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DacMagic Plus, Asus Xonar Essence One alternatives

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

I'm looking for a DAC to upgrade my system. What I'm looking for:

- Balanced XLR outs

- Usb in

- Coaxial/optical in

- Budget €400 max

- With volume knob (to connect directly to active speakers)

- Optional with headphone amp

 

So far the only DAC's I found that match these wishes are:

- DacMagic Plus, which is too expensive

- Asus Xonar Essence One, which doesn't seem to be getting very good reviews.

 

Anyone knows more options?

Gear mentioned in this thread:

post #2 of 18

Did you look at the Matrix Mini? seems to have what you're looking for and got good reviews. Also I am looking for a similar DAC to connect to Adam A3x speakers.

post #3 of 18

EMU 0404 usb .

post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by frankie67 View Post

Did you look at the Matrix Mini? seems to have what you're looking for and got good reviews. Also I am looking for a similar DAC to connect to Adam A3x speakers.

 

Certainly looks like a decent option. Although it uses the old USB standard which only allows for 44.1/48kHz input. Also, a lot of people seem to dislike how the USB input sounds, even recommending an usb to coaxial converter.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JRG1990 View Post

EMU 0404 usb .


I'm hesitant to buy something which is already cheap, and also offers a lot of functionality. It has a lot I don't need so would rather pay for better sound.

Also: "Macintosh analog operation up to 96kHz and digital operation up to 48kHz only at this time."

 

 

Edit: My computer also has an optical output, would this eliminate the need for an USB DAC or is the optical out in any way inferior? It's both digital, so shouldn't make a difference right? Or do cheap optical outs suck?

Also, a firewire DAC would be an option, too.


Edited by Microcuts - 1/18/12 at 8:17am
post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Microcuts View Post


I'm hesitant to buy something which is already cheap, and also offers a lot of functionality. It has a lot I don't need so would rather pay for better sound.

Also: "Macintosh analog operation up to 96kHz and digital operation up to 48kHz only at this time."

 


Theres nothing wrong with it apart from the high output impendance on the headphone jack of 22ohms, but for a line out it's excellent it has a really low noise floor, uses async usb and the AK4396 dac chip, on the line outs it will sound the same as all of the more expensive dacs your looking at as none of them have audiable noise or disortion or anything.
 

 

post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JRG1990 View Post

Theres nothing wrong with it apart from the high output impendance on the headphone jack of 22ohms, but for a line out it's excellent it has a really low noise floor, uses async usb and the AK4396 dac chip, on the line outs it will sound the same as all of the more expensive dacs your looking at as none of them have audiable noise or disortion or anything.


What is the downside to the high output impedance? Does it mean it can only drive high-impedance headphones? Would it work with IEMs?

It might be excellent concerning noise (or the lack of it), but obviously more expensive DAC's can sound much better.

post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Microcuts View Post


What is the downside to the high output impedance? Does it mean it can only drive high-impedance headphones? Would it work with IEMs?

It might be excellent concerning noise (or the lack of it), but obviously more expensive DAC's can sound much better.

 

High output impedance will reduce power, increase distortion, and potentially change the frequency response of low impedance headphones. Balanced armature IEMs in particular will be changed drastically, because of their very low impedance and wild impedance curves. I wouldn't plug a BA IEM into a jack with 22 ohm impedance. They'll still get plenty of power, but they're sound completely different.

 

That's what all the audiophiles claim, that DACs which measure for all intents and purposes the same still sound different. They never have any proof though, and they always seem to fail objective tests. Bias and placebo are much too powerful to ignore when comparing DACs. Oh, and price means nothing objectively, so never assume a more expensive component is better.

post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Head Injury View Post

High output impedance will reduce power, increase distortion, and potentially change the frequency response of low impedance headphones. Balanced armature IEMs in particular will be changed drastically, because of their very low impedance and wild impedance curves. I wouldn't plug a BA IEM into a jack with 22 ohm impedance. They'll still get plenty of power, but they're sound completely different.

 

That's what all the audiophiles claim, that DACs which measure for all intents and purposes the same still sound different. They never have any proof though, and they always seem to fail objective tests. Bias and placebo are much too powerful to ignore when comparing DACs. Oh, and price means nothing objectively, so never assume a more expensive component is better.

 

Right. Would ±32 Ohm dynamic IEM's sound much worse too? Those impedance curves are much less wild, right? Still low impedance though.

 

Of course what sounds better is fully subjective, so you can't objectively say that one sounds better than the other. But of course there are differences. More expensive doesn't necessarily mean better of course, that's why I said "can sound much better."

 

One question I still have is about the optical out of my laptop. Would there be any real difference between using that vs USB? If not I might as well get a DAC with only optical/coax, if they exist. A possible downside would of course be that they need a separate PSU.

post #9 of 18

My 32ohm superluxs didn't sound right with it you really need 100+ohm headphone with an output impendance that high, The dacs you are looking at should all sound transparent to your ears I know the emu is completly transparent and with a very low noise floor the emu costs alot less aswell I have the same requirements from a dac as you and saved alot of money by getting a second hand emu 0404 usb. USB is said to be the best way to transfer data , optical has it's advantages aswell like no eletronic contact between the 2 devices meaning less noise, with your ears theres no audiable difference between usb/coax/optical so just use whatever 1 suits you.

post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JRG1990 View Post

My 32ohm superluxs didn't sound right with it you really need 100+ohm headphone with an output impendance that high, The dacs you are looking at should all sound transparent to your ears I know the emu is completly transparent and with a very low noise floor the emu costs alot less aswell I have the same requirements from a dac as you and saved alot of money by getting a second hand emu 0404 usb. USB is said to be the best way to transfer data , optical has it's advantages aswell like no eletronic contact between the 2 devices meaning less noise, with your ears theres no audiable difference between usb/coax/optical so just use whatever 1 suits you.

 

Thanks. I wouldn't be using the headphone out a lot - even if it sounded great - so it's not much of a problem.

When I have a computer connected with usb and a cd player connected with coax to the 0404, how can I switch between the two? It seems there's no input selector on the thing :0. The main/spdif/off switch is for output isn't it? Or do they mean USB by main?

post #11 of 18

I've never tried having 2 sources connected at the same time, but you have 2 ways to switch it does have a button to switch between coax and opitical , with usb you use the control panel.

post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JRG1990 View Post

I've never tried having 2 sources connected at the same time, but you have 2 ways to switch it does have a button to switch between coax and opitical , with usb you use the control panel.


There's a switch for coax/optical, yes. But what if I want to switch between USB and coax? Only possible using software?

post #13 of 18

Or you can mute the coax input by selecting optical.

post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JRG1990 View Post

Or you can mute the coax input by selecting optical.


Nice. I'll be hunting down a second hand unit of this 0404. Thanks for the help!

post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Microcuts View Post

- Asus Xonar Essence One, which doesn't seem to be getting very good reviews.

 

 



Can you please provide me with some links with the poor reviews. 

 

Cheers,

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