What output do I use on my DAC to connect to Active Speakers?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Tone?, Mar 25, 2020.

  1. Tone?

    Tone? Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Francisco
    ok I’ve have my Marantz HD DAC 1 for over two years now and had my Adam Audio Active F5 speakers connected to the line out of the DAC.
    I think I’m supposed to have them connected to the variable output of the DAC though.

    When I connect the speakers to the variable output of the DAC I have to set the DAC gain to low or else the speakers distort a bit.

    Here is the manual for the Marantz DAc
    https://www.us.marantz.com/-/media/...rantzNA/US/HD-DAC1-Owner-Manual---English.pdf

    And this is for my active monitors.

    https://www.adam-audio.com/content/uploads/2016/11/adam-audio-user-manual-f-series-en-de-cn.pdf


    How should I connect them?

    I use my MacBook as my source with Tidal.
    So MacBook into the DAC and DAC out to my speakers
    Do I use the variable outs on the DAC instead of the line level?
    And if I’m supposed to use the variable outs , how do I set the serperate volumes for he speakers?


    Thanks in advance !
     
  2. wwaldmanfan

    wwaldmanfan Born in the '50's

    Location:
    NJ
    If it convenient to set the playback volume from the speakers, use the fixed DAC output. This bypasses the preamp circuit on the DAC for a more direct, pure signal.

    Otherwise, set the output impedance on the DAC to LOW, turn the DAC's volume to max. Set the speaker volume to the loudest setting you are ever likely to use. Turn down the DAC volume to a comfortable setting, then adjust as needed.
     
    Tone? likes this.
  3. Tone?

    Tone? Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Francisco
    It’s a bit of a pain in the ass but I had it connected to the fixed DAC output and then set the volume on the speakers for a pretty loud level and then controlled the overall volume from the volume slider on the Tidal player.

    So me changing the output to the DACs variable gave a slightly different sound. A tad thinner than the fixed level output. I guess cause the gain was a bit lower on the variable that way. It is a bit cleaner maybe on the variable. Don’t know if my ears are playing tricks on me. If you look at page 16 of the Marantz manual it says to use the variable output to connect to a power amp. I guess that’s cause a power amp doesn’t have a preamp correct?

    Thanks !
     
  4. wwaldmanfan

    wwaldmanfan Born in the '50's

    Location:
    NJ
    Sure, if you didn't have an output level control at the source, you'd have no other way to adjust the volume.
    It's a toss-up between using the Tidal volume or the variable on the DAC, whichever is more convenient, but one or the other should be set at 100%/fixed.
    Ideally, set the speakers' volume between 12:00 and 2:00, Tidal gain at 100%, and adjust loudness with the DAC knob.
     
    wgb113 likes this.
  5. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    Using the slider control in Tidal limits the maximum dynamic range. Did some research and it appears the Marantz has a Blue Alps, all-analog volume control. Using the Marantz controller won't compress your music, but as noted above, does add some to the signal path. If the variable outs sound cleaner than the fixed outputs, I wonder if the greater body/weight you hear with the fixed outs might be distortion from turning up the gain on your speakers.

    FWIW, someone far more knowledgeable than I once told me that gain knobs should never double as volume controls.
     
  6. wgb113

    wgb113 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chester County, PA
    As @Helom mentioned you want to avoid multiple volume controls in the chain and you do that by setting them to 100% where possible.

    Looking at your setup I’d follow what @wwaldmanfan said and connect the Marantz to your speakers using Variable outputs, set the volume controls on the back of your Adams to @ 12:00, set your Tidal to 100% and then use the Marantz to control volume.

    if the Tidal volume is lossy as @Helom alluded to that’s likely why you heard a difference between the fixed and variable outputs.
     
    Tone? likes this.
  7. Tone?

    Tone? Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Francisco

    Yeah , I set the volume last night on my speakers to 50% ( which is quite loud), connected the speakers to the variable outs on the Marantz and set the Tidal slider to 100%. It now sounds more ‘ in focus’ , cleaner. I think I was getting some gain distortion from the fixed outs.
    Gonna call Marantz and ask them what the preferred method of connecting to active speakers is because they even bring it up in there website. But they don’t say what the preferred method of connection is to them.

    This is what he website says. “It is so powerful it not only drives headphones, you can also directly connect it to your Hi-Fi integrated amplifier or to a pair of active speakers or power amps. It’s also highly connectable.”

    The only thing it says on page 16 of the manual is that the variable outputs go to a power amp and the fixed to a preamp. So does that mean the power amp would be my speakers?
     
  8. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    Yes, you should consider the speakers and power amp as one. The speakers do not have a built-in preamp, which is why you have to use the gain controls when using the fixed outs. Gain controls are supposed to be set and forget, they're only there for setting an ideal match with a preamp. If your preamp has a high voltage output, you want the amp gain set low, and vice versa.

    Convention is that you start by setting amp gain to minimum, then turn the preamp control to about 3/4, then adjust the amp gain until you reach your maximum intended loudness.
     
    Tone? likes this.

Share This Page