You want to unlock the promise of digital music in your laptop computer? Tired of the fake and shrill noise coming out of your "computer" or so-called "multi-media" speakers? Wanna turn your laptop into a entry-level, audiophile music platform? This is the crowd-sourcing thread to end all similar threads.
For a budget of $500, here's how I'd do it, guided on the design philosophy of "get as little DAC as you can get away", and "get as much amp and speaker as you can" and on weighing the various reviews out. Get an outboard DAC to feed a signal to a set of more capable loudspeakers. I am confident that you won't be able to squeeze more sound quality from a budget of $500.
USB 24-bit/96kHz with line output for under $100
- Audiotrak Prodigy Cube
- Fiio E10
- Ibasso D-Zero (add $10)
- Musiland 02 (add $20)
- NuForce Icon uDAC-2 (add $30)
- HRT Streamer II (add $50)
- Audioengine D1 (add $70)
- iBasso D7 (add$80)
- Audinst HUD MX-1 (add $80)
- The HRT, iBasso, NuForce or Fiio units do not provide variable line-out so volume control will be digital at the signal source only.
- The Audinst, Audiotrak and Audioengine units analog volume control on the headphone and line output.
- The Audinst unit can also be powered by A/C for increased performance.
- The Musiland provides 24/192 USB tranfer, but runs off A/C only.
- The HRT unit has no headphone amp.
- The iBasso D7 and HRT Streamer II provide asynchronous USB tranfer.
Tannoy Reveal 501A
Mackie MR5 MkII
KRK Rockit 5 G2
Behringer Truth B2030A
Edited by Mauricio - 3/11/12 at 1:54am