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  1. #1
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    Mcintosh Mx170 internal DAC

    I recently upgraded from a Mcintosh Mx150 to a Mcintosh Mx170 processor- Figured it was also about time to upgrade my 10 year old Auralic Aries and an external Mcintosh D100 DAC - While out gear shopping it was suggested that with the Mx170 I could skip replacing the external DAC and simply go with a network player - The folks at Mcintosh confirmed the MX170's internal DAC had "clocking" and "jitter control" and "no nonsense hand shakes" and more stuff I didn't understand but suffice to say it started me thinking - Do I really need to pay for an external preamp and a DAC or would something that simply fed the data to my Mx170 be as good ....that would save me a lot of $$$ to buy some high res files

    Primarily I listen to a Synology NAS with over a TB of Lossless files .... also listen to a little internet radio occasionally - No interest in Qbuz or Amazon Music etc

    Starting all over from scratch is a bit frustrating - The question I'm hoping I can gt some help with is what would the advantage be of an external DAC ...Thanks
    An Mx170 with a few McIntosh amps... MT10 Turntable …. some Wison speakers …… antenna in the attic hooked up to a Tablo …. a tangle of WireWorld cables with a pile of GIK acoustic panels

  2. #2
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    Re: Mcintosh Mx170 internal DAC

    Welcome to the forum.

    You can absolutely use the MX170’s digital inputs fed by a streamer or network player and enjoy what you have without spending money.

    Couldn’t you feed the MX170 with the Auralic Aires now? The dac in the MX170 will convert the digital to music and you will be set.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Mcintosh Mx170 internal DAC

    Thanks Joe - The Auralic was 10 years old and I was looking to upgrade to something more current so I sold it and the D100 DAC

    I had a Hifi Rose RS150 but caught a bum unit and customer support was nonexistent and it took a month to realize the unit was defective - That made me think I should check out customer support on some of the leading contenders ... Aurrender had actual live domestic people who answered questions in real time

    I'm looking at the Aurrender N150 - Pulls from my NAS in a reliable interface and USB 3 out direct to the MX170 - The challenge is finding one to demo ....
    An Mx170 with a few McIntosh amps... MT10 Turntable …. some Wison speakers …… antenna in the attic hooked up to a Tablo …. a tangle of WireWorld cables with a pile of GIK acoustic panels

  4. #4
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    Re: Mcintosh Mx170 internal DAC

    I think there is a difference between what will work and what will sound good to you.

    While it may work, the question I have (and I don't know the answer to this) is will you like the way is sounds that way?
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  5. #5
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    Re: Mcintosh Mx170 internal DAC

    1. I'm unable to find the specs for its USB input, but it appears it cannot support DSD from a digital input from a streamer. If your library includes DSD, you need to use a streamer that either does analog output (with internal DAC) or provides DSD to PCM conversion.

    2. I recommend you get a streamer that has something other than USB to connect to the McIntosh, in case you experience any issue with USB, such as AES or analog.

    3. Although it is likely analog inputs will be digitized, it's hard to answer whether a DAC or analog connection will sound better or worse.
    Peter Lie
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  6. #6
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    Re: Mcintosh Mx170 internal DAC

    Thanks everyone for your advice

    From what I understand it all starts with having good files - The network player is basically a computer that pull from the NAS hopefully with out messing with the "1's" and "0's"and moves the files into an interface (an intuitive interface is key to accessing the music and the metadata) and passes that to the Mcintosh MX170 - The DAC and preamp inside the Mcintosh is what does the heavy lifting so what I need is a network player on par with files and the Mcintosh ... then quality should be fine - The N150 is a favorable price point and the interface and customer support are terrific - To get a step up in any noticeable quality would be $$$$$$$ .... beside I have an MT10 turntable for critical listening

    I checked with Mcintosh, Aurrender and WireWorld and everyone is in agreement a USB connection would be preferred .... it will be a short run so i can go Platinum level USB cable

    I hate buying blind so if there is anything else I am missing please let me know
    An Mx170 with a few McIntosh amps... MT10 Turntable …. some Wison speakers …… antenna in the attic hooked up to a Tablo …. a tangle of WireWorld cables with a pile of GIK acoustic panels

  7. #7
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    Re: Mcintosh Mx170 internal DAC

    opps .... make that avoid the USB and go coaxial or HDMI
    An Mx170 with a few McIntosh amps... MT10 Turntable …. some Wison speakers …… antenna in the attic hooked up to a Tablo …. a tangle of WireWorld cables with a pile of GIK acoustic panels

  8. #8
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    Re: Mcintosh Mx170 internal DAC

    What you are planning with a streamer digitally into the MX170 will work.

    An advantage of an external DAC is if it sounded better than the internal DAC in the MX170. The only way to know that is by a listening comparison. If you like the sound of the MX170 I'd say enjoy it and not worry, there's always something better if willing to spend the money.

    Another advantage of an external DAC is if it does something the DAC in the MX170, does not. See Peter's post above, seems there's a possibility the MX170 will not play DSD files via USB. This could be an issue if you have DSD music files stored you intend to play.
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  9. #9
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    Re: Mcintosh Mx170 internal DAC

    Thanks Mr P - Turntables I understand (Congrats on your Clearaudio ..... great piece) but I enter a bit of fog with digital music

    My files are all stored on a Synology NAS in either WAV format ripped from a CD or 24 bit /192 Hz downloaded from the HD Tracks site - Sometimes I will do a bit of internet radio but never use Tidal - I don't have any DSD files - For "sit down listening" I use my turntable

    I did demo a Hifi Rose but spent 2 months running in circles and returned it .... took their customer service that long to confirm it was a bum unit and not me - I also had a few days with an Aurreneder A15 using a WireWorld Gold coaxial cable into the MX170 and it sounded very good - The conductor app was fine - Still at that price point I wanted to look around and see what else was available

    Then I had a conversation with an engineer friend and he told me I was over complicating things - Since my Mcintosh already had a great preamp and a very good DAC why duplicate those functions and expense with an external component - He brought over his self built custom "NUC" box and used a WireWorld Platinum USB cable direct into my MX170 - He used J River for the interface (that app was beyond my field of comprehension) but the sound was fine and the cost was down right cheap compared to everything else I has been considering .... I mean down and dirty cheap - He explained a few more details I didn't understand but the point was in a shared system (an a/v processor, a television, a blu ray player etc) the approach is different that a dedicated two channel system where a separate player and DAC is a requirement - Bottom line is an old dog learned a new trick

    That's how I arrived at the Roon Nucleus- It's is a 450% better price (that's another 325 High Res Albums) and the app is a star - The piece seems targeted for a shared audio system - If I want to do "sit down listening" I have 50 years worth of vinyl to spin

    Anyway thanks to everyone for helping me think this component through .... I am getting closer the the finish line
    An Mx170 with a few McIntosh amps... MT10 Turntable …. some Wison speakers …… antenna in the attic hooked up to a Tablo …. a tangle of WireWorld cables with a pile of GIK acoustic panels

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Mcintosh Mx170 internal DAC

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