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Looking for a Headphone Amp/DAC/Preamp in one...

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I'm new to headphone amps and DAC's as I never owned one before.  I have a mid-high end home theater in my living room with custom speakers that are audiophile quality that I use for some of my music listening.  However the living room is being taken over as my daughter is growing and wanting to play in there and watch TV as well.

 

Anyway, Im doing much more music listening directly at my desk with my computer.  I have a XFi sound card that is sub par for hi-fidelity music.  I do have a set of Sennheiser HD-580's that I use for critical listening but have never had any equipment capable of really making them sing short of a nice A/V receiver.

 

So I am currently on a quest to find a unit that will do a good job as a DAC and capable of driving nice sound to my 300 ohm HD-580's and also doubling as a preamp providing a line out to my powered custom audiophile quality 2.1 desktop speaker setup that I almost have completed.  Im looking at all in one units as my desktop space is limited but am not completely opposed to separates if I can fit them.  On that thought, do they make any internal DAC's HP amps with volume control for Desktop ststems to mount in a 5.25" bay? 

 

 

I believe most of the listening will be on the headphones (at least as of now) so I would rather step up the headphone amp over the preamp line outs.

 

The brief list so far:

 

NuForce Icon HDP (maybe a little pricey for my budget)

NuForce Icon uDAC-2 (HP amp section a little weak for my 300ohm HD-580's?)

Fiio E9/E7 combo (don't know much about it as of yet)

Maverick Audio TubeMagic D1

Matrix Mini DAC

 

anything else im missing around this $200-300 price point?


Edited by lamski - 5/22/11 at 4:50pm
post #2 of 6

Quote:

Originally Posted by lamski View Post

anything else im missing around this $200-300 price point?


Audio-gd NFB-12 and NFB-11 are both one-box solutions.  The NFB-12 is $200 and the NFB-11 is $280.

 

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

http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB11.1/NFB11.1EN.htm

 

E-MU and RME have desktop PC-based interfaces, but I think they use a breakout box instead of a 5.25" bay.  The only ones that I know of that use a drive bay are the higher-end Creative sound cards.

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

I did some reading and the Audio-gd NFB-12 seems to be a great unit and a lot of what i'm looking for.  So you think it is better then the NuForce and Fiio combo for the HD580's i have?

post #4 of 6

Quote:

Originally Posted by lamski View Post

I did some reading and the Audio-gd NFB-12 seems to be a great unit and a lot of what i'm looking for.  So you think it is better then the NuForce and Fiio combo for the HD580's i have?


Both the E7 and the NFB-12 use the same DAC chip, but I've always felt the implementation of said chip is better in the NFB-12.  Personal preference though, possibly.

 

Can't comment on the NuForce, not having heard it.

post #5 of 6

^ Unless Fiio have changed the E7 specs since I owned it, I believe the E7 uses the lesser WM8740 dac. The NFB-12 uses the more resolving WM8741 (same as the Fun, although the 12 employs 2 of them). To me the jump in quality from Fiio's use of the WM8740 to Audio-GD's implementation of the WM8741 was quite marked. From all accounts the 12's power supply is comparable to the Fun's, which is more substantial than what the E9 provides (150mW/600ohm vs 80mW/600ohm).


Edited by olor1n - 5/24/11 at 3:59am
post #6 of 6

im in a similar situation.

two other things ive seen mentioned:

the fubar III?

or a dac of some sort(e7/udac/orSomethingElse) mixed with a little dot 1+ ?

 

not sure about them though.  just other thoughts.  maybe somebody else can speak on them

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