Jul 25, 20181544 views

Uh...little help please

The other day I fished an old receiver out of my garage (nearly forgot it was there), it's a Sony STR DE 535 I bought years ago--before the world turned completely digital. The thing is, it's still in as-new shape; a little dusty, but works fine. It's a 5.1 system that's rated at 100 watts per channel. So far, so good, but my problem is--what the heck can I do with it?
These days all of my music is digital, so I'm trying to figure out the best options for getting that data out of a computer and into the amp's circuity, and back out through the headphone jack.
I know, for instance, I can run an RC cable from the headphone out on one of my computers (iMac or MacBook) and then plug that into one of the the receivers' input jacks (tested fine with a phone hooked the CD input). That connection sounded good coming back out the headphone jack (and that lets me hear the various EQ settings). But wouldn't a digital connection be better/slicker? I'd guess so, but there are no digital/optical inputs on the back of the STR DE 535 (so far as I know). I'm wondering if there's even a DAC in the receiver (for CDs)? No? Anyone?
I suppose another route might be to connect a Bluetooth receiver to the Sony and stream music from a computer, but still, I'm wondering if there isn't something else I hadn't thought of--something YOU might have?
Whatever I come up with, the unit will most likely end up in my bedroom. If I keep it, I'll eventually hook up some speakers, but I have no interest in setting up a Home Entertainment A/V system (until I figure it out, it's going to be headphones only). Speaking of which, anyone know how the headphone jack on this receiver compares with what I get out of my desktop system (computer to Jotunheim)--more power, cleaner, less neutral, same-same?
I've been out of receivers for a long time so all thoughts and ideas are welcome.
PS: here's a link to the Sony STR DE 535 technical info/specs:
Jebediah Jensen, Richard Michalski, and 4 others

Old phone + sd card + Flac files + Neutron / Dif apps + IFi IDSD Blacklabel to the receiver.
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What model Zenith radio is that? I must have it!
1962 zenith h624c ;)
Use a BlueTooth receiver attached to a switched 5v micro USB power adapter, pair it with your computer that has the music files available by HD or whatever, and Bob's your uncle. It will cost you no more than $30; $15 if you know where to look.
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Google "BT ADAPTER" and the world is your oyster.
Excellent--I already have the hot sauce!
Hey Mr Tambourine Man play a song for me duuuduudduuu.... Duu.uuu...deeee.
I would like to get my hands on one of those high end CD players. Coz nowadays I do still listen to CDssss buahahah
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Yea, next we shall be looking I to Vinyl XD
Vinyl?!!! You must think I'm an early adaptor of new technology?
Sonos and a digital server hooked up to a NAS drive.
'Splain how that would work with the receiver?
The components attach via simple rca or digital to rca cables. The NAS drive is a hard drive array that connects to your digital server via ethernet or wifi (modem) so you can store multiple terabytes of music.
I use a similar receiver from sherwood as my main audio system in the living room. Here's what I've done. Chromecast audio into a 1/8" to rca cable on one input. cheap dac to take optical audio from the tv to rca into another input. I also use a turntable in the phono input and put another aux cord into the last one. Programmed a universal remote and hooked up some truly awesome speakers that were eight bucks at the thrift store. My living room sounds great and has all the wireless connections I could ask for.
Sounds good-sans the TV. Thanks for the input!
Use an old smartphone for Spotify Connect.
What is your budget?
Dolby Surround Prologic is not dolby digital, that's why there are no digital connections, because they aren't required for Prologic... Could still use it for stereo ;) Also I only see a picture of the front, not the back.
Must be hidden in one of the “View more comments“ tabs? But you’re right, no digital/optical.
I know I pulled out my old stereo system because vinyl is making a come back, I'd use it to hook up a record player to a system, just an idea.
Kinda irrelevant to your digital music though
I'm using a Chromecast audio line out to my auxiliary input on my 90s Harman Kardon receiver sounds really great I'm using as a end point for my roon core software on my Windows 7 PC btw Chromecast audio also has a toslink optical output combo.
I'm assuming it has optical toslink connections... use those for digital. It will be limited to 25/192 with toslink maybe worse... I cant remember specs for toslink atm, but if it can do Dolby 5.1 it has to have coaxial or toslink spidf.
None that I can find—see the back panel shot above...
If you want to feed it with BT or WiFi, Chromecast I'm seeing mentioned, is putting you at a low starting point. I have BT in the kitchen area and another for the back deck, made my wife happy and I grew to love the convenience of Tidal HiFi on a phone or PC, giving me at least ~CD quality. I don't see anywhere exactly what they are putting in the new ultra, but the last Chromecast version was not fidelity with an AK4430 @ THD -91dB, and a DRV632 op-amp @ SNR 90dB. A cheap little doll hockey puck that makes some decent sound. It takes more than that, every component in the chain... go with the Auris bluMe that has a AK4396, or something that has a decent DAC in it, or you are basically cheating yourself from what you should have. I have a chifi BT that I could upgrade the op-amp in it to a MUSES02, made a difference. The Auris blueMe came out after, but the chifi BT is still singing... BTW you want that big 3dB antenna... I have one.
Chromecast is the one with the wad in it...

Okay--lots of help--more than I expected! So after reading the suggestions and ideas offered I see a trend developing... @RyCan @amb3cog @Mlcousi @Evshrug @fhood @GunsOfBrixton @ElectronicVices and the trend is, you guys know a lot more about this stuff than I do!
It hadn't actually occurred to me that a straight DAC (no Amp chaser) would be so inexpensive and so butt simple to employ. I have the extra computer and probably the space both would need to occupy.
As for those of you who wanted to make that approach just a tad more complicated (and you know who you are), by adding the raspberry pi and the nifty-sounding HiFiBerry DAC+, you hadn't factored in the learning curve involved--doable, but I'd be a month or two getting up to speed.
I kind of liked the idea of bringing it all Back To The Past, but adding the CD changer and Turntable I once had connected to it--so many years ago. But I'm not willing to make the commitment to Vinyl just yet (never been an early adopter). I did like the idea of rediscovering all the stuff I sold to the used record stores way back then (really miss those damn Monkeys albums...
And then there's the ever-so controversial Bluetooth route. I have to say up front I once had this receiver connected to and AirPort Express, and I fed that from an old MacBook. Can't for the life of me recall weather that was a network connection or Bluetooth connection--but I can say it worked. I wasn't quite as demanding back then, but as some have mentioned, Bluetooth has come a long way. The SMSL AD18 got my attention because I like it, and have been trying to think of an excuse to buy one--but as I understand it, that would be great for powering a set of speakers, but not as in input for my existing amp? Meaning I'd still need to go the dongle route. Those are cheap enough to test and then toss out if I hated it.
@Evshrug all those cool toys (DAPs and the other very neato stuff) were very interesting--stuff for the most part I wasn't aware of. You also explained the whole optical/toslink thing well too. I'd always heard Macs had it, but didn't know where and how to get to it. I suppose buying the right cable would allow me to test it out? And yes, the Mac can be close to my bed (and I could use either a MacBook or and iMac to make that connection).
Appreciate all the links to the cool kit everyone suggested (that cable too @ElectronicVices). Most of it now safely stored away in my Amazon Audio list waiting for me to get weak and lose my discipline.
So, one way or the other, thanks to you all, I'll get the sound from the computer to the amp. Next question: What floor standing speakers (with a $1,000-ish for the pair budget) should I hook to the amp?
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Fair point, $1000 is a lot to drop and I agree personal taste is certainly a factor. But the ELACs certainly should be on the audition list!
(I have heard them at shows, but in my budget, I’ve really been enjoying the Chane bookshelf speakers I got here on Massdrop years ago!)
I've got friends that went with Chane/Arx, they enjoyed the gear but went bookshelves and center. He's now swapped them out for Q series from KEF (towers) and the Chane are pulling duty as surrounds.
Oooooh, how fun! I would probably throw a raspberry pi at it. You can get a pcm5102a break out board style dac for about $15. $35 for the pi. $10 for a bluetooth receiver.
Now you have a wireless speaker system with a good DAC and amp for $60. I've wanted to do something similar for a while, but haven't had a receiver lying around that is worth the effort.
I did something like this, with a Pi and a HiFiBerry DAC+ https://www.hifiberry.com/products/digiplus/
One thing I’ll say, having a dedicated Pi, ready to use, is never just $35. You’ve gotta have a microSD for the OS and any programming, power supply, and you should have an enclosure and (as you said) Wireless dongles of some sort. Still not REALLY expensive, and I’m glad you listed components, but so many people only quote the price of the bare board, as if people just have many Pi lying around with lots of spare essential add-ons.
I was able to use wifi for higher res (uncompressed ALAC over AirPlay was no problem), the whole setup worked well with my antique Theta DAC until I misplaced my Pi during a home move.
Yeah, I guess that's fair. I usually assume people have a compatible power supply lying around, and I don't usually bother with the enclosures. SD card is important tho.
Nice! I just posted in another forum about my A-ha moment in getting hooked on audio, and lo and behold, here you pull out what looks just like my old receiver that was my first purchase (though I think mine was a version or two before this)
So, fundamentally, you've got a big amp on your hands. Definitely no DAC on board, as all of the inputs are analog.
The short answer, then, is you can do anything you want that has a dac in it. But that's no fun at all as an answer. If you're all about staying digital, your idea of adding a Bluetooth receiver is a winner.
But, if it was me, I'd totally try building an era specific full size stack. I know that's what I'd do, because I'm doing it.
I recently started accompanying my wife on her "treasure island" runs. (our adorable name for our treasure hunting trips to the local Salvation Army and goodwill stores)
You can easily pick up a CD changer from the same era for $10 bucks. Mark my words, someday CD will be the new vinyl. You can pick up full CDs for less than the price of a single download. Plenty of junk to sift through, but I've never come up empty. I've found it a very therapeutic way to scratch my audio itch and my bargain hunting needs at the same time.
A record player is harder to find, as is good vinyl. It's too trendy now. Although I did stumble upon a trove of great mid 70s Decca, DG, & London classical records a few weeks ago.
However, if you can find one, you can add it to your stack and have a pretty cool and complete throwback setup. Heck, add a cassette player for good measure.
You could easily build a late 90s rig around that receiver, with a decent little collection of discs and vinyl for under $150.
And then party like it's 1999.
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That's awesome! I would never have thought to look at a Playstation for its DAC. I'm always a skeptic on audiophile claims, but I would totally pick one up to try it if I found one. You can spend thousands of dollars chasing what may ultimately be a myth. I'm willing to spend $10 to try one like this.
Another potentially great pickup is an old DVD player. Not much use on the video front, obviously, but potentially a good option as a CD/SACD player, especially since SACD doesn't seem to be supported on new UHD blu-ray players. I recently picked one up in mint condition to play CDs on my in-ceiling audio system on my main floor. It works wonderfully at $5.
I love the spirit behind Ray's post - "what can I do with this?" instead of just trashing it because it isn't the hippest audio kit that everyone's talking about on Head-Fi. Sometimes I'm amazed at what people toss out, or what people overlook. I'm no greenie, but I do think it's great to be able to keep things out of the landfill when a little creativity can find a perfectly good use for them. At its core, stereo hasn't really changed that much in a long time. Thanks for the heads up on the PS1!
You're hit'n me where I live with that one--particularly about not adding it to a landfill. At the time, it was what I thought was pretty cool mfg and power-wise--a real step up from what I had. Now days I could afford to buy something cooler and certainly more current--but as you suggest--anybody can lift the lid of a trashcan, it takes real men to figure out a reason not too!
Woaaaah... I bet you opened that manual, and had the same ”Information Overload” reaction as me. I guess it’s that detailed about the circuit layout so that repair shops could look at it like a LEGO instructions book and know what part to order from Sony, but it’s surprisingly blurry when trying to look at the rear-side photo. This manual takes me back to my college internship, where I churned out hundreads (dread inserted intentionally) of manuals for electric breakers.
ok, enough of me entertaining myself... I imagine it does have at least an onboard ADC and computer in there, because of the Dolby processing and the fact that the front proudly displays “Digital Cinema Sound Processing,” twice. Also, the manual mentions digital input and 75 Ω inputs, which to me mean “Coax Input.” It’s like my Polk Audio subwoofer... it can take analog inputs, but the white “left channel” RCA is also a coax input.
I’m honestly NOT entirely convinced it has a DAC with a Coax or S/PDIF (Sony Phillips Digital InterFace, I believe) input. If it did have a coax input (and you have something with a Coax out to try with), then I guess this closet creature has nothing to lose by trying it out, an the white DVD RCA input would be my best guess. DACs are one thing that HAVE steadily been improving over the years (unless you count the tricky multibit DACs from Theta and the like, which were better than most DACs for a long time till they were ursurped by the Schiit Yggdrasil and multibit DACs from other companies like Audio GD), so even if your Sony Does have a DAC inside, getting a newer one would sound better.
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Agree with @ElectronicVices , I used to work at Apple Retail in the Genius Bar (I’m not a genius, that’s just the name of the service 😅), and most of the iMacs have mini toslink-out optical outputs. The 3.5mm jack is a combo port, with a little door that swings open to reveal the red light goodness of optical, simply by plugging in the right cable. Of course, USB DAC options abound as well... is the iMac near your bed? Another option could be a self-powered DAC (battery or a wall-wart for power) that can connect to an iPhone with the USB port on a Camera Connection Kit (or an OTG cable for an Android phone).
Some neato suggestions:
Bluewave GET: Little Bluetooth receiver with a decent DAC/amp (system on a chip) that should easily supply the 2V output that is best for most amps’ input. I’ve seen these go on sale here at Massdrop fairly frequently, has replaced the headphone jack dongle for my iPhone, and even does a decent job with my 300 Ω Sennheiser HD 650. Bluetooth 5 for high butrate transmission with an iPhone 8 generation, AAC for older iPhones, Apt-X HD for Android phones and iMac. A bit of background hiss with sensitive IEMs tho.
EarStudio ES100-24bit Portable High-Resolution Bluetooth Receiver: https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B078H4YD2L/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_awdo_t1_AHGwBb92BBCC4 I haven’t tried this one, but read good things. Like the GET, this one would also serve as a portable DAC/amp.
If you wanna get fancy, check out the Shanling M0: it’s a DAP, so you could use it as a music source as well as a DAC, but it also has 2-way Bluetooth... so you could use it to feed Bluetooth speakers and headphones, OR you could stream audio from your smartphone to use it as a wireless DAC. It would solve your bedside dilemma, but honestly you’d probably take it out on the town too, haha. https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B07CPS2TQB/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_awdo_t1_rMGwBb5FF4B74
Haven't really used it in this application but I can personally attest to the ES100 being a good piece of kit. I use mine to make my K10's "wireless" and I like the app features. Not the most sturdy of constructions but that keeps it light.
OK. Here goes. If the receiver has 5.1 surround it will have a built-in DAC. On the back you probably have inputs for S/PDIF and Toslink. Both of those are digital inputs and you can get adapters https://smile.amazon.com/Signstek-Coaxial-Converter-Convert-Analogue/dp/B00FEDHHKE/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1532555650&sr=8-3&keywords=usb+to+spdif which will do the trick. So, I had nearly the identical receiver, but mine bit the dust (queue Queen (which sounds fantastic on HE4XX BTW)) 3 years ago. I got an updated version with BT and other bells and whistles. When I got my HD6XX 6 months ago the first thing I did was run my iPod into the Sony receiver and plug the headphones in...aaaaaaand they sounded like crap. Now the headphone amp used in the older version might be better and I'm pretty sure I was using the USB-in and taking "advantage" of the built in DAC. DON'T RECOMMEND. I would encourage you to plug a BT DAC in. This is one that I am going to get and am actually pretty excited about. https://igg.me/at/auris-amplify/x/17498500. It uses an AK4376 DAC chip which has performed admirably for other mobile audio devices, including FiiO. And it is a good price for 3 more days. :) If you would rather go the wired route then something like this should do a great job and be easy to use https://www.jdslabs.com/products/181/ol-dac-b-stock/
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Volume goes up to 60 and 30 is LOUD..
I honestly don't know anything about Apple TV unfortunately. I stick with the traditional stuff basically, and I don't do Apple in general. I'm an Android/Windows guy.
As for the speakers. I'm not sure what's really or there. I've only recently been looking at new speakers, for the future. I've got a garage full, but they're all old ones I bought used. I did almost buy some Polk Audio T50's because they were recommended by one of my favorite reviewers (Zero Fidelity on YouTube), and they're cheap. But I don't really have the room, and my next set will probably be much more serious high end type ones.
You really should let everyone know what you listen to. The room size. How loud you'll listen. And what type of sound you prefer. Warm, and musical, or bright and detailed. Or totally neutral (expensive, and hard to get though).
I see you have a $1000 budget. I don't think you'll have to spend that much myself, but if you did. You'll probably want something better then that Sony to do them justice. I would just get the Polks though probably, if I were you. They're on sale for $100 a piece right now, and are very good supposedly for the money. They'll work fine with that receiver too. Keep it cheap for now, and make sure you'll really use it enough to warrant spending lots of money.
And I was serious about the DAC. It's not being used at all, and sounds pretty good. It's also just a tiny little thing. Looks like an Audioquest Dragonfly DAC. Just plugs into a USB port with no cable, and is powered by the port itself. It's about the size of two matchboxes. If you borrow that, and get those speakers. You'll be in business cheap. And if you buy them new. You'll have a return window. In case you don't like them. Really no risk that way. The Pioneer Andrew Jones speaker (SP-FS52) is another possibility. But I think the bass is lower on the Polks, and they're more musical. Some people prefer them though. And if you wanted to spend more. People love the Elac speakers that Andrew Jones makes. The Debut series, or the pricier Uni-fi series both get rave reviews. The start at $250 for bookshelf, and go to $1000 for Uni-Fi towers. And Dali speakers get a lot of love too. Really though. We'll need more info to give proper advice. This will get you started down the path towards what's out there though. Here's some videos about the Polks, and one that talks about the Pioneer ones too.