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HD650 and squeezebox, amp/DAC ?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi,

I'm very new to head phone. Got a IEM (Nuforce NE-7M) some time ago based on recommendation on head-fi and I'm happy with it, until recently I had a chance to listen to some better headphones (HD650, Grado 225/325, etc.). I listen to various types of music but I would say mainly classical, new age, vocal. Not much rock. To my novice ear HD650 seems suits me better compared to Grado which sound a bit bright for my taste. So I pretty much settled on HD650.

Now comes the question what else I need to get in order to make good use of HD650. It seems that a headphone amp is recommended for high impedance phone like this. Initially I'm thinking about Little Dot MK III. However, there is one more dilemma about source:

My intended source: squeezebox classic -- most of my music are FLAC on a server. Alternatively I can use a mac (imac) but I don't want to do that as it's not straightforward to play flac on mac and I hate to do another conversion.

Squeezebox has an internal DAC which seems to be average reading from reviews. Will I get decent sound quality if I go squeezebox -> analogue line out -> LD MKIII -> HD650 ? Or do I need a dedicated external DAC to insert between squeezebox and amp ? Or if I go with Imac, I go with mac > uDAC -> LD MKIII -> HD650 ? I guess I could get the amp and headphone first and then worry about external DAC later.

Sorry for so many questions but any help is greatly appreciated.
post #2 of 13
Thread Starter 
Anyone can help ? Should I post this on the amp forum ?

Thanks
post #3 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by sfrancis View Post
Hi,

My intended source: squeezebox classic -- most of my music are FLAC on a server. Alternatively I can use a mac (imac) but I don't want to do that as it's not straightforward to play flac on mac and I hate to do another conversion.\
I can't give you a whole lot of help here, but I can say that if you want to play FLAC files on a Mac, use the freeware "Play" by sbooth.org

Play from sbooth.org

It's great software. I use it on my Mac to play shuffled files from an NFS-mounted drive on my linux music server. Works great.
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sanka View Post
I can't give you a whole lot of help here, but I can say that if you want to play FLAC files on a Mac, use the freeware "Play" by sbooth.org

Play from sbooth.org

It's great software. I use it on my Mac to play shuffled files from an NFS-mounted drive on my linux music server. Works great.
Thanks for the pointer. This is indeed helpful. I like the itune like interface. Will give this a try.

This may mean that I don't need squeezebox and just use imac and maybe an external DAC.

Any other suggestions are very welcome.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Anyone can help? Would like to stick to squeezebox as source and get an amp+headphone, but the question is: does internal DAC of squeezebox do a decent job or i need to get an external DAC at the beginning.
post #6 of 13
I have two Squeezebox 2 in my two Hi-Fi systems. I am using the iTunes library and all my songs are in Applelossless.

In one of my systems the Sqeezebox digital output goes to a Genesis Time Lens re-clocker/De-jitter and then to my Wadia 27 DAC. In my other system it goes to a Monarchy Audio DIP re-clocler/De-jitter and then to my Threshold DAC 1e.

In both cases the sound in my speaker systems and headphones is incredible just like coming out from a regular CD.

If you really want th ebest sound you can get I would recommend you going this route. The internal DAC of the Squeezebox is ok but it will never be at the level of a good dedicated external DAC.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
@ musicman59: thanks very much for sharing your thoughts. This re-clocker/De-jitter is new to me and yet another piece of equipment to be considered. As a newbie, I wonder if the following upgrade path logical:

1. get amp + headphone and use squeezebox internal DAC/analogue line output
2. get an external DAC and feed it with optical/coaxial from squeezebox.
3. get re-clocker/De-jitter as you suggested.

Thanks
post #8 of 13
the internal dac on the SB products is not bad at all!

I have the duet now and it uses the same exact dac chip as the well received Y1 gamma1 dac from AMB. same chip. not hard to implement. simply give it clean dc (not switched) and you're all set.

other SB's use diff chips but I'm not sure they ever 'botched' any designs. they seem to be at least as good as typical receivers; often much better.

until you get to the $500 point, the SB dac are still competitive.
post #9 of 13
I don't think a de-jitter mechanism is necessary unless you're getting a ridiculously high-end system.
post #10 of 13
sfrancis: Yes, that a logical path.
TheBigCW: you are correct. That's is why I have them since my headphone amps are part of my Hi-Fi systems which both of them are pretty decent.
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
@ linuxworks: thanks for your comment. I checked the following site and it's mentioned that squeezebox v3 that I have (SB3) used a different DAC chip than duet -- Burr-Brown PCM1748E, 44.1 & 48k. I will give this a try first when I get the amp/headphone.

HardwareComparison - SqueezeboxWiki

@ TheBigCW: as a newbie I think I have a long way to go before thinking about de-jitter thing.

@ musicman59: thanks for the confirmation. Now need to do some research as I'm still not sure about the amp.
post #12 of 13
There are some Amp\DAC combo units, such as the audio-gd Fun, the headroom desktop amp, or Benchmark DAC-1, among others.
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sinner6 View Post
There are some Amp\DAC combo units, such as the audio-gd Fun, the headroom desktop amp, or Benchmark DAC-1, among others.
@ sinner6: thanks for your suggestions. Just bought a HD650 on Ebay so now I really need to decide the amp. I'm looking at the following options with maximum $500.

1. gilmore lite
2. Sheer Audio HA-006+ (DynaLo) -- it's mentioned that this is quite similar to Gilmore Lite and quite a bit cheaper, but I can't seem to find much information as to performance.
3. Little Dot MK III -- never tried tube and I was wondering about how long the tubes last and its life span, etc.
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