• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Advice on streamer and connection to active speakers (optical in)

Joined
Sep 30, 2019
Messages
17
Likes
2
#1
Dear all,

I have been following this forum for quite some time now, appreciating the reviews and often scientific discussions. Many thanks to all the posters!

I wanted to ask for advice on how to best connect my active speakers. I recently bought a pair of beolab 20 speakers. Those are active floorstanders from B&O with optical toslink in, analogue RCA in and (proprietary?) “powerlink” input that looks like an ethernet RJ45. If I understood it correctly, they use a digital DSP crossover that goes into a DAC+AMP per channel.

I have most of my music on a NAS as CD quality FLACs and would like to connect my TV or Playstation and perhaps have some easy wireless replay capability like Airplay or Bluetooth. So I thought about getting a digital streamer and connect it via optical to the speakers.

I did not find a lot of streamers that have all the required connections for the setup (optical out, ~2 digital in, ethernet). After some research I am looking at the Cambridge 851N, CXN (v2) or Marantz NA 11S1, ND8006. And thanks to this forum also the Paradigm PW Link.

But before I spend the money I wanted to ask for advice whether I am spending it at the right place...
  • Would a proper audio streamer like the Marantz or Cambridge have better sound quality through the optical out compared to a cheaper source (e.g. PS4, TV, low cost PC) also using optical? Or is optical out = optical out?
  • Am I right to assume that even the best DAC will not improve my sound quality when using analogue out because the speakers will convert the analogue signal to digital and then use their own DAC that basically caps the quality?
  • Might it still make sense to use the analogue out of a good streamer/DAC because thus I can use the volume control and perhaps some other things like upsampling or EQ? Or do I lose too much audio quality this way?
  • And what do you think about the Paradigm PW Link? With its optical in and out + ethernet it offers the basics of what I need and I read that many consider the potential gain in sound quality through room correction to be much more significant than the discussion about optical vs analogue or streamer A vs streamer B. And its much cheaper then the others :)
  • Any other idea/recommendations how to get the best sound out of my envisaged setup?
Sorry for the lengthy post and thanks a lot for any comment on any of the points!

Cheers
 

beefkabob

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Messages
444
Likes
450
#2
Some possible sources:
BEOLAB TRANSMITTER 1
Any WiSA source.
A Playmaker.

I'd go down to the B&O dealer that sold them to you and ask them what the hell you're supposed to use to feed the damned speakers.
 
Joined
Sep 30, 2019
Messages
17
Likes
2
#3
Thanks for the fast reply. I did consider the B&O sources, like the Beosound transmitter or moment or core etc. but they all have very limited inputs. None of them have an optical in for e.g. my TV or PS4, so I was looking for a solution that offers me more flexibility.
 
Joined
Sep 30, 2019
Messages
17
Likes
2
#5
Thanks, I didn’t have Primare on the radar, the SC15 looks like a pretty complete package. Do you think WiSA will have a comparable quality to optical cable?
 

beefkabob

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Messages
444
Likes
450
#6
With no personal experience, I bet it's fine if you haven't got a lot of 2.4Ghz wifi traffic.
 
Joined
Sep 30, 2019
Messages
17
Likes
2
#7
The Primare and Klisch box are definitely interesting options, so thanks a lot for highlighting those. I just wished they had a good wired connection option. Or is using a coax>toslink converter or even using the analogue out no big deal?
 

Willem

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 8, 2019
Messages
1,002
Likes
1,294
#8
My question would be if the speakers have a remote to control volume? And I also have a few answers. A so called proper streamer will not have better sound quality. A separate DAC will be of no use because, as you say, there is already a DAC in the speakers. So use something with an optical output. In fact, all you need as far as I can tell is a switch with multiple inputs (there are plenty of those, including ones that switch automatically) and perhaps volume control of the digital signal. What does B&O say?
 
Joined
Sep 30, 2019
Messages
17
Likes
2
#9
No, the speakers have no way to control volume, so I need to rely on the source’s volume control. Which would likely be the volume of whatever player software I use (e.g. iphone if airplay or the streamers software if ethernet source? And thanks for confirming my thoughts about the “proper” streamers vs. the cheap ones and the separate DAC. Sounds like the cheapest box with an optical out that fulfills my convenience requirements (streaming from ethernet, more digital inputs, airplay etc.) would do the trick.
 
Joined
Sep 30, 2019
Messages
17
Likes
2
#11
Such a switch is a good idea, thanks. The risk about the volume would always be present when I use the optical connection to the speakers, or wouldnt it? The volume control on pre-amps like the paradigm pw link or cambridge is usually when using a digital out, I thought. Or do they also control the volume on the digital out? If I don’t have the volume risk with a box like the paradigm pw link, then this could be a pretty good solution for me. The price is very reasonable, has optical in and out and it comes with the room correction feature. The one thing I am missing is airplay or bluetooth, but well, have to compromise somewhere I guess.
 

Willem

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 8, 2019
Messages
1,002
Likes
1,294
#12
From what I understand the speakers already have dsp room correction built in. Using a CCA will also give you wireless wifi (and wired ethernet) connectivity.
 
Joined
Sep 30, 2019
Messages
17
Likes
2
#13
The speakers have DSP I think but wouldnt I need to measure my room with a mic, have some algorithm calculate adjustments per band and apply the adjustments to the DSP? I dont think the speakers do all of that... the Paradigm box comes with a mic and a room correction software that calculates the room correction.

CCA = Chromecast Audio, right? That seems like a good investment in any case.... just need to find one :)
 

Willem

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 8, 2019
Messages
1,002
Likes
1,294
#15
I don't know more about the speakers. If you do indeed need additional room eq the MiniDSP SHD Studio may be all you need (plus a ChromeCastAudio) to connect to your DAC). It has Dirac room eq, volume control, and multiple digital inputs and outputs.
 
Joined
Sep 30, 2019
Messages
17
Likes
2
#16
So many options, thanks. The MiniDSP SHD Studio looks very nice. Only downside would be no optical out, so I would need a (powered?) converter from Coax to Optical. Or I use the MiniDSP DDRC-22D (what a name!) plus a simple raspberry streamer ala Allo Digione Player. The DDRC-22D has an optical out for the speakers and a coax in for the network player plus an optical in for a TV or console. I’m gettin option paralysis here ;)
 

Willem

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 8, 2019
Messages
1,002
Likes
1,294
#17
Sorry I had overlooked the absence of optical out. A converter only costs a few dollars, however.
 

ahofer

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 3, 2019
Messages
551
Likes
831
Location
New York City
#18
MiniDSP has Volumio, so don’t even need the CCA
 
Joined
Sep 30, 2019
Messages
17
Likes
2
#19
Yeah, I saw converters for very little money. My concern would rather be loss of sound quality and having another power plug. Reviewers like John Darko from Darko.audio describe an audible difference depending on the quality of the digital source (e.g an Allo Player with 1 to 3 power sources and extra isolaters etc) so I am reluctant to introduce an extra conversion. But I guess I am just a bit unsure about what really makes a difference and what not...
 
Joined
Sep 30, 2019
Messages
17
Likes
2
#20
Yes, the MiniDSP SHD would solve my streaming needs. It has ethernet and I think Volumio even supports Airplay. Just the lack of optical out is a pity.
 
Top Bottom