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USB Amp/DAC Recommendation

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

I'm looking to get away from using the onboard soundcard an my PC and also from the horrible tinny speakers in my laptop. I'm thinking the best route to go would be would be a USB amp/DAC since i would be able to use the DAC to take an output from either my PC or laptop to my amp or use it as a headphone amp. I was thinking about the FiiO E17 with an L7 for when I need to use it just as a DAC, for headphone listening I would be using Shure SE 425's.

 

Should I go for the E17 or is there another USB amp/DAC around the same price that I should consider?

post #2 of 28

This is a question I want to ask as well.

My onboard soundcard is the Realtek® ALC888/ALC888T and sometimes I can hear sibilance. I'm mostly listening to FLAC, 320kbps and sometimes 192kbps with my cans and I was wondering if I should preorder the E17 or get a Ibasso D-Zero. Or step down to a E7.

post #3 of 28

Depends on what DAC quality you need.  If you only need a 16/44.1 kHz DAC I would go for the Leckerton UHA-4.

 

It has a digital volume control (no channel imbalance even at low volumes), a slew of additional features such as crossfeed, and is compact.  It's aesthetic are not the best, but it definitely beats out the E17 on the amp level.  Which you need is up to you and your needs.  It comes back into stock at the end of this month, etc etc blah.


Edited by Cassadian - 3/23/12 at 11:44am
post #4 of 28

OP yes the E17 is the best combo at the price bracket(IMO) ..Notice the word combo though. Read Clieos's review. IT's the best one out.

 

The L7 is for if you want to bypass the e17's amp for a better one or if you want to send it to an passive speaker(with amp first) or an active one.

 

Second dude, the sibilance could be caused by your chip, but it's also very likely that it's your headphones. Sadly the only way for you to tell if the device is for you is to buy it. Is the E17 in your range? If so then when it becomes availble on Amazon, buy it if you want and see if you like it and it's features and return if you don't. This will put you into the game

http://www.head-fi.org/t/587912/fiio-e17-alpen-first-impression-final-thought/

 

both of you. Read this thread. Pages 50-80 and 100-120 are the best pages to find out actual info on the E17.

post #5 of 28
Thread Starter 

Thanks for taking the time to reply folks, looks like I have some reading to do biggrin.gif

 

Are there any UK stockists for the UHA-4 or does it have to be bought direct from Leckerton in the US?

post #6 of 28

I'd also check out the FiiO E10. It's a usb powered DAC/Amp but doesn't have portable capability due to the lack of an internal battery. If you just plan on using it with a laptop, it might suit you better than the E17. Plus, it's only $76 USD from Micca store. Look for the E10 review, also by ClieOS, in this forum for impressions. 

post #7 of 28

I have the FiiO E10 and E7 which have worked fine. I had to return the FiiO E9 headphone amplifier (and dock for the E7) as it developed a crackling noise on the right channel of the volume control.

post #8 of 28

Thanks for all the tips.

E17 is still out of stock in Singapore but price wise I guess I can stretch out the budget to cover it.

The only issue is no demo or return policy from local stores.

 

The other day, I demoed the ibasso with a ATH M50 (10 mins) and it really could drive the cans well but besides loudness I can barely hear the difference. Or maybe I just didn't have enough time to listen.

Now I'm having 2nd thoughts cos I'm worried my ears can't make out the difference for me to commit to a amp lol

post #9 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunnymonk View Post

Thanks for all the tips.

E17 is still out of stock in Singapore but price wise I guess I can stretch out the budget to cover it.

The only issue is no demo or return policy from local stores.

 

The other day, I demoed the ibasso with a ATH M50 (10 mins) and it really could drive the cans well but besides loudness I can barely hear the difference. Or maybe I just didn't have enough time to listen.

Now I'm having 2nd thoughts cos I'm worried my ears can't make out the difference for me to commit to a amp lol


That's always the biggest worry >_<

post #10 of 28

+1 for HRT Music Streamer II.

post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunnymonk View Post

Thanks for all the tips.

E17 is still out of stock in Singapore but price wise I guess I can stretch out the budget to cover it.

The only issue is no demo or return policy from local stores.

 

The other day, I demoed the ibasso with a ATH M50 (10 mins) and it really could drive the cans well but besides loudness I can barely hear the difference. Or maybe I just didn't have enough time to listen.

Now I'm having 2nd thoughts cos I'm worried my ears can't make out the difference for me to commit to a amp lol


Hehe. Amps are sort of a funny thing to me. I understand the point of them on fullsized headphones and such, but I find it hard to believe that any IEM's have issues being driven by the laptop itself. And the thing that's even more confusing is that people say that a good amp is one that doesn't add any sort of coloration (change the sound in any way).... so the best amp is one that you can't tell is there? I'm not sure, but the reason i run amps, is because the headphone out of my lap top is so noisy and hisses so badly, that it simply drives me nuts. My UE11 pro can even pick up hiss from my ipod touch, which has become annoying to me. Another funny thing... hiss has never even bothered me before joining this forum. lol. Funny how the more I read around here, I suddenly become unsatisfied with things that i was once satisfied with...

 

/rant

 

If you don't mind waiting, the E17 seems like an interesting amp with alot of features, so if you can't EQ, the treble and bass boosts can help tailor to whatever sound you might like. If you're having sibilance issues, perhaps a warmer amp might help you. I have a Leckerton Audio UHA-6S, and if the UHA-4 sounds anything like it, it might be for you. I find the UHA-6S adds a touch of warmth, but not to the point where it makes the music sound too dark. I'm actually digging this amp quite a bit. Also, the customer service over at Leckerton is pretty good also, which is also a plus. I'm not sure how sensitive those Shures you have are, but be careful of which amp you choose. I've tried several different amps for my IEM's, and half of them have been too loud for the IEMs- by this, I mean that I can't turn the amp to normal listening levels at low gain without a channel imbalance. To get rid of the channel imbalance, I had to increase the volume to uncomfortable levels. The digital volume control on the UHA-4 is suppose to get rid of those issues. My UHA-6 doesn't have a digital volume control, but it doesn't have these issues. When I had the FiiO E7, i didn't have volume/channel imbalance issues either, so the E7/E17 might be worth looking into/waiting for.

 


Edited by PANGES - 3/26/12 at 10:47pm
post #12 of 28

Well.  Apparently with amplifiers such as the Pico Slim etc. (or any decent one that is), there is supposed to be a noticeable change.  And yeah it always made me laugh the comment that an amp should try to be as neutral as possible.  That makes sense for full-sized headphones as you need more power to bring out its full potential.  But I guess the same could be said for IEM.  It's like Denons I guess, if I had to try to rationalize it.  It can driven on an iPhone but there its performance scales with better equipment.

post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassadian View Post

Well.  Apparently with amplifiers such as the Pico Slim etc. (or any decent one that is), there is supposed to be a noticeable change. 


I've tried it before with my IE80 and they didn't really make any sort of noticeable change... =/

post #14 of 28

Just dropped a bundle on E17 and L3 LOD.

Once they get here, I'll see if I can hear the difference haha

post #15 of 28

how does a DAC compare to a USB soundcard?

 

http://us.store.creative.com/Creative-Sound-Blaster-XFi-Surround-5.1/M/B0044DEDCA.htm

http://us.store.creative.com/Creative-Sound-Blaster-XFi-HD-Sound/M/B004275EO4.htm

 

I like the idea of having my 5.1 logitech system attached to my laptop, but also would like to drive some headphones. 

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