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Configuration Question(s)

lamont814

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Hello,
I'm a recently retired computer engineer who will be building a home computer system with a new M3 Imac. I've been researching heavily for a few weeks and think I'm close to a final configuration. I've been out of the audio / video loop for 20 years and need some informed help please.
My planned configuration is a follows :
1. M3 Imac computer (supports Apple Lossless and am perfectly happy with 24bit / 48K resolution). Connection between the Mac and DAC will be USB.
2. Topping A90 paired to a D90 DAC with XLR cables. Meze Elite headphones for the A90 via mini XLR to 4 pin XLR cable.
3. Pair of Genelec 8330A powered speakers connected to the A90 via XLR.
4. CyberPower CP15000PFCLCD 1500VA / 1000W pure sine wave UPS. I'll have room to grow if needed.
This is a near field setup on a large computer desk. I can adjust the volume using the knob on the A90. Is this acceptable or should I turn up the volume on the A90 and use the D90 remote for volume control ? I won't know if I can control the DAC via the Mac until I get it all set up. I'm curious as to which levels I should set on each device to get a safe and noise free system.
Any suggestions, corrections or warnings would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks -Bob
 

twsecrest

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Usually it considered best to max out the volume controls on the computer and the DAC and use the amplifier to control volume.
To send as strong a signal as possible, without adding noise to the signal.
So if maxing out the volume control (100%) causes noise, than maybe turn the volume control to let's say 75% (computer or DAC).
But not really big issue if you prefer controlling volume with the remote, with the D90.
 

staticV3

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Hi @lamont814! Welcome to ASR.

While the A90 and D90 are damn fine pieces of equipment, I would still think twice about buying them, because:

A. Something like the SMSL D-6 will sound exactly, 100% the same as the D90.

B. For the Meze Elite, the A90 is such ridiculous overkill it's not even funny.
You could set the A90 to, I kid you not, 0.5% of its rated output power, and it would still blast your ears off at 116dB SPL out of the Elite.
 
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lamont814

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Usually it considered best to max out the volume controls on the computer and the DAC and use the amplifier to control volume.
To send as strong a signal as possible, without adding noise to the signal.
So if maxing out the volume control (100%) causes noise, than maybe turn the volume control to let's say 75% (computer or DAC).
But not really big issue if you prefer controlling volume with the remote, with the D90.
Thanks for the prompt reply. I really appreciate it. -Bob
 
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lamont814

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Hi @lamont814! Welcome to ASR.

While the A90 and D90 are damn fine pieces of equipment, I would still think twice about buying them, because:

A. Something like the SMSL D-6 will sound exactly, 100% the same as the D90.

B. For the Meze Elite, the A90 is such ridiculous overkill it's not even funny.
You could set the A90 to, I kid you not, 0.5% of its rated output power, and it would still blast your ears off at 116dB SPL out of the Elite.
I have a nice stereo system downstairs that I use the Meze's with. No sense in buying another pair. I'm buying an SMSL D-6 for the Apple TV box downstairs. After I try it out on that first I may buy one for upstairs. Thanks so much for the input. -Bob
 

voodooless

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The UPS protects the electronics by ensuring the power remains stable and noise free
Doesn’t the power company do that? As long as you don’t expect any audible improvements you should be fine.

Also note that the speakers can be fed directly digitally. You don’t need a DAC for them because they are already in there.
 
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lamont814

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Doesn’t the power company do that? As long as you don’t expect any audible improvements you should be fine.

Also note that the speakers can be fed directly digitally. You don’t need a DAC for them because they are already in there.
Im not using a UPS as a power backup and for better audio quality. Voltage sags and EMF hum (noise) degrade electronics over time. The noise I'm referring to is not audible noise as you may have been thinking. It's an electronics term. A pure sine wave UPS cleans up and conditions the power being fed to the equipment. Also during a power outage a quality UPS can be set to trigger a graceful power down of all the equipment. I'm aware of the internal DAC in the powered speakers and that they are fed digitally. In this configuration the signal coming from the A90 to the speakers will be analog and its internal DAC won't be needed. The DA conversion will have already taken place in the D90. Best wishes. -Bob
 

MAB

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I'm aware of the internal DAC in the powered speakers and that they are fed digitally. In this configuration the signal coming from the A90 to the speakers will be analog and its internal DAC won't be needed. The DA conversion will have already taken place in the D90. Best wishes. -Bob
One clarification. The Genelec will convert whatever you feed the analog inputs to digital! The crossovers and filters are all done in the digital domain so the internal DAC is used in either case.
Some purists might want to use the digital inputs, but in reality that A/D and D/A in these are transparent!
 
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lamont814

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One clarification. The Genelec will convert whatever you feed the analog inputs to digital! The crossovers and filters are all done in the digital domain so the internal DAC is used in either case.
Some purists might want to use the digital inputs, but in reality that A/D and D/A in these are transparent!
In the back of my mind I was wondering if the speaker's DAC just remained idle when encountering an analog signal. That's a very good piece of information to know. Thanks a bunch. -Bob
 
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MAB

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In the back of my mind I was wondering if the speaker's DAC just remained idle when encountering an analog signal. That's a very good piece of information to know. Thanks a bunch. -Bob
Those are very nice speakers you are considering. I am pretty sure you will love them.
My advice, if you are going to spend that much on Amp and DAC, I prefer the RME ADI-2 FS. The thing that distinguishes it is the built-in DSP, and a fantastic control app. And the company seems to enjoy broader support than most. Otherwise as StaticV3 said, you won't be able to distinguish the Topping units you are considering from the SMSL he recommended.
 
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lamont814

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It would have to be one hell of a big sag and one hell of a big hum.
Hi Steven. I'm a recently retired senior computer / electronics engineer. I've seen a lot of expensive equipment destroyed and data lost because of sags and spikes. Sags are more commonly known as brownouts. It's when the lights dim and flicker. Power grids can easily get overloaded if not designed and maintained properly. Here in the Washington, DC area power outages are a way of life when everyone is using AC for 5 months out of the year. A surge suppressor only protects against spikes and is useless for sags (brownouts). A sine wave UPS removes hum (noise) and discharge its internal capacitors into the power feed to keep the voltage stable when voltage sags. Improperly installed grounds at main electrical panels have caused many a fire. I've seen and been through way too much over 30 years to not include a good power protection plan in my configurations. $ 250 on a good UPS is money well spent. Best wishes. -Bob
 
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lamont814

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Those are very nice speakers you are considering. I am pretty sure you will love them.
My advice, if you are going to spend that much on Amp and DAC, I prefer the RME ADI-2 FS. The thing that distinguishes it is the built-in DSP, and a fantastic control app. And the company seems to enjoy broader support than most. Otherwise as StaticV3 said, you won't be able to distinguish the Topping units you are considering from the SMSL he recommended.
 
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lamont814

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What enhanced functionality would a built-in DSP bring to the table ? I will definitely look into the RME ADI-2 FS as you suggested. I asked for advice and suggestions and that is exactly what I've received. I'm so grateful for everyone's input. Thanks a bunch MAB. -Bob
 

MAB

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What enhanced functionality would a built-in DSP bring to the table ? I will definitely look into the RME ADI-2 FS as you suggested. I asked for advice and suggestions and that is exactly what I've received. I'm so grateful for everyone's input. Thanks a bunch MAB. -Bob
I like PEQ for headphones. I have several headphones and have a specific set of PEQ for each one. I don't own your headphones, but likely they have response that can be improved with EQ.
Also you can use EQ to manage the bass of your speakers. Genelec's GLM system does this too, so it may be redundant. For instance, speakers on desktops typically benefit from EQ to deal with the excessive bass (unless the speakers are really bass-shy right in the region where the desk's surface intrinsically amplifies the bass response). Another thing the RME has is variable loudness, to increase bass and treble as volume is reduced to counteract your ear's decreasing response in these regions. And it is at or near best in class for just about any performance category. And it is a joy to use. I like the company too, have a couple of their other products, and am always impressed by their documentation and support. And they are a joy to use, perhaps you can call me a fanboi!
 
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lamont814

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Wow !! Now that's a unit. I really like the layout and the way the back panel is configured without all the unecessary bells and whistles. I feel stupid for asking what the DSP would bring to the table. What an understatement. LOL. The S / N ratio is excellent and I assume this has to be a near reference quality unit. Deducting the cost of the interconnects for the Topping configuration this unit is only $ 33 more with better specs and way more functionality. The RME is a no brainer. Excellent suggestion. Thanks again MAB !! -Bob
 
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lamont814

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I like PEQ for headphones. I have several headphones and have a specific set of PEQ for each one. I don't own your headphones, but likely they have response that can be improved with EQ.
Also you can use EQ to manage the bass of your speakers. Genelec's GLM system does this too, so it may be redundant. For instance, speakers on desktops typically benefit from EQ to deal with the excessive bass (unless the speakers are really bass-shy right in the region where the desk's surface intrinsically amplifies the bass response). Another thing the RME has is variable loudness, to increase bass and treble as volume is reduced to counteract your ear's decreasing response in these regions. And it is at or near best in class for just about any performance category. And it is a joy to use. I like the company too, have a couple of their other products, and am always impressed by their documentation and support. And they are a joy to use, perhaps you can call me a fanboi!
 

MAB

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Wow !! Now that's a unit. I really like the layout and the way the back panel is configured without all the unecessary bells and whistles. I feel stupid for asking what the DSP would bring to the table. What an understatement. LOL. The S / N ratio is excellent and I assume this has to be a near reference quality unit. Deducting the cost of the interconnects for the Topping configuration this unit is only $ 33 more with better specs and way more functionality. The RME is a no brainer. Excellent suggestion. Thanks again MAB !! -Bob
I forgot to mention, the control app has a thread here:
The app is really nice, the unit has so many features the physical interface can be overwhelming.
 
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