DAC for TV audio output?

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  • 02-07-2013, 12:51 PM
    dean_martin
    DAC for TV audio output?
    I've been fascinated with what you digital guys are able to do, but I haven't taken the time to get a handle on it myself. Now, I've encountered a problem, more of an annoyance, that I'd like to figure out but I may need some advice.

    Since purchasing a new smart tv, we've only been able to listen through the tv's speakers while watching netflix. The tv does not have an analog audio output but it does have an optical output. For numerous reasons, I've gone with stereo and a sub for tv and movies for several years. Now I'm considering an av receiver so that we're not limited to thr tv's speakers when we use the smart features. Then it occurred to me that a stand alone DAC might give me the option of using my existing integrated amp. It's all about choices for me. I'd rather decide what to do than have my decision dictated by an inanimate objet.

    I might go with an av receiver, but is a stand alone DAC a valid option?
  • 02-07-2013, 01:02 PM
    Feanor
    If your TV has optical digital (S/PDIF) output you could conceivably use a DAC -- but it might not be practical.

    First, if you're using passive (non-powered) speakers, you will still need a receiver or amp of some kind downstream of the DAC to power those speakers. If you are using active (self-powered) speakers, then the DAC could probably feed them directly, BUT you would need some way to control the volume; more likely your TV's optical output is fixed level, not controlled by the TV's volume setting.
  • 02-07-2013, 03:28 PM
    dean_martin
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    If your TV has optical digital (S/PDIF) output you could conceivably use a DAC -- but it might not be practical.

    First, if you're using passive (non-powered) speakers, you will still need a receiver or amp of some kind downstream of the DAC to power those speakers. If you are using active (self-powered) speakers, then the DAC could probably feed them directly, BUT you would need some way to control the volume; more likely your TV's optical output is fixed level, not controlled by the TV's volume setting.

    I'm using an NAD integrated amp, a pair of NHT speakers and a Velodyne sub for audio from video sources (Blu-ray and dvd and my DISH box).

    I could use the Blu-ray player for watching netflix, but the wife already has the tv set up for watching netflix and is used to its interface. She wants to listen through the stereo speakers instead of the tv's speakers. I don't blame her. I was thinking I could get a dac and use the optical output from the tv to the dac then analog output from the dac to one of the amp's inputs.

    I think I could get more gear if I get a DAC first, then get an av receiver later. Then, I could move the DAC to my main two-channel tube-based system. The more gear, the merrier!
  • 02-07-2013, 03:39 PM
    Feanor
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dean_martin View Post
    I'm using an NAD integrated amp, a pair of NHT speakers and a Velodyne sub for audio from video sources (Blu-ray and dvd and my DISH box).

    I could use the Blu-ray player for watching netflix, but the wife already has the tv set up for watching netflix and is used to its interface. She wants to listen through the stereo speakers instead of the tv's speakers. I don't blame her. I was thinking I could get a dac and use the optical output from the tv to the dac then analog output from the dac to one of the amp's inputs.

    I think I could get more gear if I get a DAC first, then get an av receiver later. Then, I could move the DAC to my main two-channel tube-based system. The more gear, the merrier!

    For sure, the DAC can feed the NAD integrated -- that's your solution.

    I can suggest a cheap but in very good DAC, IMO. I've been using it for several months using S/PDIF inputs, both coax and optical. It's available from various eBay sellers for about $100 delivered.

    SMSL SD-1955+, see HERE for example.
  • 02-08-2013, 05:30 AM
    noddin0ff
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    For sure, the DAC can feed the NAD integrated -- that's your solution.

    I can suggest a cheap but in very good DAC, IMO. I've been using it for several months using S/PDIF inputs, both coax and optical. It's available from various eBay sellers for about $100 delivered.

    SMSL SD-1955+, see HERE for example.


    Would the DAC decode Dolby Pro or DD ? Not sure what percentage of Netflix streaming is just stereo, probably most of it still. What about broadcast TV though? I could see a simple AV receiver being useful just so one doesn't have to have multiple paths depending on the signal type.
  • 02-08-2013, 06:02 AM
    Feanor
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by noddin0ff View Post
    Would the DAC decode Dolby Pro or DD ? Not sure what percentage of Netflix streaming is just stereo, probably most of it still. What about broadcast TV though? I could see a simple AV receiver being useful just so one doesn't have to have multiple paths depending on the signal type.

    Good question. The SMSL DAC itself is stereo onlyHowever Dean ought to check his TV settings for the optical output; perhaps stereo needs to specifically selected. probably the TV's built-in is stereo only too, so likely a net improvement can be achieved going TV optical =>DAC =>NAD amp.
  • 02-08-2013, 07:32 AM
    harley .guy07
    Most of the Dacs I have seen over the years are geared toward 2 channel stereo and will decode all the movie surround sound information in the 2 channel domain. There might be options out there for a stand alone Dac that can do multichannel decoding but then you would need the extra amps and speakers to utilize this and while it might be done you might be better off with a Receiver being that all of the decoding and powering happen together and have been tested to work properly. I am a separates guy myself for 2 channel and see the benefits of going higher end separates but when it comes to home theater I tend to keep the 2 systems separate in the supply chain to the speakers.
  • 02-08-2013, 08:42 AM
    recoveryone
    Hold up boys and girls, I think we are running down the hall with a pair of sissors in hand and not thinking this fully through. First off we have a smart TV, which tells me that it should have HDMI. Second, the S/PDIF output is stereo only even if the content is DD 5.1 or better. To get the full sound and PQ desired you would want to use the HDMI output on the TV to an AVR. This will still allow for the dish box, Blu ray and any other display device to work the same as before (wife's use to setup) but only adding the AVR to get the full use of all the old and new sound formats. You can find a AVR that uses the HDMI as a passthrough, that will allow you to still use the TV speakers when not wanting to have the AVR on. I just don't see where using a DAC will really help in a down mixed signal, bad in just means bad out. Now not to just jump all over the AVR bandwagon you could go with a surround processor and run it through your 2.1 setup
  • 02-08-2013, 10:44 AM
    dean_martin
    Thanks, guys! Very informative.

    I have separate HDMI connections between the dish receiver and the tv; and between the blu-ray player and the tv. Both sources also have analog audio outputs which are connected to my integrated amp. We listen through the integrated amp for both tv on DISH and movies on disc. When accessing netflix via the tv itself, the only option we have for audio at this point is the tv's speakers because the tv does not have an analog audio output. But, it does have the optical output.

    The tv has 4 HDMI inputs with one having a "return channel". Not sure what this means, but my understanding is that this input would be used with an avr.

    The tv room isn't 5 or 7.1-friendly, so I was looking at the dac option. It'd just be for netflix. I've also looked at the small Marantz "N" series receivers as an alternative to the large AVRs. Most of the AV preamp/processors I've seen are more expensive than the av receivers with built-in amplification.

    I know some of this would be more appropriate on the home theater forum, but I'm looking for a solution that will send a digital audio feed to my 2.1 setup. From what you guys are saying, it sounds like a DAC would work, although it might not be the best choice.
  • 02-08-2013, 11:30 AM
    bfalls
    From what I've read the HDMI ARC is used to channel audio from the TV either from internal sources such as streaming APs, antenna, ... or external such as BD/DVD player, sat receiver... to the AVR via a single 1.4 HDMI cable. Both TV and AVR have to be HDMI 1.4 compliant.
  • 02-08-2013, 06:37 PM
    blackraven
    If you want to go the inexpensive route, people have been using the Fiio D3 DAC with TV's, it sells for about $30. I bought one for my daughters stereo and its not bad sounding. It leans on the warmer side but it is not the last word in resolution.

    This one from MCM Electronics is an exact copy of the the Beresford TC-7510 DAC. It would be perfect for TV.


    MCM Custom Audio Toslink / Coax Digital Input to Line Level Output Converter | 50-7774 / TC-7510 (507774 TC7510) | MCM Custom Audio

    Here is a link for a discussion of "cheap and cheerful" DAC's

    Cheap and Cheerful DAC's!!!A thread about DAC's under $500-

    If you want to spend a little more money the Grant Fidelity DAC-11 is a hybrid tube Preamp/DAC with multiple inputs and outputs. You can hook up a sub to the SS out and still use the tube out to your amp at the same time. I use one with my second system.

    Grant Fidelity TubeDAC-11 D/A Converter
  • 02-26-2013, 02:27 AM
    TLCW
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by recoveryone View Post
    To get the full sound and PQ desired you would want to use the HDMI output on the TV to an AVR.

    +1, Use HDMI output from TV (if present) to feed to HT Receiver as another HDMI input and output to (multi-channel ) speakers . Of course, a cheap DAC will serve the purpose too.
    BTW, many AVR are not expensive. 5.1 are really very sensational for Movies from BD/DVD or WEB.
    FYI : Onkyo TXNR616 $379. , Pioneer VSX-1022K $239. from here : Home Audio - CNET Reviews