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Introductory DAC/Amp for Grado HF2

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
PURCHASED A UDAC. SUGGESTIONS SHOULD NOW BE MADE ENTIRELY ON THE MERIT OF THE AMP, WITH REGARDS TO THE UDAC.

So I just got a B-stock HF2 from the TTVJ sale. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself and get a DAC and/or amp before the HF2s even ship, but I badly need suggestions for what to consider.

I'd really like to stick to a $100-200 budget here.

Current Considerations, including price after shipping:

EF2 - $189 - Lots of people say its synergy with Grados is phenomenal. But is it phenomenal enough to be worth the $51 over the LD I+ if I'm not using its DAC?

Little Dot I+ - $138 - Current favorite contender. No built-in DAC, so it's all amp. Tiny, too.

Tubes or a warm-sounding SS are preferred. If I wanted neutral I wouldn't have bought Grados. Although neutral is not at all discouraged if it's my best option. Does not have to be portable, does not have to be tiny but a compact size is preferred.
post #2 of 32
I have the EF-2 and I really like it. The DAC is good enough for me (for now) and I will probably drive it with the uDac when I feel like upgrading again.

uDac -> EF-2 -> HF-2 is an awesome well priced setup, IMO. I picked up the HF-2 B stock as well. Congrats!

I don't know if its the "best" setup as I don't have experience with a lot of gear, but my research pointed me mostly in this direction.
post #3 of 32
Hello Head Injury,

Well, congrats on the HF-2s. Lots of drama in that thread. Perseverance is king...

Out of your choices there, I would go with your last, IMO...

I wrote a few things on this combo here http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f5/lit...1-udac-469665/, if you're interested.

Don't mind the little drama in there from a former member, but it might help you....(Oh wait, you were in the TTVJ thread, so drama is no prob for you...lucky avatar,,,lol...)
post #4 of 32
I also have the uDac...the Little Dot 1+ looks interesting, I was also considering Little Dot MK III
post #5 of 32
I have the y2 DAC + WA6 to drive them.. Hopefully it should do a good job! As for the OP, I would consider the EF2 or the little dot combo.
post #6 of 32
I've got a Zero and Little Dot I+ driving a pair of SR225s. The LD was certainly a step up compared to the Zero's amp IMO. I don't know much about the uDac but if it compares favorably to the Zero I'd be inclined towards that option.

I should also mention that you can get toslink/mini terminated cables. I've got a Monster one I picked up from a local audio store for $25.
post #7 of 32
Thread Starter 
How tubey is the Little Dot 1+, and the EF2 by comparison? Back when I was eying the 225i or 325is as my upgrade, I was looking into tube amps to tone down the edge of the treble. Reading up on the HF2's sound signature, I might not need that.

Read HeadphoneAddict's review of the uDac and it sounded very promising. Of course, so did his review of the EF2! I was attracted to the Little Dot amps ever since I first saw them, though. Such a tough call between the two sets. Probably going to be a fight between them in the end.

Random little question: Do DACs (or more specifically, the uDacs) get very hot? My computer case is an Antec 900, and it's got a nice little tray area right above the power button and right below the big fan on top. Judging by how small the uDac is, it would fit right in it. A black one would match really well too, with its blue LED matching all the shiny blue lights in the case. The tray isn't near any vital components, but the computer's heavily overclocked and I don't want to introduce too much extra heat.

Looked at this review of the 1+. The review wasn't very promising, but wow is it tiny! Should be able to fit it right next to my monitor no problem. The EF2 is pretty small, too, and would fit the same way.
post #8 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Head Injury View Post
How tubey is the Little Dot 1+, and the EF2 by comparison? Back when I was eying the 225i or 325is as my upgrade, I was looking into tube amps to tone down the edge of the treble. Reading up on the HF2's sound signature, I might not need that.
I can't speak relative to anything other than the Zero amp but the LD will smooth out the highs somewhat. It didn't really reduce them though, if that makes any sense. Also depends what tubes you use, some will give you more treble then others.
post #9 of 32
Thread Starter 
Keep new suggestions coming, guys. I'm now leaning heavily to the side of the LD1+ and uDac. Everything I've read about the uDac sounds positive. I'm assuming they're out of stock right now though?
post #10 of 32
Audio-GD FUN on neutral or bright settings with Earth or Sun?

It's extremely flexible so you can screw around with the easy to do DIY settings til you find the sound you like.

I'm gonna be using my Compass (old version of the FUN) with my HF-2s until I pull the trigger on the Audio-GD C2/DAC19 combo I'm looking at right now.
post #11 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Necrolic View Post
Audio-GD FUN on neutral or bright settings with Earth or Sun?

It's extremely flexible so you can screw around with the easy to do DIY settings til you find the sound you like.

I'm gonna be using my Compass (old version of the FUN) with my HF-2s until I pull the trigger on the Audio-GD C2/DAC19 combo I'm looking at right now.
Version B would just fit in my budget (before shipping), and I'm guessing since they have a price tag next to them that the Earth, Moon, Sun are all extra? Not too thrilled about paying that much right now. How's the DAC, assuming it's like the Compass?
post #12 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Head Injury View Post
Version B would just fit in my budget (before shipping), and I'm guessing since they have a price tag next to them that the Earth, Moon, Sun are all extra? Not too thrilled about paying that much right now. How's the DAC, assuming it's like the Compass?
You can choose either the Earth, Moon or Sun to come with the unit, it's just if you want the other ones to swap in and out they are extra.

The DAC in the Compass is it's strongest point, but the amp isn't a slouch either. Overall you'll get more price/performance ratio out of the FUN than you would buying a $300 amp right now and buying a DAC later. I would get the FUN to get you started on your audiophile path, then worry about upgrading later.

The amp in it will drive Grados with ease since Grados really aren't hard to drive at all, and while the unit isn't all that neutral, it's certainly fun and engaging, which is what Grados are all about anyways.
post #13 of 32
Thread Starter 
I don't necessarily want neutral since I'm in the market for tubes, so I'm fine with that. Any opinions on the Moon?

I'm liking the idea of modularity. Going to update the first post and add it as an option.
post #14 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Head Injury View Post
I don't necessarily want neutral since I'm in the market for tubes, so I'm fine with that. Any opinions on the Moon?

I'm liking the idea of modularity. Going to update the first post and add it as an option.
Well the Moon tends to be the least highly regarded as the 3, between the Sun and Earth people always seem to be torn. The Sun is brighter and more dynamic whereas the Earth is quite neutral.

Since the HF-2s are forward, but not as forward as the typical Grados, you may want to consider the Earth. It's not super neutral, it's just closer to neutral than the other two.

Then again if you want a tube sound but not a tube amp the Moon is gonna be the way to go I'd assume, never heard it personally.
post #15 of 32
Thread Starter 
Alright, so I'm about to get rid of the EF2 consideration unless I get lots of praise for its DAC today. Still considering the FUN, but not thrilled at the idea of paying over $330 after shipping. Little Dot 1+ and uDac still my top choice. See if you can sway me.

Also adding prices to my current considerations for comparison.

ALSO ALSO: It seems the uDac is back in stock at Amazon! Very tempted to jump on the combo right now.

ALSO ALSO ALSO: An idea I was tossing around today is this: What if I spent all $200-300 on a really good DAC, then in the future when I buy headphones that actually need amping I buy one to pair with the really good DAC?
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