
 
The ASUS are nice but I can not use them. Need an external USB device. If the Creative just works as a pass through for signal without processing it, then that will be my least expensive and best solution. Otherwise looking at USB to Optical converters. Any suggestions for those?
 
How are you liking the HK 3390 with different music? 
 
May 18, 2015 at 4:19 PM Post #8 of 11

PurpleAngel

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  Ah of course the  HDMI route...oh well it's too late I picked up the receiver for a steal of a deal and honestly any receiver with HDMI is not at a bargain price with the rest of the specs.
This receiver is 120W per channel @ 8 Ohms
Has a separate sub-woofer out as well (for the sub in my setup)
I've had a hard time finding a receiver with at least 100W per channel at 8 ohm for less than $499 with sub-woofer out and those are not HK either.
But as long as the Sound blaster X-Fi HD acts as a pass through for the signal i think that's pretty much all I need. Thank you!

 
Have you considered getting the Hifimediy USB DAC, $57 + shipping ($8?).
It's Sabre ES9023 DAC chip should better then whatever DAC chip is used in the HK (not trying to knock the HK).
http://hifimediy.com/DACs/ready-made-dacs/U2-DAC?sort=p.price&order=ASC&limit=100
 
The Asus Xonar U3 USB sound card, comes with optical output port (mini-toslink).
$41.99 and this month there is a $10 mail in rebate (Amazon).
 
May 18, 2015 at 4:30 PM Post #9 of 11

cel4145

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Sorry. I was thinking you were thinking internal device. Don't know anything about USB to optical converters. Since you have a very nice setup you've put some money into, personally I would suggest the Schiit Modi 2 DAC. It's an entry level audiophile USB DAC. Very nice :)

To take full advantage of the bass management capabilities of your Martin Logan sub, you'll want to run the pre-out from the HK 3490 to the sub, then line level out from the sub back to the HK 3490 (see page 13 of your sub manual). That would allow you to use the high pass filters on the sub. Otherwise, you'll have to set the low pass filter dial on your sub to the low frequency roll off of your speakers if you hook up to the subwoofer out. So it depends on whether or not you want the sub to take over some of the lower bass from the speakers.

The HK3390 is quite nice. I don't know about for different music. I don't generally think of amps mattering for different music since their frequency response is typically (and should be) linear. Best sound to me for me is to bypass the pre-amp in the 3390 all together. I have my dac/amp/pre-amp going to sub, then to the main in--I just use the HK 3390 as a power amp (although I'm not using it at this moment).
 
May 18, 2015 at 5:19 PM Post #10 of 11

CyberAthlete

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No worries! All good. I do appreciate it.
Thanks for going through the subwoofer manual (which I have yet to do as I haven't set all of this up yet) :) So I'll 
 
Take the Receiver Pre-Out and connect it to the Sub Line Level In
Then from Sub Line Level Out connect to Receiver Main In
 
 

 
 
 

 
May 18, 2015 at 9:23 PM Post #11 of 11

cel4145

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No worries! All good. I do appreciate it.
Thanks for going through the subwoofer manual (which I have yet to do as I haven't set all of this up yet) :) So I'll 

Take the Receiver Pre-Out and connect it to the Sub Line Level In
Then from Sub Line Level Out connect to Receiver Main In










Yes. If you want to use the high pass filter on your sub. The crossover dial on your sub ONLY affects the sub output--it's a low pass filter. So if you hook it up that way with the sub in between the pre-amp and amp, you can use one of the two high pass filters. So, for example, if you would rather have your sub crossed over with your speakers at 70hz (I think that was one of the filter options), that will filter the line out from the sub going back to the amp. Then you set the crossover dial on the sub to 70hz to filter the subwoofer above that.

But you could try it both ways. Without the high pass filters, just running the sub to the subwoofer out on the amp, too, and then setting the sub where your speakers start to roll off a lot in bass. Might as well experiment and see what you like best :)

That is the nice thing about the HK 3390/3490, though. Most receivers (you can find it on integrated amps) don't have that option of putting the sub in between the pre-amp and the amp like that in the audio chain. I don't even think that HK has that option on the newer version.
 

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