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Best DAC around $100-$150?

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
I am looking for a dac with a built in headphone amp for around $100-$150. Right now I am using my HD555's directly plugged into a headphone jack (terrible I know). Anyways, in the future (when I get some more money), I plan on buying a nicer set of headphones and an amp, but I would like to buy a decent DAC right now.

I have noticed that most people suggest the uDAC at around this price range, but I am looking for a desktop DAC and not a portable DAC. I was thinking about getting an old, used zero but I can't seem to find any on sale and the ones sold on ebay are over my budget. Upgrade ability is important to me, so I want a DAC that will work with my current HD555's and eventually something like the HD650's or Grado RS1's. I am open to all suggestions and would be more than willing to buy used if the price is right. Also, USB input would be a big plus.

(If this is in the wrong section, I'm sorry!)
post #2 of 38
well there's really no difference between a 'desktop' dac and 'portable' dac. technically there really is no such thing as a portable dac because you can't use the dac portion with a DAP (afaik)

i would definitely go with the udac and if you do eventually get something like the 650's you could just purchase a dedicated amp for that. i think the 650's really do need a dedicated amp to sound its best. i'm sure the udac can drive it, but not to its full sound.
post #3 of 38
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input. For some reason I thought that a large desktop dac would be more 'powerful' or a better deal then a smaller dac like the udac. If I'm wrong, I will reconsider the udac.

Also, when I do upgrade to better headphones I plan on purchasing a dedicated headphone amp so the ability for the dac to power anything like the HD650's isn't a concern.
post #4 of 38
If you end up getting a dedicated amp you will most likely need a dedicated dac because these amps suck juice from wherever they can get it which will drain a portable dac with no external power source. A dac and amp with their own power sources will be your best bet. 5V usb just isn't enough for this setup.

EDIT: See my post below. 5V usb only apparantly is ok for some phones, but may not be enough for some high impedance phones.
post #5 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by nyjets28 View Post
well there's really no difference between a 'desktop' dac and 'portable' dac. technically there really is no such thing as a portable dac because you can't use the dac portion with a DAP (afaik)

i would definitely go with the udac and if you do eventually get something like the 650's you could just purchase a dedicated amp for that. i think the 650's really do need a dedicated amp to sound its best. i'm sure the udac can drive it, but not to its full sound.
That's actually not true. Some DAPs have portable digital output (some iRivers) and many people use that device via optical out with the iBasso D10s DAC.
post #6 of 38
Thread Starter 
I have every intention of eventually upgrading to a dedicated amp so I guess the udac is out. I don't care about size at all, I just want something that is of good value that could power my HD555's now and other headphones with an amp in the future.

How good is the Musiland Monitor 02 US? (USB Digital Sound Card - Musiland Monitor 02 US - eBay (item 260437930872 end time Feb-23-10 23:25:28 PST))

Should I just look for a used zero dac?
post #7 of 38
You can get a new Zero dac for $217 with free shipping on ebay. I accidentally closed the link just now, but just do a search on ebay. There are good sellers there.
post #8 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by apyy View Post
I have every intention of eventually upgrading to a dedicated amp so I guess the udac is out. I don't care about size at all, I just want something that is of good value that could power my HD555's now and other headphones with an amp in the future.

How good is the Musiland Monitor 02 US? (USB Digital Sound Card - Musiland Monitor 02 US - eBay (item 260437930872 end time Feb-23-10 23:25:28 PST))

Should I just look for a used zero dac?
His information seems a little off. Lets think about this critically.

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f7/fir...if-out-456945/

Read that. He uses the uDAC as a source for an Amphora, WA6, Icon Desktop, Square Wave XL, Qinpu A-3, among others. It'll be fine, and I recommend the uDac aswell.
post #9 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hybrys View Post
His information seems a little off. Lets think about this critically.

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f7/fir...if-out-456945/

Read that. He uses the uDAC as a source for an Amphora, WA6, Icon Desktop, Square Wave XL, Qinpu A-3, among others. It'll be fine, and I recommend the uDac aswell.
I just read that and it explained what might be wrong with the D10 / MK3 combo that I based my responses on. The problem is probably not with the portable dac, but rather with the Beyer 600ohm phones. Interesting. So I guess some of it depends on how hard the phones are to drive.
post #10 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by apyy View Post
I have every intention of eventually upgrading to a dedicated amp so I guess the udac is out. I don't care about size at all, I just want something that is of good value that could power my HD555's now and other headphones with an amp in the future.

How good is the Musiland Monitor 02 US? (USB Digital Sound Card - Musiland Monitor 02 US - eBay (item 260437930872 end time Feb-23-10 23:25:28 PST))

Should I just look for a used zero dac?
The musiland monitor 02 US is a great little DAC. I can strongly recommend it.
post #11 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by dongringo View Post
You can get a new Zero dac for $217 with free shipping on ebay. I accidentally closed the link just now, but just do a search on ebay. There are good sellers there.

You can get it for much less than that.

ZERO (Tianyun) 24/192 DAC + Headphone Amp (OPA627+USB) - eBay (item 260422597983 end time Feb-28-10 21:27:38 PST)
post #12 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBigCW View Post
The one I found specifically said it was the 2009 new version. I don't know what the differences are, but if it were me, I'd investigate that before buying. Just something to keep in mind.
post #13 of 38
Thread Starter 
$175 is still more than I want to spend. I guess I could try to find a use zero that cost a bit less.
post #14 of 38
why would you NEED a dedicated dac just because you're gonna get a dedicated amp later on? i've never read that anywhere. if you're just gonna connect audio cables from the dac/amp combo to the amp, then there's no way that it would even drain power through audio cables.
post #15 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by nyjets28 View Post
why would you NEED a dedicated dac just because you're gonna get a dedicated amp later on? i've never read that anywhere. if you're just gonna connect audio cables from the dac/amp combo to the amp, then there's no way that it would even drain power through audio cables.
I have difficulty understanding what you are meaning here.
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