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Recommendations for amp/dac combo in the $200 segment..

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

Hi fellow head-fi'ers..

 

The time is upon me. I have craved a good set of headphones and a decent amp/dac for longer than I care to remember (read about a year) and as I'm building myself a new pc, I thought it would be a good time to get a decent sounding dac....  and then why not a good set of headphones?...... and they'll need a decent amp.... the list could go on, but the ol' ball 'n' chain would probably not be too happy with me if I let it.

 

The headphones I'll be using is the AKG K702. They have gotten good reviews on sound, quality, comfortability and they look awesome. I know they are a bit expensive compared to the budget I've put on the dac/amp combo, but I'm in love.. what can I say!

 

I've been looking around the net and I've come up with a few candidates:

 

XiangSheng DAC-01A ($200)

AUNE HIFIDIY.NET Mini USB DAC + Headphone Amp MK2 (<$150 bonus!)

Millet Mosfet Max + bantam/grub dac (DIY project) ($200+...and DIY)

 

Which setup would you guys recommend?

 

I mainly listen to rock music and generally tube amps gets good reviews for this type of music - so I consider tubes a "plus" - although not a "must". Also I would like to use the dac/amp as source for a speakers/poweramp setup as well.. again this is a "plus" not a "must".

 

kind regards

Handberg

post #2 of 25

Check the Fiio E7 / E9 combo for US $200.00:

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/513411/micca-store-fiio-e7-e9-headphone-amplifier-bundle-for-199-95

 

The DAC (E7) and desktop amp (E9) are pretty powerful and can drive K702 without any problems at all.

Also, the E9 can drive even 600Ohm headphones (like my DT990/600)

 

I use the E7/E9 with both my k702 and dt990 and i'm pretty happy with it


Edited by obazavil - 12/28/10 at 7:51am
post #3 of 25
post #4 of 25

Audio-gd's NFB-12 is a steal at it's current $200 release promo pricetag, it's price will likely go up a fair bit after the promo is over.

 

Dual WM8741 (wolfson's current flagship) DAC chips, very powerful headphone out (best in this pricerange for a combo unit afaik, it can drive 150mw into 600-Ohm and 3500mw into 25-Ohm, so even orthodynamic headphones aren't completely out of the question.). It's also great stand alone DAC if you do decide to get a stand alone tube amp, so upgradability is good as well. It's a rather "complete" all in one unit for the price, more inputs and controls than most in this range.

 

Others on here have used the Audio-gd FUN/Sparrow with the WM8741 chip, the amp section on those is very similar and it's apparently a nice combo for the K702. Most people here don't seem to like tubes on the K701/K702, either.

 

http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB12/NFB12EN.htm


Edited by Elanzer - 12/29/10 at 12:23am
post #5 of 25

http://cgi.ebay.com.au/HiFiMAN-EF2-USB-Tube-Headphone-Amplifier-/260445932173?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3ca3c98a8d

 

Definitely the HifiMan EF2. It is a very good tube amp/DAC combo that many members here love. And it goes for 189.

post #6 of 25
i'm curious, how does a portable amp/dac stack up to a full-size one at $200 (or any price range for that matter)? logically, the full-size one may provide greater power?

i.e. arrow 12HE, ibasso D4, meier audio stepdance

vs. those mentioned in this thread?

i'm at a point where portability isn't too big of a deal, but i was always curious about a comparison between the two main types of amps
post #7 of 25

Portable ones generally have only a fraction of the power output, most only suitable for 150-Ohm or less and even then they still can have some problems with lower sensitivity headphones in those ranges. Usually the noise-floor is worse on a portable as well.

 

Basically a desktop unit will just have better specs all around in everything besides, well, portability.


Edited by Elanzer - 12/29/10 at 1:56am
post #8 of 25

I own the ef2 and for the price I wouldn't even bother especially with audio GD / fiio coming out with some great bang for the buck amp/dac combos.  The e7/e9 combo and the NFB-12 are similarly priced at $200 and honestly you couldn't go wrong with either. 

 

Although there is one noticeable difference between the e7/e9 and the NFB-12.  The e7/e9 uses a Wolfson WM8740 DAC while the NFB-12 uses 2 Wolfson WM8741 DAC's.  Now how that sounds is totally up to whoever is using it but I believe the 8741 is better and in the NFB-12 has 2 of them. 

 

Also if you plan to get the NFB-12 you should probably order quickly as the pre-order special price wont last too much longer on it.

post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elanzer View Post

Portable ones generally have only a fraction of the power output, most only suitable for 150-Ohm or less and even then they still can have some problems with lower sensitivity headphones in those ranges. Usually the noise-floor is worse on a portable as well.

 

Basically a desktop unit will just have better specs all around in everything besides, well, portability.


thnx:D

has anyone actually done any direct comparisons on here?
post #10 of 25

And music said, let there be this.  And this there was.  
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by obazavil View Post

Check the Fiio E7 / E9 combo for US $200.00:

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/513411/micca-store-fiio-e7-e9-headphone-amplifier-bundle-for-199-95

 

The DAC (E7) and desktop amp (E9) are pretty powerful and can drive K702 without any problems at all.

Also, the E9 can drive even 600Ohm headphones (like my DT990/600)

 

I use the E7/E9 with both my k702 and dt990 and i'm pretty happy with it

post #11 of 25

there's also the Audinst HUD-mx1 amp/DAC for $179

 

http://shop.ebay.com/?_from=R40&_trksid=p3907.m38.l1312&_nkw=HUD-mx1&_sacat=See-All-Categories

 

according to their website this will also power 600ohm phones as well.  getting excited to see all these sub $200 amp/DACs getting up there in specs.

 

http://www.audinst.com/en/bbs/board.php?bo_table=HUDmx1&wr_id=3


Edited by iHasCake - 12/31/10 at 9:49am
post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 

First of, thx for the replies!

 

There are some really interesting amp/dacs and I'm looking forward to reading more about them in the next couple of days.

I'll let you know what I decide and I'll keep an eye on this post for further recommendations.

post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 

I reviewed all the different suggesions and eventually decided to get the NFB-12. The Promo offer was just too good to pass off...

post #14 of 25

Wow glad I found this thread.  I was looking at the same amps Handberg.  Thanks guys for the recommendations I'm also going to get the NFB-12, that's exactly along the likes of what I've been looking for!  Sweet! :D

post #15 of 25

Hey what about the NFB-12 vs the FUN?

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