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Hmm, what USB DAC for about $150?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I am going to begin this hobby. I will be getting a pair of HD555's in a few weeks. I only have an on-board sound card on my PC and don't feel like getting a better one due to the fact I do not plan on using speakers, just headphones. 

So, I want a good USB DAC (and amp) for around $100. If you suggest something cheaper, that is even better.

 

Thank you.

post #2 of 12

For about $120 new, you can get an awesome Musiland Monitor 02 US (assuming you have Windows). For Mac or lower price range, the Nuforce uDAC is a pretty good bet ($100 new or find one used on the For Sale forums here ~$80).

post #3 of 12

I just got the NuForce uDAC yesterday and am enjoying the snot out of it.  For $100.00, I don't see what else could compete, but I haven't heard everything.  It does beat the Total BitHead though which is $169.00.  It also drives my DT990s really well.

post #4 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by kboe View Post

I just got the NuForce uDAC yesterday and am enjoying the snot out of it.  For $100.00, I don't see what else could compete, but I haven't heard everything.  It does beat the Total BitHead though which is $169.00.  It also drives my DT990s really well.


I tested the uDAC against the Monitor 02, and I solidly preferred the Monitor 02, although it's a bit more expensive. Both of them easily beat the Bithead, which has a noisy background hiss (especially with IEMs) and the DAC section isn't that great, either.

 

So here's the breakdown for mralexosborn for uDAC vs. Musiland Monitor 02 US:

 

uDAC:

+ Cheaper ($100 new, ~$80 used)

+ Has a built in volume control

+ A bit smaller and easier to travel with

+ Works with no messy drivers

- Awesome DAC but a bit harsh/edgy without external amp, IMO, YMMV

 

Musiland Monitor 02 US:

+ Best sound quality in price range

+ Accepts USB and optical in

+ Works with low and high impedance headphones (has 2 headphone outs)

- Fussy drivers that only work in Windows

- A bit pricier but worth it ($122 new, hard to find used)

- No built in volume control (controlled through computer audio)

 

Hope that helps :)


Edited by KnightK - 7/29/10 at 7:45pm
post #5 of 12

It sounds like a sweet unit for the money.  I like that it has a optical input, a connection a usually prefer, but you cant get much more connectivity in a unit the size of the uDAC.  

post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 

@ KnightK It certainly gives me faith you use the Musiland DAC for you HD650's.

 

Where could I get either of these other than eBay?

Are the drivers for the Musiland terrible for Windows 7?

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

Where can I get either of these DAC's? I can't find them on Amazon....

post #8 of 12
post #9 of 12

not a huge fan of the uDac

 

I'd rather go with the Icon Mobile

post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by mralexosborn View Post

@ KnightK It certainly gives me faith you use the Musiland DAC for you HD650's.

 

Where could I get either of these other than eBay?

Are the drivers for the Musiland terrible for Windows 7?


Ebay might be the only way. I picked mine up (lightly) used here in the F/S forums. It's a chinese product and not a name brand so it's not marked up and it's a good value. The drivers are great for Windows 7 (both 32 and 64 bit) and have never caused me any problems. If you need any help installing drivers, just PM me.

post #11 of 12

Yes, I would suggest looking to the used market.  This way you can get a unit that is possibly out of your price range for less money.

post #12 of 12

I'm a fan of my new NuForce uDac. It's made a big improvement to my computer audio setup, significantly increasing detail, separation and realism. It's well worth reading HeadphoneAddict's excellent review of the uDac for a more detailed impression:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/456945/first-impressions-nuforce-udac-usb-dac-amp-with-line-out-and-s-pdif-out

 

As a pure DAC the Musiland Monitor 02 US also looks very interesting, I would like to try them side-by-side given the opportunity. Not sure about the software volume control for the amp section though.

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