Audiophile quality multi room?
My wife has asked me to get the music out of the basement and upstairs so she can listen too. My listening room is down in the workshop where most of the good gear is. Upstairs we have a (Denon 3806) that does home theater duty. It does a fair job on music and has some respectable speakers. The probelm is that I currently have only one DAC and I don't want to give it up until I get a chance to buy or build another. So for the time being, I need to share the DAC. My DAC has XLR out but the receiver does not have XLR in.
I DIY'd some coax RCAs and some coax RCA to XLR but both pick up a fair bit of line noise. What should I try next?
-I think the first questions is whether or not coax can effectively carry the signal without picking up too much noise. I have tried a few different combinations of grounding/connection schemes (from another thread on this marvelous site) and either have not succussfully executed them or I am asking too much from the coax. The coax is basic digital cable quality. Not Home Depot but probably not much better.
-I am eyeing some stereo baluns that use Cat 5 for the cable run. I have no experience with them and have not found any listening reports. I have not seen any schematics on them but they look like passive devices that have rca connections at both ends. I don't see how they could be balanced so I cannot figure how they would reject the noise they would pick up. If they are simple enough, I would rather build some.
-Am I missing some other options?
My punt would probably be to buy another Airport Express and use the Toslink straight in to the reciever without a DAC. I already know this sounds OK/not great. This approach does have the useful benefit of improving our wireless network performance.
I don't really expect this setup to compete with the rather direct and simple arrangement I listen to downstairs but I am willing to spend a bit of energy tweaking it to optimize its potential without stealing too much of my electronics budget from the really important things I have yet to achieve (I need to finish the amp I am working on).
It gets worse
For expediency sake I went ahead and installed the Airport Express and used the Toslink to connect to the AV Reciever. It sounds OK, not great, not awful, just OK, somewhere in the middle. After I have a chance to listen for a few hours I plan to bring my DAC up and see if the mediocrity is more related to is absense or the to the Denon AV reciever. At any rate, this is not "what gets worse".
My wife now thinks it would be great to have music in the dining room and bedrooms as well (and who am I to argue). So we launched into a discussion of serious listening vs background music. Frankly, I think it is pleasant to have good music everywhere but it either has to be pretty darn good or really in the background, optinally both is best.
So the new questions is, in lieu of having a great independant system in each room, what is the best aproach to solving the mulit-room problem?
In addition to the system described above, I currently have three listening areas and sets of speakers, each with separate amps in a central stack connected to a single pre-amp and a variety of signal sources. The two remote speakers (our ocean side porch has some Rock Solids plus a sub we drag out during the summer, the laundry room has an oldish pair of B&W DM 220s) are wired through walls with volume controls at the far ends. It works pretty well from a performance point of view but its simplicity does not support remote control or much control at all. The only practical source for the remote locations is the Air Tunes but since the hardware is in the central stack it does get the benefit of the DAC.
Are there any better approaches. Your thoughts would be appreciated.
Take a look at the Sonos Zoneplayers.. If you want to use your own amplifiers the ZP80 is the one you want to look at, powered unit is the ZP100. You will need a minimum of two units (one will be the overall controller) and can use up to something like 32 units.
I have no affiliation with these guys, but the units do sound reasonably decent and provide a lot of flexibility.
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