Home theater setup with DS DAC

I’m still waiting for my M700s and the DirectStream DAC to arrive :frowning:
I’ve a question on the possible HT setups.
I’ve a Denon AVC-X6500H as AV receiver and I want to integrate the M700s and the DSD in the system.
A simple solution would be to add a Stellar DAC as preamp, connect DSD to the preamp, the L/R preouts from the AVC to the preamp, the two M700s to the pre amp.

But what about this: I’ll connect the DSD to the analog input of the AVC, then the M700s to the L/R preouts from the AVC. In this case I would use the “Pure direct” mode when listening to the DSD.

And what about this scenario. I’ll connect the DSD to the M700s via XLR, and the AVC’s preout to the M700s via RCA. Would this work?

Sounds complicated. Simplicity is bliss. What don’t you like about the Denon that you feel the need to complicate things by adding those other things?

#1 would work

#2 might work, but is not recommended.

#3 Get the Stellar and use the home theater mode.

Merry Christmas!

There’s nothing about the Denon that I don’t like. I’ve just received it in substitution of a NAD 777v3 that was producing popping sounds, and NAD itself wasn’t able to solve that issue. During the 6 months of experiments to try to solve NAD’s problem, I’ve decided to simplify my life and have a dedicated setup for music ( DAC + power amps).and a simplified solution for movies (soundbar).
That’s why I ordered the M700s and the DS DAC :wink:

But then the AV receiver’s local distributor decided to give me the Denon in exchange of the NAD, instead of the full refund, so I’m trying to understand how to fit the two scenarios.

Frankly speaking I also think that I really need some sort of equalisation or digital room correction in my room, so solution #1 ( DAC -> analog to Denon -> preout-> M700s) would allow me to get DRC from DAC, assuming that the “pure direct” mode is pure enough

"assuming that the “pure direct” mode is pure enough"

That’s the big question with AVRs, isn’t it? Most ‘pure direct’ modes are marketing. Yes they shut down as much circuitry and processing as possible, but the analog signal from the DS DAC gets converted to digital and then back to analog as is makes its way through the AVR. If the subwoofer works with ‘pure direct’ then it is doing ADA conversion inside the AVR. I don’t know what the deal is with your Denon but I suspect it is doing some ADA conversion.

Some AVRs, NAD being one of them IIRC, do have an all-analog pure direct mode, and they usually advertise this fact. Some that have an all-analog path, like Arcam, will say it really isn’t needed with their AVR because the ADA conversion is inaudible and may actually sound worse because you are not taking advantage of their DSP features etc. I’m not sure.

In my case, I decided that I wanted the DSjr to handle all the digital-to-analog duties and went with an analog stereo pre-amp with home-theater bypass mode. This allows me share speakers with movies and music, and ensure my 2.1 listening is all analog after it leaves the DSjr.

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You say you decided to simplify your life, but then you decided to complicate it with those other things. I don’t understand. Given you have the new stuff on the way, it has no place connected to an AVR. I’d run the PS stuff separately as a dedicated music system, and let the Denon AVR look after HT duty.

After a long wait I’ve finally received my two M700s and the DS!
This is the current setup:

Now the problem is that I’m pretty sure that the signal is ACD DAC from the Denon, even in “pure direct” mode. I’ve tried to dig into the Service manual to try to understand the exact signal path, but I wasn’t able to have a final answer. Obviously, double converting the output from the DS is a problem, because I wanted the DS for it’s DAC!

One possible solution could be something like this (Scenario 1):

In this setup I just need a pre-amp or a passive audio switcher. I’ve looked at the PSAudio Stellar Gain Preamplifier, which can be good for me, but also have a DAC which I won’t use, and also the volume control is something that I don’t need, given that I can control the volume in DS or in the Denon. Anyone can suggest a good simple pre-amp or a passive audio switcher?

The other issue in this scenario is that I will have to move the subwoofer to the M700s.
I’m planning to run Roon -> DS -> M700, an apply DRC with filters through Roon.

Another alternative would be to use something like the MiniDSP SHD (Scenario 2)

This is my comparison between the Denon in two different modes and the other two scenarios:

Do you have suggestions? Is there a better way to do it?

Any analog signal presented to the Denon will be passed through a JRC NJM8080 opamp then to the AKM AK5358BET ADC, which is then steered by the TI PCM9211 DIX to the DSP which then presents the digital signal to the PCM1690 ΔΣ DAC. All of these components are tabletop radio quality at best. The ADC can only support up to 24/96kHz and the NJM8080’s performance leaves a lot to be desired.

If you pass signal via SPDIF or HDMI to the AVR, you will remove the ADC from the mix, that would be your first step at higher quality, however, it’s Achilles heel is it’s usage of the NJM8080 throughout.

As Barsley pointed out, your Denon is impeding things. Any pre-amp with home theater bypass will fix up the problem you’ve encountered.

As you pointed out, the Gain Cell DAC would do the job. I’d also look at the JC 2 from Parasound, though at that price you’re also close in price to the BHK Preamp.

@Barsley: thank you for clarifying the tech details!
@Schroedster: BHK Preamp doesn’t fit on my cabinet. The Gain Cell Dac can be a solution. I’ve also had a look at JL Audio CR-1, which would also help for Bass management and should be analog

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@Spudhead1964: In your system for music, are you also running the subs?

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@zuli, I use two sets of DIY 12V input selectors - one set for speakers (XLR) and one set for subw (RCA). Input selectors are triggered by AVR 12V trigger. After the subw input selector I use miniDSP 2x4HD.


Is the project for those 12V input selectors available?

No I don’t think so, but it’s really simple. It’s just one 12V DPDT relay with a diode per channel. Basic knowledge of electronics and soldering skills are needed.

I use this relay:

And simple schematics:

You just ignore the rotary switch and transistor part and add second input signal to the second pair of the relay pins. I left out the resistor and LED also.

@spezwend definitely beyond my skills :frowning:

I share my stereo speakers and mono-blocks with the HT using an XLR switch.

This works awesome: https://www.markertek.com/product/arx-rs-1/arx-rs-1-remote-switcher-stereo-xlr-balanced-remote-controlled-switcher

It’s triggered by a 12v input. The default input is the DSD, but when the HT preprocessor is on it auto switches over to the HT pre for the front speakers.

As the monoblocks and DSD are on a dedicated A/C circuit / power conditioner (BIT20), I did get some low level annoying hum from the HT preprocessor, but a simple fix was this in front of the prepro inputs to the XLR switch: https://www.amazon.ca/Ebtech-HE-2-XLR-Eliminator-2-Channel-Jacks/dp/B00101WA4C.