DAC/AMP for Desktop PC & HiFi integrated setup

Sorry if I posted in the wrong section but I thought that the DAC/AMP is the most important component I need to ask about.

I have been researching the DAC/AMP + speakers + Headphones topic in the last few months but I actually could not find the answers I needed to pursue the project I have in mind, so I bailed and I thought I might ask to the community that knows better.

I’m shortly summarizing below what I’d like to build. I am a gamer but I’m also an avid music (mostly metal) listener and collector.
Currently I use an old but capable set of 5.1 THX logitech speakers plugged into my PC for everything (I stil have a dvd player on the desktop pc).
My plan is to convert to a setup where I can use an hifi cd player + Vinyl player outputting to the same speakers I will use on my desktop pc. For this I will need a dac/amp combo or a separated dac + separated amp that can handle the PC audio and the hifi listening audio.
I also use headphones (have an Audiotechnica ATH-M40X) and I have no plans to upgrade to very expensive ones now but future proofing would be good so that if I want to I can do it and be able to drive more demanding ones.

Do you think this would be feasible? I would avoid having two listening spots because I could invest on better speakers if I have to buy just one set of speakers.

Overall on the speakers+dac+amp I’d like to remain below the 1000€ mark.

Thanks for your help!

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I was thinking about a Topping DX7s + a power amp

Are using self-powered speakers? If so, it sounds like you need a DAC/AMP combo with a preamp output. In which case you wouldn’t need a power amp.

Also, just checking but I wouldn’t recommend buying an expensive cd player, since as long as you get a cheap one from a reputable brand (and you could just use your current dvd player), it will have a spdif coax out which you would use to send to your dac, avoiding the need for an expensive player. You can bypass the internal lesser dac in the CD player by just using it as a transport where it just passed the signal from the laser onto your better dac.

If you are going to continue using the desktop computer speakers, you would most likely be looking for a dac (the dx7 is more then enough) and a preamp with a built in phono stage. If you plan to upgrade to traditional passive speakers, you would then look for a dac and a power amp with a built in phono stage (unless you want a separate phono stage).

So with your current speakers, your current plans would go like this: DX7 > Preamp with phono stage > Logitech speakers?

I don’t know the model of your turntable, but if you were looking at getting passive speakers, you might need an amp with multiple inputs for both your dac (cd transport plugged into dac) and one for your turntable with a phono preamp (unless it has one built in). If you are considering powered monitors (similar setup with the Logitech), you would want to use a preamp or volume control/input switcher to control the volume of the active speakers, which the dx7 and turntable (with a standalone phono preamp) would be plugged into.

There are many great speaker options out there, both in passive and powered forms, so you could decide what you would like better.

You might want to adjust your budget though to be a little higher if you are planning on buying the topping, along with speakers and an amp if they are powered or a preamp if they are active. And if you don’t already have a turntable it might get more expensive.

Thanks marcgii and M0N

so some clarifications: I need to buy all the components, that would mean new speakers, new cd player, new turntable (I don’t have a working one anymore) new dac, amp, phono stage ecc. At first I would start with the speakers, and dac amp (for this I planned 1000€), but this would need to be ready to be expanded with cd, turntable and any extra device.
This means that I can customize it in the best way possible.

I am still not sure about the active over passive speakers. What would be pro/cons of each type?

Concerning the phono stage, what should I look into exactly?
Thanks guys!

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So, the main difference between active and passive speakers it’s really just form factor and how well they are made. Typically active monitors are very common in a studio setting and can save space and hassle by removing the need to buy a separate amp, but you couldn’t upgrade the amp without upgrading the entire speakers and vice versa, so passive can be more flexible in that regard. I personally prefer passive speakers because you can upgrade amps or speakers down the line, or try out new amps or speakers with your existing equipment. Another downfall of powered monitors is that you typically have to buy a volume control or preamp with switchable inputs to choose from your dac or your turntable, and control the volume of the powered monitors. Something like a makie big knob passive would do this job for cheap, but nicer preamps also exist (perhaps with a built in phono stage)

You mentioned that you have yet to buy a CD player and a turntable. I can’t really recommend anything regarding the turntable since I’m not really a vinyl guy, but for a CD player, all you need is it to have basic features since you would be using it as a transport. For example, this sony Blu-ray player could play any disc you throw it, including SACD’s. You could even use it as a streaming device. You can also most likely find a good player on eBay refurbished for cheap. Any good DVD or Blu-ray player will work, but I know for a fact that this one can play sacds if that’s important to you.

You would use coax and connect this to the dac you get (if your still looking at the dx7).

How close are you listening to these speakers? What type of music do you listen to? Are you eventually planning on adding a subwoofer? Are you dead set on going all balanced (not a good idea at this price range)?

And for your amp (if they aren’t powered monitors), do you need it to be compact? How loud do you listen? Should it have a built in phono stage?

If you go with powered monitors or an amp that does not have a phono preamp built in, a good phono stage can be had for around 100-200 us dollars, so something like a pro-ject phono box DC would work just fine, but you could always just buy a turntable with a built in phono preamp as well to reduce the number of components.

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Thanks for the extensive recommendations.

From your comments I am inclined to buy passive speakers and a power amp to drive them. These would then use the signal converted from whatever DAC I choose (I’m tempted to buy the Topping because is still on sale on Drop until the end of the day).
Considering this the amp could or could not have the phono stage because the turntable would be bought further down the road. But I would like for it to have the option of addin a subwoofer.

As far as listening goes, I would listen to the speakers while sitting at my computer desk, so let’s say 1m distance, and they would be positioned close to a wall. I listen mostly heavy and extreme metal but I occasionally listen to everything (electronic, classical, jazz, classic rock funk etc.)

So, the topping at that price is a great buy, and i think you would be satisfied with it and for your needs.

For speakers, you might want to look at something like the Klipsch RP-600M (don’t know what the price would be where you live, but in the US they can be had for around $450-500 USD). Another great speaker would be the ELAC Uni-fi UB5 ($500 USD per pair). The KEF Q150 is a really interesting coaxial speaker and are also excellent on a desk ($550 USD).

The NAD C 316BEEv2 is a great amplifier with a built in phono stage and plenty of power for a desk, but lacks an rca out for a sub. The Cambridge Audio Topaz AM10 also has a phono preamp built in, and has an rca recording out that you could use to connect a powered subwoofer. The Onkyo A-9110 has everything you are looking for, even a dedicated subwoofer out, but is not as compact as the aforementioned options.

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For speaker I might go with the KEF Q150s. Klipsch are probably too big and the ELAC are not as easy to find here in the EU. As for Power Amps, the NAD and Cambridge audio look very interesting and complete, however they seem a bit too big for desk use. Which other AMP would you suggest if I were to drop the phono stage (and buy it separately) but that would fit a desktop setup?

Perhaps check out the NAD D3020v2. That should be the size you are looking for, but it lacks multiple inputs, as it only has a line in and phono in, so it would work for your dac/cd player and turntable, but if you were looking to add more components down the line you would have to get a switcher box. Also has sub out

Edit: I didn’t see that you said you wanted a separate phono stage, this one has an integrated one

The PS audio sprout100 is another great smaller amp

What about the emotiva A-100 just to drive the speakers? all other options you suggested are actually DAC/AMPs -and are more expensive- and I already pulled the trigger on the Topping DX7s :sweat_smile:
Yes, I know it has no phono stage nor subwoofer output, but it seems to fit better on a desk.
The phono stage can be an external device, whereas I’m still not sure whether or not I’ll need the subwoofer as the room is quite narrow and it would anyway be positioned close to the wall.

Yeah, the a100 basx would work great. I just didn’t recommend it initially because the lack of phono preamp and only one input. If you wanted to add a turntable later on, you would have to get an input switcher. I always suggest that you wait to get your speakers before buying a sub, because you might find that you don’t feel the need for one. If you wanted to add a sub, you could always add one by running the line out of the amp to a powered sub.

Klipsch RP-600m is maybe not ideal for nearfield and is a rear port design
I went for KEF Q100+Sub because of the frontport and coax Design
ELAC B 5.2 or 6.2 is also a nice frontport if remember correctly and could be enough without sub
I returned Q300 because of size and not as good for nearfield for my liking
I am by no means an educated expert - so only a few ideas I had and solutions for near wall placement

I’ve found that the 600m is just fine for nearfield as long as you don’t shove them up against a wall. They definitely have enough low end that most people would also be fine without a sub at that range. As long as the speakers aren’t so close to the wall, you should be just fine for nearfield

Ok very cool! Love the Klipsch look and a hornspeaker for the living room would be so cool

  • would 40cm(roughly 1.5 feet) away from the wall be enough? Ok I know- every room is different

It should be yes. If you have issues with that, you might need to put an acoustic panel behind the speakers, but that’s only if it’s particularly bad room acoustics. I’m pretty sure one of my friends has his on his desk with a little less then 1 foot away from a wall and he has no issues. Just make sure not to put them in a corner, because that will really emphasize the bass

50x42cm left and right from 55inch TV+ 15cm behind the rig
600M is 30cm deep so would have 20-25cm space to the wall in this corners
This could be a bit close

It would be a bit close. You might be able to get away with it though because of the Klipsch horn tweeter design, so it wouldn’t interfere with the 6.5 driver as much, so you might notice more bass the closer to the wall, but it shouldn’t effect the rest of the frequency response too much.

Edit: you could always look into some cheap speaker stands. It would be beneficial to any speaker

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Hi there, nice to see that the discussion is getting lively :slight_smile:
Personally I would have the speakers on the desk, standing perhaps 10/20cm from the wall, veeery close. The acoustics of the room seems not the best (narrow and long), so I’ve been thinking about some panels but I’ll see after getting the speakers.

As for PowerAmp I might go with something smaller but capable, such as the Topping PA3, do you think it could drive the KEF q150?

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Yes, as long as you are not playing very very quiet tracks and don’t listen at dangerous levels, there should be no issues. The pa3 is a pretty powerful unit for it’s size

Edit: if you want more inputs for a turntable or whatever in the future, you can get an rca switcher box to expand what you can plug in at one time. I found one on Amazon that would work well on a desk, but there are plenty of switchers for not alot of money.