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Simple Solution

Discussion in 'Source Components II' started by JeffMackwood, Nov 23, 2017.

  1. JeffMackwood

    JeffMackwood Maxi-Me

    In both my main and family room HTs I've had to deal with a niggling limitation: like most such components, the Pioneer receiver in the latter, and the Onkyo Pre/Pro in the former, can only pass analogue signals to their other "zones." They won't convert the HDMI fed digital signal and pass it through their zone analogue outputs. Because the Sony BD players (workhorses) in both systems have no analogue outputs, I've been forced to cobble together not-so-satisfying workarounds in order to do things like stream music from my server through those systems' zones. For example, in the family room HT I have added an older Sony BD player with analogue outputs that can stream music (but not video) connected to the system. And in the main HT I've had to load tunes onto a stick and plug it into an even older extra Sony BD player that can only stream photos, but can play MP3s from a stick. Ugh!

    I'm not sure why I did not think of this sooner, but earlier this week I found a great little D/A audio converter on Amazon.ca for $18.95 and ordered a pair of them. The plan is to feed them the previously unused COAX digital outputs of the Sony BD players, have them convert the signal, and then connect their stereo RCA jacks to the corresponding receiver / pre/pro inputs. Far less ugh!

    Fingers crossed that these D/A units will work as advertised - and be noise and distortion free. They should be here next week.

  2. JeffMackwood

    JeffMackwood Maxi-Me

    The D/A units arrived today - two days ahead of Amazon.ca's estimate - and installation took only a couple of minutes each.

    They work like a charm! Just plug and play in order to be able to now easily stream music from my server, through my Sony BD players, and on to all of the zones.

    The only caveat, and I knew this when I ordered them, is that they come without power supply. They're USB powered, and since I did not have a suitable USB-equipped device nearby in either HT, I instead used a couple of those tiny Apple power converters / chargers to plug the units' USB cables into. I actually like that approach rather than a full-blown wall-wart. The units draw 0.5W; it's an easy load for these little 5.0V (output) converters.

  3. Towen7

    Towen7 Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator

    You didn’t mention audio quality so is it safe to assume that there’s no noticeable degradation?
  4. JeffMackwood

    JeffMackwood Maxi-Me

    Correct - the operative phrase being "noticeable."

    The question is whether my ears are not hearing something that others might. That's possible.

    In my set-up I have a separate 2.1 system within the main HT's 7.1 system. So the room / acoustics are the same - but of course the components are not. The 2.1 system is fed from the same Onkyo PR-SC886 pre/pro that feeds the 7.1 system - only from its Zone 2, rather than main, output. Now a lot of folks out there have the 886, but perhaps not all use its zones. I do. And I have noticed that, at high gain settings, the signal has some noticeable noise (only obvious when nothing's playing) that would not be noticed from the main output. I could look it up but I suspect that the Zones have worse noise specs than the main.

    So, prior to the arrival of the D/A converter, I could play a CD on a player with analogue outputs and switch between hearing it on the 7.1 and 2.1 systems. Both sounded great (but obviously different - even with just stereo playback through the 7.1 - given the different speakers / positioning.) There was (is) no noticeable noise or distortion through either. (Again, the Zone 2 gain would have to be very very high to hear noise - at which point the music would be too loud to be anywhere near the room.) So that's the baseline test. No noticeable difference (again allowing for different components.)

    Now add the D/A converter to the Sony BD player that lacks its own analogue outputs. I then played tracks from that same CD, however this time they were 320 MP3s streamed from my server. And just like before they both sounded great. Again accounting for the different components, there was no noticeable difference and hence I conclude that there's "no noticeable degradation" due to the use of the D/A converter.

    I should point out that the 2.1 system's components (Hitachi HMA-8300 power amp, Koss CM/1020 speakers, SVS 20-39 PC+ subwoofer) make up a pretty good system, capable of being used for critical listening, especially within my well-treated main HT. If I can't hear any noticeable degradation in that system then I'm certainly not going to hear it from any of the other zones that I'm feeding: "rocks" out in the back garden; 2.1 system in garage rafters; 2.1 system in dining / living room; and 2.0 system over stationary bike. The D/A converters first purpose was to be a convenient way to stream a signal to those zones. While it was expected (hoped?) that in doing so it would not impart any flavour of its own, it's nice to confirm that it does not.

    Long winded way of answering your question, but thought it important to show.




    PaulyT likes this.
  5. Haywood

    Haywood Well-Known Member Famous

    That's a pretty elegant fix. They also make HDMI break-out boxes that let you get an audio only feed while also doing HDMI pass-through, but some of them have HDCP issues.

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