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Firestone Audio Fubar II USB DAC impressions

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I've had this unit for maybe like 2 months now. I would've written something earlier but I got busy with work until new years. I'm still a little busy so I'll have to keep this short.

INTRO

The main attraction of this DAC is that it's cheap and it's made for audio enthusiasts like ourselves as opposed to a USB soundcard for pro audio market. My previous experience with a USB soundcard before was the M-Audio Audiophile USB a long time ago. I was not really a big fan of that card and ended up returning it. To me, it sounded way too flat and I found the highs a bit edgy. My main complaint over digital gear in general is that it can be edgy sounding and I cannot live with that because it's fatiguing and just annoying for me.

I will be using the Fubar II unit into HEV70 amp and HE60 headphones in my impressions. The power supplies are plugged into one of my isolation transformers.

Software is foobar2000 using WaveOut. I've never been able to get plug and play USB DACs (like this one or MicroDAC) to play in kernel streaming and ASIO isn't supported here. I've found the difference between ASIO/kernel streaming and directsound/waveout to be less than the differences between cables so I don't worry about it too much.

Round 1: With stock power supply

If I could describe this DAC's sound as a headphone, it would be Sennheiser like. The highs are laidback and it's on the touch dark side. This isn't much of a problem because you can still tweak your sound with anything after the source.

Dynamics. I give this thing above average dynamics. It's energy is mostly concentrated in the bass and midrange though. It has more guts than the Headroom Overture.

Bass. It's impactful and adaquetly detailed.

Midrange. It's ok. Not recessed nor too upfront.

Highs. Since early on and after hundreds of hours, they are smooth. They are not edgy which is a relief to me. They are a bit lacking in detail for my own personal tastes though. Combined with it being a bit dark, it's not my kind of sonic presentation.

Soundstage / imaging. Things are spread out adaquetly. Panning left right with some music is good. There's a tiny hole in the middle which is ok for headphones. I'd have to evaluate this on speakers but I don't have time. You aren't on the stage or too far back. I'd say your in the close up seats to the performers.

Round 2: With Supplier power supply

Let's see what this thing can add to the sound. I'm a big fan of upgrading the power supplies of anything. Since we're dealing with electronics, electricity is obviously very important.

Upon first listen, I noticed the sound was tighter. Things had their own space, sounds faded out into a darker background.

Dynamics. Not anything really too noticibly different. I think the energy moves a bit more into the upper midrange / lower treble as you can hear the treble clearer now. But I think the treble is still a bit too soft for my tastes so it's not that big of a deal for me. I can imaginen some people liking this.

Bass. The bass is definitly tighter not that it was bloated before. I prefer a little bloom myself in this case.

Midrange. With vocals and some intruments having more breathing room, you can appreciate them more.

Highs. There are some important changes here. You get more detail which to me is important. The stock PSU yeilds a kind of hazy treble. Now you can hear more lower level detail. It's sound is still smooth and non fatiguing.

Soundstage / imaging. I think things are spread out a little more and you move a few seats further to the music.

CONCLUSION

I think this is a good unit for the price. It's dynamic which is how music should sound and it's non fatiguing so it'll give pleasure for long listening sessions. The unit is compact, attractive, and very competitavely priced.

Is the PSU worth it? I think it is since the treble wasn't detailed or enough for my own tastes so I can appreciate it for that sole reason. Other people can appreciate the other differences depending what they prioritize. The question is for the price are you better off with the Spitfire with stock PSU or the Fubar II with Supplier PSU. That's for another thread in the Dedicated forums

One thing I don't recommend is using USB DACs to play games. They take more CPU usage. I noticed my CPU fans spinning more and thus louder when I tried playing games.
post #2 of 12
Thanks, great review!

/JF
post #3 of 12
Thanks lan. Just as a note, what model or how much did your Supplier PS cost? - I'll keep an eye out for Spitfire just in case

edit: Thanks for the clarification. I was thinking other party PS.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
gshan, the unit is on their website. There is only one model.
post #5 of 12
A good and informative review, Ian. I'd actually have to agree with you on every aspect (save the power supply as I don't have the dedicated one, though with how you spoke of it I might have to get one). Once I get my CDP I might end up keeping the Fubar as well as the Gilmore Lite just because I like the pair for computer listening (as opposed to selling them to help with upgrade cost), as it is easy, small, and sounds good.

Anyways, I ramble, good review.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
I added a little note that gaming isn't as good with USB DACs since they take more CPU usage.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Here's the spitfire impressions thread:
http://www6.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=156227

At the bottom is a little comparision with the Fubar II.
post #8 of 12
Quote:
Software is foobar2000 using WaveOut. I've never been able to get plug and play USB DACs (like this one or MicroDAC) to play in kernel streaming and ASIO isn't supported here
I found a way to make this work. At least my USB dac is now working with ASIO in Foobar2000. Unless I am confused and kernel streaming is something else altogether... Here's a post on my install:

http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/v...ic.php?t=24878

jh
post #9 of 12
If you load ASIO4all you are effectively still using kernel streaming even if foobar is using the ASIO API to hand out the sound samples.

You might as well stick with the kernel streaming plugin in foobar directly.

ASIO4all is a good solution for players like Jriver Media Center that only support ASIO.

Cheers

Thomas
post #10 of 12
I didn't get the optional power supply but twirled the stock power cord 3 times around a piece of ferrite core - treble became more focus.

Sitting the Fubar on a vibration control platform also helps tighten up the sound.
post #11 of 12
Is there any (better) place to purchase the Fubar II besids the overseas manufacturer?
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by sygyzy
Is there any (better) place to purchase the Fubar II besids the overseas manufacturer?
The for sale forum!
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