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Amp + DAC for less than ~$300USD - help brainstorm based on my requirements :D

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Guys,

 

I'm currently using an NAD C542+C320BEE combo, or an iPod (with or without the 320) to power my cans (Grado SR225, Senn HD580, and probably soon the ATH-M50 or DT770).

 

What I want is a combo DAC + Headphone amp that will scale up with my system. I want it for the following purposes, #1 is most important, #6 is least.

  1. USB -> DAC+Amp -> Cans
  2. USB -> DAC stage -> C320BEE Amp -> Speakers
  3. In the future, USB -> DAC stage -> Better HP Amp -> Cans
  4. IPod Line Out -> Amp stage -> Cans
  5. Possibly Digital Input -> DAC(+Amp) -> Amp (Cans)
  6. Possibly use as a low jitter digital output

 

So I guess I'm looking for the following features:

  • DAC stage more important than HP amp stage
  • Decent HP amp
  • Probably easily adjustable gain (I don't want hiss on my Grados)
  • USB input and hopefully digital S/PDIF or similar as well
  • Ideally analogue input as well, but this isn't quite so important
  • Analogue line out post-DAC
  • Possibly a digital out post-USB (for #4)

 

Build and sound quality are paramount. Looks are next :). I'm also in New Zealand, so whatever I get needs to support the 240V power we have down here, and must be able to be shipped here.

 

The list of possible candidates so far with what I've read:

 

What else is on the market that I can consider? What sort of price range? How do the above stack up?

 

If you've got any I'd love to hear comments (and especially comparisons).

 

I'm fully aware that I probably won't be able to get something to satisfy all my requirements.

If I can get something that satisfies most, and has an appropriate price, I'll be happy :)

post #2 of 5

Hello, I'm not sure about the amps you mentioned, but I can vouch for my LD MK III.  It's a superb value and would leave you with over $100 left to budget on a DAC.  Mine is currently for sale if you are interested.  Feel free to send me a PM :)

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

LD MKIII eh... Do you use a DAC on that at the moment? I'm open to suggestions for Amp+Dac as two boxes that would somewhat meet my budget as well...

post #4 of 5

Well, I don't know what they go for nowadays, but the Audio-GD FUN meets all your requirements.  Might be right around your budget.

 

DAC, headphone amp, pre-amp, line-in, USB, coax, optical input, gain switch, rollable HDAMs (not necessary, but fun).  I use it with headphones, as a pre to my A5s, with my ipod with line-in etc.  It really is a "fun" piece of gear.  lol

 

http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/FUN/FUNEN.htm

post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

The Fun looks damn good. I got in touch with the NZ distributor, unfortunately they're around $670NZD or $470, which is somewhat outside my budget.

 

Have my eye on a used compass though, for around  $180USD

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