Home Theater Bypass potential?


#1

Hi Scott,

Recently, I’ve been thinking about experimenting with Vinyl and an all analog signal path for audio and your Sprout project has me quite intrigued.

Some quick background: for the moment, I have a dedicated man-room which is primarily focused on video (TV, movies, etc.), but retains as much audio performance as possible. At one point, the signal path in this room was entirely digital, using Meridian Audio gear, but a desire to incorporate newer technologies without breaking the bank has led me back to a decent AV receiver. In doing so, I’ve also returned to my beloved, 16 year old B&W Matrix 804/HTM speakers.

This system is now centered around an Anthem MRX-300 and all of my sources are connected digitally via either HDMI or coax. As mentioned, the speakers consist of the Matrix 804/HTM up front and B&W DS6 surrounds, with two ancient SVS cylinder sub-woofers. Display is a 60" Pioneer plasma driven via HDMI.

And, for good measure, I have a Power Plant Premier powering most of the source gear. :-)

Ok, so much for background… It is to this system that I will plan to add a turntable as an analog source, but am reticent of connecting a decent phono pre-amp to the analog inputs of the MRX-300 where the signal will immediately get digitized for processing.

So, my thought has been to add an analog-only path into the mix, but haven’t found the right mix of products that would work, at a price point that I can justify. Essentially, I’m looking for an analog setup that would provide what’s referred to as Home Theater Bypass, but it’s not clear if the Sprout could be used in such an application.

My thought would be to insert the Sprout between the L/R analog pre-amp output of the MRX-300 and the speaker level runs to the B&W speakers, using the Analog input. To work, ideally, the Sprout would need to be in a Unity Gain configuration. Though perhaps Unity Gain is the wrong term, but essentially a fixed, maximum gain configuration.

If the volume level on the Sprout was set to maximum, would this essentially provide a fixed gain from the analog In to the speaker output, allowing a variable input on the Analog In to control volume?

Presuming I’m not overlooking something obvious, I’d love to use the Sprout in this way as it would accomplish a whole bunch of things in my system that I’ve wanting to do!

Thanks much,

Dan


#2
Dan W said Hi Scott,


Dan,

what you’d do is set Sprout at a specific gain position. there are 42 ‘clicks’ on the Sprout volume control. Find the one that gives you the equivalent of ‘unity’ gain and just set it there when you’re in video mode using analog Input. When using the vinyl, you use the Sprout volume control, then when going back to video just reset the Sprout volume knob to the desired position (you can probably just mark it on the front panel). should work just fine.

–SSW


#3

This response is too late, but now that I’m here I am understanding Dan that you are considering using Sprout in a pre-amp fashion. That’s so cool, and that’s the reason we put analog in/out on the back. Or, it’s one reason. I actually use the analog in for my television, and the analog out for my subwoofer. They are 3.5mm each.

In this application, you will also be adding bluetooth to your system!

Thanks SSW we appreciate your thorough input.

-Scott


#4

Thanks for the replies, SSW and Scott! Much appreciated.

SSW hit the nail on the head, so to speak, about setting the Sprout to a known volume level. I hadn’t thought about the click nature of the knob providing more accuracy for being able to consistently setting a known level. I will likely need to experiment a bit with the correct level so as to come reasonably close to a 0dB speaker level setting in the Anthem AVR.

To maximize WAF, I would want to always leave the Sprout powered-on with the correct volume level and set to Analog. This way, anyone could walk into the HT room and watch TV or Movies without having to know how the Sprout is supposed to be setup. My concern with this is that there could be some loud pops or what-not as the AVR powers on or switches sources, etc.

In any case, I’m looking forward to doing some experimentation and see how this works. Can’t wait to get my Sprout in September!

I had a bit too much free time on my hands this afternoon, so I decided to finally get around to drawing up my system in Powerpoint and how I’m thinking to add Sprout into the mix.

The current HT setup looks like:

After adding Sprout, it would look like:

Best Regards,

Dan


#5

@dan w this is great. Wonderful to see your setup, first of all, and secondly wonderful to see that Simple Sprout really can have an application in a full-on multimedia configuration. Love it. Not likely necessary for the diagram, but one could put their phone or tablet on this presentation too, showing a wireless connection to Sprout. Lastly, one could also include headphones on the output side. Lordy, I do believe you will be all set at that time.

Good luck, and please let me know how it works out in September.

Best,

Scott


#6

Hi Scott,

I definitely thought of adding illustration to note the bluetooth wireless connection, but I did this drawing in Powerpoint and I didn’t try to muck around with page/slide sizes, so basically ran out of room. :-) I sure do miss having Visio available to me on my Mac. :-(

One more question for you on this application of Sprout… I have been presuming that the audio path from turntable to speaker output remains analog through Sprout. Is this indeed accurate?

And, the usage of Sprout in my Home Theater room is probably going to be a secondary application. The primary will likely be in my home office, connected via USB to either my Macbook Pro or Mac Mini, driving some TBD headphone or B&W Matrix 805 bookshelf speakers.

Dan


#7

Hi Dan,

It is no presumption :-) yes, Sprout is 100% analog from cartridge to loudspeaker in the phono path.

Loving to hear the variety of applications we can have for Sprout. It goes in my living room, but it may work as a desktop or office system as well. A bedroom or kitchen system? Or a dorm room? One customer I spoke with a few weeks ago assured me he is buying FIVE Sprouts. One for each of his four children and one for his wife.

Thanks and I can’t wait to hear your feedback as regards Sprout and the B&W’s :-)


#8
Dan W said . . . B&W Matrix 805 bookshelf speakers
This should be a wonderful match.

#9

Audio newbee here, but found this thread when looking for ways to integrate my (can’t wait for October) Sprout into my very basic home theater system. If I am understanding things correctly, I could use my receiver to collect all signals (cable set-top box, Blu-Ray player, Chromecast, PS4, etc) and then would be able to use the pre-amp out (listed as pre-amp subwoofer on the 7.1 receiver) to send signal to the sprout which could then be connected to my sub and front (floor standing) speakers.

I want to use the receiver for all the inputs, but planned on using the Sprout for its DAC to hook up my HTPC (movies, digital music library, etc.) as well as the bluetooth to allow for friends to stream music when we have parties. I am trying to find a way that I can use the same speakers (at least the floor standers and the sub) for both set ups without needing to swap speakers cables between the receiver and the Sprout. I also have some vinyl from my dad and would consider adding a turntable to the set-up in the future, which I would intend to run through the Spout since my receiver doesn’t have a phono stage.

Any input is appreciated and thanks for the (what I am sure will be a) great product!


#10

I think your best bet would be to use the Sprout as another source to the receiver. So the line out of the Sprout would connect to a line in on your receiver.


#11

@tulz43: Yes, that approach would certainly work, but limits the potential benefits provided by Sprout. In effect, the Sprout would simply become a USB and Bluetooth DAC, along with a TT phono pre-amp. The primary issue, for me, with this approach is that the analog out is re-digitized upon input and processed by the AVR.

@mrfochs: without knowing the specific model of your AVR, it’s not clear to me if what you describe would work. If the pre-amp out is labelled subwoofer, then it’s possible that this is a mono-output, specifically intended to be connected to a powered subwoofer and that the signal contains only the low frequencies associated with the surround sound LFE track and the bass frequencies of speakers classified as “small”.

In my situation, my Anthem MRX-300 has discrete pre-amp output, as shown in the attachment, for all 7.1 channels. My approach above is to use the L / R main pre-out connections to connect to the Sprout Analog In.

Regards,

Dan

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