Need Help Optimizing PC Audio

So currently my PC is hooked up in my living room to my Marantz Receiver via HDMI. I use my OLED tv as a pc monitor and television. I almost exclusively listen to music via MPC-HC on my pc. All of my files are FLAC. I'm wondering if I need to consider a DAC or something between the PC and the Marantz to get even better quality playback. I'm not really sure I totally understand how this would all work and I would love some advice. Thanks


Yes you are on the right track, a DAC is whats needed. Getting rid of the electrical (HDMI) connection to the receiver is critical for better SQ. Sending a optical cable from the PC disconnects ALL noise. Finding a DAC with optical input and HDMI or RCA audio out is the way to go.


Matt M

Thanks for the info Matt. So how would I transmit video as well as audio to the single hdmi port on the receiver? If the optical cable goes to the DAC and then an hdmi to the receiver, how do I get the video signal? I’m just a little confused as to how all of the hookups would go and still allow me to use the pc to watch movies, etc. Also, what if I don’t have an optical out on my pc? I don’t see one unless I’m missing it. Would I just need to buy a soundcard? Also, I read that optical can’t do Atmos which is how I watch a lot of movies on the PC. Is that true? I also read people saying to use USB to the DAC, which confuses me a bit. Anyway thanks again for the help.

I use a Sony Blueray player that will play every file imaginable to my video display and Marantz processor. You can stream your FLAC files via DLNA. It also has an upmixer (DSEE) that upmixes files to hirez if you prefer. Check out:


Which Marantz?

Do you think, if this step is successful you may want to take more steps? What kind of speakers?


If we can get the bigger picture… we can probably be of more help.

@ghdprentice It’s a Marantz SR6013. I’m currently upgrading my towers/center to Focal Aria or Kantas most likely in the next few weeks. I’m also installing a power conditioner and a direct 20amp line for the amps. Is there a DAC that I can just go HDMI in and HDMI out or is that not a thing? Thanks for all the help.

Is the sound quality that bad?

I am doing the same thing except I have the Marantz 8805 and do HDMI from a custom built pc to the 8805. Then B & W  CDM7 SE fronts, 7.2 with 4 Atmos.

Is your pc or Marantz doing the rendering? If I use my 8805 the sound quality is a little better but not really worth it to me full time because I have Plex on the pc and also have all my cds ripped to flac.

And yes with optical you would lose Atmos, again I do the same thing I use my setup for movies and music. There are some things you can do for a pc like get a linear power supply to get rid of a lot of noise.

Like I said I think mine sounds pretty good for what the setup is, so until my job working on the corner starts to pay off or I hit the lotto I'm good. 

@flrun No I don't think the sound quality is bad at all. I'm just trying to make sure if there's an extra couple hundred I can spend on a DAC and it makes a difference that I do simple things like that. If there's no sensible option that will keep atmos then I'll just keep my current setup. I was just hoping for a simple fix, haha, which never appears to exist.

I came across this DAC. Any opinions? It has hdmi input and output. Would this make a significant difference instead of going straight from the PC to the Receiver?


@mattmiller Hey Matt just wanted to make sure you saw my responses since I forgot to tag you in the initial response. Thanks


Thanks for the additional info… very helpful.

So, my first thought is… the speakers are likely to make a big difference. The better quality… the better. I would work on that first. The Kanta’s are likely to be great.

When I first started out in this, sometimes I would try to change multiple things at once to make sure I got a big boost in sound quality, to justify my investment. But, if you want to really get the most out of your purchases. It is better, to make one purchase at a time… let new equipment break in… speakers usually 100 hours or more. Then learn what your system sounds like, before taking on another step.

So, for now, I recommend getting the very best speakers you can afford. Now, for a more strategic look at HT and 2 channel.


I would skip the extra DAC for now. Typically, combining home theater and two channel audio is a huge compromise on the two channel side. If possible keeping them separate is best… clearly not possible for many people. Those who listen to music most of the time can use a Home Theater bypass to develop both. Here is one reference. But I would learn about how to combine the two and you can then get the best of both worlds.

Is you get great speakers, you can later enhance the music side. I have had a home theater and two channel audio for decades… and a little bit of surround sound really enhances HT… and a lot of better sound quality enhances two channel audio. Very different goals.

@ghdprentice Great, thanks for all the info. Do you have an opinion on integrated vs just adding a pre-amp? Seems like everyone has a different opinion on this.

The HT processor box packs so much stuff into one box it is not going to sound great. So, a separate integrated is a better choice. Purpose built for the least number of functions nearly always sounds best.


If you got HDMI no signal error message then check out this article. Here is the complete guide that how you can able to fix it.

I am kind of jumping in on this late, but I do have a couple comments.  If you want to use your PC to do all sorts of audio/video output (including Atmos and stuff), it's best to keep HDMI output.  If you wanted only 2-channel stereo, there are other better alternatives.

That being said, you can improve the quality of the HDMI output from your PC.  One way is to upgrade your computer power supply.  Put in the largest you can for smoothest current/power - something like Seasonic TX-PRIME 1600.  The second item is to upgrade your video card (depending on what you currently have).  The newer cards have more power phases for the GPU and output - this translates into a cleaner HDMI signal.  I think the minimum I would recommend is a NVIDIA GTX 1650 card. 

What is your current power supply and video card?