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AVR with distortion on digital inputs from streamer

CBM

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I have a Denon AVR 3400H that I feed with a Node II via a coax cable to the digital input on the Denon. When I have the “fixed volume” on the Node, I get a “crackle” on some songs. If I Turn the “fixed volume” off it still “crackles” until I lower the volume on the Node slightly, then it is fine. So, I tried a Toslink cable and it still “crackles”.

I figured it was a problem with the Node so I bought a Wiim Pro streamer. And to my surprise, the same “crackle” is there on the same songs, coax or Toslink.

So I’m thinking it’s the DAC in the Denon. Apparently, the streamer on “fixed volume” overwhelms the AVR DAC.

When I lower the volume on the streamers I’m just reducing the number of bits, correct? How much before I’m degrading the signal?

I’m trying not to use the Denon ADC, just the DAC. I could feed the streamer to a good DAC using coax and RCA into the AVR, but I would be using DAC->ADC->DAC.

What do you think is the best way to solve this problem?
 
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CBM

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Page 174 of the Denon AVR 3400H manual mentions the ability to adjust input level +-12db to match the devices output. Maybe that will help.
I tried that. I think that just changes how loud the AVR is playing at a certain volume setting. The Wiim streamer also has an output voltage selector but that doesn't help either. Thanks for your answer.
 

raindance

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Any chance of trying it with a different receiver to verify that it's just your model?
 
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CBM

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Any chance of trying it with a different receiver to verify that it's just your model?
I don't have anyone I can borrow an AVR from but I've used 2 different models of streamers and a coax and Toslink cable so I think it's gotta be the AVR. Also when I use a DAC to feed the signal to the AVR it's fine. Thank you for the suggestion.
 

MichaelJ

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I was contending with the same issue (digital clipping is what I'm assuming is happening) with my new Anthem AVM 70. It's been really discouraging. I tried streaming directly to the unit via Airplay, Allo Digione over COAX, and Pi2AES over COAX. Same issue regardless of endpoint/input. I even found the issue when streaming music over AppleTV/YouTube App. However, certain modes on the AVM 70 seemed to be immune to it. For example, I've become fond of listening to music up-mixed to Dolby Surround, and I don't get the crackling at all. But, if I try to listen to upmixed Dolby Surround without the center channel, I get it. Like you, I found that a workaround is to lower the volume of the signal going into the the AVR. I use Roon's headroom management option to lower the signal by 3-4db, and that resolves the issue. Still, it's a nuisance at these price points.
 
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CBM

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I was contending with the same issue (digital clipping is what I'm assuming is happening) with my new Anthem AVM 70. It's been really discouraging. I tried streaming directly to the unit via Airplay, Allo Digione over COAX, and Pi2AES over COAX. Same issue regardless of endpoint/input. I even found the issue when streaming music over AppleTV/YouTube App. However, certain modes on the AVM 70 seemed to be immune to it. For example, I've become fond of listening to music up-mixed to Dolby Surround, and I don't get the crackling at all. But, if I try to listen to upmixed Dolby Surround without the center channel, I get it. Like you, I found that a workaround is to lower the volume of the signal going into the the AVR. I use Roon's headroom management option to lower the signal by 3-4db, and that resolves the issue. Still, it's a nuisance at these price points.
It's good to know I'm not alone. My AVR is kinda old though.
 

DVDdoug

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Do the streamers have EQ and are you using it?

EQ (boost) or digital amplification can cause digital clipping. That's the only thing I can think of. The "digital volume control" on most DACs is attenuation only, no gain.

Most digital equalizers have "preamp" settings which are normally used for attenuation (rather than gain) before the EQ boosts some frequencies.

The AVR can handle 0dBFS data (the "digital maximum") and I would expect the AVR to have headroom for any digital processing done by it.
 

RayDunzl

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When I lower the volume on the streamers I’m just reducing the number of bits, correct?

Lose a bit for every -6dB.

it still “crackles” until I lower the volume on the Node slightly, then it is fine.

Then do that and don't worry about it.

How much before I’m degrading the signal?

Do a test:

Turn the AVR volume all the way up, turn the streamer volume all the way down.

Play something, turn up the streamer to get your normal listening level.

This will produce the maximum bit loss in the data stream.

Sound good enough?

If so, then go back to turning the streamer down "slightly" (as you said) and using the volume on the AVR normally.
 
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CBM

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Do the streamers have EQ and are you using it?

EQ (boost) or digital amplification can cause digital clipping. That's the only thing I can think of. The "digital volume control" on most DACs is attenuation only, no gain.

Most digital equalizers have "preamp" settings which are normally used for attenuation (rather than gain) before the EQ boosts some frequencies.

The AVR can handle 0dBFS data (the "digital maximum") and I would expect the AVR to have headroom for any digital processing done by it.
They do have EQ, but I don't have it on.
Yes the volume control on the streamers have no gain. But when it's at the highest value it "crackles".
I would expect the AVR to handle the output of the streamers too. I can reduce the signal but I'm concerned that will degrade the sound.
Thanks for your input.
 
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CBM

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Lose a bit for every -6dB.



Then do that and don't worry about it.



Do a test:

Turn the AVR volume all the way up, turn the streamer volume all the way down.

Play something, turn up the streamer to get your normal listening level.

This will produce the maximum bit loss in the data stream.

Sound good enough?

If so, then go back to turning the streamer down "slightly" (as you said) and using the volume on the AVR normally.
Thanks. If the signal is 16 bits then I shouldn't degrade the signal much if I drop it 6db? I will try your method. Thank you.
 

RayDunzl

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Thanks. If the signal is 16 bits then I shouldn't degrade the signal much if I drop it 6db? I will try your method. Thank you.

Your digital volume control probably uses 24 or even 32 bits to calculate the volume level, then forwards 24 bits to the DAC.

-6dB still loses one, but would leave 23 for signal "precision".

Here, you can see what -60dB (that's a heck of a lot) does to a 24bit signal.

 

OldHvyMec

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I knew there was a reason to keep my LPs, CDs, Reel to Reel, cassettes and now a server. :)

Regards.
 
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CBM

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Your digital volume control probably uses 24 or even 32 bits to calculate the volume level, then forwards 24 bits to the DAC.

-6dB still loses one, but would leave 23 for signal "precision".

Here, you can see what -60dB (that's a heck of a lot) does to a 24bit signal.

It sounds like I have nothing to worry about. Thanks to you, I can enjoy the music.
 

RayDunzl

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There's a thing called "Intersample Overs".

The "cure" is to reduce the digital volume, a little.

The DAC can do it for you if so equipped, or you can do it yourslef, with the same result.


Example from a CD I have:

The 16/44.1 samples are not close to the clipping level, but when the waveform is found that those samples describe, it goes into clipping territory.

1684889429058.png
 
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CBM

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There's a thing called "Intersample Overs".

The "cure" is to reduce the digital volume, a little.

The DAC can do it for you if so equipped, or you can do it yourslef, with the same result.


Example from a CD I have:

The 16/44.1 samples are not close to the clipping level, but when the waveform is found that those samples describe, it goes into clipping territory.

View attachment 287756
Do you think that is what's happening to my streamers? If so, it must be the tracks themselves.
 

RayDunzl

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Do you think that is what's happening to my streamers? If so, it must be the tracks themselves.

If lower volume (in the recording) material doesn't crackle, and louder things do, and if reducing the digital volume "slightly" cures the trouble, then maybe yes, maybe.

The "loudness wars" have often pressed the peak values of digital tracks right up to the limits of the medium.

For 16 bit, the signed digital sample value limits are +32767 and -32768. The offset is caused by a bit being used for the sign of the value, + or -.

Here's what the waveform of a more conservatively (I'd venture to say "properly") recorded track looks like, and a modern "pushed to the limits" track:

1684925813495.png
 
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CBM

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If lower volume (in the recording) material doesn't crackle, and louder things do, and if reducing the digital volume "slightly" cures the trouble, then maybe yes, maybe.

The "loudness wars" have often pressed the peak values of digital tracks right up to the limits of the medium.

For 16 bit, the signed digital sample value limits are +32767 and -32768. The offset is caused by a bit being used for the sign of the value, + or -.

Here's what the waveform of a more conservatively (I'd venture to say "properly") recorded track looks like, and a modern "pushed to the limits" track:

View attachment 287879
Wow. Quite a difference. I will cut back on the volume on the streamer and not worry about it. You have been very helpful. Thank you.
 
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I've read that sometimes there's a "pop" (or crackle I guess) when the bit rate changes from song to song. The fix for it was to put in a slight delay between songs, like a fraction of a second.

The WIIM Home app has a setting in "Audio Output" called "Sample rate switch latency" and you can change this from 0ms up to 3000ms. Turning on a few ms seems to help people using WIIM and hearing the pops.

Maybe there's something similar on the Node II you're using.
 
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CBM

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I've read that sometimes there's a "pop" (or crackle I guess) when the bit rate changes from song to song. The fix for it was to put in a slight delay between songs, like a fraction of a second.

The WIIM Home app has a setting in "Audio Output" called "Sample rate switch latency" and you can change this from 0ms up to 3000ms. Turning on a few ms seems to help people using WIIM and hearing the pops.

Maybe there's something similar on the Node II you're using.
My "crackle" occurs during the song, but lowering the volume from the streamer seems to fix it. RayDunzl educated me on the lost bits from a digital volume control and it's insignificant in my case. Thanks for the suggestion.
 
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