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DAC to pair with HD650 and Bottlehead Crack

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hi,

 

I started a thread trying to find the best amp/DAC combo to get for my HD650 for around +-500$. The more I read, the more my preconceived opinions change. I read on Head-Fi and Headphonia that the HD650 and the BottleHead Crack are really a stellar combination, but of all the threads I read praising that combination, not many of them would suggest what DAC to pair them with. I need optical and USB inputs for any DAC I would purchase.

 

Any suggestions? (And why?)

Thanks

 

Edit: I should not that at the moment, aside from the BottleHead + DAC combination, I am also considering to buy the new Audio-gd Compass 2 or an Asgard/Bifrost combo. If anyone as any suggestion as to which one is best and why, I'd be glad to hear it.


Edited by franmon83 - 9/29/12 at 1:18pm
post #2 of 16
Thread Starter 

bump

post #3 of 16

Either of them should work as long as they are transparent.

post #4 of 16

I am also looking for a DAC.  I went ahead and purchased the bottlehead crack, but am currently using an onboard card (xonar phoebus) to power my HD 650's.  I have looked at reviews, and the Schiit Bifrost seems about the best option I have found.  I have looked at the Fiio E17 as well (although it appears to be geared more towards a portable option), as it does have the option to do line output with no amplification.

 

Are there any other desktop solutions under $500 that would be a good choice?  

post #5 of 16

This might be slightly off topic, but where would all the components be placed in the signal chain?

MacBook Pro --> DAC --> Line out to Bottlhead Crack OTL --> Headphones

 

Does this seem like an appropriate chain?

post #6 of 16

Subscribed-I'm in a fairly similar situation myself and was considering the ALO Audio Pan Am, but realized I could get a DAC and Bottlehead Crack for far less than the Pan Am. I'm looking at the HRT Music Streamer II and II+ for the most part.

post #7 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by ac3320 View Post

This might be slightly off topic, but where would all the components be placed in the signal chain?

MacBook Pro --> DAC --> Line out to Bottlhead Crack OTL --> Headphones

 

Does this seem like an appropriate chain?

Yes.

post #8 of 16
I have the crack hd650 combo and i'm using a Ross Martin DAC with it. For the price (about $225) its a pretty epic sounding DAC. Super transparent and SNR is really great, no noise floor at all, even turning the crack almost all the way up.
 
If you email Ross he can pretty much build the dac however you want it, mine has optical, usb and coax inputs, with RCA and Balanced outputs. Fit and finish isn't the best (its pretty DIY looking) but i asked him to leave the wood unfinished and i sanded and stained it myself to match my Crack ;)
 
Bonus points: You can get a SS amp installed in the Ross Martin DAC and it actually has quite a bit of power, enough to drive the 650's pretty well

Edited by FunyunBreath - 11/8/12 at 8:15am
post #9 of 16

FunyunBreath, have you had any experience with other DACs as well? How would you say your Ross Martin DAC compares to others, both cheaper and more expensive? I'm a bit on the line about the true benefits of spending much on a DAC, as when listening to speakers, I could (in terms of quality, not sound signature) not tell the difference between an Arcam rDAC and a top of the line McIntosh DAC, and this was with a pair of Martin Logan Summit speakers.

post #10 of 16

I used to own a Maverick D1 (my first DAC) and it was fine until I started using dedicated amplifiers instead of the internal one. I noticed that it had a pretty bad SNR, there was an audible noisefloor at normal listening volumes. I haven't really tried any DACs that are above the $250-$300 price point, but another one i've tested is the uDAC2. That one's nice, I don't think it's as transparent as the ross martin, and it's really lacking with inputs. For me it's important to have a DAC with optical,coax,and usb input, and 2 sets of parallel outputs because i like to use the DAC as the source for my headphone and speaker amps.

 

One thing you can do if you want to figure out whether its worth the money to spend $500+ on a DAC is to get an original Sony Playstation on ebay for like $30 and use that as a reference source (most guys will agree that it sounds as good or better than $2000 sources) then you can compare it to some DACs and see if the extra money is worth it.

post #11 of 16
Anyone paired the Rack with either a Gamma Y1 or Y2?
post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by franmon83 View Post

Hi,

 

I started a thread trying to find the best amp/DAC combo to get for my HD650 for around +-500$. The more I read, the more my preconceived opinions change. I read on Head-Fi and Headphonia that the HD650 and the BottleHead Crack are really a stellar combination, but of all the threads I read praising that combination, not many of them would suggest what DAC to pair them with. I need optical and USB inputs for any DAC I would purchase.

 

Any suggestions? (And why?)

Thanks

 

Edit: I should not that at the moment, aside from the BottleHead + DAC combination, I am also considering to buy the new Audio-gd Compass 2 or an Asgard/Bifrost combo. If anyone as any suggestion as to which one is best and why, I'd be glad to hear it.


I would highly recommend the Grant Fidelity TubeDAC-11 D/A Converter $350 for your HD 650's (good synergy). It has everything you want and then some, plus its well under $500 so you have some funds leftover for music and tube rolling if you wwish to go down that rabbit hole :P

post #13 of 16

brunk, have you had any experience with the Bifrost? I'm interested in a comparison between the two because they seem to be at the same price point.

post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by FatmanSize48 View Post

brunk, have you had any experience with the Bifrost? I'm interested in a comparison between the two because they seem to be at the same price point.

I can't really give you a honest comparison between the two because i don't have either of them with me at the moment. If I were to speculate and choose, it would be the GF Tube DAC. The reason is that I know the Bifrost does sound clinical from my previous ownership and theyre always up for sale, which is a healthy sign of mediocrity. The Tube DAC on the other hand has a nice following, has tons of options to tweak the sound to your liking, and it was actually built by Yulong who has a reputation for putting out very good audio products for a very reasonable price, maybe more so than Schiit.

post #15 of 16

I would recommend HRT music streamer II/II+. I have auditioned crack + MS II+ on a friend's place, and it just sounded awesome! I was hearing details that I didn't know were there in the music, and bass was tight and punchy, although not sure how much is that due to the DAC and not the crack itself. Plugging the crack directly to my laptop's headphone out, one thing really obvious is that now I can hear noise ('hiss') pretty loudly. It was dead silent with the MSII+, even with the crack volume cranked all the way up.

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