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ulitv

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Hey guys,

I'm new to this forum and I really love this place!

Currently, I'm putting together my first Desktop-HiFi-System. For that, I have the following requirements:

- Decent DAC with USB Input
- possibility to add an active Sub
- Drive 8 Ohm Speakers at (real!) 30 Watt
- acceptable Headphone Output
- best bang for the buck due to me being a student

The Loxjie A30 would be a nice All-In-One solution, but I'm not sure if it delivers enough power and I'm not happy with the USB-DAC situation on the Loxjie. Therefore, I decided to go for the Topping DX3 pro+ paired with the Aiyima A07 (modded with OPA2134). To complete this setup, I would like to add some tone controls and this is the point where I get a little confused about what is the best option.

As far as my understanding goes, there are two different ways to do so:

1. Analog:
Just adding a preamp or an EQ with tone control would do the trick. I noticed, that currently amazon offers a great deal on the bellari EQ570. The downside of this option is, that you put the analog signal through jet another device with an additional power supply. That could add some more noise to the signal, right?

2. Digital:
A decent DSP module offers the freedom to perform nearly any tone control one can imagine. I noticed the devices from miniDSP are often recommended for that. But isn't it stupid to take the analog signal from my Topping DAC and convert it back to a digital signal, perform the DSP, and then convert it again to analog?
To my understanding this means that I don't take advantage of the great Topping DAC because in the end the DSP-DAC creates the analog signal for my power amp.

This leads me to the conclusion, that a Digital-In and Digital-Out DSP Module to plug between PC-USB-OUT and DAC-USB-IN would be the "lossless" solution, but that does not seem to be a thing.

What are your thoughts on this topic and which option would you choose to add tone controls to my system?

As I am new to the world of HiRes-Audio I can imagine, that some of my considerations are mislead. In this case I apologize and would love to be corrected.

Thanks for your help!
 

LightninBoy

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I recommend just using your computer to do the tone/EQ shaping. If you are PC based, Equalizer APO is free. Not sure what the equivalent on a Mac is, but someone here will know.

Then, take that money I just saved you there and buy a measurement mic and spend some time learning how to take measurements of your system. Use that information to make EQ adjustments.
 

NTK

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Welcome to ASR!
This leads me to the conclusion, that a Digital-In and Digital-Out DSP Module to plug between PC-USB-OUT and DAC-USB-IN would be the "lossless" solution, but that does not seem to be a thing.
If you are using PC as your source, why can't you apply your tone control at the PC?
 

Mowz

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I have gone through a fee similar setups. I now use equalizer apo and a have a schiit loki for a quick changes. If you are interested in the loki or lokius I would not take amir's review as the last word except re measurements. It is a tone control not an equalizer and he does not have time to show the big differences between slight nob turns and large nob turns. It is a very handy device imo.

For equalizing though equalizer apo works great though. I use it when I switch headphones or switch to speakers with presets through peace.
 
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ulitv

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If you are using PC as your source, why can't you apply your tone control at the PC?
@LightninBoy @NTK thanks for the quick replies!

You have a fair point!
I try to avoid applying the tone controls on my PC because I want to be able to use the ohter inputs of the DAC (Optical, Bluetooth,...) and still keep tone control.

But I guess about 80% of the time I will be using the USB signal from my PC. In that case the proposed Equalizer APO software seems to be a great choice and I'll definitely keep that in mind!

But what do you think about the other options and my concerns regarding them?
 

Mowz

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I've also done the DAC->MiniDSP->Speakers which also gave me the same concern. I could not hear a difference, but I did not keep the setup because I didn't like the idea, though I agree I have no reason why per below:

Check a few threads on measurable differences between DACs and you will find almost zero support here for there being an audible difference between dacs. Whether the DSP does the conversion or the original dac, DACs are a mature technology. You should get the one that contains the features you desire (price/dsp/io/support/display/controls/looks) and that's that.

A potential solution here is go all in one and use a MiniDSP flex for DAC/Volume/Tone Control/Equalizer as an AIO solution. It also accepts the other inputs you want. I have one I like it a lot but there are some threads here re: poor customer support if you get a bum unit for your consideration.
 

LightninBoy

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@LightninBoy @NTK thanks for the quick replies!

You have a fair point!
I try to avoid applying the tone controls on my PC because I want to be able to use the ohter inputs of the DAC (Optical, Bluetooth,...) and still keep tone control.
Then consider the minidsp flex route instead of the Topping DAC. There is a digital in/out version of the Flex if you still want to use the Topping DAC.
But I guess about 80% of the time I will be using the USB signal from my PC. In that case the proposed Equalizer APO software seems to be a great choice and I'll definitely keep that in mind!

But what do you think about the other options and my concerns regarding them?

Overall, don't worry if your chain requires multiple Digital to Analog conversions. If that's what you have to do to get all the functionality you need at your budget, just do it and enjoy. Not worth losing sleep over. So I'd recommend your option 2 (Digital) over your option 1 (Analog).
 

levimax

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Here is another perspective. I messed around for years with different screen based tone controls on my PC based system and finally built a pre-amp with proper tone controls. I could not be happier and I would never go back to screen based or even "menu based shared knob" tone controls unless forced to by poverty or other hardships. The good old "Braxandall" tone control circuit with physical "knobs" to adjust tone in real time is the best solution and had been for decades. Regarding more noise and distortion... yes probably but I built my pre-amp so it can be completely removed from the signal path with one flip of a switch and I always leave it in as I can not hear any difference. I don't think "digital" or "analog" is really an issue but physical dedicated "knobs" are.
 

Trell

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perspective. I messed around for years with different screen based tone controls on my PC based system and finally built a pre-amp with proper tone controls. I could not be happier and I would never go back to screen based or even "menu based shared knob" tone controls unless forced to by poverty or other hardships.

I too like buttons and knobs to operate a desktop DAC/HP amp, though a remote is handy on occasion as well.

One of the many nice things about the RME ADI-2 DAC is that it has knobs for bass/treble tone controls, and I use them on occasion. The corner frequency is configurable to taste as well.
 

tonycollinet

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Have a look at the A08 just reviewed by Amir:
 

dualazmak

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In terms of safety concerns of "on-the-fly" tone control, the utilization of HiFi grade "integrated amplifiers" or "preamplifiers + power amplifiers" would be one of the options in multichannel multi-driver active system. My latest system setup shown here would be of your reference and interests, I assume.

As for the pros of integrated amplifiers in multichannel system, my post here would be also for your reference.

Start-up (ignition) sequences and shutdown sequences should be also carefully considered and applied for safety concern; I assume my post here would be of your reference.
 
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ulitv

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Then consider the minidsp flex route instead of the Topping DAC. There is a digital in/out version of the Flex if you still want to use the Topping DAC.
I already took a look at the miniDSP Flex and I LOVE the concept and functionality of this device. Sadly, it is way above my Budget. Nevertheless, Christmas is not that far away ;D
Have a look at the A08 just reviewed by Amir:
I was pretty pumped about amir providing measurements of the A08, but there are several reports of the A08 sounding way harder and colder than the A07 and here in Germany the A08 is nearly double the price of the A07.

@all: You already helped me a lot as you confirmed that there is no common solution about which I didn't know. As for now, I will go for a little DIY preamp I tinkered some years ago and check whether it has noticeable negative effects on distortion, noise or clearness. If it does, I will simply bury myself and wait for more money: DD

Thanks!
This is a great community!
 

Midnight Audiophile

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I've used the EQ570 in my near-field system and it works well without any additional noise that was noticeable. I currently use SoundSource on my MacPro for EQ but it's a good unit unit for EQing on the fly. My desktop system feeds a coffee table setup so I had connected there to have some tone control at hand away from the desktop.

One nice thing about the EQ570 is that you have two outputs so if you want, you can connect an active sub directly to it and have bass control over the sub as well as your speakers. The gold knobs that come with it are hard to see the marks on so I replaced them with black knobs with marks that are easier to see (and match the rest of my system). I painted the push buttons a pewter/silver color. You can always give it a try through Amazon and send it back if you don't like it.

IMG_5023.jpg
 
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