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Best Budget DAC?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I've been finding the audio played from my laptop to be pretty dull for a while now (I find my iPod Touch 2G to sound better even) so I'm looking to purchase an external DAC within the range of $100-150 and wanted to get opinions on this since I'm not at all knowledgeable in DACs although I have read reviews and posts here and there.

 

For possibly useful information, I will be using this DAC in place of a soundcard for my computer when I build it later on and so I wouldn't mind going up to maybe $250 if the upgrade is really worth it. I am using HD25s for now but will undoubtedly upgrade at least a few times down the track so I would guess it would be pretty useful for it to be a DAC/Amp combination, but it is not mandatory to me and I care much more for sound quality than anything else. The quality of my music shouldn't be a problem (mostly mp3 320kbps or FLACs and I'm fine with upping this area if required) and the last thing I can think of that may be useful is that portability is not a factor in this because I'd be using this DAC exclusively at home. Thank you in advance for any help!

post #2 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaguor View Post

I've been finding the audio played from my laptop to be pretty dull for a while now (I find my iPod Touch 2G to sound better even) so I'm looking to purchase an external DAC within the range of $100-150 and wanted to get opinions on this since I'm not at all knowledgeable in DACs although I have read reviews and posts here and there.

 

For possibly useful information, I will be using this DAC in place of a soundcard for my computer when I build it later on and so I wouldn't mind going up to maybe $250 if the upgrade is really worth it. I am using HD25s for now but will undoubtedly upgrade at least a few times down the track so I would guess it would be pretty useful for it to be a DAC/Amp combination, but it is not mandatory to me and I care much more for sound quality than anything else. The quality of my music shouldn't be a problem (mostly mp3 320kbps or FLACs and I'm fine with upping this area if required) and the last thing I can think of that may be useful is that portability is not a factor in this because I'd be using this DAC exclusively at home. Thank you in advance for any help!

Fiio E10 USB/DAC/headphone amplifier. $80

post #3 of 5
Emotiva XDA-1 $200

CD quality is acceptable for USB input, anything HiRes will require the Coax input. This is a good DAC and has many options you only see in the $500+ range. The Fiio combo is good for what it is as well, but you'll certainly have upgraditis very soon as the Emotiva will outclass in terms of SQ.
Edited by brunk - 5/24/12 at 5:06pm
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the replies, and I know about Fiio products but like I said I'd prefer getting a pretty good DAC straight off so I don't feel too much like upgrading later on.

 

I actually really love the look of the Emotiva XDA-1 and will note it down in a list of DACs to pick from, but since I care more for sound quality, how does it compare to the other commonly mentioned/recommended DACs like the NFB-12, Audioengine D1 or HRT MS II for instance?

post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

Unfortunately the Emotiva XDA-1 isn't something I can get because the shipping ($115 to Australia) pushes it out of how much I'm willing to spend so I'll have to go with something else.

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