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View Full Version : Anyone Using Transporter As a "Pre-Amp" Solution; Is It Possible?



JoeLR
2008-05-22, 07:53
Let's say I want to have a setup as follows:
--TV
--digital cable settop box
--all disc player
--only concerned w/ 2.0 audio ("high quality" pair of front speakers only--MAYBE a subwoofer; don't listen to radio)

If I were to buy an amp or integrated amp, can I use the Transporter as a solution to process all of my audio? I'm not a home theater type--I care only about 2-channel audio, but yet don't want TV audio coming from crappy TV speakers; I lack the space to have a dedicated listening room, and I currently listen to all of my music on my Mac (iTunes w/ nothing but ALAC files; Apogee Duet connected to my Macbook Pro via firewire, and Duet connected to an integrated amp via custom cable). So, being able to stream music from my Mac (music stored on an external firewire hard drive; I have an Airport Extreme Base Station as my wireless router) to my theoretical primary system would be nice...but I'd like to avoid the expense of a separate pre-pro if the Transporter can do what I want..

Obviously, I'd connect my settop box & disc player directly to ny TV for video... I just want to know whether the Transporter can be connected directly to an amp/integrated amp, and the settop box & disc player can be connected directly to the Transporter via analog RCA, optical or digital coax...

cliveb
2008-05-22, 08:51
I just want to know whether the Transporter can be connected directly to an amp/integrated amp, and the settop box & disc player can be connected directly to the Transporter via analog RCA, optical or digital coax...
The Transporter only has digital inputs, so you can't route analogue signals through it. But if all your sources are digital, then you can use it as a "digital preamp". In fact my system is set up just that way:

Toslink output from PVR -> TP optical input
COAX SPDIF output from DVD player -> TP BNC input
(and SqueezeCenter streaming -> TP ethernet connection, of course)

Then the TP balanced outputs go to a pair of active monitors.

JoeLR
2008-05-22, 10:22
The Transporter only has digital inputs, so you can't route analogue signals through it. But if all your sources are digital, then you can use it as a "digital preamp". In fact my system is set up just that way:

Toslink output from PVR -> TP optical input
COAX SPDIF output from DVD player -> TP BNC input
(and SqueezeCenter streaming -> TP ethernet connection, of course)

Then the TP balanced outputs go to a pair of active monitors.

Oh, o.k., thanks... My TV only has a digital coax out (I think), no optical.. Sorry for the noob question, but is the Coax S/PDIF input of the TP the same as digital coax? It'll accept a digital coax cable so I could hook my TV to the TP for audio? The rest would work as my settop box & current DVD player have optical outs...

I'm thinking of buying a Cambridge 840A integrated amp. Looking at a pic of the TP bck panel right now, I'm assuming I'd connect the amp to the TP using standard RCA cables from the amp's pre-out into the analog outputs of the TP, right?

Phil Leigh
2008-05-22, 11:10
Oh, o.k., thanks... My TV only has a digital coax out (I think), no optical.. Sorry for the noob question, but is the Coax S/PDIF input of the TP the same as digital coax? It'll accept a digital coax cable so I could hook my TV to the TP for audio? The rest would work as my settop box & current DVD player have optical outs...

I'm thinking of buying a Cambridge 840A integrated amp. Looking at a pic of the TP bck panel right now, I'm assuming I'd connect the amp to the TP using standard RCA cables from the amp's pre-out into the analog outputs of the TP, right?

you can get coax to optical converter boxes...not expensive...

cliveb
2008-05-22, 11:21
Oh, o.k., thanks... My TV only has a digital coax out (I think), no optical.. Sorry for the noob question, but is the Coax S/PDIF input of the TP the same as digital coax? It'll accept a digital coax cable so I could hook my TV to the TP for audio? The rest would work as my settop box & current DVD player have optical outs...
The TP has two COAX SPDIF inputs: RCA and BNC. They are electrically the same, just have different sockets. And yes, they are "digital COAX". THe XLR input can also be configured to receive SPDIF. So the TP has three "digital COAX" inputs.

However, it sounds as if you want to use two optical sources (settop box & DVD player). The TP has only one optical input, so you couldn't do that.

Bottom line - TP has four digital inputs: one optical and three COAX. If you have more than one source which has ONLY optical, then you'll need some additional switching. If you have no more than four digital sources, and can get COAX SPDIF out of at least three of them, you're good to go (but you may need some RCA-BNC and/or RCA-XLR adaptors).


I'm thinking of buying a Cambridge 840A integrated amp. Looking at a pic of the TP bck panel right now, I'm assuming I'd connect the amp to the TP using standard RCA cables from the amp's pre-out into the analog outputs of the TP, right?
No. You can't connect an output to an output. You'd connect the TP's analogue output to an INPUT on the Cambridge. I note that it has a balanced input, which is the obvious one to use with the TP.

In any case, if you're planning to use the TP as a digital preamp, you don't need an integrated amp, just a power amp, thereby avoiding the preamp stage of an integrated. Cambridge make an 840W power amp. Maybe it's cheaper than the integrated?

JoeLR
2008-05-22, 14:43
The TP has two COAX SPDIF inputs: RCA and BNC. They are electrically the same, just have different sockets. And yes, they are "digital COAX". THe XLR input can also be configured to receive SPDIF. So the TP has three "digital COAX" inputs.

However, it sounds as if you want to use two optical sources (settop box & DVD player). The TP has only one optical input, so you couldn't do that.

Bottom line - TP has four digital inputs: one optical and three COAX. If you have more than one source which has ONLY optical, then you'll need some additional switching. If you have no more than four digital sources, and can get COAX SPDIF out of at least three of them, you're good to go (but you may need some RCA-BNC and/or RCA-XLR adaptors).


No. You can't connect an output to an output. You'd connect the TP's analogue output to an INPUT on the Cambridge. I note that it has a balanced input, which is the obvious one to use with the TP.

In any case, if you're planning to use the TP as a digital preamp, you don't need an integrated amp, just a power amp, thereby avoiding the preamp stage of an integrated. Cambridge make an 840W power amp. Maybe it's cheaper than the integrated?

With my current equipment, I have some flexibility regarding use of optical--my settop box (a Motorola) has both optical & digital coax; my DVD player is the same. So it looks like I'd be fine w/ the TP having only one optical input.

Thanks also for the tip regarding my lack of need for an integrated... I'll switch things up & start looking for amps. I've been making inquiries on AudioGon for a couple of used Parasound 2-channel amps.

Final question (I hope): where would my TV fit into this chain? IF I'm connecting my settop box to the TP via optical, won't I also need to connect my TV to the TP (via the TV's digital coax input since the TP doesn't have unbalanced analog output) to get sound? Man, I know, I'm a noob... :(

tcutting
2008-05-22, 15:25
Are you going to run anything else on the TV but signals through the set-top box? DVD/VCR? (Sounds like your "all-disc player" does DVD?) If not, I think your good to go...
Have heard some comments that switching between inputs on the transporter can be a bit of a pain, however (don't have the pleasure of a transporter to play with!)

JoeLR
2008-05-22, 19:17
Are you going to run anything else on the TV but signals through the set-top box? DVD/VCR? (Sounds like your "all-disc player" does DVD?) If not, I think your good to go...
Have heard some comments that switching between inputs on the transporter can be a bit of a pain, however (don't have the pleasure of a transporter to play with!)

Well, given what I want to do (use a Transporter as a sort of pre-pro in lieu of a "true" processor) I'll have to connect both my settop box & disc player (yes, I'll end up getting a universal disc player eventually; my current one only plays standard def DVD & redbook CDs) directly to my LCD TV for video (via HDMI & component cable). I also want my TV audio to be "processed"through the Transporter, though I'm not sure it's gonna work.

Right now, my settop box is connected directly to my TV via HDMI for video. I have an old Yamaha receiver that doesn't have HDMI nor component; though it does have one digital coax & one optical. I have my settop box connected to my Yammy via optical cable, but for audio to work, I have to have the Yammy also connected to my TV via regular RCA cables (my TV also does have a digital audio coax out, but no optical).

I can't get my head wrapped around how I'd be able to use the TP w/ my my TV & digital settop box given how I have to set things up w/ my current gear to get TV sound run through my Yammy & external speakers... Guess I took my dumb pills this morning...

This is why I'm wondering if I should just get a AVR & connect the TP to the AVR (I would suppose by using a standard RCA between the TP's analog output and a auxiliary analog input on the AVR). I was hoping to just get a quality amp to power my speakers, but now I'm not so sure it would work the way I want. I think I'm gonna go ahead & get a TP & try it w/ my current setup & see how it all works before I spend money on an AVR, amp or integrated...

cliveb
2008-05-23, 01:01
Final question (I hope): where would my TV fit into this chain? IF I'm connecting my settop box to the TP via optical, won't I also need to connect my TV to the TP (via the TV's digital coax input since the TP doesn't have unbalanced analog output) to get sound?
The TP *does* have unbalanced analogue outputs. If you wanted to, you could connect its unbalanced outputs to the TV and its balanced outputs to your amp - all outputs (analogue and digital) are active simultaneously.

That said, you'd only need to "pass through" the settop box's output to the TV if you want to actually listen via the TV's speakers. If you want to listen to the TV sound through the main stereo, you don't need to pass on the audio from the TP to the TV.

Example: my PVR (which is basically a settop box and hard disk recorder in one) is connected to the TP by optical, and to the TV by SCART. I can watch something from the PVR with the sound through the TV (TP switched off) or through the main stereo (TP switched on & TV sound muted). I typically only bother to use the main stereo for TV sound when I'm watching a concert (or maybe a film with big sound effects).

cliveb
2008-05-23, 01:06
Well, given what I want to do (use a Transporter as a sort of pre-pro in lieu of a "true" processor) I'll have to connect both my settop box & disc player (yes, I'll end up getting a universal disc player eventually; my current one only plays standard def DVD & redbook CDs) directly to my LCD TV for video (via HDMI & component cable). I also want my TV audio to be "processed"through the Transporter, though I'm not sure it's gonna work.
HDMI might cause a problem. I don't have any HD equipment, so have little knowledge of HDMI, but my understanding is that it incorporates some sort of copy-protection facility (HDCP?). It wouldn't surprise me if there's no way to get a standard SPDIF signal from an HD source, in which case you're not going to be able to feed it into the TP. Anyone else around here know more about this?

JoeLR
2008-05-23, 06:14
Have heard some comments that switching between inputs on the transporter can be a bit of a pain, however (don't have the pleasure of a transporter to play with!)

Don't know if I like that!! :) Now I'll have to research some more...it may just happen that the TP isn't for me. Maybe I'll just get a good ol' Squeezebox & give up my dream to use a TP as my digital processor...but damn, the TP reportedly performs so well, and is sexy as hell... Found a very sweet local deal for a Rotel RSX-1067...might just jump on that & then get a Squeezebox for the short term..

Thanks for all the responses

cliveb
2008-05-23, 09:10
[re. reported problems switching digital inputs] Don't know if I like that!! :) Now I'll have to research some more...
I was the one who reported (over a year ago) that switching digital inputs produced a brief burst of loud noise. That was fixed in firmware 33. I've never had a problem since. I'm now on firmware 36, which is what you get with SqueezeCenter 7.0. (Others reported different problems, such as the switching simply not working, but I never experienced that).

There's a suggestion that some of the radical stuff added in firmware 40 and later might have broken digital switching. That's not surprising since those updates included the digital effects loop, which must have involved extensive changes to the code controlling the digital inputs and outputs. But I'm sure it will get fixed pretty quickly. In the meantime I'm steering clear of the newer firmwares.