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$2k AVR vs $1k AVR + $1k DAC

Chrispy

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I don’t think I could tell the difference between a good AVR and DAC/amps with most music and certainly not Netflix/TV. Even a atmos Blu-ray I probably wouldn’t notice or care.

Yeah sounds reasonable so why insert more devices into the chain at all? Especially if further processing is in line?
 
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sfesp

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Yeah sounds reasonable so why insert more devices into the chain at all? Especially if further processing is in line?
That’s the audio conundrum... for very good recordings that you listen to many times... you can start to notice amps with more headroom and lower noise. Agree DAC quality is harder to notice.
 

Chrispy

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That’s the audio conundrum... for very good recordings that you listen to many times... you can start to notice amps with more headroom and lower noise. Agree DAC quality is harder to notice.

I'd say amp noise/headroom generally fall in the same area of inaudibility in most cases.....
 

waynel

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Probably a lot of similar threads, but without ease of buying/testing myself, wanted some expert "opinions"...

Setting up a new 18' x 24' living room for 50/50 music and tv/movies. Music audio quality is the priority. All music plays from ROON.
Wiring for 7.2.4 (which may be overkill, but why not...). Display will be mid-grade ~$2k QLED or OLED.
High quality LRC+subs, I swap in/out occasionally DIYs, Magnepan, Rhymik subs.
Main channels will be powered by Hypex NC502MP dedicated amp.
Most surrounds will be just Dayton in wall/ceilings. (unless someone convinces me other similarly priced units are sooo much better). Will do some cavity treatments to improve sound.

Opinions on $2k AVR vs $1k AVR + $1k DAC ???

Default for the $2k AVR would be a Yamaha 3080. Advantage would be simpler setup. Good ESS DAC with balanced out for 2-channel. Better center and surround amps (but not sure a big deal for my low quality surround speakers). For ROON would probably use a rpi or similar.

Default for the $1k AVR + $1k DAC would be a miniDSP SHD and Marantz SR6014. miniDSP possible native ROON and SHD could be dedicated 2 ch and take LR preouts from Marantz for HT. This would be a bit more of a hassle to setup control but could be done with a Harmony. This combo should be better for music but worse for HT, but I think also give better control/options for different listening modes/speakers.

I'm leaning to buy the miniDSP SHD and Marantz SR6014. Please let me know your thoughts! thanks for your time :)
What are you going to use as a switch between the two?
 
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sfesp

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Logitech Harmony could do it... They're getting out of the business, unfortunately .. another thread :(
Yeah I have a few rooms with Harmony setups that accomplish such tasks. Unfortunate Harmony is disappearing... I guess the future is to be Amazon, google and sound bars.
 
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sfesp

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What are you going to use as a switch between the two?
The SHD and any AVR both have remote functions. SHD has preset modes and with Harmony you could setup marcos for different listening... 2ch music, TV, movie, background music. An issue I had with most AVRs is that EQ, speaker levels, etc. are not easy to change with a single button press. I set this up with Harmony and a NAD receiver which has multiple audio preset modes.
 
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sfesp

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Yeah sounds reasonable so why insert more devices into the chain at all? Especially if further processing is in line?
The point is to remove the AVR entirely from critical music listening but have AVR functionality for most everyday uses where critical listening doesn’t matter. Also to have a Dirac option. Ive not liked AVR eq for music, but I haven’t tried a newer one.
 
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sfesp

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I'd say amp noise/headroom generally fall in the same area of inaudibility in most cases.....
Also part of the conundrum....some hobbyists will spend a little more to occasionally listen critically to music and have a different experience than the normal casual listen. If I do this 1-2 hours per month and value that experience at $20/hour, that would justify 2-3k in increased equipment cost over the equipment life... if there is a meaningful difference in those 1-2 hours of music listening. But, in most cases my family would be fine with low-fi sound and any decent AVR will do.

This is the idea behind the DAC/AMP combo + decent AVR... and the original question. But you need a Harmony or similar to make the different use cases a one button/action selection. What I have not ever understood are 2ch systems in the $10ks or $3k AVPs with $5k+ in amps.
 

waynel

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The SHD and any AVR both have remote functions. SHD has preset modes and with Harmony you could setup marcos for different listening... 2ch music, TV, movie, background music. An issue I had with most AVRs is that EQ, speaker levels, etc. are not easy to change with a single button press. I set this up with Harmony and a NAD receiver which has multiple audio preset modes.
The SHD has no HT bypass mode and it’s pointless to run the SHD into the receiver . Each needs to feed directly to the amp, therefore you need a switch.
 
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sfesp

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The SHD has no HT bypass mode and it’s pointless to run the SHD into the receiver . Each needs to feed directly to the amp, therefore you need a switch.
Why do you say no HT bypass? I have other minidsp and they have 4 completely configurable presets... different input/output, levels, eq. Just set one one for HT, others for music modes. Looks like SHD works this way.
 

waynel

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Why do you say no HT bypass? I have other minidsp and they have 4 completely configurable presets... different input/output, levels, eq. Just set one one for HT, others for music modes. Looks like SHD works this way.
Because it has no HT bypass. Think about how you are going to route your sub and deal with the large latency on the LR channels when going through the SHD. Better to use an external switch. I’ve been down this road before.
 
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sfesp

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Ok. This is a point to consider but I don’t think a fatal flaw. The SHD dsp runs pretty fast like 300MHz.. I would expect delay from analog in to out to be <1ms and the AVR could delay other channels to compensate as needed. I’ll look in to this but there are plenty of active DSP mains and many subs. Probably all the best subs from JL, velodyne, etc sample the analog, dsp and then DAC into class D amps. Basically all modern pro gear like guitar and bass amps have dsp...Why do they not have issues?
 

waynel

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Ok. This is a point to consider but I don’t think a fatal flaw. The SHD dsp runs pretty fast like 300MHz.. I would expect delay from analog in to out to be <1ms and the AVR could delay other channels to compensate as needed. I’ll look in to this but there are plenty of active DSP mains and many subs. Probably all the best subs from JL, velodyne, etc sample the analog, dsp and then DAC into class D amps. Basically all modern pro gear like guitar and bass amps have dsp...Why do they not have issues?
Minimum SHD delay is 25ms.
 
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sfesp

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Because it has no HT bypass. Think about how you are going to route your sub and deal with the large latency on the LR channels when going through the SHD. Better to use an external switch. I’ve been down this road before.
And the AVR would not output a sub channel. All sub would be on the LR to the SHD. The SHD has way more control to x and filter LR main and sub. You can create multiple selectable custom PEQ or Dirac.
 

waynel

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And the AVR would not output a sub channel. All sub would be on the LR to the SHD. The SHD has way more control to x and filter LR main and sub. You can create multiple selectable custom PEQ or Dirac.
This is flawed. Your AVR will not put the LFE channel into the LR channels. You will be missing sub bass, as I mentioned I’ve been working on the same issues of integrating HT and stereo for years and have tried most of the options. I recommend one of the following:

1) just get a denon 3700h and use it for everything ( you could add external amps for LR or everything if you want)
2) get a 3700h and an SHD but use an external switch ( find a sub with both xlr and rca inputs using the xlr from the shd and the rca from the AVR. The external switch can be controlled by the 12v trigger on the AVR, see link in my signature.
3) look at the anthem str preamp which has true HT bypass including subs
 
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sfesp

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This is flawed. Your AVR will not put the LFE channel into the LR channels. You will be missing sub bass, as I mentioned I’ve been working on the same issues of integrating HT and stereo for years and have tried most of the options. I recommend one of the following:

1) just get a denon 3700h and use it for everything ( you could add external amps for LR or everything if you want)
2) get a 3700h and an SHD but use an external switch ( find a sub with both xlr and rca inputs using the xlr from the shd and the rca from the AVR
3) look at the anthem str preamp which has true HT bypass including subs
Ok. Will dig deeper on this. I saw your other thread and someone measured the SHD latency at 25ms. Surprised it’s that long.. This is good info and will consider option 1 more. For option 2 I could build a simple relay switch. But also makes me wonder the merits of the better preouts of the upper AVRs. Other DACs have HT bypass but not the dsp and xover.
 

peng

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Ok. The feedback is don’t bother with the more expensive AVR... stick with the SR6014 or Denon 3700. And also consider the AVR as a DAC/pre without the SHD...

From what I gathered, there is no consensus so far. I think it depends on whether you believe those (manufacturers, sellers, dealers etc.) who want to sell you the product or those who have been there, done that, and now believe in specs and measurements.

My opinion is:
- What you are trying to do is great, except the part about connecting the AVR pre out to the SHD.
- Dirac Live may be better if you believe in the benefit of EQ above the room transition frequency, if not I am 100% sure Audyssey(with the App andRatbuddyssey) Vs Dirac Live = audibly no difference, assuming you do your own customization post auto calibration/EQ.

Going from AVR pre out to SHD makes no sense, unless you are a good reason for not feeding the analog signal directly to the mini. It seems to me, if you want to use the mini for music only, you can do so already without involving the AVR.

Now, if I think like a competent EE, I would say forget about the SHD if the following can do what you want to do:

- The 3700 or 4700 if Auro3D, front HDMI port, and a better display are important to you.
- Pick the best desktop <$1,000 DAC ASR has measured so far (that could include the mini, but why pay for Dirac Live..).
- Use the desktop DAC with the Denon's analog input, use something like JRiver that offers great PEQ, so you can forget about REQ, Dirac or not.

My reasoning:

- You can't (try some online test to find out if you even have a chance) hear the difference between 95 dB SINAD or 120 dB SINAD unless you have perfect hearing, extremely quiet room, listen to a wide range of maximum peak SPL in the range of 60-120 dB, the whole audio signal chain has the high enough SINAD bench verified specs, music recorded in quality that can take advantage the SOTA specs, and most important, speakers that can reveal the differences to you.

- If you are of the type who believe well designed electronics such as power amps have different sound signatures, then you would have to look to the likes of some (not all) of the Krell, Passlab, D D'Agostino's Momentum Monoblocks that the designers appeared to have designed their amps based on good principles and then fine tune them by ears and trial and error (just my take, from reading online material including their own articles). I don't like that kind of amps because for them to have the so called musical sound, they will have to have high enough distortions and/or non flat FR, higher output impedance etc. etc.., and then the buyer would have to listen to the products preferable in their own setup at home, to find out if their own subjective preference happens to line up well with the designer's. Note: forget about the Marantz "also claimed" tuned by ears (by their sound master, not the designers themselves), as that can be debunked by yourself using logic and purchase a couple of service manuals.

- So if you are the type (doesn't sound like you are but just in case:)) who prefer products designed for accuracy and then do your own tuning, then yes, a <$1,500 AVR that measured as good as the X3700H probably will be all you need, and it will "sound" the same in an apples to apples comparison in a "blind" comparison test with a Bryston, Anthem, Parasound, ATI, McIntosh or even the class D Hypex based amps.
 

peng

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That’s the audio conundrum... for very good recordings that you listen to many times... you can start to notice amps with more headroom and lower noise. Agree DAC quality is harder to notice.

Yes, but only in sighted tests, been there done that.. Even if there is a very subtle difference under certain conditions, is it worth the extra money, and most importantly, the efforts. I used to do all kinds of things trying to get the so called "best of what I have", but eventually found out the simple and convenient combinations/hook ups are actually more enjoyable as I can be more relax and focus more on the music itself, that's just my own experience.
 

Bear123

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The point is to remove the AVR entirely from critical music listening but have AVR functionality for most everyday uses where critical listening doesn’t matter. Also to have a Dirac option. Ive not liked AVR eq for music, but I haven’t tried a newer one.
The Denon 3700 has detailed measurements here on this site, showing that adding additional, music only, "pure 2 channel" equipment and having to switch back and forth, will make no audible difference in real life. If you need more power than the Denon can provide, add a good amp that performs as good as the Denon. Most don't. You will get better "fidelity on paper" with a lower SINAD if you choose an amp that is up to snuff. Often times, attempting to bypass the AVR for a more "pure" music experience significantly degrades fidelity unless you figure out a way to retain eq on the speakers and subs. But again, an overly complicated and costly endeavor without any real audible benefit, IMO.
 
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