Upgrade to an external Dac or an amplifier

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Mar 30, 2019
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Hi,

Hope everyone doing well and making the most of this lockdown with their gear.

Anyways, I needed some advice on what I should consider upgrading. A standalone external dac or an amplifier. Apparently the amplifier makes a bigger difference but not sure, given the varying povs online (no way to audition).

I currently have Q acoustics 3020i connected to a Yamaha 3072 home Theater receiver. All digital sources of music (tidal, spotify) played via a fire stick 4K connected via HDMI to the 3072.

Im not sure if my receiver DAC is the bottleneck, the fire stick 4K or the receiver electronics/power. Will a budget MQA dac (like iFi zen) make a substantial difference or will my 3072 receiver be limiting? Or does it make sense to consider a dedicated IA/streamer amp to really make a difference?

I’m clearly a beginner and so looking for sensible advice as I want to upgrade logically and not get random equipment without much impact.

Thanks so much in advance.
 

mannukiddo

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As you upgrade, a quality source (transport + DAC) is very important for a good signal to your downstream components like an amp, speakers or headphones. I firmly believe that any logical upgrade should happen only after you have extracted the last bit of performance out of all your stuff that you want to upgrade and you have tried every thing possible to extract that last bit. So atleast in your case I see a DAC upgrade will probably let your downstream Receiver and Speakers benefit from a better source, before you can think of upgrading them.
 

Gecko

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Im not sure if my receiver DAC is the bottleneck, the fire stick 4K or the receiver electronics/power. Will a budget MQA dac (like iFi zen) make a substantial difference or will my 3072 receiver be limiting?
I’ve tried with a similar setup. Topping e30 dac connected to 3072 and speakers were kef q500, couldn’t notice much of an improvement over the inbuilt dac.
 
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Before upgrading the equipment, placement in room can do wonders to the listening experience. If you think that’s already sealed then may be think of upgrading the equipment.

Any suggestions for source information regarding room placements etc? Also, any recommendations on budget streamers+Dac+amp combo between 15k-20k?
 
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Probably yes, but I’d suggest try playing with speaker placement. If that’s not helping much, then you can upgrade to integrated/ streamer amp
I’ve actually tried my best at placements etc such as ear level placement, configuring the levels with the ypao and direct mode etc. I could be wrong but I think I’ve reached my limit here. That’s why asked for help.
 
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You can try the WXC50. It works as a pre amp and streamer and it does have optical inputs which can be used and has a decent dac too.
Is the wxa 50 worth the extra money? Especially if I can upgrade my amp and dac etc at one go vs step by step and use the 3072 component?
 

Prodigy

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Is the wxa 50 worth the extra money? Especially if I can upgrade my amp and dac etc at one go vs step by step and use the 3072 component?
The WXA 50 is also good and has a power amp section over the WXC50 but not sure if it can drive a power hungry low sensitive speakers. But yeah while I was shopping for the WXC I do remember seeing some reviews on WXA and people were happy about it.
I think with WXA, even if you plan on adding a power amp in the future, it comes with aux out and it can be used as a streamer.
However not sure if the aux out acts as line out. May be not coz I read the manual of WXA50 and says there too as Aux out only.

Regards,
Som
 

IndianEars

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Before Upgrading, I always feel its a good idea to clearly state:

1. What is it that you miss in your current setup? (eg not enough bass). This is basically faults I perceive in my setup that need to be corrected.

2. What other qualities would you like to bring to your setup with the upgrade ? (eg Greater Resolution or Higher Sound output without distortion, or being able to play music from a Hard Disk). This is basically aspirational features to be added by an upgrade.

It help to ensure that purchases are not made on a whim and money is spent wisely achieving present goals.

If I cant answer the above 2 questions, I feel I am not ready for an upgrade yet........
 

sanjivnayak

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I’ve tried with a similar setup. Topping e30 dac connected to 3072 and speakers were kef q500, couldn’t notice much of an improvement over the inbuilt dac.
yamaha 3072 has got less power to drive q500. DAC section is better than e30.
 

bornfi

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Sep 9, 2015
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Hi,

Hope everyone doing well and making the most of this lockdown with their gear.

Anyways, I needed some advice on what I should consider upgrading. A standalone external dac or an amplifier. Apparently the amplifier makes a bigger difference but not sure, given the varying povs online (no way to audition).

I currently have Q acoustics 3020i connected to a Yamaha 3072 home Theater receiver. All digital sources of music (tidal, spotify) played via a fire stick 4K connected via HDMI to the 3072.

Im not sure if my receiver DAC is the bottleneck, the fire stick 4K or the receiver electronics/power. Will a budget MQA dac (like iFi zen) make a substantial difference or will my 3072 receiver be limiting? Or does it make sense to consider a dedicated IA/streamer amp to really make a difference?

I’m clearly a beginner and so looking for sensible advice as I want to upgrade logically and not get random equipment without much impact.

Thanks so much in advance.
What makes you think that there is a bottleneck, if you could elaborate? I mean, what is it that you don’t like about your system?
 
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What makes you think that there is a bottleneck, if you could elaborate? I mean, what is it that you don’t like about your system?
So, I had my satellite speakers that came with the 3072 receiver and there was hardly a difference in sound quality when I switched to the 3020i. From the reviews I read about these speakers, it’s supposed to be a fantastic budget speaker but sadly I’m not able to tell much of a difference.

Ofcourse, it could be an issue with my understanding of sound quality (given I’m just starting out) but I’m trying to figure if there is a major element I’m missing.
 

bornfi

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So, I had my satellite speakers that came with the 3072 receiver and there was hardly a difference in sound quality when I switched to the 3020i. From the reviews I read about these speakers, it’s supposed to be a fantastic budget speaker but sadly I’m not able to tell much of a difference.

Ofcourse, it could be an issue with my understanding of sound quality (given I’m just starting out) but I’m trying to figure if there is a major element I’m missing.
In my opinion, you will definitely go to the route of upgrading DAC and amp both but to start, please see if you can replace your bookshelves with floorstanding/tower speakers.
 
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In my opinion, you will definitely go to the route of upgrading DAC and amp both but to start, please see if you can replace your bookshelves with floorstanding/tower speakers.
I’m not sure I’ll be doing that since I just got the 3020is. But thanks for your advice.
Will be considering any room acoustics/panelling etc as well before taking a call on equipment.
 
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