What DAC is best to connect Samsung TV to old analogue-only NAIM amp?

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I have a new Samsung UE55D8000 TV with digital-only sound output. I also have a lovely old NAIM/Linn HiFi with analogue-only input (NAIM NAC102 is the pre-amp).

I want to listen to the TV sound through the HiFi (having no desire for surround sound). What DAC is most suitable? The source quality does not seem to merit splashing out on an expensive NAIM DAC.

I also have around 250Gb of music in Apple lossless format (currently on a hard drive and an iPod), so if I am getting a DAC I might as well find a way of pumping that through too (though I expect primary music sources will remain CD and Vinyl). And then I expect I will be unable to resist buying an HD-PVR. And a Blueray. And using the ethernet connection right by the telly. Can one DAC deal with all of this?

Help?

An old fashioned audiophile entering the new world . . . .
 
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Anonymous

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[UNPUBLISHED DUPLICATE TO TIDY UP]

I have a new Samsung UE55D8000 TV with digital-only sound output. I also have a lovely old NAIM/Linn HiFi with analogue-only input (NAIM NAC102 is the pre-amp).

I want to listen to the TV sound through the HiFi (having no desire for surround sound). What DAC is most suitable? The source quality does not seem to merit splashing out on an expensive NAIM DAC.

I also have around 250Gb of music in Apple lossless format (currently on a hard drive and an iPod), so if I am getting a DAC I might as well find a way of pumping that through too (though I expect primary music sources will remain CD and Vinyl). And then I expect I will be unable to resist buying an HD-PVR. And a Blueray. And using the ethernet connection right by the telly. Can one DAC deal with all of this?

Help?

An old fashioned audiophile entering the new world . . . .
 

John Duncan

Well-known member
Couple of things to consider.

1) whether the TV can be set to downmix to stereo before sending to a DAC (most can but some are just passthrough so a 5.1 soundtrack on BBC HD, for example, couldn't be read).

2) your ambitions for other sources might lead you to get a better specified DAC with a number of inputs now, rather than just a single-input DAC to deal with your TV now.

Let me have a dig for the Samsung manual...
 

chebby

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AndyInLondon said:
...And then I expect I will be unable to resist buying an HD-PVR. And a Blueray. And using the ethernet connection right by the telly. Can one DAC deal with all of this?

I only have one optical digital input to my hifi. But, I wanted digital sound from my Humax PVR and my Blu-ray player and my TV.

The answer was that I could run just one optical cable from my TV and get the sound from it and any of the other two 'sources' (because they are connected with HDMIs that pass their digital audio signal to the telly).

I only had to change one audio setting on my Humax and one on my Blu-ray player (to make them output in stereo).

Ethernet connects to your TV or PVR or Blu-ray (or all of them if you want) from your modem/router and doesn't go near the DAC.

So you could probably get away with a DAC that has USB (for a computer) and one optical (for your telly and the other bits connected to the telly).

However, there is the issue of the iPod and the hard-drive with Apple Lossless (presumably using iTunes).

I don't know how much you have to spend but you might want to look at something like the Marantz NA7004 instead. Lots of functionality like built-in FM/DAB tuners and internet radio and AirPlay and wireless, streaming etc.

It doesn't cost much more or less than many DACs at £399 - £429 depending on where you buy it.
 

John Duncan

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Right. In the manual p81 (of the pdf, this may not match the actual manual!) it says:

SPDIF Output: SPDIF (Sony Philips Digital InterFace) is used to provide digital sound, reducing interference going to speakers and various digital devices such as a DVD player.

Audio Format: You can select the Digital Audio output (SPDIF) format.

Helpfully, it doesn't say what those Audio Format options are :) Can you take a look on your telly and tell us whether stereo is an option?
 

daveh75

Well-known member
John Duncan said:
Couple of things to consider.

1) whether the TV can be set to downmix to stereo before sending to a DAC (most can but some are just passthrough so a 5.1 soundtrack on BBC HD, for example, couldn't be read).

Worth pointing out that BBC One HD/BBC HD* (and the other HD PSBs, for that matter) do have an mp2/strereo soundtrack as well as DD (as i had to point out elsewhere recently
smiley-wink.gif
) so no need to downmix - It's just a case of whether the TV can output it or not, as 'some' don't, but it's usually just of case of selecting the right settings.

*With the exception of BBC One HD/BBC HD on Freeview HD. They use HE-AAC/AAC - which caused issues when FV HD first launched because many TVs/STBs couldn't re-encode to DD on the fly, leaving those with older kit without surround sound.
 
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Anonymous

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Hey - I turn my back for a few hours and you all spring in to help - Thanks guys!

If I pass sound from a BlueRay and a PVR through the telly so that all three devices need only one DAC input, would that worsen the BlueRay/PVR sound? In an analogue world, I know that it would, but in digital? (Richer Sounds and Sevenoaks gave conflicting opinions on this).

If the sound is still fine, then might the answer the Arcam rDAC? optical input would take TV/PVR/BlueRay and it has a PC "wand" apparently that magically carries musical bits through the ether to a separate DAC input. Or does the Marantz NA7004 (suggested above - thanks) not only deal with all the music but also replace the DAC?

I would love to check the TV settings (see above) but it is currently under my bed whilst my floor is replaced (hence hardwired ethernet everywhere!).

Thanks again everyone - if only all of society was so helpful!
 

chebby

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I think of something like the Marantz NA7004 as - basically - a good DAC with all the other functions (wireless, AirPlay, FM & DAB & internet tuners, streaming from network attached HDs etc.) bolted on.

The fact that all this is in one 'box', and much of it controllable via AirPlay from an iPhone (or iPad or iPod Touch), makes it a very attractive package for someone with an existing 'traditional' seperates system like yourself.

Stand-alone/seperate DACs are all very well (done that with a seperate DAC in a Naim system) but they don't have the flexibility.

If you were to choose a simple Coax/Optical/USB DAC (like the Rega DAC or similar) then you would need to add something else to interface with your iPod (like an Onkyo ND-S1 'tranport' for instance) and so the 'box count'/cabling/wall warts proliferates.

I have experienced no loss in sound quality from using just one optical digital cable (connected to the TV) to route digital stereo from Blu-ray and PVR. (Neither have I experienced any 'lip-sync' issues from any source.)

It is all a digital stream (via HDMI and thence optical) until it hits the DAC in my Marantz M-CR603, so I doubt there is much difference in the digital streams from Blu-ray, Humax or TV.

It certainly all sounded much better than using analogue RCA connections from any of them. (And it is neater.)

The only question is whether your particular TV will allow all this (in stereo) so you need to get advice on the settings.

Mine were fine but I have a completely different TV to yours. I even retain the option to use the TV's internal speakers (without changing any connections or settings) which some TVs apparently don't.
 

chebby

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AndyInLondon said:
If I pass sound from a BlueRay and a PVR through the telly so that all three devices need only one DAC input, would that worsen the BlueRay/PVR sound? In an analogue world, I know that it would, but in digital? (Richer Sounds and Sevenoaks gave conflicting opinions on this).

I love our local Sevenoaks (previously Audio-T) branch to bits, but I would be cautious about their advice on this matter.

My branch would probably recommend a Naim DAC (with matching power supply and £500 mains cables all round) for each source given half a chance :)
 
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Anonymous

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Thanks Chebby

I think I will take your advice on passing the BlueRay/PVR etc sound through the TV - DAC - Naim Amp which means I only need one optical input on the DAC to achieve this.

That means I can use the Arcam rDAC (with its limited inputs) and dip my toe into streaming Apple Lossless using its "wand" or its USB input. That way, I can have a good play without too high an outlay. I considered your suggestion about the Marantz - its does seem to pack an awful lot in for the price. But all I need for now is high quality audio from my TV and its sources. And I can play with my wand, so to speak. The Samsung's SmartTV capabilities also seem to provide some overlap.

When I go properly digital, I can well imagine myself spending a day in an obscenely expensive demo room, walking away with box after box of Linn, Naim, Cyrus or something else requiring a new mortgage (and thats just for the interconnectors).

Should all be working by the weekend (famous last words) so 'll let you know.

Thanks all for your help
 

John Duncan

Well-known member
This seems to be a reasonable way to go, though the rDAC is quite an expensive way to start. I might be inclined to get something very cheap to begin with (like the 40 quid CYP) to make sure you can get everything up and running, and then move up to something more substantial when you want to expand. You might also wish to consider using an AV receiver for the video sources, with pre-outs to the Naim.
 
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Anonymous

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All good advice, gratefully received. But the CYP won't let me play with my wand!

On the AV receiver front, I have always assumed it is unecessary for me because I have no desire for surround sound. Does it confer other benefits?
 

John Duncan

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Understood. However, 1) they can be had very cheaply on eBay - say £50-£100; 2) they will usually have more digital inputs than your average DAC.

Never let it be said that I'd come between a man and his wand, however.
 

CustomCable

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Please be aware that you would be required to purchase the rdackw version to use the rwand+. There are two versions of the rdac. At the moment I think this would fit the bill especially in regards to connecting the ipod too. The DAC is decent and will offer a sonic improvement.
 

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