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Dedicated HT Upgrades - Music Listening Important - Requesting Your Inputs PLEASE!!!

tlin

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Big Title there....sorry if it's a bit tacky but here you are. In my basement theater, duties are pretty close to 50/50 between HT (family movie nights) and music (me, occasionally joined by friends).

Current equipment is in my signature (speakers and Chromecast Audio (CCA) are staying, AVR will eventually be replaced).

On the HT side - I want to get to Auro 3D and the Auro upmixer (to be used for both HT and music). To this end, equipment options (AVR or pre-pro) are fairly well understood (Denon X4700H and up currently rule the roost). I'm not in a huge hurry to get this piece done, FYI, but it does play in with the overall upgrade plans.

Over to the music side:
  • Audio Chain #1 - All CDs ripped to FLAC (via Windows Media Player) --> Plex Media Server --> PlexAmp (Android phone app) Cast --> CCA analog out --> AVR --> Klipsch
  • Audio Chain #2 - Pandora Cast --> CCA analog out --> AVR --> Klipsch
  • Audio Chain #3 - whatever friends use (e.g. Spotify Cast) --> CCA......you get the picture
All things considered....I love it. BUT, since I'm ready for some upgrades, I'm considering an external DAC and amps for the L-C-R channels (eventually paired with a new AVR or pre-pro supporting Auro 3D as noted above) for improved audio. This, presumably, looks like this:

CCA mini Toslink out --> DAC analog out --> AVR or pre-pro pre-out --> external amp(s) --> Klipsch

HERE IS WHERE YOU COME IN! :) I'm probably overthinking some of this.....

DACS:
  • There are obviously a lot of great measuring DACs to be found here. I'm currently very fond of the Topping E50 but am absolutely open to other suggestions.
    • What are the differences in the Topping lineup? Some start with D while others start with E.
    • I don't ever use headphones in this room, FYI.
  • I routinely see mention of "desktop" in relation to DACs reviewed here. Are there types of DACs I should steer clear of since I'm putting this in an equipment cabinet and really only want it to be a plug-and-play device (i.e. I don't need/want volume control here)?
  • I like to bounce around with Logic 7, DTS NEO6, 7-Channel Stereo with concert material. For that reason, my center channel is often in the mix for music playback. So.....does a stereo DAC only help improve the L and R speakers? If so, do I need a multichannel DAC? This piece admittedly confuses me....I want music from the center to benefit from a DAC as much as the L and R speakers will (surround speakers are just there to help with the outdoor/concert feel, a DAC seems like overkill here).
  • Can DACs be left ON? I'd prefer not to have to go into my equipment cabinet every time I want to listen to music and manually turn it on.
  • Based on my listed Audio Chains, is the 120dB SINAD of the E50 just TOO CLEAN? I'm trying to understand how to determine if equipment I'm considering is "overkill" from a performance standpoint.
External Amps:
  • Class D is what I'm thinking (Buckeye or VTV - Hypex or Purifi). If Benchmark had a 3-channel amp, I'd have bought it yesterday.
  • Buckeye - I'm leaning towards bridged 6-channel NC252MP (3 x NC252MP modules powering my L-C-R speakers). Thoughts?
I'll stop there.....feedback would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance......cheers!!!
 

LTig

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  • I like to bounce around with Logic 7, DTS NEO6, 7-Channel Stereo with concert material. For that reason, my center channel is often in the mix for music playback. So.....does a !!!
You'll need an AVP or AVR to decode multichannel, or maybe a high end UHD bluray player with analog multi channel outputs. External DACs won't be applicable.
 

Head_Unit

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DAC analog out --> AVR or pre-pro pre-out --> external amp(s)
Um, no, and maybe not.
- To do time delay and bass management and room correction, the AVR will re-digitize as those functions are in DSP, so there is no point to an external DAC. Get a well-performing AVR.
- Those DSP functions are more important to overall sound than an additional and questionably audible lower noise floor. (As a perfectionist engineer, buy AVRs with -120 dB noise floors all the time, but then I wake up).
- External amp really depends how loud you want to play. We have a current-hungry Focal 936/CC900/SR900 setup. Played loud, BOOM go the cannons in Master And Commander etc, but not to window-cracking nor Iron Maiden World Slavery Tour levels. The ATI 525NC which replaced a Denon AVR-X3600H...runs super cool. But it appears, $6000 later, that the -3600 had enough power.
- Which Klipsch are you thinking? Their sensitivity specs are ridiculous, but they do tend to be more sensitive that most anything, especially the towers with big woofers or the Heritage models.
- Another pretty sensitive set is https://www.stereophile.com/content/monitor-audio-silver-500-7g-loudspeaker Having heard the predecessor Silver 300 sound fantastic for several hours at Upscale Audio, I'd expect these to be killer. Dreaming about them for another setup...
- I'd get an AVR with preouts and ability to turn off internal channels (which even if not connected produce heat unless turned off). And also be kind and get https://www.acinfinity.com/receiver-amp-cooling-fans/
 
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