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best budget usb dac/amp?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

What you think will be best the best budget for laptop?


And how will it be with using of 32, 80, 250 and 600 ohm versions of fullsized headphones?

Edited by Akella - 5/9/10 at 3:05pm
post #2 of 20

I guess D4 is a budget amp/dac. Besides D4 I've only heard Icon Mobile, and the D4 sounds much better in my opinion. More detailed and high res. The D4 sounds great with iem's I own and that is TF10 and SE530. Sounds fairly good with HD650 (300 ohm) but I wouldn't recommend using D4 with HD650. I guess there's a large space between sensitive iem's and HD650, but unfortunetaly I can't comment on head phones in between that range.

post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 

What you all think about



Little Dot MK+

Musiland Monitor 02

Nuforce uDAC?

Dr.dac dx2

E-mu 0404 USB ?


I need a cheap one as it possible with good and neutral sound. But SQ is very important. 


Will use it with the Ultrasone 2500 pro and Beyerdynamic 990. 

post #4 of 20

Are Fiio E7's powerful enough? 

post #5 of 20

I'm wondering the same thing.  I want to power DT900 600ohms.

post #6 of 20

Depends whether you're trying to power their volumes or actually trying to power them properly. I wouldn't skimp on a DAC/amp to power a 600 ohm DT990 or HD650. They need dedicated desktop amplification to make them sound their best.

post #7 of 20

Even with they won't sound outright terrible with a portamp, without enough power there's no guarantee that they'll be better than a cheaper, more convenient portable headphone. In some cases, they fall apart - K701 especially. The Sennheiser seem to be more forgiving, but Sennheiser makes lots of good, cheaper models as well HD555 and the 980-series, for example. 

post #8 of 20

I can't speak for akella, but I'm looking for sq rather than volume.  I don't listen to it very loud.  I've read that the udac has a good dac but hows the power?  I'm also considering the Headstage Dac Stick, but I can find no reviews.

Edited by DerelictMind - 6/21/10 at 1:04am
post #9 of 20

hmm, agreed

post #10 of 20

Hotaudio Dac + separate amp?

post #11 of 20

I use a DT990/600 with my E7. The sound quality is excellent. The volume is good; people who listen to their music LOUD might wish for another 6-10dB of output, but what's there is very satisfying. Also, if you use the gain boost feature in the software player such Fubar2000, you can dial in additional amounts of output if you happen to listen in a very noisy environment and wish to be drowned out with music.



post #12 of 20

Thats good to know, but I think I'm going to go with the Dac Stick.  It seems to combine the Dac Cable with the Arrow Amp minus the batteries.  Bit of a risk since I can find no review, but both the cable and arrow have very good reviews.

post #13 of 20

it's not about loudness.

it's about control.


i had my d4 paired up with only a 250 ohm dt880 for a while.

and i thought it sounded pretty good, too.

however, i just found myself pulling the headphones off after a few songs.

and finally realized my ears were getting fatigued.  and i don't really listen loud.


what i was hearing, or rather not hearing consciously, was the noise floor.


the d4 is an impressive little unit, but really only good for low impedance cans.  i have it paired with my m50 now, and i love the combo.


but the 600 ohm beyers, they need dedicated wall-powered amplification.


the udac, d4, and others mentioned - those run off phantom power from the usb cable.


for 200 bucks, you can get an audinst hud mx-1, or an audio-gd sparrow, or a few other options that plug into the wall, and also have a dac.

i would, however, avoid the hifiman ef2a.

post #14 of 20

The Maverick Tube Magic D1 will power 600 ohm Beyers without breaking a sweat, and the noise floor is low enough that my SE530 sound great from it as well.  You may want to roll opamps, to tweak the sound if you end up getting one.  Not nearly as expensive as tube rolling, but you can have fun with that as well, if you use the preamp outs.


Its not exactly portable though.


My Total Bithead did quite well with the 600 ohm Beyers as well.  Not the loudest, but it sounded quite good.  If you want to spend the money on lithium AAAs it should go a bit louder from the extra .8 volts.  It also has a higher noise floor, so you may want to use an impedance adapter with high sensitivity 'phones in quite places.

Edited by maverickronin - 6/21/10 at 12:36pm
post #15 of 20

The mx1 looks promising too.  Its also usb powered which is nice.  Any idea how the mx1 sounds in comparision to the arrow and/or dac cable?

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