Oct 26, 201860 views

What do I need, to hook up my new amp/dac with sources?

I'm new with amp/dac's, and I'm not sure of the best ways to hook up my sources. I just pulled the trigger on the "Massdrop Liquid Carbon X + SDAC DAC/Amp" and I'm planning of driving them with all my headphones. My sources are as follows:
Apple TV (4th Gen)- Does not have an optical out; only HDMI.
MacBook Pro (Only has USB-C)- Also have a USB-C to USB dongle.
iPhone XS Max (I own a Lightning to USB/Lightning adapter)
Xbox One X- This one seems straightforward since it offers a lot of options.
Pioneer Elite Receiver-Most of my sources run off it. For simplicity reasons, is it possible to keep my sources connected to my receiver, and just passing sound to my LCX? I believe it only has one HDMI-passthrough, if that matters.
I'm very excited to test out the LCX. I just need help on what cables I should buy and, which adapters are needed to hook up my sources. Over at Head-fi, my question received very complex solutions.

So the good news is that you can hook it up, the bad news is that I am not confident that it is a good idea. Looking at your back panel you have stereo out to zone 2 and 3 but I am not sure if that is passive (pre amp) or powered (amplified signal). It can work either way but you run into the issue of pushing to much signal to the dac and killing it. On a side note, you may want to look into whether or not you get signal at the xlr port from the rca inputs. I say this because I know some DAC/Amps, such as my SMSL sAp9 do not cross feed signal from rca to xlr and xlr to trs. For the record, I am not sure if your dac is any better than the audio you will get from the amp itself as it a home theater amp and is in a sense a DAC itself. I could be wrong (and lord knows I have been many times in the past) and I know I have heard of people doing what you want to do but I am not completely sold on the idea that this is going to bring anything to the table audio wise that you will just get from the amp itself. I hope I was of some help and will try and help you as best I can with any other questions you may have. I have a lot of experience with home theatres, and a lot of experience with with DACs AMPs and headphones but I don't have much by way of putting them into one system. Again, I hope this helps and if you do run stereo rca from the amp to the DAC/AMP, make sure you have the volume on the Pioneer turned way down before selecting that output in the pioneer. Just a good practice to keep from killing the dac/amp and or your headphones.
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Once again you have me at a disadvantage... lol.. I don't use or have a game console so I am unsure how one would even go about connecting it to a dac/amp outside of using the optical out. I am not even sure if you can use a usb to rca would work. Maybe someone on the forum that has had to do that can give you better direction than I could. Sorry I couldn't be of any help.
The older Xbox's offered an analog option, sadly without an additional DAC you won't be able to convert the Xbox One's optical output to something your LCX can handle. Most converters work the other way round (usb to toslink, not toslink to usb). Not knocking the SDAC as it is pretty killer (spec wise) for the price. Grace is also a professional focused design house so their gear is solid. The topping DAC's and SMSL SU-8 are about the cheapest balanced DAC's you will find out in the world. I don't bother with putting my Xbox One X through a DAC, the Analog Devices 1955's in my Denon are good enough on their own. Music, specifically high-res and lossless is where I feel the Teac UD-501 benefits my system most. Edit: SDAC balanced is thing as well if it returns shortly
Your request received complex solutions because you are trying to combine multiple sources with different connection styles. Some connection options with potential pitfalls: 1) Use the L/R Pre-out from your pioneer to the SE input on the LCX a. If you receiver cannot downmix surround content to stereo on the pre-outs you will have to change your apple TV and xbox to only output 2.0 channel via HDMI. Flipping back and forth depending on headphone or speaker use b. This also completely bypasses the DAC section of your amp/dac combo for all sources connected to your receiver c. You could connect your laptop/or phone to the USB input on the LCX for those sources if not hooked to your receiver already. 2) Bypass receiver and connect directly to LCX via usb or RCA inputs a. You won't be able to use your Apple TV's HDMI for sound in this configuration, you also may not be able to connect at all as I'm not familiar with the USB functionality on that device. b. I do not believe the Xbox One X supports any analog audio so this option eliminates that source. The LCX/SDAC does not have the capability to handle optical output. An additional D/A converter would be needed. c. Switching between sources would be difficult and would require changing cables around. To handle this many sources a DAC with multiple inputs would have been beneficial, a lack of flexibility is why I don't like all-in-one units. Not trying to dishearten you but this isn't going to be easy if you want all of these sources connected.
Thank you so much for reply. I don’t need them all connected at once. If you had an option, which source or sources should I prioritize in terms of quality and/or simplicity? I’m thinking my MacBook Pro should just be my main source for the LCX since it seems to be the most simplist way to listen. I’m thinking my iPhone XS would be my next best option. Not sure. I would really like to use my Apple TV 4th gen, but since it lacks optical out, it’s a bummer.
Which model receiver do you have? Can't really say the best way to hook it up without knowing what outputs you have .
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Pioneer Elite SC-65. Optical, Zone 2, HDMI, RCA
Sorry, I was driving and didn’t get to list imputes. Maybe I’ll pull out my system, and take a better pic. I believe it’s got all the latest inputs.