External DAC,HiRes FLAC 5.1/Stereo Configurations - NewbieQ

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External DAC,HiRes FLAC 5.1/Stereo Configurations - NewbieQ

Post by vincent » Thu Aug 11, 2016 5:21 pm

MM: Gold Lifetime
Windows 7 Pro 64 bit, Motherboard MSI Z87-G45 Intel I5-4570 32GB RAM, Realtek ALC1150 codec connected to analog 5.1 Logitech PC speakers

I am currently using MM to play FLAC files using my PC motherboard Realtek codec and (cheap) PC 5.1 speakers. I want to continue using MM , but take all the audio processing out of the PC/Operating system and continue using MM as my library control/jukebox and basically have MM "send" the unprocessed flac files to some external device(s).

Is anyone using MM as the "player" to a "system" which can handle FLAC files: CD (44.1), Hidef (88.2/96/192kHz 24bit) encoded as 6-channel (5.1) And/Or 2-Channel?
If so, can you share:
1)How you did it - What equipment you are using (dacs,amps, speakers, etc), approximate cost, why you picked the equipment you did, and if you would do anything different knowing what you now know.
2)If you use 5.1, is the result worth it? Is the 5.1 "true" surround sound worth worth the extra cost (I assume) as compared to a similar stereo system for your room size?
3)What do you do with stereo FLACs? Do you do any 5.1 processing on the stereo FLACs (software processing DTS:Neo or actually modify the stereo FLAC and make it 5.1 using something like Stereo to 5.1 Converter VST Plugin Suite)?
4)What is your souce for the hidef 5.1/Stereo files - download, BluRay rip, SACD rip, DVD rip, etc?
5)Any planned/desired upgrades you are considering?

If you only use stereo, and think a 5.1 system is sonically "bad"/overkill/not worth it, it would be very helpful (and potentially $ saving) to me to know how you came to this conclusion.

My room is 19x13 and I was hoping to spend around $500 (absolute max of 1,000) to get some hi quality sound with a MAJOR/easily noticeable improvement over current Realtek codec & 75W speakers.


I've been using MM for several years & have spent many (many!) hours setting up Custom fields, tagging (genre, mood, art, etc), creating MagicNodes, customized playlists, added extensions, etc and want to continue using MM for my audio library control. My library consists primarily of ripped CD Quality (44.1KHz) FLAC files.
I recently heard some Pink Floyd music (Dark Side Of The Moon BluRay) played on a 5.1 home music system & it sounded great.
I have been trying to get "similar" sound/feel from my motherboard codec & PC 5.1 speakers, using HiRes (88.2/96/192kHz Stereo & 5.1 flac files) - it has been depressing (not even "close"). My setup Failed a basic audio .wav test file (a 24bit 96KHz WAV of a 26-48KHz warble tone) & it looks like it is time for a major audio upgrade.
I want to start building a new library of Hi Def (88.2,96, 192kHz 24bit) stereo and 5.1 FLAC files using a combination of downloads (for ex: hdtracks) and my own Blu-Ray, DVD, etc audio rips.
Since I have only ever used MM as a player to a PC PCI sound card & motherboard codec, I have NO experience with other/better output options (USB DAC, A/V receiver, etc).

Desired Function
Here is what (I think) I want the capability to do in my "main" room (a 19 ft x 13 ft rectangle which contains my desk, computer, speakers, TV couch & small table) in my 1 bedroom apartment:
-Use MediaMonkey as my central library/interface and "push"(?) the audio files to the other device(s)
-Bypass ALL of my PC computer sound system (codec, audio drivers/hardware, operating system audio processing) and have all processing done outside of the PC. Basically, I want MM to just send the flac/mp3 files to some other device for proceesing.
-Play All FLAC files: 16&24bit/44.1Khz, 24bit/48,88.2,96&192kHz - both Stereo and 5.1
-Play all MP3 files (yes, I still have some oldies on mp3 and some mono flacs)
-Play the above files encoded with 2 channels (stereo) as "some type" of lossless 5.1 (?Linear PCM, Dolby TrueHD, DTS HD MA?) with the option to turn on/off this 5.1 conversion. Looks like the options include (1)are On-the fly real-time 5.1 processing of played file (I think this is what DTS NEO does), (2)Pre-process the actual file into a 5.1 file (using something like Stereo to 5.1 Converter VST Plugin Suite)
-Have a direct connect (not LAN-based) between the PC and any other devices (DAC, A/V receiver, etc). All of the components will be co-located in one rack, and I would much prefer to Not have set up a lan/router/etc).
-Sufficent "power" to "fill" the room with sound. I play all types of music from Pink Floyd to Bocelli.
-5.1 speakers (not the typical Logitech-like PC speakers), but not floor standing. I currently have the Logitech Z506 with a Total RMS Power of 75 watts (claimed), and they sound "anemic" to me. In particular, the 4 small front/back left/right speakers and the center speaker are horrible.
-Be able to connect "decent" headphones somewhere after the 5.1 processing has taken place (if possible).

I don't need/care about (As Far As I Known)
DSD (2.8/64, 5.6/128, etc) {not sure why someone would do this, since these files can be encoded as flac?}
Wiresss speakers (although wireless headphones sound neat)
Video, Gaming

Based on my research (and mass confusion), it looks like I might be able to do the above with MediaMonkey using:
Some type of external USB 5.1 DAC (but they seem to only be 2 channel?) with a built-in amplifier and speaker outputs
Some type of external USB 5.1 DAC (but they seem to only be 2 channel?) with a separate amplifier
Some type of external USB 2 channel DAC connected to an A/V receiver (or other device)?
Some type of "direct connection" to an A/V receiver?
Set up an A/V receiver (or maybe just a BluRay player?) with DLNA - which I would prefer Not to do.

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Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2012 11:23 pm

Re: External DAC,HiRes FLAC 5.1/Stereo Configurations - Newb

Post by foxint » Fri Aug 26, 2016 3:08 am


I feel your pain. I too have most of your problems. I have MB with Realtek sound and no solution.

I did find a work around: But a Raspberry Pi3, HiFiBerry Digi+, optical and coax cables (try both) and Runaudio software. I can play 96kHz on and used to play 192kHz, but something recently when wrong. According to HiFiBerry it sound play 192 using the coax.

After months and months and searching - this is the only real solution.

Like you I love Media Monkey...but I even opened a support ticket about the fact I can only play 48kHz and lower.... sucks

If you find a solution let me know....


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Re: External DAC,HiRes FLAC 5.1/Stereo Configurations - Newb

Post by Peke » Sun Aug 28, 2016 6:05 pm

I do not have any issues playing 192k/24b tracks on any of my three PCs.

There is possibility that Optical connection have compatibility issues.

I ordered External DAC to test with, but it is not yet arrived.
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Re: External DAC,HiRes FLAC 5.1/Stereo Configurations - Newb

Post by foxint » Sun Aug 28, 2016 6:59 pm

Thanks for the reply.

I have tried many times. My current thinking (and I am a novice) is that the Realtek on my Gigabyte board X79 is not good.

Is there a way to by-pass the complete on-board Audio. I have an external DAC - optical, RCA, BNC, XLR. It is a little far from the PC.

I have tried BOTH Optical and RCA. Optical fails above 48kHz and the RCA failes above 96Khz. But I can play 96kHz on the RCA only.????



Re: External DAC,HiRes FLAC 5.1/Stereo Configurations - Newb

Post by spartamets » Thu Aug 03, 2017 11:43 pm

I cannot offer a full answer to your question, but I might be able to help with some insight into the general configuration. I run an hdmi cable from my video card to a Yamaha Aventage receiver, which has a sufficiently powerful DAC to play 5.1 music (directly from discs; I haven't figured out how to rip them onto my computer yet). The receiver is the hub and audio processor; the PC is just another source input for it. HDMI is important for carrying the full signal to the receiver (analog cables might not have the bandwidth to communicate all the audio data), and it is important that receiver is capable of decoding complex digital signals. Especially in the age of 4K TVs, I imagine pretty much any new receiver these days can do it.

5.1 music definitely sounds much better than run-of-the-mill cds. A friend figured out how to digitize some of his DVD-audio, and I download a couple of lossless 5.1 titles from him. They take a lot of memory--4 to 7 gigabytes, yes GIGA bytes, each. You might want to keep that in mind, too.

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Re: External DAC,HiRes FLAC 5.1/Stereo Configurations - Newb

Post by foxint » Sun Nov 19, 2017 3:09 pm


I just received the email with your reply

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