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A/V Processor or Source for Stereo System

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Confused and after advice. I’m running a stereo system that has a single source (HTPC) which is co-located with our TV that runs multiple A/V sources (e.g., Fetch TV, Wii U etc.) all of which use HDMI. My plan is to use the stereo speakers for A/V audio and at present I’ve set this up via using the analogue audio output of the TV. This approach is working but limited, off course, by the poor D/A of the TV as well as lack of balanced outputs so I’m trying to figure out a path that will be both simple to use and future proof to new A/V sources. So far I’ve identified three models:

 

1.       HT Processor. All A/V sources are input into a HT process with one HDMI to the TV. Audio would be managed via routing a 2-channel analogue audio output of the HT processor to the pre-amp or a 2-channel PCM digital output to stereo DAC.

 

2.       NAD m51 (a): All A/V sources run to an HDMI switch which, then, routes to the m51 with HDMI video pass through to the TV and 2-channel analogue audio sent to pre-amp or (b) Digital audio outputs send to the various digital inputs on the m51.

 

3.       Oppo BD-105: All A/V sources run into an HDMI switch which, then, routes to the Oppo with HDMI sent to the HV and 2-channel analogue audio sent to the pre-amp or 2-channel PCM digital output to the stereo DAC.

 

Option 1 seems like the best solution in that it has built-in source selection as well as decoding but most processors seem to be very expensive in part due to features that aren’t relevant. Option 2a seems like a good solution but I don’t know whether to be concerned about the need to have A/V sources that decode to PCM. Is this standard? Option 3 seems like a good model as it would also provide access to an optical disk input (which has high WAF) but I’m not sure how user friendly the system will be when using the HDMI input. What, in other’s experience, is the right solution given the requirement for a user friendly system that will work across a range of sources but no need for multi-channel audio? Any and all advice would be appreciated.  

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Does your TV have optical out? It seems common these days on TVs with HDMI inputs. Connect that to DAC of your choice then to existing amp. A basic Schiit DAC (for example) would likely be an upgrade to the TV's own.

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has your TV got an optical ARC output connection? If your dac accepts optical you are set. I can get sound from my Apple tv this way, or via a optical cable direct from apple TV to dac, as my dac has 2 optical inputs.

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Does your TV have optical out? It seems common these days on TVs with HDMI inputs. Connect that to DAC of your choice then to existing amp. A basic Schiit DAC (for example) would likely be an upgrade to the TV's own.

 

you type quicker than it do

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Yes but. I've connected to the TV optical out to the DAC which locks onto a 48kHz signal but doesn't produce sound. My guess was that this was because the optical output wasn't in the correct format for the 2-channel stereo DAC. The TV (Panasonic TH-P60ST60A) doesn't appear to have a menu setting to change the optical audio output settings. I'll do some more diagnosis overnight.

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Yes but. I've connected to the TV optical out to the DAC which locks onto a 48kHz signal but doesn't produce sound. My guess was that this was because the optical output wasn't in the correct format for the 2-channel stereo DAC. The TV (Panasonic TH-P60ST60A) doesn't appear to have a menu setting to change the optical audio output settings. I'll do some more diagnosis overnight.

 

Yep, I found that initially as my TV was outputting 5.1, force it to 2ch in the audio menu. I'd be amazed if there isn't a menu option. My parents have a 4 yo 55 ST Panasonic plasma and I'm sure I've changed output on theirs.

Edited by blybo

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Using the TV is bad IMO.

 

For one most seem to fix sample and bit rate. My fairly new Panasonic has one output and that's 16bit/48Khz.

 

Another reason I don't like it is if you want to listen to music then you can't turn the TV off.

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Using the TV is bad IMO.

 

For one most seem to fix sample and bit rate. My fairly new Panasonic has one output and that's 16bit/48Khz.

 

Another reason I don't like it is if you want to listen to music then you can't turn the TV off.

 

I assume he is using his HTPC for audio, the question is only for AV sources.

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Yes but. I've connected to the TV optical out to the DAC which locks onto a 48kHz signal but doesn't produce sound. My guess was that this was because the optical output wasn't in the correct format for the 2-channel stereo DAC. The TV (Panasonic TH-P60ST60A) doesn't appear to have a menu setting to change the optical audio output settings. I'll do some more diagnosis overnight.

In the menu, under sound, look for SPDIF Selection. Set to PCM and see if that works.

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I assume he is using his HTPC for audio, the question is only for AV sources.

 

And what does the A stand for? :)

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And what does the A stand for? :)

not many people listen to a movie without watching the video :P

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They are all good options. I would probably pick option 1 and get an Emotiva XMC-1 (not cheap) which has Dirac Live EQ.

 

EDIT: I just looked up the price and got a shock.

Edited by Satanica

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Option 2 looks like your cheapest option by far and should give you what you want.

It's kinda similar to what I do although I have only one single source, a HTPC.

And yes you'll have to have all sources decode to PCM.

 

How do you play Blu-ray discs now? You could add an Oppo player but consider the cheaper 103 model with UHD Blu-ray on the horizon in the next couple of years.

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I assume he is using his HTPC for audio, the question is only for AV sources.

 

Yes, the HTPC is used for music and some videos - the solution needed is for the other A/V sources

 

In the menu, under sound, look for SPDIF Selection. Set to PCM and see if that works.

 

Hmm - I don't see anything remotely like this under the TV settings - but will check again and have raised a call to Panasonic

 

They are all good options. I would probably pick option 1 and get an Emotiva XMC-1 (not cheap) which has Dirac Live EQ.

 

EDIT: I just looked up the price and got a shock.

 

Precisely - the XMC-1 looks like the perfect solution but it's damn expensive for this application. I guess that I'd sell my DAC.

 

Option 2 looks like your cheapest option by far and should give you what you want.

It's kinda similar to what I do although I have only one single source, a HTPC.

And yes you'll have to have all sources decode to PCM.

 

How do you play Blu-ray discs now? You could add an Oppo player but consider the cheaper 103 model with UHD Blu-ray on the horizon in the next couple of years.

 

My concern is that there might be A/V sources that don't output 2-channel PCM in which case the M51 won't work. Is this a valid concern? Re. blu-ray: We don't have an optical disk solution which is part of the attraction of the Oppo Player option. My concern with this option is the usability. If I understand it, then I'd set-up the Oppo to default to the external HDMI source so it should be fine but I'm a bit worried that I'd end up some complexity in the user interface so any advice on how the Oppo works in practise for an external HDMI set-up would be good.

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disclaimer: I have the XMC1 for sale.

I also own an Oppo 105 and have the same TV. I've been through the menus and the TV doesn't have any options for optical out so I am guessing it just does a digital pass through which is why your DAC doesn't like it if it's multi channel.

The Oppo will do what you want. To change source you hit the input button and then scroll down to HDMI. So it is 2 buttons vs 1 on an AVR but there are only two inputs so you still need your switcher. Oppo can default to last input so you can just switch it on and then use your switcher. It works for me because I only have 1 external HDMI source.

M51 will be similar to Oppo. Their DACs do sound different. M51 might decode all PCM to 2 channel. I would download the manual and have a look.

XMC 1 will be easiest as 1 button for each input which you name but yes you have a lot of other features you may not need. I prefer the DAC in the XMC to the Oppo.

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Yes, the HTPC is used for music and some videos - the solution needed is for the other A/V sources

 

 

Hmm - I don't see anything remotely like this under the TV settings - but will check again and have raised a call to Panasonic

 

 

Precisely - the XMC-1 looks like the perfect solution but it's damn expensive for this application. I guess that I'd sell my DAC.

 

 

My concern is that there might be A/V sources that don't output 2-channel PCM in which case the M51 won't work. Is this a valid concern? Re. blu-ray: We don't have an optical disk solution which is part of the attraction of the Oppo Player option. My concern with this option is the usability. If I understand it, then I'd set-up the Oppo to default to the external HDMI source so it should be fine but I'm a bit worried that I'd end up some complexity in the user interface so any advice on how the Oppo works in practise for an external HDMI set-up would be good.

 

I like to know which AV source does not output 2-channel pcm .   I know with bluray players it is pretty easy to get it to send 2 channel pcm (down mix to 2 channel).  I have used a Sony bluray player with coax out to the DAC and the visual part is going through a video processor.  There is no problem at all.  The only concern I have is the new video processor is no longer supporting the legacy video standard like Component Input,  S-Video,  and RCA Video,  it has 8 HDMI 2.0  input and 4 HDMI 2.0 output.

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disclaimer: I have the XMC1 for sale.

I also own an Oppo 105 and have the same TV. I've been through the menus and the TV doesn't have any options for optical out so I am guessing it just does a digital pass through which is why your DAC doesn't like it if it's multi channel.

The Oppo will do what you want. To change source you hit the input button and then scroll down to HDMI. So it is 2 buttons vs 1 on an AVR but there are only two inputs so you still need your switcher. Oppo can default to last input so you can just switch it on and then use your switcher. It works for me because I only have 1 external HDMI source.

M51 will be similar to Oppo. Their DACs do sound different. M51 might decode all PCM to 2 channel. I would download the manual and have a look.

XMC 1 will be easiest as 1 button for each input which you name but yes you have a lot of other features you may not need. I prefer the DAC in the XMC to the Oppo.

 

Much appreciated. Is it possible to set-up the XMC-1 downmix to stereo on the main RCA / XLR outputs? Or is this limited to the secondary outputs?

 

I like to know which AV source does not output 2-channel pcm .   I know with bluray players it is pretty easy to get it to send 2 channel pcm (down mix to 2 channel).  I have used a Sony bluray player with coax out to the DAC and the visual part is going through a video processor.  There is no problem at all.  The only concern I have is the new video processor is no longer supporting the legacy video standard like Component Input,  S-Video,  and RCA Video,  it has 8 HDMI 2.0  input and 4 HDMI 2.0 output.

 

More of a question than a statement. So it's the case that all A/V sources can be set-up to downmix to 2-channel PCM?

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Much appreciated. Is it possible to set-up the XMC-1 downmix to stereo on the main RCA / XLR outputs? Or is this limited to the secondary outputs?

 

 

 

Yes if you set it up to just 2 main front speakers then it will down mix all multichannel but 2 channel can go through as reference "untouched" stereo and then there is Dirac which is DSP like Audyssey. There are many options to choose from but this is a fairly easy job for most pre/pros.

 

I ran it until recently as 2 channel direct from main xlrs to active speakers. You can add 1 or 2 subs later just for movies if you like.

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Much appreciated. Is it possible to set-up the XMC-1 downmix to stereo on the main RCA / XLR outputs? Or is this limited to the secondary outputs?

 

 

More of a question than a statement. So it's the case that all A/V sources can be set-up to downmix to 2-channel PCM?

 

Yes, most of bluray player I know can set up for 2 channel pcm.   If you want to play just the stereo sound track of the movie you really don't need XMC-1.  For same money you can get a better two channel pre for the same money.   In my set up I have long abandon the AVR or AV pre,   I use just stereo pre and power combo or integrated amp with my DAC.  I use video processor because it gives me the best possible picture for bluray, satellite viewing and it is 4K capable will work well with any potential future 4K format. 

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My concern is that there might be A/V sources that don't output 2-channel PCM in which case the M51 won't work. Is this a valid concern? Re. blu-ray: We don't have an optical disk solution which is part of the attraction of the Oppo Player option. My concern with this option is the usability. If I understand it, then I'd set-up the Oppo to default to the external HDMI source so it should be fine but I'm a bit worried that I'd end up some complexity in the user interface so any advice on how the Oppo works in practise for an external HDMI set-up would be good.

 

Yes it is a valid concern but I'd be surprised if you managed to find a component that doesn't down-mix to 2 channel PCM. I play Blu-ray discs using my HTPC (2D and 3D) but it takes a bit of work to get going and is not particularly user friendly to anyone else but me. Of course you don't need to use the Oppo (Blu-ray player) with external sources, you could just use it normally as a source into a HDMI switcher.

Edited by Satanica

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does your TV not have a headphone or line out on the back of it? if it does you can use a 3.5mm stereo to dual RCA cable to connect to the dac.

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does your TV not have a headphone or line out on the back of it? if it does you can use a 3.5mm stereo to dual RCA cable to connect to the dac.

 

Why connect an analogue output to a DAC?

 

I like to know which AV source does not output 2-channel pcm .   I know with bluray players it is pretty easy to get it to send 2 channel pcm (down mix to 2 channel).  I have used a Sony bluray player with coax out to the DAC and the visual part is going through a video processor.  There is no problem at all.  The only concern I have is the new video processor is no longer supporting the legacy video standard like Component Input,  S-Video,  and RCA Video,  it has 8 HDMI 2.0  input and 4 HDMI 2.0 output.

 

This is the solution if your TV will not output 2c pcm, make your sources do it. I know my Apple TV can be forced into 2ch pcm, as can my Oppo and Beyonwiz PVR. I guess the only downside is some FTA TV is broadcast in 5.1, that might be a stumbling point unless you use a PVR

If you read the OP he is wanting to better the TV's analogue output

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well in that case.. 

 

personally i would go with option 1. find a relatively cheap AV receiver with line outputs and use that. it also keeps source selection simple and if you ever wanted to means you can add surround speakers for movies at another point while still keeping your 2 channel setup working for hifi. (if you ever use it for that)

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