Advise required about sound card/DAC for Marantz SR 7012

S

sanu83

Audiophyte
Hello,

I am having a marantz sr7012 av receiver with Monitor audio speakers in 9.1 setup. I frequently play music from my PC via optical cable.
My PC motherboard is ASUS P8Z77-M bought 5 years back.

Now recently an opportunity to connect a friend's PC based on new MSI Z390 Edge motherboard, I observed a lot of improvement in the background sound quality of my music tracks.
so i am considering to buy a new music card/DAC for my music system.

I need advise from this forum to proceed which way. a PC sound card or DAC
which is best for the Marantz sr 7012. My budget is around 300~500$.
 
M

MacCali

Full Audioholic
Hello,

I am having a marantz sr7012 av receiver with Monitor audio speakers in 9.1 setup. I frequently play music from my PC via optical cable.
My PC motherboard is ASUS P8Z77-M bought 5 years back.

Now recently an opportunity to connect a friend's PC based on new MSI Z390 Edge motherboard, I observed a lot of improvement in the background sound quality of my music tracks.
so i am considering to buy a new music card/DAC for my music system.

I need advise from this forum to proceed which way. a PC sound card or DAC
which is best for the Marantz sr 7012. My budget is around 300~500$.
I’m not a professional, but your marantz has a built in dac. But on my experience with dacs and speaker configuration I would say the Pro-Ject pre box S2 is your best bang for your buck.

Also in regards, MSI use ESS dac chips, so you will get equal performance if you’re able to get that dac to be the main feed. That unit compares to much more expensive model dacs.

My only suggestion would be is buy it first and try it like that, but I see that a lot of people who do use it in higher end systems use a power regenerator or power conditioner to the unit itself. Just some tips to maximize performance and you can obviously connect your AVR to the power conditioning as well.

Crutchfield has it, but I wouldn’t suggest buying it from there, it runs 399 and Black Friday is coming up too.

772FAF0C-43E5-45C3-AF84-CF613F981591.jpeg
 
S

sanu83

Audiophyte
Hello MacCali,
Thanks for the reply,

Should I buy a PC sound card or a separate DAC for better performance.

Is there any PC sound cards with similar ESS chips as mentioned in the Pro-Ject pre box S2.

Whats your opinion about the creative Sound Blaster AE-9 which uses the same ESS SABRE-class 9038 chip


Please suggest me few more DAC's in the price range of 300~400$
 
Last edited:
I

IansDad88(Don)

Audioholic
I'm no expert on this but I can make an observation and maybe bump this thread to those who do know more.

But I'm just looking over the details from this very sites review. I'm not so sure your DAC on the 7012 is the problem. I know the AVR is a few years old now but it's a very good piece I think.


Anyway, I'm curious, are you using Heos.? How are you getting the music files to the AVR by way of the Optical? You're sending from the PC? I guess maybe I'm asking because it sounds like you're using the PC for the DAC instead of the AVR..? Or maybe I misunderstood your OP.?

Anyway I'm not entirely sure you need to spend money on a DAC or even a power conditioner. I mean with your budget I guess I'm not convinced you'll get a demonstrably better DAC than you have in your AVR.

Music via Heos, and wired sound just fine on my SR 6013. Not like a 2k DAC separate in sure, but I don't think I'd try to buy a $500 unit for improvement.

Let's see if someone who knows more can chime in..!
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
If the sources are both digital and being played thru the Marantz (and its DAC) then how did you compare the two sources? Level matched, quick switched and blind for comparison? If not then lots of things can go sideways. If both are the same actual source (file) played back by those two computers and audio is not altered in them, then I simply wouldn't worry about it let alone seek other computer components to resolve....
 
M

MacCali

Full Audioholic
Hello MacCali,
Thanks for the reply,

Should I buy a PC sound card or a separate DAC for better performance.

Is there any PC sound cards with similar ESS chips as mentioned in the Pro-Ject pre box S2.

Whats your opinion about the creative Sound Blaster AE-9 which uses the same ESS SABRE-class 9038 chip


Please suggest me few more DAC's in the price range of 300~400$
No a sound card is trash and I just explained it’s better to connect to a power conditioner to avoid any electrical interference. Your computer is a hub for unnecessary interference. External 100%.

Try this my man, you can always return. I think you will be exceptionally pleased. If you take that extra step, which will be about another 200. You can get phenomenal performance, but not necessary. You can go step by step.

Also that pro-ject is a 2 for 1 unit, you can always purchase nice headphones and use it with the headphones output.

But Pro-Ject itself is known for speaker audio and turn tables.
 
M

MacCali

Full Audioholic
I'm no expert on this but I can make an observation and maybe bump this thread to those who do know more.

But I'm just looking over the details from this very sites review. I'm not so sure your DAC on the 7012 is the problem. I know the AVR is a few years old now but it's a very good piece I think.


Anyway, I'm curious, are you using Heos.? How are you getting the music files to the AVR by way of the Optical? You're sending from the PC? I guess maybe I'm asking because it sounds like you're using the PC for the DAC instead of the AVR..? Or maybe I misunderstood your OP.?

Anyway I'm not entirely sure you need to spend money on a DAC or even a power conditioner. I mean with your budget I guess I'm not convinced you'll get a demonstrably better DAC than you have in your AVR.

Music via Heos, and wired sound just fine on my SR 6013. Not like a 2k DAC separate in sure, but I don't think I'd try to buy a $500 unit for improvement.

Let's see if someone who knows more can chime in..!
I agree with your point, and he could definitely give that a shot. However as I had mentioned the dac I am suggesting has a very near performance to 1000 plus dollar dacs. Which is why I said to try it.

Power conditioning is optional. That’s why I told him to go one step at a time and for 300 on Black Friday it’s a pretty good steal if it drops that low. It’s 500 on crutch field, but should be going for 399 most spots.

Lastly, you can always return. He said his friends PC had an MSI board and MSI predominantly uses the ESS chips and these are actually the best ESS chips at the time of release and probably still in the top 3 ESS chips. It maybe the sound signature he liked, so this just kind of went hand in hand.
 
M

MacCali

Full Audioholic
If the sources are both digital and being played thru the Marantz (and its DAC) then how did you compare the two sources? Level matched, quick switched and blind for comparison? If not then lots of things can go sideways. If both are the same actual source (file) played back by those two computers and audio is not altered in them, then I simply wouldn't worry about it let alone seek other computer components to resolve....
I mean that’s what I was thinking as well.

The thing again with other computer components is that they will not provide the absolute best results and really are not specific to audiophile quality. Any computer should have an external dac even if it’s 50 or 100 dollars, again based on the computer is not a true audiophile source and hurts sound by internal emi etc.

Those sound card companies take you for a ride and charge you 300 for performance a 100 dollar external dac can produce.

If he liked what his friends pc produced this will blow that out of the water as an external component. So he should probably see my best guess a 20% increase in what he experienced, possibly more
 
I

IansDad88(Don)

Audioholic
I agree with your point, and he could definitely give that a shot. However as I had mentioned the dac I am suggesting has a very near performance to 1000 plus dollar dacs. Which is why I said to try it.

Power conditioning is optional. That’s why I told him to go one step at a time and for 300 on Black Friday it’s a pretty good steal if it drops that low. It’s 500 on crutch field, but should be going for 399 most spots.

Lastly, you can always return. He said his friends PC had an MSI board and MSI predominantly uses the ESS chips and these are actually the best ESS chips at the time of release and probably still in the top 3 ESS chips. It maybe the sound signature he liked, so this just kind of went hand in hand.
I don't disagree at all. Hope it didn't come out that way. I was only thinking to offer a potential a no cost option as his AVR shouldn't be the problem.

Thanks for clearing this up for me.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Hello,

I am having a marantz sr7012 av receiver with Monitor audio speakers in 9.1 setup. I frequently play music from my PC via optical cable.
My PC motherboard is ASUS P8Z77-M bought 5 years back.

Now recently an opportunity to connect a friend's PC based on new MSI Z390 Edge motherboard, I observed a lot of improvement in the background sound quality of my music tracks.
so i am considering to buy a new music card/DAC for my music system.

I need advise from this forum to proceed which way. a PC sound card or DAC
which is best for the Marantz sr 7012. My budget is around 300~500$.
The Marantz is already acting as DAC. its conversion is probably just fine. I don't know what you thought your friend's computer did to have better sound output, but it wasn't likely the DAC. It was something else, it might be processing the signal and adding some kind of EQ curve.
 
Joe B

Joe B

Audioholic Chief
The Marantz is already acting as DAC. its conversion is probably just fine. I don't know what you thought your friend's computer did to have better sound output, but it wasn't likely the DAC. It was something else, it might be processing the signal and adding some kind of EQ curve.
I've got to agree. Your Marantz is using 32 bit AKM DAC chip sets and Marantz knows how to implement them just fine. If there was a difference in the sound you heard, it was a difference in the digital signal being sent to the Marantz. If both computers were hooked to the Marantz via optical, you weren't using the DAC in either computer.
 
M

MacCali

Full Audioholic
I don't disagree at all. Hope it didn't come out that way. I was only thinking to offer a potential a no cost option as his AVR shouldn't be the problem.

Thanks for clearing this up for me.
That’s smart and greatly appreciated providing logical advice.

I am again still confused how that worked out, as mentioned in my first post. Obviously the marantz has a dac, I wonder if it is bypassing when you add an external dac.

I have a sound bar which was connected to my tv and pc. I started using my external dac output to the sound bar from the pc and it was making difference.
 
M

MacCali

Full Audioholic
The Marantz is already acting as DAC. its conversion is probably just fine. I don't know what you thought your friend's computer did to have better sound output, but it wasn't likely the DAC. It was something else, it might be processing the signal and adding some kind of EQ curve.
Very possible, check my comment #12 near the end, multiple dacs are doing something. In my experience at least, also I’m not sure if you can settings wise bypass the internal dac or maybe it does it automatically
 
M

MacCali

Full Audioholic
I've got to agree. Your Marantz is using 32 bit AKM DAC chip sets and Marantz knows how to implement them just fine. If there was a difference in the sound you heard, it was a difference in the digital signal being sent to the Marantz. If both computers were hooked to the Marantz via optical, you weren't using the DAC in either computer.
Yes it probably does have to do the digital processing. However, you would assume that adding a new dac will provide new digital processing. He can disable his computer sound processing and strictly use the Pro-ject.

I am again strictly leaning on the name, pre box/digital. Must have some processing.
 
I

IansDad88(Don)

Audioholic
Well, again I'm not the expert but if you use digital cables, the last device in the chain is getting the digital signal so that is the DAC that skills be doing the work.

You said it was PC to AVR via Optical and that's digital. Right..? Yup. So sure, figure what happened, but your best DAC is no doubt in the Marantz and that is what you're using so the sound card might be doing something. I just can't say what, it why it sounded different.

Just one last thing. Going back to Heos. It will have a section to read off of the PC. So if you did use it the PC becomes storage basically and the sound card becomes irrelevant.

Let me knew how it all turns out. Good luck..!
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
That’s smart and greatly appreciated providing logical advice.

I am again still confused how that worked out, as mentioned in my first post. Obviously the marantz has a dac, I wonder if it is bypassing when you add an external dac.

I have a sound bar which was connected to my tv and pc. I started using my external dac output to the sound bar from the pc and it was making difference.
If you are connecting the two units digitally the first unit's dac is being bypassed. If you connect them with an analog output the first device's dac is being used. As to differences in dacs, not too likely anything audible, possibly a level difference or some digital signal processing was applied to one vs the other....and as for differences in general:

differences.jpg
 
M

MacCali

Full Audioholic
So with the chain of pc to external dac to avr, the avr is going to have the final say? if that is correct than that must mean it is something else.

Why dont you check your buddy's settings drivers etc. I know sometimes msi uses nahimic or whatever it is, it's like software for music gaming, even though everyone hates it in the computer world. That maybe the factor that made a difference or lack of it. It is providing adjustment to bass mid and treble.

Maybe you can shoot some insight, isn't there a way to disable the dac and send audio straight from the device? or is that only dsp/filters configuration?
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
So with the chain of pc to external dac to avr, the avr is going to have the final say? if that is correct than that must mean it is something else.
If you are connecting the pc to the dac digitally and the resulting analog signal to the avr you are using the external dac, but the avr will have the final say for processing and amplification (and for processing could reconvert the analog signal back to digital to do that, then convert it again, some avrs have specific analog inputs to bypass further processing, or a setting to bypass further processing). Really no point to having an external dac with an avr, tho.
 
M

MacCali

Full Audioholic
If you are connecting the pc to the dac digitally and the resulting analog signal to the avr you are using the external dac, but the avr will have the final say for processing and amplification (and for processing could reconvert the analog signal back to digital to do that, then convert it again, some avrs have specific analog inputs to bypass further processing, or a setting to bypass further processing). Really no point to having an external dac with an avr, tho.
I see, I am strictly going by what he said, his buddy’s pc sounded better and we are trying to conclude why this is or how it came to be.

My only final question maybe what service or player was he using and the drivers or modifications made to the sound. Based on what you said I would assume it wouldn’t use the changes in the pc. Making this more puzzling
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
I see, I am strictly going by what he said, his buddy’s pc sounded better and we are trying to conclude why this is or how it came to be.

My only final question maybe what service or player was he using and the drivers or modifications made to the sound. Based on what you said I would assume it wouldn’t use the changes in the pc. Making this more puzzling
In casual comparisons usually "differences" often boil down to slight differences in level (unless the signal was actually changed via processing it), differences as small as 0.1 dB can make a difference. The slightly louder one is generally preferred. Could simply be expectation bias, too or a combination. Why level matched and double blind comparisons of gear are preferred rather than just casual anecdotal information. Just moving your listening position a bit can have an effect.
 

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