Moving to separates w/LS50

Dear HifiGuides community,

On the recommendation of Zeos, I snagged a heavily discounted pair of LS50s!

As I’ve been bitten by the audiophile bug, I’ve come to notice the sound I’m getting from my Firestick/TV optical out is just plain horrible!

Onkyo TX-DS696 --> LS50. I am assuming this thing is a Class AB given how big and hot it can get. Claims 80watt output at 8ohm IIRC.

Current setup:
Phono -> Stage RCA out -> Onkyo
Raspberry Pi +HifiBerry Dac (3.5mm out) --> Oknyo
Firestick HDMI > TV optical out > Onkyo

I’m new to vinyl and my tonearm adjustments are all my issue, can’t fix that.
The analog out from the RPi dac into the receiver sounds just fine.

My issue is that the optical out from the TV into the receiver sounds absolutely horrible, I cannot raise the volume without significant distortion. I do not have the equipment to isolate the variable here considering it could be poor TV out vs. poor DAC in the Onkyo (circa. 2001, likely this <—). If I want to watch a movie or show I care about, I run my laptop’s audio out through my old and trusty FiiO E10K’s COAX S/PDIF into the Onkyo – no issues there, then making me believe that the issue is not the receiver but the TV itself.

I found the Outlaw Audio Model 976! It claims separate DACs for every digital input channel, supports HDCP 2.2 for the Firestick video passthrough+audio rip, and outputs 7.1 in both component and balanced. The Onkyo is only a 5.1, but that is just fine considering I do not even have a subwoofer or any side speakers to worry about (yet :smiley:) .

Given the above, am I correct in thinking I can save myself from another purchase since there is no need to get a separate amp such as the Crown XLS 1002 as I will be removing any digital input to my Onkyo thus rendering it a dumb 2 channel amp?