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USB DAC need recommendations

post #1 of 63
Thread Starter 
Searching for a USB DAC (or PCMCIA, no firewire port) for home use with my laptop and amp, need some recommendations.
I've done lots of readings and 0404USB seems to be the favorite here, but I don't need many those functions. So I'm looking for better choice (cheaper) with sound quality being the major concern. Since the DAC will be connected to an headphone amp, so built in amplifier is not necessary. It doesn't have to be portable and can plug in external power. Better can be used under Linux.
My budget is $200

Please tell me what you think
post #2 of 63

If you're needing the DAC just for listening to music, I'd recommend you look at the iBasso D1 from www.iBasso.com . There's a long thread on this amp in the Headphone Amps forum. The D1 has great sound through it's own headphone amp, or it can act as a stand-alone DAC and connect by miniplug interconnect to the headphone amp of your choice. You can hook up your laptop to the D1 with the provided USB cable, then use a miniplug cable to connect from the AUX Out of the D1 to your headphone amp (or powered speakers). Or, you can just connect your headphones to the headphone jack of the D1.

The D1 is bulkier than the 1st Gen iPod, but if portability is not an issue, I've been very happy with the D1 for listening to CDs, FLACs, ALAC and MP3s from my PowerBook. You'll connect to the D1 via USB or optical digital out.

Another DAC/Amp solution with rave reviews is the Corda Move. It also has a huge following on the Headphone Amps forum. It'll connect to your laptop via USB only, is more portable than the D1, and supposedly has better sound than the D1 stock (D1s are still too new to have extensive burn in).

The Move does not have a line out so you'll have to use it as a DAC/Amp combo. If you like the amp section of the D1, however, you have a swiss army knife of amps, and you can sell your current amp on the Head-Fi forum or ebay.

Both amps, however, will cost you over $200. The iBasso D1 cost $252 after shipping, the Move will be close to that. If you're interested in the Move, check out Head-Fi Sponsors Meier Audio or Todd the Vinyl Junkie. For the iBasso, check out www.ibasso.com.

Both the D1 and Move come with the cables you need to connect to your laptop. The Move, however, does not come with a battery or AC adaptor, but does come with an analog mini plug interconnect. The D1 comes with a bunch of cables, but I had to get a miniplug to TOS optical cable ($16) to hook up my iriver. The D1 does not come with a mini to mini interconnect. Neither come with an iPod line out dock. You'll have to factor all that into the final cost.

Owners of both the Move and D1 have been very happy with their respective amps in terms of sound quality and build quality. However, this being Head-Fi, most owners seem to own multiple amps.

If you want a size comparison of your amp and the D1 and Move, enter the dimensions in www.sizeasy.com

Another thing to consider if you're going to travel: you can replace the battery of the Move with an included tool; but with the D1 you'll have to carry the small universal AC adaptor to charge the built-in rechargeable batteries.

Hope this helps.
post #3 of 63
Spend the extra $100 and get a MicroDac from headroom. Its small, has multiple inputs, can be portable, and runs under linux fine (im using it now). Oh, and it sounds great.
post #4 of 63
Thread Starter 
Thanks for replying
Yes, I need the DAC only for listening to music.
my budget is a little bit tight and I'm not against having many functions (on 0404). So, is the 0404USB still the best choice for $200? or does it make significant difference for the extra $50 or $100?
post #5 of 63
I currently am looking at the iBasso D1, if you're interested in a portable yet what appears to be a phenomenal sound.
post #6 of 63
what about Alien DAC? or fubar? may you give some suggestion .
post #7 of 63
Saw this on Ebay. I don't know much about it.


Also this - looks pretty cool - would be around your pricepoint with shipping.

you could get a cool custom front face for it made - brushed aluminum or SS - with one LED hole indicating it's powered up and good to go.
post #8 of 63
One piece of advice: decide what your budget is and stick to it, or better yet post 70% of what it actually is and thene see what people recommend. I didn't do this and ended up with a Benchmark DAC1, not that I'm not happy with it, but I'm just saying
post #9 of 63
I'm happy owner of D1,
Although D1 capable to bypass the AMP, it appear you don't interested with combo DAC/AMP anyway.

I would recommend USB alien DAC or upcoming PICO
post #10 of 63
Originally Posted by b17m4p View Post
One piece of advice: decide what your budget is and stick to it, or better yet post 70% of what it actually is and thene see what people recommend. I didn't do this and ended up with a Benchmark DAC1, not that I'm not happy with it, but I'm just saying
hehe, that made me smile

it is head-fi after all!
post #11 of 63
I'm very happy with my Fubar II from Firestone Audio (via a fellow Head-Fier). I use it with my TA 10.1 amp / PSB Alpha's for computer speakers and switch over to the F II and Headamp AE-1 for phones. It's definitely worth checking out. Just my .02
post #12 of 63
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the response
The Alien DAC looks pretty good, I'm now thinking that I may just build my own DAC...
post #13 of 63
I've got a Fubar II that I use under Linux. It works perfectly with ALSA and to my ears sounds pretty good. I swapped the opamp to an OPA2107 (main opamp is socketed and easy to swap, if you're into that sort of thing) and it made it sound a little smoother. The Fubar sounds pretty good stock, though, so it's not like you have to swap the opamp.
post #14 of 63
You can find a used 0404usb for pretty cheap ($125-$150ish) then spend the rest on faster shipping lol.
post #15 of 63
May I throw in the new Monica 2 USB ?
It is an astonishing little DAC that makes sweet music.
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