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  1. #1

    Best DAC for PC, Onkyo tx-nr705 and Monitor Auidio BX-5

    At this point, here's my system:

    Onkyo tx-709 receiver
    Monitor Auidio BX5
    HTPC

    I'm a novice when it comes to putting together a system which is probably apparent from my entry-level system. Any help selecting an appropriate DAC would be much appreciated. It seems like a base price point for a decent DAC is around $500 but that seems overpriced for my system. Thoughts?

  2. #2

    I should add that I listen

    I don't know if this matters but I listen mostly to indie rock, alt-country, and folk-rock.

  3. #3
    Junior Member
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    The Onkyo has a dac which you

    The Onkyo has a dac which you should use first and try out before buying a separate dac. How do you have your HTPC connected to your AV receiver? If you are using HDMI, you're good to go. If the HTPC lacks an HDMI, use a usb to spdif converter like this, http://www.amazon.com/Musical-Fidelity-V-LINK-II-Converter/dp/B006JH2XQ2/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1331260960&sr =1-2. Or, since this is a network capable receiver, you should be able to stream music using DLNA. Keep it simple and enjoy your system.
    Macmini (as server)-> AE Express/SB Touch-> Dacmagic plus -> Outlaw RR2150 -> PSB Image T6 (dedicated 2 channel audio system)
    Macmini (via toslink)-> NAD T747 -> PSB Imagine B/SVS SB2000 subwoofer (home theater)
    Macbook Pro-> Peachtree idecco->PSB Imagine Minis, Energy ESW-M8 subwoofer, Beyerdynamic DT880 (home office)
    IMac->audioengine D1 dac->airmotiv 4 (work system)

  4. #4

    Thanks for your reply,

    Thanks for your reply, bikemig. I'm connected with HDMI. The internal DAC on the Onkyo was something that always confused me a bit. If receivers have DACs, why would anyone ever purchase an external one (unless for headphone use)? I understand one of the problems with internal DACs in PCs is interference with the other components in the unit creating noise. Do receivers not have this issue with their internal DACs?

    Regarding streaming, I've put off connecting my receiver to my network because I was concerned that I might lose some quality but perhaps I'm completely off base.

  5. #5
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    Then you're good to go.

    Then you're good to go. There are a few threads on this site where there is a discussion of dacs and av receivers. The bottom line is that if you like the sound, why add another gadget to your chain? There is no particular reason to stream if your htpc is connected to the av receiver via hdmi and you are using the htpc to play your music.
    Macmini (as server)-> AE Express/SB Touch-> Dacmagic plus -> Outlaw RR2150 -> PSB Image T6 (dedicated 2 channel audio system)
    Macmini (via toslink)-> NAD T747 -> PSB Imagine B/SVS SB2000 subwoofer (home theater)
    Macbook Pro-> Peachtree idecco->PSB Imagine Minis, Energy ESW-M8 subwoofer, Beyerdynamic DT880 (home office)
    IMac->audioengine D1 dac->airmotiv 4 (work system)

  6. #6
    Male Member crisnee's Avatar
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    I agree with Bikemig, don't

    I agree with Bikemig, don't start changing things willy nilly unless you're not satisfied with what you have.

    Something you might look into, if you're the slightest bit dissatisfied or just curious; Jim Smith's Book/Dvd on how to get the best out of your system. It's called "Get Better Sound" and is the best thing you can do for your sound, unless you know everything, and even then it's likely he knows just one more thing than you do. (He should really give me a cut, I've recommended his book/dvd so often, but it really is that good, useful and informative).

    He contributes here occasionally, you can google him on the web for more info.

    BTW the things that you're worried about in your post are really very minor concerns at this point for you. They are the very fine adjustments that may or may not make a difference.

    -Chris

  7. #7

    Thanks Chris and Bikemig. I

    Thanks Chris and Bikemig. I appreciate your thoughts. I'll definitely check out that book/dvd, as I feel like I could use all the help I can get coaxing the most out of my system. Perhaps I'm barking up the same tree here and I'm sure there are already forums discussing this issue but any thoughts on a dedicated sound card? Overall, I'm very satisfied with my sound but any changes I've made have led to some improvements and even more appreciation (I can see how this can get addicting quick...).

  8. #8
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    I have a different Onkyo AV

    I have a different Onkyo AV receiver, but the DACs on them are similar / the same.

    I started out just running everything thru HDMI, but that didn't sound all that great to me. Wound up buying a USB DAC (Hegel HD2) to run into the Onkyo via RCA, which *does* sound great. Recently, decided to try the internal Onkyo DAC again via optical - *big* difference between that and HDMI! Honestly, I can't tell the difference between optical into the Onkyo DAC (Burr-Brown 24/192) and USB / RCA thru the Hegel.

    All this by way of saying - give optical into the Onkyo a try. You may very well get great sound
    John Walker
    Senior IT Project Manager

    2x2TB HD > generic firewire cable > Mac Mini running JRiver Media Center > LH Labs Geek Out 720 > Audioquest Evergreen RCA cable > Pioneer Elite SC-81 > MartinLogan Motion series home theater speakers + M&K subwoofer

  9. #9
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    A usb to spdif converter

    A usb to spdif converter might be useful but I'd be careful before adding a stand alone dac to the chain between a computer and a receiver. There are a number of advantages in allowing the av receiver to handle the D to A conversion since it has a variety of DSP settings and handles bass management (which is important if you add a sub to your set up one day).
    Macmini (as server)-> AE Express/SB Touch-> Dacmagic plus -> Outlaw RR2150 -> PSB Image T6 (dedicated 2 channel audio system)
    Macmini (via toslink)-> NAD T747 -> PSB Imagine B/SVS SB2000 subwoofer (home theater)
    Macbook Pro-> Peachtree idecco->PSB Imagine Minis, Energy ESW-M8 subwoofer, Beyerdynamic DT880 (home office)
    IMac->audioengine D1 dac->airmotiv 4 (work system)

  10. #10

    Thanks for the advise! i'll

    Thanks for the advise! i'll play around with optical and see how that sounds.

  11. #11
    Male Member crisnee's Avatar
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    And if you do use a stand

    And if you do use a stand alone dac with a receiver you need to turn off all the DSP stuff, IOW go in direct mode, or the stand alone dac's sound will be compromised by the Onkyo's A/D and D/A conversion. As a matter of fact, with a stand alone dac, it might be worth trying the stereo part of 5.1 or 7.1 analog inputs, as they're sometimes implemented better than the others.

    -Chris