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HD 600 - Looking for a desktop USB DAC thats reliable & has good sound for $250-500+

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hey guys. I'm new here. My name's Devin and I'm addicted to audio equipment all of a sudden. Well, I have been my whole life, more or less. Like all of you..


So I've got my first set of good headphones, the Sennheiser HD 600, which I got 6 weeks ago from razordogdeals on ebay. I was very pleased with my Best Offer experience with them which is a first.. I highly recommend them if you're looking for Senns or Beyers..


Anyway, at the moment I'm using a Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 PC speaker/sub setup to power the 600s and while it has enough power (200W total which is alot for PC speakers, 30% volume is enough even for the 600s) I know a quality DAC and then amp is what I really need to have the real HD600 experience. So here is my question to anyone (hopefully) who'll answer it:


I need a reliable DAC with quality sound in the $250-500 range. I'm a programmer and am always on my computer. I don't have a discrete sound card and I'm not interested in one... So I'm interested in a quality desktop USB DAC that (hopefully) I won't have to upgrade for a while so I can focus on upgrading my computer, headpones, amp etc. In other words, I'll want it to work well with potentially multiple solid-state, tube & hybrid amps that I'll want to be trying out with the 600s and other headphones down the road (probably dt880 600s .. maybe some stax and/or grado's.. smile_phones.gif). Is this even possible under 500? After a lot of reading I'm leaning toward the Grant Fidelity TubeDAC 11. Or possibly the Maverick D2 or Muisc Streamer II. What are your thoughts on these and others in this price range? I'm mainly focused on sound quality and reliability. Something I can rely on for several years so I can focus more on upgrading my headphones and amps & trying out different combinations. USB is really the only other requirement. I'd rather not use optical or coaxial in... I'd prefer to sidestep my sh*tty realtek sound card altogether.


Also- regarding USB- Am I silly to dismiss the older DAC/amps like the HiFiMAN EF2 and Maverick D1 because they only do 16bit through USB? I don't think I have any 24bit music at the moment but I'm sure it won't be long before I do and it seems like the whole USB situation has been improving quite a bit over the last few years... part of me wants to only look at the newest models that do 192khz but surely I'm getting ahead of myself.. wink.gif


Anyway, I'm appreciative of any thoughts you have on this. I'd imagine a lot of you would recommend a DAC over $500 and that's fine, I'm happy to learn about those too. Maybe I'll just have to give in and get something like the DacMagic Plus. I'm hoping to avoid that and put the difference toward an amp, maybe the Schiit Asgard or a Little Dot MKIII..





Edited by devhen - 5/17/12 at 10:36pm
post #2 of 10

Well I'll give you an option (probably more entry-mid level) - but it doesn't take a lot of cash, and gives you options down the track.


I also own HD600s, and also Beyer DT880 600ohm + Grado 325is (which you mentioned interest in at a later date).  My current set-up (refer sig) is 

PC > coax > Audio-gd NFB-12 > LD MK IV > Headphones OR simply PC > coax > Audio-gd NFB-12 > Headphones.


The beauty of this set-up is that it's inexpensive (the NFB-12), gives you a good solid state dac/amp that pairs nicely (IMO) with both the HD600 and DT880.  The sound is configurable by the use of filters, so you can get a sonic signature either quite warm and mellow, or quite detailed and clean.


And you can also use just the NFB-12 dac section, pair a tube amp, and then have the choice of going SS or tube.


The NFB-12 covers both dac and amp for under $250 - leaving you room to start thinking of your first tube amp, OR getting those Beyers/Grados a little earlier.


Only bad point in this set-up is that I know eventually I'll probably look to upgrade the DAC and eventually the amp - but I can say that for now I am absolutely happy with my mid-fi set-up, and can't really see it changing for at least a couple of years anyway.


Hope this helps.  here's what I'm using:

977d6c7a_desktop1.jpeg ffc672a9_desktop2.jpeg

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 



Thanks for the reply & the info. Very nice setup... with any luck mine will look a whole lot like it within a year or two. Do you know if there are any other sites besides their main site http://www.audio-gd.com that sell these? And do you happen to know the difference between the 12 and the 12.1? Looks like the 12.1 might be newer.


Thanks again for the info & pics. I'll look around some more and see if I can make some sense of the NFB 12 vs 12.1

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

Ahh, of course.. looks like the 12.1 adds switches for the filter controls instead of the internal jumpers.

post #5 of 10

I had absolutely no problems going through their website.  Kingwa and his team are 100% trustworthy.


If you were in Australia - you could try Addicted To Audio.  Not sure of your location as you haven't listed it in your profile wink.gif.  You could also email Kingwa, tell him your location, and ask for any local agents.


As you've worked out - the switched are for changing the filters.  I have the jumpered version, but would highly recommend the 12.1 instead.  I'd jump all over it if I could upgrade.  Makes tailoring a solution for individual headphones very easy.


If you have any other questions - feel free to ask, or send me PM.





post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

Just an update,


I haven't gotten a DAC yet but I think I'm going to snag the TubeDAC 11. The additional outputs will allow me to also run my Klipsch speakers through it and will make it more flexible when adding dedicated amps a little later on. And I continue to find really positive feedback on it. Though I must admit, the filter settings on the NFB-12.1 are intriguing. Who knows, maybe I'll change my mind at the last minute.


I did however get another set of headphones. bigsmile_face.gif I've been pretty much blown away by the 600s but I wanted to get a good closed-back set for my more bass-heavy music. So I snagged a Beyer 770 premium 600 ohm on b-stock from Headroom for $180. It was a great deal and I wanted to get a 770 600 ohm while I could, as they've been discontinued. They were factory refurbished but appear to be essentially brand new and they sound like they still need a bit of burning in. I'm pretty happy so far. They don't quite stand up to the 600s in sound quality or build quality but I kind of expected that and that isn't to say that they don't sound good or aren't built well. Just a very slight step down. The more I listen to them the more I realize how awesome the 600s are. But then again, no matter what I do things tend to lead me to the conclusion that the 600s are truly a reference headphone and are providing almost perfect accuracy and sound reproduction. The bass definitely has more impact on the 770s and rap, r&b, and electronic music fit them quite well. I plan on writing a review of the 600s and 770s with the TubeDAC 11 once I get it and have some time to really get to know all three.

Edited by devhen - 5/24/12 at 3:50pm
post #7 of 10

I'd recommend the NuForce Icon HD or NuForce Icon HDP (w/pre-amp).  It's an excellent match with the Senn's and it's in your price range.  In addition to a high quality DAC, you also get a pretty powerful amp.  Check out HeadphoneAddict's review in this thread.  He specially talks about it with the HD 600's:



Edited by TexasBuck - 5/25/12 at 8:39am
post #8 of 10

The ODAC should be shipping from JDS Labs in the next week or so.  You can get the standalone version for $150.  I've pre-ordered one from them, and if I don't like it then I'll probably upgrade to the Schiit Bifrost (~$450 with usb).

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the recommendations guys, I appreciate it.

However at this point I've decided I'm specifically looking for a DAC with multiple inputs and outputs. Specifically I'm looking for one that has optical and/or coax digital inputs in addition to USB (unless it supports 24/192 thru USB in which case optical & coax aren't entirely necessary). On outputs, I'd prefer something that has DAC-out as well as line out and a built-in headphone amp (the headphone amp isn't totally necessary but would be handy). This way I can also run my (powered) PC speakers through the DAC and it will give me more flexibility when I eventually upgrade my PC speakers to proper monitors.


So far the TubeDAC 11 fits all of my requirements and is getting great reviews. Other recommendations for DACs with similar features would be greatly appreciated.


Also, thanks TexasBuck and Mutombo for your input. I probably won't be going with either of your suggestions but its always good to get to know the different brands & products that are out there. They both look quite good but don't quite fit what I'm looking for.





post #10 of 10

try the yulong d100 mark 2




it has rca out and balanced connector out which you can use some adapters possibly to connect your speaker system .


here is project86 a highly knowledgeable resident review   http://www.head-fi.org/t/608098/review-yulong-d100-mkii-dac-an-update-to-an-already-excellent-device


hope this helps

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