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Analog vs digital for home stereo 8361a, w371a, 7380a

davidy, modified 2 Years ago.

Analog vs digital for home stereo 8361a, w371a, 7380a

Youngling Posts: 14 Join Date: 5/8/20 Recent Posts

Apologies for yet another digital vs analog input thread, but my use case seems slightly different, so wanted to get opinions and learn from others' experiences. I'm splurging on what will be an incredible setup with 8361a, w371a, and a 7380a sub. I'll be doing only digital sources, streaming through Roon (Tidal), and no plans to get into vinyl.

But now I need to decide what streamer device to get. On one extreme, there's the Esoteric N-01xd - an incredible dac and streamer. But it has both a digital out and an analog out. It seems to me that using the digital out would waste all of the amazingness of it its DAC (I don't know how much it bypasses though). On the other hand, I can't tell if using its analog out, and feeding that to the genelics, which will round-trip things through digital and analog, will make it all worth it. I've been experimenting with some 8351s with different dacs and sources, and there are noticable differences between them. However I've only been testing the analog path. I have some Coax to AES-EBU equipment coming next week so I'll try it myself with what I have, but I wanted to see if others have experience with this, or if Genelec folks have any opinions. I realize a lot of this is going to be "in the ear of the beholder". However has anyone experimented with DACs and digital (presumably bypassing much of the DAC, but I don't know) vs analog (adding the extra round-trip in the genelec?). It's within budget to go with a crazy high-end DAC like this, but I don't know if that's a foolish approach with active monitors like genelecs.

lukester, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Analog vs digital for home stereo 8361a, w371a, 7380a

Jedi Master Posts: 296 Join Date: 4/22/10 Recent Posts

I wen't down that road a bit but still went digital.

For my work setups at least, beacause of ease of use and the speakers have a much much lower noise floor in digital mode.

If you're after high end sound and wanna experiment with DACs i suggest you try older pure analog 1037, 1038, 1034. 

They also have much warmer class A/B amplifieres.

Big ones are a a lot better than 8351 etc if you have >2m listening distance from the speaker.

svart-hvitt, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Analog vs digital for home stereo 8361a, w371a, 7380a

Padawan Posts: 35 Join Date: 5/6/16 Recent Posts

For streamer, I recommend a Mac Mini with Roon. It’s stable and works great with an ihpone or ipad as a remote controller. Or you could go for a Roon Nucleus, which is simpler and more expensive. I would stay away from expensive hifi streamers, with or without a DAC. It’s a waste of money, and nobody beats Roon when it comes to user interface. I would also stay away from going the analog route. You don’t need a dac with Genelec gear. What you need, is a digital converter that outputs AES-EBU. Examples:

https://www.mutec-net.com/product_mc-3-plus-usb.php

https://www.lake-people.de/product-page/dat-rs-05 (not bit perfect due to its volume control feature which transforms all data streams into 24 bit).

https://www.yellowtec.com/puc2.html#c1042

 

Your 8361a+W371 setup sounds like a dream setup. Possibly the best setup one can get these days. I have the 8351a myself, plus a set of S360s and the 7382. All are excellent speakers, where the sound material is the limit, not the speakers.

 

Are you sure the 8361a+W371a setup can handle a subwoofer using just GLM? Having said that, the 7382a subwoofer is a nobrainer for those who have the space in their room; it measures extremely well in my (small) room and works excellently with films as well. So if you have the space, the 7382 is probably a better choice than the 7380, especially if you intend to use the setup for films or special effects like EDM sound etc. If you use the 7382 as a base for say a book shelf etc. it blends into a domestic environment very well. I use my 7382 as a TV stand, soundbar ;)

 

I wish you good luck in implementing your dream system and look forward to hearing what you think of the setup you’re going to buy!

davidy, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Analog vs digital for home stereo 8361a, w371a, 7380a

Youngling Posts: 14 Join Date: 5/8/20 Recent Posts

Thank you both for the suggestions! svart - yes you're right the 7382a would be epic! Unfortunately aesthetically there are too many windows around and not enough walls space, so placement-wise I could not compromise and find 5 feet of wall space even built-in as a book shelf like you say. The only possible space for it is occupied by our piano. Believe me I tried! It could be that one day I'll be able to justify either upgrading or getting a second 7380 if we need more distributed bass.

On the topic of the digital vs analog, as an experiment, I bought a simple coax spidf to aes/ebu. I connected my Sonos Connect to it, and then it into the 8351a's. I compared that to my current setup, which is the same Sonos Connect wired to a DacMagic Plus, and then into the analog in on the 8351a's. Both my wife and I independently found the "Sonos to coax-to-aes/ebu to 8351a's" to be quite muddy for some reason. It could be any number of factors, but in the end, the addition of the $350 DacMagic Plus was a big improvement. I borrowed a friend's Mytek Brooklyn Bridge DAC/streamer and found that to be an improvement over the DacMagic Plus too. So I'm not sure if it's a good experiment or not, but it suggests that I need to work on my source. I admit I'm "chasing the dragon" on this but I'm going for the most amazing setup that I can (except sadly without the 7382!)

svart-hvitt, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Analog vs digital for home stereo 8361a, w371a, 7380a

Padawan Posts: 35 Join Date: 5/6/16 Recent Posts

With the 7380 your system will work like a dream. The 7382 is just an icing on the cake for those who have the space. Maybe you could add 2 times 7382 instead of one to build your «crazy» system? ;)

When it comes to Sonos, I would avoid it for a highly transparent setup. Sonos is a good consumer choice, but you simply don’t know what they do in terms of filtering, up and downsampling etc. For you uber transparent system, I would avoid consumer boxes where you don’t know what happens in terrms of signal processing.

lukester, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Analog vs digital for home stereo 8361a, w371a, 7380a

Jedi Master Posts: 296 Join Date: 4/22/10 Recent Posts

But please listen to some big systems also.

I had 1031, 1038 and currently have  8330, 8351, 1037 and 1237 .

Bigger speaker = bigger sound. is just plain physics.

100 kilos in subwoofers don't get you better midtones on 20 kilo tops.
​​​​​​​50 kilo tops on 50 kilo subs is more balanced imho.