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rawdawg
Sep 27, 2010, 11:24 AM
I am eagerly waiting for my ATV to ship. In the mean time I do not have digital audio capability with my stereo. Yes, I know my HDTV has HDMI which carries the audio signal but I would like to plug ATV into my stereo for music too (like an airport express). But I have a classic old Marantz receiver so I need RCA inputs.

Any digital-to-analogue converter recommendations? I posted this in the digital audio forum with zero responses....



Tilpots
Sep 27, 2010, 11:38 AM
I don't know about a DAC, but you should be able to run the HDMI into your HDTV, then run RCA cables from your TV's Audio Out into your receiver. Elegant? No. Should it work? Yes.

pasipple
Sep 27, 2010, 12:00 PM
I have kind of the same issue. I'm in some temporary living conditions so I had to go "lite" with my entertainment equipment. All my AV equipment is in storage so I'm trying to make do with A 42" Panasonic plasma and a set of AudioEngine 5 powered speakers.

I'm running a DirecTV box, and a Blue-Ray player into the TV using HDMI and will be doing the same with the ATV. Then I'll bypass the TV's lousy speakers by sending the TV's audio out to the AudioEngine speakers. I just ordered a digital audio decoder....to take the audio out (Toslink) from the TV to the powered speakers (RCA or mini-RCA).

http://www.gefen.com/gefentv/gtvproduct.jsp?prod_id=5980

darkplanets
Sep 27, 2010, 01:48 PM
While I can't recommend one, since I'm not well versed in this area, I can say that there are quite a few people against using your TV's built-in DAC. Typically it sounds terrible. Not to mention the fact that your TV has to be on in order to listen to music, another downside. I'd recommend using the TOSlink out on your TV, or, even better, the optical out of the ATV itself, which is what you're looking to do. That's the best route.

I'm looking forward to some of the responses.

rawdawg
Sep 27, 2010, 02:04 PM
While I can't recommend one, since I'm not well versed in this area, I can say that there are quite a few people against using your TV's built-in DAC. Typically it sounds terrible. Not to mention the fact that your TV has to be on in order to listen to music, another downside. I'd recommend using the TOSlink out on your TV, or, even better, the optical out of the ATV itself, which is what you're looking to do. That's the best route.

I definitely wanted to avoid having the leave the TV on to listen to music. So it looks like I'll need a DAC. I was looking at the same one as pasipple here (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0013LWK3A/ref=ord_cart_shr?ie=UTF8&m=AKJJGJ0JKT8F1)

Anyone have experience with this thing? I know $50 is still a decent price considering true 'philes' spend $1000 on a dac. But since I don't know if my Marantz is going to live much longer should I just save the money and invest in a newer receiver that takes optical digital audio?

pasipple
Sep 27, 2010, 02:11 PM
I definitely wanted to avoid having the leave the TV on to listen to music. So it looks like I'll need a DAC. I was looking at the same one as pasipple here (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0013LWK3A/ref=ord_cart_shr?ie=UTF8&m=AKJJGJ0JKT8F1)

Anyone have experience with this thing? I know $50 is still a decent price considering true 'philes' spend $1000 on a dac. But since I don't know if my Marantz is going to live much longer should I just save the money and invest in a newer receiver that takes optical digital audio?

One thing you have to be aware of is that most new TV's output Dolby Digital through the optical out (TOSlink). Therefore, a decoder would be necessary not just a converter. Thus my link above....a Gefen DAD (not DAC)...so to speak.

rawdawg
Sep 27, 2010, 02:31 PM
One thing you have to be aware of is that most new TV's output Dolby Digital through the optical out (TOSlink). Therefore, a decoder would be necessary not just a converter. Thus my link above....a Gefen DAD (not DAC)...so to speak.

But if I went straight from the ATV using a converter I wouldn't need to worry about that right? Or that just in case I want to watch timewarner cable or something and use my stereo?

Having a pretty old stereo system with only two-speakers, not 5.1 or anything home theater-ish I'm sort of uneducated in this area.

keeper
Sep 27, 2010, 02:35 PM
I use a Beresford DAC with my old version ATV

http://www.homehifi.co.uk/main/main.html

Cheers Phil

pasipple
Sep 27, 2010, 02:35 PM
But if I went straight from the ATV using a converter I wouldn't need to worry about that right? Or that just in case I want to watch timewarner cable or something and use my stereo?

Having a pretty old stereo system with only two-speakers, not 5.1 or anything home theater-ish I'm sort of uneducated in this area.

I'd like to say correct....but I don't know what format is streamed out the ATV optical output? If it's Dolby Digital then you will need a DAD.

I just wanted to point out that for new TVs....a DAC may not be the solution.

Markusp
Sep 27, 2010, 02:39 PM
I would recommend the Cambridge Audio DAC Magic for approx. $350 or so if you can swing it. It is quite the stellar performer for the money and quite flexible.

Others to try would include be from the likes of Arcam (new R-Dac), Beresford as mentioned or even Musical Fidelity.

Dan--
Sep 27, 2010, 02:57 PM
I am eagerly waiting for my ATV to ship. In the mean time I do not have digital audio capability with my stereo. Yes, I know my HDTV has HDMI which carries the audio signal but I would like to plug ATV into my stereo for music too (like an airport express). But I have a classic old Marantz receiver so I need RCA inputs.

Any digital-to-analogue converter recommendations? I posted this in the digital audio forum with zero responses....

It all depends on what you want to spend.

I would recommend that you start here:
All the DACs money can buy: http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/494290/all-the-dacs-money-can-buy-pt-3

You should be looking at TOSLINK input (S/PDIF) units if I'm not mistaken.

If you happen to be looking at the $300-$400 or so price range, I would recommend the following based on my research (but not my ears yet.)

Scott Nixon Chibi DAC $290
Musical Fidelity V-DAC $299
Cambridge Audio DAC Magic $430


There's such a huge range in what's available, but many of the lower priced units are USB only. You can easily spend $1000 plus (well, *I'm* not gonna spend it, but I'll let *you* do that), but there is supposedly a lot of excellence as well as value in the units I mentioned.

Dan

spice weasel
Sep 27, 2010, 03:08 PM
If you are going to spend several hundred dollars on a DAC, you may as well save up for a new receiver. Then you can add additional speakers and other components in the future. Just my two cents.

rawdawg
Sep 27, 2010, 03:36 PM
Yeah, I can't imagine paying hundreds for a converter. I know the audiophiles do it but IMO it seems like going digital was just another way to trick enthusiasts to waste more money on equipment previously not needed.

Could it really make that much a difference? I'd rather buy a new receiver.

Does anyone know if ATV's audio will require Dolby Decoding?

musio
Sep 27, 2010, 03:41 PM
I have a converter for sale. Link HERE (http://www.avforums.com/forums/amplifier-receiver-classified-adverts/1322458-sale-mocha-x-3b-ac3-dts-5-1-audio-decoder-optical-digital-usb.html). PM me for details

bobr1952
Sep 27, 2010, 03:49 PM
:confused:I don't know about a DAC, but you should be able to run the HDMI into your HDTV, then run RCA cables from your TV's Audio Out into your receiver. Elegant? No. Should it work? Yes.

This is a pretty good solution--one I would probably consider if I didn't have an optical digital input on my AV Receiver. Of course that doesn't help with leaving the TV on.

Maybe a digital optical to analog converter? Not too pricey--but still a bit expensive for this one:

http://www.amazon.com/Digital-Audio-Analog-Converter/dp/B0013LWK3A/ref=sr_1_4?s=gateway&ie=UTF8&qid=1285620827&sr=8-4

Dan--
Sep 27, 2010, 04:03 PM
Yeah, I can't imagine paying hundreds for a converter. I know the audiophiles do it but IMO it seems like going digital was just another way to trick enthusiasts to waste more money on equipment previously not needed.

Could it really make that much a difference? I'd rather buy a new receiver.


Since you have a Marantz, I figured you might be interested in better than average sound, but a few hundred bucks is a lot for a single component like this. Almost anything you get should sound better than what an iPod or the old Apple TV output via analog, even what appears to be the cheapest with optical inputs:
SUPER Pro DAC 707 USB, $124 http://www.obadimports.com/catalog/item/6697671/5226912.htm

Dan

potatis
Sep 27, 2010, 04:04 PM
There's also a "CYP" DAC which looks the same as the little Gefen, but black.

Markusp
Sep 27, 2010, 04:26 PM
If you are going to spend several hundred dollars on a DAC, you may as well save up for a new receiver. Then you can add additional speakers and other components in the future. Just my two cents.

A receiver will not be able to match the sound quality of a decent DAC partnered with the OP's Marantz amp.

I have found that very few high end receivers can match the 2 channel performance of a mid priced 2 channel integrated amp. Too much going on in one box.

Since the OP likes the performance of his amp, a DAC is the better solution.

rawdawg
Sep 27, 2010, 04:45 PM
Great feedback everyone. So having not had a DAC all this time and simply have been using the analogue out from my MBP into my Marantz I should expect better sound using a DAC? Maybe that's why I never saw the value of one, because I never heard it!

Then again as I mentioned I have an old system. My 1984 Klipsch KG4 horn speakers and the Marantz 2015 may not perform as it probably once did, certainly the pots need cleaning but I can't find anyone to service it. Anyone know if I would still hear an improvement using a DAC versus the analogue outs I've been using on my MBP?

Does anyone know if ATV needs a Dolby decoder? I guess I could use my HDTV to play Dolby movies using HDMI and just use a DAC for the optical out with iTunes music. Right?

Dan--
Sep 27, 2010, 06:50 PM
A dedicated DAC should sound better than most integrated DACs, especially one inside of a laptop due to components used, the type of power it gets, and the interference you get from neighboring electronics.

I think it all comes down to how you listen. I don't know that my wife or kids would be able to tell the difference between good and better sound, not so much because they can't, but because they don't care to listen for the differences. So if all of your listening is casual, you may never notice. But if you try to pay attention to more than the sound as a whole, if you attempt to make out the sounds of different instruments or vocals, and the qualities of their individual tones, and their placement within the stereo field, etc., etc., then a good DAC can reward you with better imaging, less veiled sound, clearer less muddy bass response, and other benefits.

But will you notice? That all depends on how you listen.

As far as having old equipment goes, I've been surprised at how good some of the older stuff sounds. Sure some of the amps have come a long way recently, but I've spoken to folks that have had a very hard time replacing their old (decent) amps with newer stuff for a reasonable amount of cash.

For myself, I had an old pair of (quite good) bookshelf speakers, now about 25 years old, but that still sound better than most speakers running upwards of about $800 a pair.

As far as to needing a Dolby decoder goes, I'll hazard a guess only since no one else has answered. Dolby decoding these days is primarily for multiple channels, i.e. beyond stereo. If you're not using more than 2 speakers, I don't think you will see any benefit.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

Dan

rawdawg
Sep 27, 2010, 07:03 PM
Thanks again for all the responses!

As for Dolby, as Dan brings up, it's mostly for more than 2 speaker setups, so I don't think I'll need it for my current setup

I'll opt for a lower end one I guess

darkplanets
Sep 27, 2010, 09:10 PM
I suppose I'm more confused with the semantics-- if the ATV outputs with Dolby Digital over its TOSlink, and I'm just going to dual channel analog, do I need to get a DAD, or will a simple DAC suffice?

rawdawg
Sep 27, 2010, 09:54 PM
I suppose I'm more confused with the semantics-- if the ATV outputs with Dolby Digital over its TOSlink, and I'm just going to dual channel analog, do I need to get a DAD, or will a simple DAC suffice?

I'm not sure myself, but I think it means you would need a DAD if you want to play it straight to the stereo, but in my case if I ever have a dolby digital source I could just send it via HDMI to my TV which will decode it. I think my TV even has analogue out (though poor probably) so I could send that to the stereo if I really wanted to.

Am I correct?

darkplanets
Sep 27, 2010, 10:10 PM
I'm not sure myself, but I think it means you would need a DAD if you want to play it straight to the stereo, but in my case if I ever have a dolby digital source I could just send it via HDMI to my TV which will decode it. I think my TV even has analogue out (though poor probably) so I could send that to the stereo if I really wanted to.

Am I correct?

Correct at least in terms of the TV analysis. Your TV will do the DAD decoding, and unfortunately the analog out probably sucks, hence the need for a DAC. In my case I have an older computer with a mini-DVI port, so I cant transmit audio over HDMI in certain cases (unless I were to rely on a new ATV->TV's DAD/DAC-> analog). However in my case I'm really looking to put out audio via the ATV through the optical, bypassing the TV entirely.

My question still stands. Also, for all you DAC/DAD people out there, how does your DAC compare to the built-in one for your mac?

pasipple
Sep 27, 2010, 10:30 PM
I'm not an expert...and I could be wrong...but from what I learned over at AVForum....

All HD programming...DirecTV, HD Movies, etc...would include Dolby Digital (DD) audio. SD material would not. So HD programming directed to the optical audio out (ATV, most TVs) would contain DD and would need to be decoded to analog via a DAD. SD programming w/o DD directed to the audio out would not require a DAD and thus a DAC would suffice.

So it depends on the source of the material and certainly whether the source audio is DD. If you were to send DD thru a DAC without decoding it you would get nothing.

So...same with the ATV. If you are renting an iTunes HD movie and/or are streaming an HD quality movie file with DD thru your ATV and utilizing the optical audio out you will need to decode the material to play thru some analog speakers.

Markusp
Sep 28, 2010, 07:11 AM
The Appletv can either decode DD internally or bitstream it via optical or HDMI. Since you are only using two speakers, set the Appletv to decode internally and you are all set.

darkplanets
Sep 28, 2010, 09:42 AM
The Appletv can either decode DD internally or bitstream it via optical or HDMI. Since you are only using two speakers, set the Appletv to decode internally and you are all set.

Awesome. Just what I was looking for.

That means I don't need a DAD, just a DAC.

Any good recommendations for a DAC ~$100-200? The list provided earlier in this thread is rather... incomplete for lower tiered pricing, and seems to focus on internal cards.

If not a DAC, maybe a receiver with a built in DAC thats pretty cheap?

Any suggestions?

Foxer
Sep 28, 2010, 10:19 AM
I think for $400, the DACMagic is the way to go. If that is out of your range, you may want to consider holding off on the DAC until you can justify it.

Just my opinion.

Dan--
Sep 28, 2010, 10:46 AM
I think for $400, the DACMagic is the way to go. If that is out of your range, you may want to consider holding off on the DAC until you can justify it.

Just my opinion.

Good lord, there are lots of reasons to spend in that price range, and the DAC Magic is reportedly a very nice unit (though varying opinions about it versus the others I mentioned in the price range).

But if your goal is to get decent sound (i.e. better than a laptop), then the DAC707 I posted earlier should suffice.

Some interesting reading material:
http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/259973/the-new-dac-super-pro-dac707-usb#post_3477159
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=66019&st=0&p=589443&#entry589443
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=66008&hl=

That said, I have not done much research of the lower end stand alone DACs.

Dan

Here's another one to look at:
The Beresford TC-7510 Mk6 (or later) http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/267232/link-beresford-tc-7510-bashing-and-headfi-bashing/15#post_3406166
Consider as good for the money, but not a "giant killer". Seller noted to be a shill on forums.

darkplanets
Sep 28, 2010, 09:26 PM
The question I have now would be if it would be better to just get a cheap receiver?

Assuming that the ATV (and my computer) will do the DD decode, so I don't need a DAD, that means all I really need is a DAC. However since I'd really like multi-inputs, wouldn't it be wiser to just get a receiver with built-in DAC? I mean don't most come with DAC's nowadays? It's not like their DAC is going to be any worse than the cheaper standalone ones, and since I'm just going to 2.1 wouldn't a receiver be a better choice? I might need an amp, of course, but if I could get away with not getting one that too would be nice.

Any recommendations? Again, price is a concern here, I'd definitely say cheaper is better.

bobr1952
Sep 29, 2010, 11:27 AM
If you want 5.1 sound from streaming that includes it, you will need a receiver that can decode the sound and send it to the correct speakers. Of course, you need a multi-channel receiver anyway if you intend to actually listen to 5.1 sound with at least 6 speakers. So a stereo receiver won't really be much help there. I'm sure there are some other options, but this is the standard way to listen to multi-channeled theater sound. You don't have to spend that much for a good A-V receiver, but that is really your best option to hear everything the director intended coming out of each speaker.

Dan--
Sep 29, 2010, 11:50 AM
The question I have now would be if it would be better to just get a cheap receiver?

Any recommendations? Again, price is a concern here, I'd definitely say cheaper is better.

I would hazard a guess that almost any of the $100+ DACs will provide better sound than the DAC in an inexpensive receiver, but if you're not that excited by your current amp, and your priorities are heavily weighed towards price over sound quality, then an integrated receiver is definitely the way to go. The newer receivers have come a long way in getting decent sound for modest prices. Especially take a good hard look at last year's models (for example a Denon 2310ci can be had for about $500 and has an awful lot going for it, or even the AVR1910 should be pretty good at about $370), and try not to succumb to feature greed - do you really need 3d and height channels from this year's models?

“If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will." - Yoda

I'm pretty sure Yoda was talking about the dark path of HI-FI. Get what you can afford and be happy. Do not study the ways of the audiophile.

Dan

darkplanets
Sep 29, 2010, 11:58 AM
If you want 5.1 sound from streaming that includes it, you will need a receiver that can decode the sound and send it to the correct speakers. Of course, you need a multi-channel receiver anyway if you intend to actually listen to 5.1 sound with at least 6 speakers. So a stereo receiver won't really be much help there. I'm sure there are some other options, but this is the standard way to listen to multi-channeled theater sound. You don't have to spend that much for a good A-V receiver, but that is really your best option to hear everything the director intended coming out of each speaker.

The thing is; I'm not going to be listening in 5.1. Since the ATV doesn't have an analog out, I have to go optical. I might as well continue that for my computer, since its built in DAD/C is homebrew intel. Therefore since I have a 2.1 system, and since I'm going optical out of the ATV, I need a DAC. At that point though I might as well get a receiver, stereo or otherwise, since these usually include a DAC. I realize there's a difference between multi-channel and stereo receivers; that's why I'd like something that's flexible. That is, it'll take my 2.1 system now and anything larger I throw at it later. This would typically mean a multichannel receiver, but I'm not well versed in receivers, which is why I'm asking here :)

tkermit
Sep 29, 2010, 12:13 PM
I would recommend the Cambridge Audio DAC Magic for approx. $350 or so if you can swing it. It is quite the stellar performer for the money and quite flexible.

I think for $400, the DACMagic is the way to go.

I've heard good things about that one as well. It's even got balanced output via XLR, which is quite the high-end feature usually found in much more expensive media players. Of course you probably have no need nor input options for XLR connectors? :o

bobr1952
Sep 29, 2010, 12:50 PM
The thing is; I'm not going to be listening in 5.1. Since the ATV doesn't have an analog out, I have to go optical. I might as well continue that for my computer, since its built in DAD/C is homebrew intel. Therefore since I have a 2.1 system, and since I'm going optical out of the ATV, I need a DAC. At that point though I might as well get a receiver, stereo or otherwise, since these usually include a DAC. I realize there's a difference between multi-channel and stereo receivers; that's why I'd like something that's flexible. That is, it'll take my 2.1 system now and anything larger I throw at it later. This would typically mean a multichannel receiver, but I'm not well versed in receivers, which is why I'm asking here :)

I've been spending a lot of time with audio-video gear of late as I am upgrading pretty much everything I have. There are some good A-V receivers that are not too expensive. Personally, I usually get most things from Amazon--my recommendations are Onkyo, Denon, and Yamaha. I really haven't looked into any options other than A-V receivers but of course others here have options that may work better for you. Any multi-channel A-V receiver can work just fine in stereo 2-channel mode. I use that mode often for music.

There are plenty of options--this is a pretty good deal here:

http://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-RX-V665BL-7-Channel-Theater-Receiver/dp/B001S2RD9A/ref=sr_1_4?s=aht&ie=UTF8&qid=1285782372&sr=1-4

michaell
Sep 29, 2010, 01:13 PM
Since you have a Marantz, I figured you might be interested in better than average sound, but a few hundred bucks is a lot for a single component like this. Almost anything you get should sound better than what an iPod or the old Apple TV output via analog, even what appears to be the cheapest with optical inputs:
SUPER Pro DAC 707 USB, $124 http://www.obadimports.com/catalog/item/6697671/5226912.htm

Dan

Another vote for the DAC Super Pro 707 - I've had one hooked up to my Airport Express for the past couple of years, and it sounds far better than the analog output. I'm not enough of an audiophile to have looked at the more expensive options.

tkermit
Sep 29, 2010, 03:28 PM
Another (somewhat unconventional) approach to this would be to look for a used MiniDisc deck with digital inputs. That should be pretty inexpensive and many (most?) of them have an option to act as a simple DA converter.

Anyway, that's how I'm doing it with my Airport Express, and it works and sounds great.