Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › Looking for a good USB-DAC with decent headphone amp
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Looking for a good USB-DAC with decent headphone amp

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

First of all I would like to apologize if a similar topic opened before. But I did my search around forums and couldn't find anything for my particular interest.

 

Since I am going to buy my product online, I want some honest user feedbacks rather than manufacturers specifications.

 

My source will be Apple Macbook Pro and I own a pair of AKG K701s.

 

At the moment I am planning to buy Apogee Duet 2. My main reason for this is Apogee's obvious compatibility with Macbook. Also it looks solid enough to drive my power-hungry headphones. But before paying quite amount of money (530 €), I want to hear your suggestions too.

 

My main motive is buying a good DAC component with decent headphone amp to hear some music. In the future, if I can save up some money, I am planning to buy Heed CanAmp which is perfect with K701. So a decent headphone amp to drive K701 will be enough for me now, but the DAC part is important. CDs are starting to vanish, and computer audio becoming more and more important day by day. So a good DAC will be a perfect investment for me now.

 

Another good choice will be I think NuForce Icon HDP. But the price is similar, ~ 400 €. I don't know which device is better Apogee Duet 2 or Nuforce Icon HDP but I think compatibility among devices is more important.

 

So what do you think? Can buy anything better for a budget around 500€. Or these above products as good as it gets? Also which one you would choose between them?

 

Thanks in advance.

 

 

post #2 of 15

Burson audio 160DS, I am saving up for that. The amp section is not as good as the amp section of HA-160 which is below the apogee price but it is stand alone amp.
http://bursonaudio.com/

post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

Well, it looks like a very very good product, thanks. But it has only headphone jack out. Maybe I didn't clearly mentioned but I want my product has an unbalanced RCA output or balanced output too, so that I can connect it into my stereo system besides headphones. Considering this, HA-160D is a more appropriate product for me but it is approx. 1200€ which is double of my price range.

post #4 of 15

I can suggest you three other product within your price range but they do not have the needed 'synergy' for the cans you got, what is more important for you, the amp section or the DAC/preamp section?
Here are the products

1-yulong D100 around 400 USD

2-beresford gatorized caiman 350-390 USD

3-Asus Essense one, aronund 400-500 USD.

post #5 of 15

It's a bit more than your budget, but I would consider the DACmini CX too. A very decent DAC/Amp (accepts USB, Coaxial, optical) combo with RCA out. There's a long thread over in the amp forum.

post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 

Well, thank you for replies.

 

My preference is DAC/Preamp section must be good. Because I can always buy a new headphone amp which can be connected to a DAC.

 

DACmini looks very solid alternative. But I couldn't find any reseller around Europe and I don't want to get this overseas shipping thing.

 

Yulang, I heard it for the first time but in electronics I trust Far East side of the world. Also a head-fi'er recommended this product with AKG K701. However, again the buying part is complicated.

 

There is a controversy (or fraud?) around Beresford products. I don't know is it true or not but it was enough to back me off.

 

And Asus, for personal reasons, not my preference.

 

According to comments I have received, it looks like Apogee Duet 2 and NuForce Icon HDP are good products and it is hard to beat them within this price range. Am I wrong?

post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Estel View Post



DACmini looks very solid alternative. But I couldn't find any reseller around Europe and I don't want to get this overseas shipping thing.

Yulang, I heard it for the first time but in electronics I trust Far East side of the world. Also a head-fi'er recommended this product with AKG K701. However, again the buying part is complicated.

well Estel, I can't contribute on other products u listed,but I tried these two in a local high-end headphone shop and I can tell you that to my taste, the Yulong D100 did not impress me to my taste. I went to the shop especially for demoing the D100, they had k701, k601, Beyer 880/990 @ 250ohm, Sennh HD 600/650 all well burned in and a high end Cdplayer for me to try on. I first hooked up the D100 to the k701 since I own a pair of that can. I noticed that it definetely sound better than my e10/e9 combo, but I also tried hard to like it, that being said I am not sold on its sound but rather believe it's because of me than the d100. bass, mid , high, soundstage etc everything is there and doing its job, but i just had way more expectations. Overall the sound is boring and I feel the engineers at Yulong could do way more than just copy the pcb design. i then tried the Centrace dacmini and the difference was night and day, it's smoother on the treble, more layered, sound stage is really good as well.
I ran a set of CDs from mariah carey to classical music, skipping hiphop , dub etc. I didn't test the DAC section alone on the yulong so my 2 cent is biased, but tell urself if u go the d100 way, you have to buy an amp for sure, in otherword, the amp that worth 100 dollars on the d100 is a waste - don't even bother listen to it
post #8 of 15

I think the Apogee Duet 2 would make a better choice. Or else like pekingduck said, the DACmini is a very nice and solid product, can't go wrong with them. I managed to try out a Asus Essence One too, its pretty outstanding but build quality is just not there. 

post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by firev1 View Post

I think the Apogee Duet 2 would make a better choice. Or else like pekingduck said, the DACmini is a very nice and solid product, can't go wrong with them. I managed to try out a Asus Essence One too, its pretty outstanding but build quality is just not there. 



I'm actually very surprised that build quality raise a concern from an asus product. sure it doesnt always use top of the line component but their products are not prone to quality issues in general.

 

 

post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your detailed answer, weipim.

 

So I will try to get my hands on DACmini. If I couldn't managed to get one, I will go with Apogee Duet 2 probably. My main concern with Apogee product is I think it is mainly used for recording purposes, not listening. I wonder if that effects the performance?

post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Estel View Post

Thank you for your detailed answer, weipim.

 

So I will try to get my hands on DACmini. If I couldn't managed to get one, I will go with Apogee Duet 2 probably. My main concern with Apogee product is I think it is mainly used for recording purposes, not listening. I wonder if that effects the performance?


np bro, i'm glad it is useful for u

 

in my understanding, recording purposes device will tend to have a more "neutral" sound delivering, in other words it's like a high detailed Raw file in photography which is consider to be boring for others t oappreciate, therefore the "performance" while being impeccable, you won't "enjoy" it as much as other device. For instance, after reading on beyerdynamic DT1350 and T50P, despite DT 1350 provides a superior sound quality in many area, I decided t ogo with the t50p because it is more fun engaging.

 

Thus  I think the Apogee is really a good product and if you don't need an engaging dac, it's a good buy

 

post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 

Yes, I read a couple reviews in the line with your comments. I personally like detailed sound, so fingers-crossed for this product!

 

Thanks for all your time and comments!

post #13 of 15

I may be a little late on this thread, but here are my two cents. I use the K702s with the Nuforce Icon HD and really enjoy the synergy. They seem to get the K702s off their knees to be more musically engaging. I have heard the Burson and it sounds amazing with the K702s, but costs much more.  I do freelance recording work and find that often the K702s have a tendency to sound flater and colder with pro recording gear (or at least with the gear I have personally used), though I suppose that is what they are intended to do. The only Apogee product I have used is the MiniMe micpre/AD and it drives monitor headphones with no problem.

post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 

Until I actually buy something, it is never late. I opened this thread because I want opinions from people around world.

 

So thanks for your comment, it is good to know that NuForce Icon HDP has a good energy with AKG products. But as I said in my first post, I have no opportunity for testing these devices. So there is no way for me to detect such possible flatness in sound.

 

My main motivation behind Apogee is they produce products for only Apple. So considering my source will be my Macbook, I hope that there will be a good compatibility between my DAC/Amp and my source. But of course if a couple of more comments comes praising NuForce sound quality or any other device, I can change my mind.

 

But of course a good DAC+preamp build and RCA output besides headphone jack is crucial and not optional in my preference.

post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by weipim View Post



I'm actually very surprised that build quality raise a concern from an asus product. sure it doesnt always use top of the line component but their products are not prone to quality issues in general.

 

 



If you take a look at the E1 thread there are a couple of flimsy parts around

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Dedicated Source Components
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › Looking for a good USB-DAC with decent headphone amp