Originally Posted by simplemente
- Well, even after your answers, I'm more undecided than I was before.
I know I'm late to the party, but I thought I'd throw in two more cents.
I notice you mentioned your Grados. Will you be using this primarily for headphone listening? If so, then you will need a headphone amp section that can drive your phones with authority.
Currawong says the Prodigy Cube sounds "awful". But he is wrong. The Prodigy Cube contains an excellent USB chipset - The Tenor - as well as a really nice Wolfson DAC. However, it is USB powered. So of course, the headphone amp sucks massively. It has very little power and almost no headroom. And it will struggle driving any load greater than a set of earbuds. So using it as a headphone source is completely out of the question. I suspect Currawong was using it for headphone listening, hence his negative reaction. Me? I have a Cube and have owned it for a couple of years now. I have it between my desktop and a Denon receiver driving some nice bookshelf speakers and it sounds simply killer in this setting. I have listened to the headphone amp for all of about 10 minutes. Pretty weak. But as a USB DAC, it does a great job. In fact, I'm listening to Jeff Lorber Fusion on that system right now, and it sounds wonderful.
On the other hand, if you plan to use it primarily to drive headphones, then you will need an amp with sufficient voltage swing to clamp down on and control the Grados, And that narrows the field considerably. In that regard, I would not recommend any of the aforementioned DAC/amp combos. None of them can drive those headphones to reference levels and do so gracefully. I know. People drive those phones with an iPod. But note what I said...drive with authority. Low powered op amps simply cannot do those headphones justice. Need proof? Hook them up to an iPod and listen, Then switch to a Schitt Asgard. There is simply no comparison. The difference is night and day.
For headphone listening on the cheap, I would probably recommend the Grant Fidelity TubeDAC 11. It'll give you the internal DAC which can be used to feed an audio system. And it will also give you an excellent headphone amp...110mW @ 300 Ohms and 600mW @ 32 Ohms...which will make those Grados really sing.
Just my thoughts. Hope it helps.