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Help linking PC with external DAC

My current setup is the following:
I play flac files from my laptop using Foobar2000. The digital data are sent to a multi-channel Denon receiver via HDMI cable. Then using Denon built-in DAC and amplifiers onto my speakers.
I'm thinking of upgrading my system which will include a dedicated DAC module.
I looked around and most of them have USB input but no HDMI.
Couple of questions:
1) Does it mean all I have to do is to connect my computer to a DAC via USB and the data will be transfered via USB without any additional steps on my side?
2) What should I look for in a good DAC? Any recommendations?
3) Perhaps there is an easier/better way to send my digital files to the DAC?

Thanks in advance!

Re: Help linking PC with external DAC

Reply #1
1) Hopefully, yes. Depending on the DAC and your OS, you may need to install a driver.
2) Hard to beat the Topping D10/D30/D50 for price/performance. Specs are at Audio Science Review.
3) Just keep doing what you are doing now; it's not going to make that much of a difference.

Abandoning the digital link (HDMI) to the Denon's internal DAC will break the ability to play multi-channel FLAC, if that matters to you.

Re: Help linking PC with external DAC

Reply #2
1) Hopefully, yes. Depending on the DAC and your OS, you may need to install a driver.
2) Hard to beat the Topping D10/D30/D50 for price/performance. Specs are at Audio Science Review.
3) Just keep doing what you are doing now; it's not going to make that much of a difference.

Abandoning the digital link (HDMI) to the Denon's internal DAC will break the ability to play multi-channel FLAC, if that matters to you.

Thank you for your answers! That helps a lot.
A friend of mine also recommended Schiit DACs as well Rega brand. How would you guys place those with Topping DACs?

Re: Help linking PC with external DAC

Reply #3
Quote
A friend of mine also recommended Schiit DACs as well Rega brand. How would you guys place those with Topping DACs?
If you hear any difference (in a proper blind listening test ;) ) something's broken or defective. 

If you want "better sound", get better speakers or just play-around with EQ.    Every speaker will sound different and you can make very-audible changes with EQ.    But, all (good) DACs sound alike.    If you're not hearing noise from your soundcard, the DAC built-into your soundcard is probably better than human hearing so you can just use your soundcard, if for some reason you don't want to use HDMI.    (Some soundcards have audible noise, but usually there is no audible distortion or audible frequency response deviation.) 

USB can "play anything" because the CODECs are in software.     But as Apesbrain says, most stand-alone DACs are stereo so you won't get surround sound.     

Re: Help linking PC with external DAC

Reply #4
It seems to me that the original poster has a pretty decent set-up already. Switching to a USB DAC will actually limit his/her options. And I can't imagine a company like Denon putting a substandard DAC into one of their receivers.

I did have issues with background noise when playing music via HDMI on my previous laptop, which ruled it out for me, but my current model is just fine, and using it frees up a USB socket for other uses. And it also means that, if I need to, I can send video from my hard drive to my TV.


Re: Help linking PC with external DAC

Reply #6
Adding DAC just decrease quality by adding one more unnecessary DA-AD cycle to your audio path.

Re: Help linking PC with external DAC

Reply #7
Adding DAC just decrease quality by adding one more unnecessary DA-AD cycle to your audio path.
Even if I use analog inputs and analog outputs on my amp?

Re: Help linking PC with external DAC

Reply #8
A friend of mine also recommended Schiit DACs as well Rega brand. How would you guys place those with Topping DACs?

Way below the Topping, measurements can be found here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/master-index-for-audio-hardware-reviews.2079/


Thanks a lot for those links!!!

Re: Help linking PC with external DAC

Reply #9
a multi-channel Denon receiver via HDMI cable. Then using Denon built-in DAC

Sounds reasonable. What receiver?
Memento: this is Hydrogenaudio. Do not assume good faith.

Re: Help linking PC with external DAC

Reply #10
What problem are you trying to address with the Denon receiver?


Re: Help linking PC with external DAC

Reply #12
It's a very cheap AVR-1613 model. Which I'm definitely going to upgrade as well. I just wanted to start my research with the first link - DAC.

The reason why I asked, was in case there are some DSP features that you actually want, like delay between speakers and that kind of thing - in which case the receiver should get the digital signal. Even if you only play stereo.
And that could be the case for your next receiver, so you could as well put the DAC plans on hold. You could get a more than adequate DAC in your new receiver, and it doesn't cost much once they are building a box. It isn't witchcraft. A separate DAC box is a niche product that needs to be sold at a price that pays a production line. (But once the production line is established, and there are many units for sale - look at what what audio they put into telephones: https://kenrockwell.com/apple/iphone-6-plus.htm#measurements .)
Memento: this is Hydrogenaudio. Do not assume good faith.

Re: Help linking PC with external DAC

Reply #13
My current setup is the following:
I play flac files from my laptop using Foobar2000. The digital data are sent to a multi-channel Denon receiver via HDMI cable. Then using Denon built-in DAC and amplifiers onto my speakers.
I'm thinking of upgrading my system which will include a dedicated DAC module.
A dedicated DAC isn't an audio upgrade. What other type of upgrade are you seeking?

Btw, my NAD M51 accepts HDMI, but it's $2k
Loudspeaker manufacturer

Re: Help linking PC with external DAC

Reply #14
My current setup is the following:
I play flac files from my laptop using Foobar2000. The digital data are sent to a multi-channel Denon receiver via HDMI cable. Then using Denon built-in DAC and amplifiers onto my speakers.
I'm thinking of upgrading my system which will include a dedicated DAC module.
A dedicated DAC isn't an audio upgrade. What other type of upgrade are you seeking?

All of it. I guess I should've probably titled this something like "Help me build a first serious music (stereo) system".
In fact, I'll do that. If you guys have any suggestions for me please go to my new thread. Here is the link:
https://hydrogenaud.io/index.php/topic,116707.0.html

 

Re: Help linking PC with external DAC

Reply #15
Even if I use analog inputs and analog outputs on my amp?
Yes, analog inputs are transformed to digital for AV-receivers DSP. Some AV-receivers might have direct mode which uses only analog audio paths, but then you lose all fancy features like bass management, crossovers, delays, EQ's etc.

DAC is last thing you need to worry about when upgrading your system. Audyssey MultEQ room correction should give noticeable results, not sure about different versions.

 
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