Receiver too big: Best replacement for 2.1 desktop?
May 8, 2012 at 9:25 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 10

AdamXIII

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Hello, 
 
I have 2 Polk TSi50's and a Polk PSW 10 on my desktop audio set up. The source is my desktop PC with a SB Audigy soundcard running optical digital out to an ancient HK AVR 320 receiver. I also occasionally plug in my Sennheiser HD595's. 
 
It sounds fantastic but the giant receiver is just taking up way too much space. What would you all recommend to take it's place? 
 
Budget: < $300
 
I'm pretty new to the scene so I'm not entirely sure what I'm looking for. I've searched around but this forum is rather large and intimidating so I apologize if this is a redundant topic.
 
May 9, 2012 at 2:30 AM Post #2 of 10

proton007

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I think your receiver is also powering the speakers, right?
I mean you can get a separate DAC that accepts optical input, but you would still need an amplifier for your speakers.
So I guess what you have is a complete package already. You'll just end up getting more separate components to replace this one.
 
May 10, 2012 at 8:32 AM Post #4 of 10

estreeter

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Quote:
Ditch the soundcard, the Polk speakers and the receiver in favor of this setup:
 
Audiotrak Cube Prodigy USB DAC ($99) >>> Fostex PM0.4n active monitors ($199).

 
Pure Gold, Mauricio. I meant to ask you - does Jakarta have any dedicated audio stores ? I recall going to a massive mall in the north of the city that seemed to have a lot of specialty stores, but the crowds and  the traffic were completely off the scale.  I know you live in Bali, but I assume  you go to Jakarta for audio ? 
 
May 10, 2012 at 9:39 AM Post #5 of 10

ProtegeManiac

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Quote:
I think your receiver is also powering the speakers, right?
I mean you can get a separate DAC that accepts optical input, but you would still need an amplifier for your speakers.
So I guess what you have is a complete package already. You'll just end up getting more separate components to replace this one.

 
It depends on his desk space, really. A home theater receiver like that is still a lot larger than a NuForce HDP and Icon Amp, for example.
 
Quote:
Ditch the soundcard, the Polk speakers and the receiver in favor of this setup:
 
Audiotrak Cube Prodigy USB DAC ($99) >>> Fostex PM0.4n active monitors ($199).

 
I'd go with this - ideally a desktop set-up should have active monitors, that way you have a lot of space and at the price points you can find a separate headphone amp if you need one, or even get a DAC-preamp-headphone amp with a bigger PSU and a more powerful headphone amp.

Another option is the NuForce Dia since your computer has optical digital output, but it won't leave any room for expansion with a dedicated headphone amp if you upgrade from the HD595, I think you'll need to set-up the soundcard to feed the subwoofer a signal. Still, do read up on whether this (or the similar, older NuForce products - Icon, Icon2, etc, but NOT the HDP or HD) does well with the 595. http://www.nuforce.com/hp/products/dia/index.php
 
May 10, 2012 at 12:46 PM Post #6 of 10

AdamXIII

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Quote:
I think your receiver is also powering the speakers, right?
I mean you can get a separate DAC that accepts optical input, but you would still need an amplifier for your speakers.
So I guess what you have is a complete package already. You'll just end up getting more separate components to replace this one.

 
Yes the receiver is powering the speakers
 
Quote:
Ditch the soundcard, the Polk speakers and the receiver in favor of this setup:
 
Audiotrak Cube Prodigy USB DAC ($99) >>> Fostex PM0.4n active monitors ($199).

 
I really dig the speakers, what benefit would that setup give me over the existing setup?
 
Quote:
 
It depends on his desk space, really. A home theater receiver like that is still a lot larger than a NuForce HDP and Icon Amp, for example.
 
 
I'd go with this - ideally a desktop set-up should have active monitors, that way you have a lot of space and at the price points you can find a separate headphone amp if you need one, or even get a DAC-preamp-headphone amp with a bigger PSU and a more powerful headphone amp.

Another option is the NuForce Dia since your computer has optical digital output, but it won't leave any room for expansion with a dedicated headphone amp if you upgrade from the HD595, I think you'll need to set-up the soundcard to feed the subwoofer a signal. Still, do read up on whether this (or the similar, older NuForce products - Icon, Icon2, etc, but NOT the HDP or HD) does well with the 595. http://www.nuforce.com/hp/products/dia/index.php

 
That's my main thing, the receiver is too damn big. So to make sure i understand it right the Dia would be strictly for amplification and i would be using my soundcards DAC? I dont think the sub would be a problem as far as I can tell because the optical carries the full signal and it has a coax for the sub. If I just need amplification would something like http://www.nuforce.com/hp/products/iconamp/index.php work? are those rca cables for a sub?
 
I dont think I much need a DAC since my soundcard already puts out 24bit/960000hz
 
 
 
What about something like the Maverick TubeMagic D1?
 
May 10, 2012 at 1:40 PM Post #7 of 10

Mr.Sneis

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Not sure if you mean the whole setup, just the receiver, or whatnot.  But here's what I did recently and I'm enamored at how much I like the setup.  It's still probably "low end" in the grand scheme of things.
 
$40 NHT Super Zero's on Craigslist
$60 Dayton DTA-100a on eBay
$280 HSU STF-1 sub direct from manufacturer
 
I'm using a separate DAC but you could just as easily use a cheap soundcard like an Asus Xonar DG or the Audigy you have.  I realize it's going to be a challenge to find the exact same components at the same price or whatever but my point is that you could probably get away with cheap bookshelves, cheap t-amp, and modestly priced sub and still have a great listening experience without the bulk (and expense) of a receiver. 
 
OK re-read the post sorry for the tangent!  Stick with the speakers and sub you have. -> The key is something like the cheap Dayton T-amp, it's really very small and I like that the sub allows for it's own crossover which I prefer to a receiver's control.  If you're not happy with the soundcard's analog output you may want to look into something like the Headroom MicroDAC or Headamp Pico (Dac only) for a great, readily available and headphone friendly source that is also very small footprint.  Just gotta do some bargaining and homeworking!
 
May 10, 2012 at 2:40 PM Post #8 of 10

ProtegeManiac

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Quote:
 
Yes the receiver is powering the speakers
I really dig the speakers, what benefit would that setup give me over the existing setup?
 
----------------
 
I dont think I much need a DAC since my soundcard already puts out 24bit/960000hz
 
What about something like the Maverick TubeMagic D1?
 
---------------
 
That's my main thing, the receiver is too damn big. So to make sure i understand it right the Dia would be strictly for amplification and i would be using my soundcards DAC? I dont think the sub would be a problem as far as I can tell because the optical carries the full signal and it has a coax for the sub. If I just need amplification would something like http://www.nuforce.com/hp/products/iconamp/index.php work? are those rca cables for a sub?
 

 
1) The Fostex mentioned there are powered monitors. That means they have amps factory-matched to the drivers built into the cabinets, and all you need is a DAC with a preamp to control them. And chances are a one box DAC-preamp also has a headphone amp, usually powerful enough to drive your HD595, unless of course you plan to upgrade. Another advantage is that they are designed for near-field listening, where Hi-Fi speakers are usually voiced from about at least 1.0 from the speakers.
 
2) You still need a DAC - outputting 24/96 is not the same as outputting a 1V-2V analog line signal. What your soundcard is when using the digital output is a subsystem of a transport, which your entire CPU is, the same way that a bare-bone CD/DVD/BR drive is technically a transport in itself but NOT a transport that can send a signal to the DAC without the circuit that can draw the data and send it out via SPDIF protocol. What a DAC then does - whether it's in the same box as the transport or not - is to take the 1's and 0's and convert them to an analog signal, and it has a line  stage (opamp, HDAM, tube) that would take it up to redbook (CD) standard 2V. In other applications it would be lower (as in portable players) or car audio receivers (can be as high as 8v peak, for those subwoofers you can hear from two blocks away). Either way, this is the signal that the low-level signal the amplifier receives and what is typically measured in volts comes out as a  high-level signal typically measured in watts (or fractions thereof, as in headphones).
 
Now, the TubeMagic D1 is a DAC-preamp-headphone amp. For your needs, it can take the digital signal from the optical outputs on the soundcard, and power your HD595. Here's a problem - how do you power the speakers? It has a tube preamp though, but you'd need a separate amplifier for your speakers.If however you decide to just use powered monitors like the Fostex that were mentioned, then you can use the D1's tube output to feed the amp inputs on the speakers. But of course, as ideal as powered monitors are to us, if you like the Polk speakers' sound, do not restrict yourself to just the Fostex. Try getting feedback (in other forums also) on what powered monitors sound close. For example, I usually prefer Focal speakers, for both my home and my car, and incidentally my preferred headphones are the HD600 (with a good solid state amp), and for powered monitors, KRK (or Samson when I'm on a budget).
 
3) If you use the Dia, that will become your DAC - your soundcard enables your computer to send the SPDIF signal to it (unless your motherboard already has that feature, but since you already have the soundcard, I'd rather use that); as it is, your AVR230 is actually your DAC (and processor), not the soundcard. What you will need to do is to configure the soundcard to output the sub's signal through its own RCA output (it's technically a coaxial, sine it has two conductors, but let's distinguish it from the 75ohm SPDIF RCA output normally called "coax"). I assume you were using the receiver's RCA sub output before, yes? If that's the case the soundcard sends a fullrange 2.0 signal to the AVR320, and depending on the capabilities of the HT receiver's processor (which includes a DAC), you can have it

a. process the signal and send a high-pass signal to the internal speaker amp and a low-pass signal to the sub
b. send a fullrange signal to both, and use the sub's analog crossover to match the sub's upper freq roll-off to the low-freq roll-off of the mains
c. send either a low-pass to the sub and use the receiver to set at what frequency the crossover point is and how steep it is; or send a high pass to the speakers at custom settings, then match it with the sub's analog crossover (or vice versa)
 
Remember that the only way it actually takes a 5.1 signal by default is if you're feeding it a movie or game with 5.1 audio. Some set-ups in large rooms that use small mains speakers don't do well with concert videos because they're configured for 5.0, although you can improve it by setting the receiver to send a signal to the sub as described above. In any case, what the DIA doesn't have as far as I know is a dedicated subwoofer output, which means you have to configure the soundcard to output an analog signal to the sub, and if it can't apply a crossover, you have to use the sub's. Now, I could still be wrong about this, since some NuForce products use the headphone output as an analog subwoofer output. In case the Dia can do this, then basically you have to tailor the subwoofer's crossover and gain settings to compensate for a lack of digital processing that you had with the full-size HT receiver. Also, check the soundcard if it allows you to simultaneously send a digital signal and an analog signal to the subwoofer.
 
 
May 12, 2012 at 4:34 AM Post #9 of 10

Mauricio

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Pure Gold, Mauricio. I meant to ask you - does Jakarta have any dedicated audio stores ? I recall going to a massive mall in the north of the city that seemed to have a lot of specialty stores, but the crowds and  the traffic were completely off the scale.  I know you live in Bali, but I assume  you go to Jakarta for audio ? 

 
Most audio stores are in Mangga Dua Mall and Glodok Plaza in the north of the city.  Yes, it is in a (an even more) crowded, hot, disorganized part of the city, but many stores will deliver, paymentt by previous bank tranfer or cash on delivery, the goods to your hotel/home for less than $5 so need not go there at all.  What are you looking for?  I'm the Homeland right now, and I am thinking of stocking up on Schiit gear for resale in Indonesia.  What's your flavor?
 
May 12, 2012 at 7:47 PM Post #10 of 10

estreeter

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Most audio stores are in Mangga Dua Mall and Glodok Plaza in the north of the city.  Yes, it is in a (an even more) crowded, hot, disorganized part of the city, but many stores will deliver, paymentt by previous bank tranfer or cash on delivery, the goods to your hotel/home for less than $5 so need not go there at all.  What are you looking for?  I'm the Homeland right now, and I am thinking of stocking up on Schiit gear for resale in Indonesia.  What's your flavor?

 
Thanks Mauricio. I'll probably fly to Singapore after I move into my new digs in 2014, but its good to have this kind of background info - so few Indonesians have your grasp of English, even my former GF still spoke 'Indglish'. Lovely girl - just not terribly bright.  
wink.gif

 
As to what it is I'm after, that remains a work in progress. I am trying very hard to ignore the lure of tube amps, but we all know how easy it is to get sucked into that vortex. Current obsessions is NAD's C390DD - cant get it in Bangkok for about 500USD over the online asking price at a US site - dont know what sort of import duties you pay, but for Thailand that isnt bad for a 2500 USD component that I would have to pay freight and customs duty  on anyway. Some on ThaiVisa have reported being stung for up to 60 per cent over the purchase price of various imported goodies - it all comes down to the Customs guy to decided what you have to pay on a given declared value ....  
mad.gif

 
BTW, I think it was Glodok - about a hundred thousand Chinese-Indonesians with their families - staff seemed to be almost exclusively dark-skinned Muslim girls. The most startling class division I've seen anywhere - Amazing Asia. 
 

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