Looking for a 5.1 DAC (XLR output?) (Sub 2K$ preferable)
May 18, 2012 at 6:58 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 4

borowedarogance

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[size=10pt]Hi there, I was wondering if there are any solid DACs to use as a receiver in my living room, I've recently gotten the emotiva pro airmotiv5s and a G-d audio NFB 17.2.  I was planning to upgrade by buying three airmotiv6s for use as the front three speakers, along with a sub, and was curious if there were any good 5.1 DAC recommendations (sub 2K) that anyone might have?  [/size]
 
[size=10pt]Also to ice my noob-post cake i've successfully baked: Are XLR/balanced outputs only used for 2 speaker setups?  [/size]
 
[size=10pt]Thank you very much for your time :)[/size]
 
May 19, 2012 at 7:00 PM Post #2 of 4

obobskivich

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There are not "DACs" for this material unless you've got some nice pro equipment in the mix (like this http://www.gracedesign.com/products/m906/m906.htm).

I'm guessing however, that you aren't setting up a mastering studio for 5.1. So you probably want to decode consumer formats like DTS 5.1, and play those back. For that, you want something known as an "AV Receiver" ("AVR") or "AV Processor" ("SSP" or "Pre/Pro").

Here's an example from Marantz:
http://us.marantz.com/us/Products/Pages/ProductDetails.aspx?CatId=AVSeparates&SubCatId=0&ProductId=AV7005

All XLR outputs, 7.1 (it can actually do 9.1 depending on configuration, but this will require using RCA connectors too), and it will decode lots of multi-channel digital streams via HDMI and S/PDIF (things like MPCM and Blu-ray audio via HDMI, things like DTS via S/PDIF).

For substantially more money you can get the "bigger brother" from Denon:
http://usa.denon.com/US/Product/Pages/ProductDetail.aspx?PCatId=AVSolutions(DenonNA)&catalog=DenonNA_US&CatId=AVSeparates(DenonNA)&Pid=AVPA1HDCIA(DenonNA)

It's got more inputs, more features, etc.

If you don't like that route (for whatever reason), there's other options. A multi-channel pre-amplifier, like this one from Parasound:
http://www.parasound.com/halo/p7.php

Alternately, a decoder box (this could be coupled with the Parasound and run as a line-level source, it also features and internal volume control though):
http://www.gefen.com/kvm/dproduct.jsp?prod_id=8202

If you want to go cheaper, there's some pre-HDMI decoder models that you can probably find on eBay still from Sony, Technics, Yamaha, and Marantz. They usually only support Dolby Digital, but a few support DTS to some extent (some also support Dolby Digital RF). All RCA outputs, just like the Gefen. Either go with a balun or DI or use the SE connections (if you're worried about noise, you can get shielded RCA cables).

Oh, one final thing to note:
Whatever you end up with, you'll need some device (somewhere in the system) that can do something called "Bass Management" - basically that's a fancy way of saying a device that can put a crossover in between the five speakers and the subwoofer, as well as ensure that the subwoofer channel present on things like DVDs is passed along correctly. The Marantz and Denon units will take this a few steps further, and auto-configure the system once you've got everything installed. The Parasound and many of the pre-HDMI decoders have manually configurable settings (the Denon and Marantz can be tweaked by hand as well, if you wanted to), I'm not sure if the Gefen decoder does this or not. I believe the Grace assumes it's handled up-stream and applies no such correction (I've not used this one quite honestly). Some computer soundcards and player machines (like DVD players) can do this processing as well.
 
May 20, 2012 at 3:45 AM Post #4 of 4

borowedarogance

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Thank you so much!  That was exactly the answer I was hoping for, very informative, and with lots of examples :)  That Marantz looks delicious (exactly what i was searching for).
 
Thank you for your help fine sir(s) (or Ma'am(s))
 
 

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