AV receiver vs Music Streamer Amplifier

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skads_187

Audioholic
Just wanted to get some opinions and feedback on comparing 2 different setups for network audio streaming.
Currently I listen to music 2 ways. 1 - Rega turntable to Moon 110lp v2 phono to Pioneer SC-LX701 - to Emotiva xpa-3 (powers 3 fronts) to psb Imagine t2. 2nd way - Network audio stream from pc to Pioneer receiver. For this part, in stereo, the Pioneer does do one thing great, I dont know if Im using the right terminology, but I think it upmixes the 16/24 bit audio files to 32 bit or something similar. It gives a great powerful sound, great bass. However the issue is , its fatiguing, I dont want to use the word harsh, but not smooth. I actually had borrowed a dedicated 500$ Pioneer music streamer, and it didnt even come close in sound quality, not sure if its because my LX701 had the proper MCACC room correction. Anyway, which leads me to my questions.

If I upgrade my receiver to a NAD T778, (I always wanted a NAD and was waiting until they made one with features that are up to par with other receivers), I know I will benefit from the Dirac Live room correction and better sound for movies and music + maybe the BluOS app (roon compatible).

My question is how would a less expensive upgrade to the NAD T778, compare to say a dedicated music streamer Amplifier for Music playback.
Say a NAD M10 for example. Have the Rega TT plug into the analog inputs. Have separate speakers connect to the NAD M10 and have that for music only. If the NAD M10 is not enough power, say a NAD M10 + NAD M22 power amp. NAD M10 is an example, but I know Naim has a similar product as well. Just throwing ideas, doesn't mean I want to go this route, but I am very interested in getting opinions on this.

Im going to do my best to call around, I need to see if I can audition a good AV receiver with HiRes audio playback vs a dedicated streamer using the same setup at the store, not my setup, but theirs just to compare and see what the difference sounds like. Im just assuming , something that does less and is dedicated will sound better than something that is more all around?
 
T

thebrieze

Junior Audioholic
I went down this route as well. In my case my room needs correction to sound good, so Dirac or some other RC option was an absolute requirement. After spending lots of money on an Arcam receiver (attempt at a one box solution) and many other intermediate options like a Bluesond Node 2i etc, I finally ended up with the following and don’t have the itch to upgrade anymore. If my Arcam can get their act together with Dirac Bass Control, great. But for now I’m happy.

My setup
Roon -> MiniDSP SHD -> Schiit Sys -> amp -> speakers/sub

Roon is much better than BluOS for interacting with your music and discovering new music (within your catalog or outside if you have Tidal/Qobuz)

MiniDSP SHD - Excellent Dac, excellent measurements from ASR review, Dirac, Roon ready, Bass management up to 2 subs, analog inputs for my Rega TT. Not as pretty as some units, but great sounding piece of gear.

The UI has a steep learning curve, but it is also “very” flexible, in adjusting the subwoofer crossover. With a bit of time and experimentation, my subwoofer integration is now near perfect (before Dirac). It is much more even than any of my AVR’s have been able to achieve with Audyssey or Dirac. With Dirac enabled on the SHD my combined frequency response is very very good.

Note that even running my full range speakers as stereo (no sub), the combined response is nowhere as good because of room interactions.

Schiit Sys acts as an RCA switch between my AVR/ HT system and music.

Both AVR and SHD send outputs to different inputs on the sub. So long as only one system is playing at any time, it works well.

I imagine the NAD M series, especially the new units with Purifi amps might be “very” good. Anthem STR series has also gotten good reviews

One of the main improvements over my previous Denon - no matter how high I turn up the volume, there is zero harshness or fatigue. The loudness never bothers me, and it just sounds super smooth. The Arcam is also very similar in this aspect, but I haven’t done a detailed comparison.
 
skads_187

skads_187

Audioholic
I went down this route as well. In my case my room needs correction to sound good, so Dirac or some other RC option was an absolute requirement. After spending lots of money on an Arcam receiver (attempt at a one box solution) and many other intermediate options like a Bluesond Node 2i etc, I finally ended up with the following and don’t have the itch to upgrade anymore. If my Arcam can get their act together with Dirac Bass Control, great. But for now I’m happy.

My setup
Roon -> MiniDSP SHD -> Schiit Sys -> amp -> speakers/sub

Roon is much better than BluOS for interacting with your music and discovering new music (within your catalog or outside if you have Tidal/Qobuz)

MiniDSP SHD - Excellent Dac, excellent measurements from ASR review, Dirac, Roon ready, Bass management up to 2 subs, analog inputs for my Rega TT. Not as pretty as some units, but great sounding piece of gear.

The UI has a steep learning curve, but it is also “very” flexible, in adjusting the subwoofer crossover. With a bit of time and experimentation, my subwoofer integration is now near perfect (before Dirac). It is much more even than any of my AVR’s have been able to achieve with Audyssey or Dirac. With Dirac enabled on the SHD my combined frequency response is very very good.

Note that even running my full range speakers as stereo (no sub), the combined response is nowhere as good because of room interactions.

Schiit Sys acts as an RCA switch between my AVR/ HT system and music.

Both AVR and SHD send outputs to different inputs on the sub. So long as only one system is playing at any time, it works well.

I imagine the NAD M series, especially the new units with Purifi amps might be “very” good. Anthem STR series has also gotten good reviews

One of the main improvements over my previous Denon - no matter how high I turn up the volume, there is zero harshness or fatigue. The loudness never bothers me, and it just sounds super smooth. The Arcam is also very similar in this aspect, but I haven’t done a detailed comparison.
I was also was looking at the Bluesound Node 2i as an option, however at that price I was wondering it may not sound as great as what a receiver can do ( I could be wrong). Something to look at.

interesting setup with the Schiit Sys. So I guess you have a pre-out from the DSP and pre-out from your AV receiver going to the Schiit Sys and the output going to your poweramp. Havent tried Roon yet, did a quick look, seems very nice, its sad that it comes with a monthly fee. Currently Im using Plex and another one that I forgot the name (I think its mini upnp) to stream to my Pioneer.
Note that seems like Roon can work in tandem with BluOS, not sure how, havent investigated, but NAD's products show that they work with Roon.
Question about the Schiit Sys, why does it have a volume knob, that kind of scares me in the sense that not sure if it will make a difference from the AV receiver end that is setup with the room calibration, etc.Unless you leave the volume knob in the middle (top/50)?

For the Sub, that could be another issue, Im not sure I understand how you use both. I have to see if my sub has that option? I see a IN for L available and the R (LFE) is being used, Im going by internet pics. SO I guess you use the other one available.

I need to check out the Anthem's as well, Im sure its good. Im wondering if its worth buying a used NAD M10 to test it out and see how it goes, now that i know this Schiit Sys exists.

Oh I see, so you have the Arcam now? with Dirac. so you havent tested audio streaming on it yet? from your Roon?

that would be an interesting test. Im also really curious to know , is it possible the NAD T778 isnt as harsh when streaming...
 
T

thebrieze

Junior Audioholic
If you keep the volume knob at max level on the Sys, it has no effect and acts as a regular switch. Amir at Audio Science Review . com (ASR) tested the Sys as a switch, and found it to be fully transparent when used this way. That’s the main reason I chose it

Preouts from Arcam and SHD connect to the Sys. If you get a preamp with a “good” implementation of HT Bypass, then you don’t need the Sys.

If your sub has separate L and R inputs, then it should work.

Roon is very good. It does work very well with the Node 2i (Use Roon to Control the music and not BluOS). With the Arcam and SHD both being Roon ready - the Node2i is now redundant.

Roon is $700 for lifetime license. If you get a Roon Ready preamp (they have a compatibility list online), then you don’t need to buy a separate hardware streamer, so it offsets quite a bit of the cost. Naim and Nad do have decent streaming built in, but they are also quite expensive.

The Node 2i sounded very good to me. I used it with the Denon, before my current setup. It did not measure very well in the ASR review. It’s possible those anomaly’s are inaudible normal listening levels.
 
T

thebrieze

Junior Audioholic
Oh I see, so you have the Arcam now? with Dirac. so you havent tested audio streaming on it yet? from your Roon?
Roon streaming to Arcam and Dirac works very well. No harshness. I could be very happy with it, once the Arcam software issues settle down. Someday I plan to do a detailed listening test to see if I can hear a difference between them.
 
skads_187

skads_187

Audioholic
If you keep the volume knob at max level on the Sys, it has no effect and acts as a regular switch. Amir at Audio Science Review . com (ASR) tested the Sys as a switch, and found it to be fully transparent when used this way. That’s the main reason I chose it

Preouts from Arcam and SHD connect to the Sys. If you get a preamp with a “good” implementation of HT Bypass, then you don’t need the Sys.

If your sub has separate L and R inputs, then it should work.

Roon is very good. It does work very well with the Node 2i (Use Roon to Control the music and not BluOS). With the Arcam and SHD both being Roon ready - the Node2i is now redundant.

Roon is $700 for lifetime license. If you get a Roon Ready preamp (they have a compatibility list online), then you don’t need to buy a separate hardware streamer, so it offsets quite a bit of the cost. Naim and Nad do have decent streaming built in, but they are also quite expensive.

The Node 2i sounded very good to me. I used it with the Denon, before my current setup. It did not measure very well in the ASR review. It’s possible those anomaly’s are inaudible normal listening levels.
right, I have to also look into that HT bypass as well, and which ones work right, the NAD M32 apparently doesnt work well, although the M33 is coming out, very pricey though.

Ill definitely look into Roon, at the very least I can maybe test it for one month once I get new equipment.
 
skads_187

skads_187

Audioholic
Roon streaming to Arcam and Dirac works very well. No harshness. I could be very happy with it, once the Arcam software issues settle down. Someday I plan to do a detailed listening test to see if I can hear a difference between them.
This is what would be extremely interesting. I would very curious. I have to say, the simplest and easiest route for me would be to upgrade to the NAD T778 in hopes that it does music streaming well. So far , from the comments Ive seen in another thread , seems like it does. That would eliminate the need of having a separate system.
 
skads_187

skads_187

Audioholic
Or last thing, a good integrated amp that has all these features + a good HT bypass.
 
T

thebrieze

Junior Audioholic
Or last thing, a good integrated amp that has all these features + a good HT bypass.
Good option if you want a pure 2 channel setup for music. It becomes tricky if you want a subwoofer with Bass management, and/or any room correction for music (and HT).
 
T

thebrieze

Junior Audioholic
the simplest and easiest route for me would be to upgrade to the NAD T778 in hopes that it does music streaming well. So far , from the comments Ive seen in another thread , seems like it does. That would eliminate the need of having a separate system.
That was the idea when I chose Arcam - high end Dac, Roon ready, Dirac etc. Unfortunately the measurements (like almost all AVR’s including NAD) have been quite poor. I don’t know if that can be heard though. The firmware is now quite stable, but not 100% there yet. Dirac Bass Control is still evolving.

I got a really good deal on a used SHD, so I went with it. If the Arcam can serve the purpose, I can consolidate. If not, I’ll stick with it.
 
skads_187

skads_187

Audioholic
Good option if you want a pure 2 channel setup for music. It becomes tricky if you want a subwoofer with Bass management, and/or any room correction for music (and HT).
Yup, so that is one other part, Ill need to most likely give up on the sub, which Im ok with.
The problem I am seeing is room correction. So still looking into it, as I was told and not sure if this is true, not all companies do HT bypass properly. Apparently Hegel is really good for it + the fact that Ive heard nothing but good things. However, it doesnt come with room correction. A screen with the album, etc would have also been nice.

The NAD M10 doesnt have HT bypass unfortunately. Also, I was thinking, it might be better to get a pre-amp + amp combo now, if I go the route of separation , since I can always keep the amp, and if things change in the future it will be cheaper to change pre-amp than it is an integrated one.

Basically , what Im seeing is a lot of different companies have features that I like and features that are missing. I wish NAD made a pre-amp exactly like the M10, but with HT bypass.
 
skads_187

skads_187

Audioholic
That was the idea when I chose Arcam - high end Dac, Roon ready, Dirac etc. Unfortunately the measurements (like almost all AVR’s including NAD) have been quite poor. I don’t know if that can be heard though. The firmware is now quite stable, but not 100% there yet. Dirac Bass Control is still evolving.

I got a really good deal on a used SHD, so I went with it. If the Arcam can serve the purpose, I can consolidate. If not, I’ll stick with it.
What do you mean by measurements exactly, measuring how it sounds?
 
T

thebrieze

Junior Audioholic
What do you mean by measurements exactly, measuring how it sounds?
Check out reviews (measurements) at Audio Science Review.com

He mostly measures - given an input signal, how faithfully does the audio component reproduce the signal. The audio component is usually either a speaker, dac, preamp, amp etc.
 
skads_187

skads_187

Audioholic
Check out reviews (measurements) at Audio Science Review.com

He mostly measures - given an input signal, how faithfully does the audio component reproduce the signal. The audio component is usually either a speaker, dac, preamp, amp etc.
Thanks for that, I will look into it. Had another question, dont know if this makes sense or if it will work. Even if it does, not sure if its a great idea either, but worth a shot.
There are some integrated amps that don't have many features, so on the used market aren't that expensive. Something like a Cambridge Audio which offers HT bypass.

Can I take a NAD M10, pre out to the Integrated amp. Then have my AV receiver also pre-out to the Integrated using the dedicated HT Bypass analog input. then obviously have the Integrated power my speakers.

Basically use the integrated almost solely for its power amp duties, kind of like cheating, but does that work?
 
T

thebrieze

Junior Audioholic
It will work, but feels a little kludgy and adds more electronics in the path. It’s a good option if you already have the integrated and want to reuse it, or are getting a good deal on one vs a power amp + switch.

Essentially volume dials (for the most part) reduce or boost the level of the incoming signal. HT Bypass, really just bypasses the volume dial for that input (also known as “unity gain”) so the output is exactly the same as the level of the input.

The only issue (and its minor) is that you now have two volume dials in the music chain - the M10 and the integrated. You can set the integrated to some value (if analog then use a marker to note the dial position) and just control volume from the M10. You can try to level match against the Ht Bypass input to get as close to unity and mark that position.

This should work, but unless the integrated comes with a remote, a switch like the sys does the same thing and is simpler and known to work well - no cross input leakage, max volume does a bypass, no added noise/distortion.
 
skads_187

skads_187

Audioholic
It will work, but feels a little kludgy and adds more electronics in the path. It’s a good option if you already have the integrated and want to reuse it, or are getting a good deal on one vs a power amp + switch.

Essentially volume dials (for the most part) reduce or boost the level of the incoming signal. HT Bypass, really just bypasses the volume dial for that input (also known as “unity gain”) so the output is exactly the same as the level of the input.

The only issue (and its minor) is that you now have two volume dials in the music chain - the M10 and the integrated. You can set the integrated to some value (if analog then use a marker to note the dial position) and just control volume from the M10. You can try to level match against the Ht Bypass input to get as close to unity and mark that position.

This should work, but unless the integrated comes with a remote, a switch like the sys does the same thing and is simpler and known to work well - no cross input leakage, max volume does a bypass, no added noise/distortion.

Ah yes, I keep forgetting about the Sys, looks like the only place I can order it from is Schiit directly. Which I guess cant be a bad thing.

OK so max volume is passive. If I go this route. With Audioquest cables, I guess the logic still applies, the arrow always points to the power amp I guess at this point?
Also, I will always manually need to press the button to switch from M10 to the AVR Im assuming?

Also, I guess Ill end up plugging my Rega TT to one of the analog inputs of the M10.

Here is my choices so far.

1.) Buy an M10 (used) saving a lot of money. Test it out with the Sys (which doesnt cost a lot). Stream network, Tidal and listen to Rega TT using M10.

2.) Buy a NAD T778, hope it plays and streams music well , which it should. How less better than the M10, I dont really know (or other streamers)

3.) Keep what I have, do a small test and buy a used C658, might not be ideal, no screen in the front, no dirac. does HT bypass though. (not crazy about this option)

4.) A local store is also selling a used NAD M32, but again, no dirac, which I would have liked to test, small screen, and HT bypass might not be a good one. Read a post somewhere that it doesn't do it properly. (not crazy about this option)

Both first options are not bad because with the M10, I get to test and compare the difference and worst case I resell it a few months later, I doubt I will lose a lot of money on it. Buying a T778 will cost me a bit more depending on the sale of my Pioneer. Eventually I want to update the receiver, but doesnt need to be done at this moment. So maybe option 1 is good.

Later on if I decide to get anIntegrated amp with streamer + HT Bypass, etc I could and sell the M10. Something like the new NAD M32, or a Hegel H390.
 
skads_187

skads_187

Audioholic
Sorry and one last question regarding the SYS, any risks involved that can cause damage, Im always a bit worried when it comes to switches.

Also I saw on that audio science review forum a mention of this model: Beresford TC-7240 does the same as the SYS? no better no worse? Also found the more expensive Emotiva SP-1, just curious, thanks
 
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skads_187

skads_187

Audioholic
So I went ahead with option 1, in order to try it out, I was a bit worried if it got sold, as it is the only one available used in Canada at the moment.

To recap some of the questions with this option:

- For the SYS - so max volume is passive. If I go this route. With Audioquest cables, I guess the logic still applies, the arrow always points to the power amp I guess at this point? Seems like audio science thread states to try and use as short cables as possible. not sure how important that is.
Also, I will always manually need to press the button to switch from M10 to the AVR Im assuming?

Also, I guess Ill end up plugging my Rega TT to one of the analog inputs of the M10. Might be better than using the Pioneer, plus i can really split music with movies. Ill test it out.

With the SYS, any risks involved that can cause damage, Im always a bit worried when it comes to switches.

Also I saw on that audio science review forum a mention of this model: Beresford TC-7240 does the same as the SYS? no better no worse? Also found the more expensive Emotiva SP-1, just curious.

Ill need to order one and some cables, also some speaker cables too if I want to test out the M10 alone with speakers, vs using the Emotiva amp. Just to see how it compares. Ill also compare with the emotiva alone vs passing through the RCA switch. thanks again.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
With Audioquest cables you're just going with idiotic marketing one way or the other, not anything meaningful let alone the idiotic concept of directional cables....if you get some free/cheap they could be usable, tho.

Try this set of articles for mostly speaker cables but does cover some interconnects http://roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm
 
skads_187

skads_187

Audioholic
With Audioquest cables you're just going with idiotic marketing one way or the other, not anything meaningful let alone the idiotic concept of directional cables....if you get some free/cheap they could be usable, tho.

Try this set of articles for mostly speaker cables but does cover some interconnects http://roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm
Thanks sorry, I was looking to buy more, its because I have one pair at the moment. just to be sure the arrow still goes to the power even with the sys, which would make sense. thanks

Oh yeah and Ive definitely seen that link before, many years ago when I was on this forum a lot more often...
 

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