Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphone Amps › Recommendations wanted for a DAC/AMP needed that can run as DAC only when needed
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Recommendations wanted for a DAC/AMP needed that can run as DAC only when needed

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

I'm a recent member here as I'm just getting back into hifi/head-fi after many years so all help appreciated.

 

I generally have 3 listening environments

 

1. General walkabout - iPhone 5 and V-Moda M80s

2. Office - Laptop/iPhone 5 and V-Moda M80s

3. Home - Laptop/iPhone 5/Roksan Caspian and HD580's

 

I am happy with 1 - not looking for a portable amp to carry around with me but I am looking to improve on 2 and maybe 3.

 

In the office I believe a DAC/AMP could improve on my laptop output. In this environment I would want to plug the headphones directly into the dac/amp so a combo solution would be idea.

 

However, at home I am really only looking to use a DAC to feed a 'better' signal from the laptop to the X-Cans as I really enjoy the overall sound produced with the new tubes.

 

So,  is there a semi-portable DAC/AMP that I can use in the office and then also use as a DAC only to feed my X-Can when at home with the 580s?

 

Semi portable is ideal and under 100GBP preferred (though can stretch a bit).

 

Have researched and read so many reviews from various manufacturers from the HM-101, Audinst, Arcam, Fiio, JDS labs etc but it is not 100% clear to me whether any/all can be used in the way I describe or whether I should just ditch the laptop and use the iPhone as the source all the time for office and get a dedicated DAC for home to X-Can use.

 

All help appreciated.

 

Oliver

post #2 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by pathway View Post

I'm a recent member here as I'm just getting back into hifi/head-fi after many years so all help appreciated.

I generally have 3 listening environments

 

1. General walkabout - iPhone 5 and V-Moda M80s

2. Office - Laptop/iPhone 5 and V-Moda M80s

3. Home - Laptop/iPhone 5/Roksan Caspian and HD580's

 

I am happy with 1 - not looking for a portable amp to carry around with me but I am looking to improve on 2 and maybe 3.

In the office I believe a DAC/AMP could improve on my laptop output. In this environment I would want to plug the headphones directly into the dac/amp so a combo solution would be idea.

However, at home I am really only looking to use a DAC to feed a 'better' signal from the laptop to the X-Cans as I really enjoy the overall sound produced with the new tubes.

So,  is there a semi-portable DAC/AMP that I can use in the office and then also use as a DAC only to feed my X-Can when at home with the 580s?

Semi portable is ideal and under 100GBP preferred (though can stretch a bit).

Have researched and read so many reviews from various manufacturers from the HM-101, Audinst, Arcam, Fiio, JDS labs etc but it is not 100% clear to me whether any/all can be used in the way I describe or whether I should just ditch the laptop and use the iPhone as the source all the time for office and get a dedicated DAC for home to X-Can use.

Fiio E10, USB-DAC-Headphone amplifier, comes with a line out for use with the Roksan Caspian.

As the V-Moda M80 are only 28.5-Ohm, I'm guessing you really do not need an amplifier when connected to the iPhone 5.

You could get an LOD to RCA cable for connecting the iPhone 5 to the Roksan Caspian

 

The cheapest external DAC that can connect to the iPhones LOD port is the HRT iStreamer ($155).

I guess there are cheaper docks that connect to the iPhone, but I'm guessing they come with low cost DAC chips.

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the response - much appreciated.

 

However, I perhaps should have been a bit clearer on my main driver which is to improve audio from my laptop as this is the primary source in office and for home listening. I am not looking for a DAC to connect to the iPhone 5 as I am happy with the V-Moda and iPhone 5 combination for general use and the Roksan Caspian CD is no longer my main music source as all the media in the house generally comes from a Network Storage drive via the PC.

 

So the two scenarios are really:

 

Scenario 1 Office: Laptop to DAC/AMP to V-Moda M80s. I know the M80s don't 'need' amplification but I am thinking a DAC would be an improvement over my laptop sound card and I would need the amp to then drive the headphones

 

Scenario 2 Home: Laptop to DAC to X-Can V2 to HD580. Again, here I am looking to improve on the laptop sound card but rather than use the amp that might be built into the dac/amp I would want to use just the DAC stage and then line out directly to the X-Can then hook my 580s to that.

 

(Of course, if the 1 box DAC/Amp combo turns out to be better than the DAC and X-Can then so be it - I would ditch the X-Can to recoup spent $$ which is another option that could expand my budget slightly)

 

Thanks again for taking the time,

 

Oliver

post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by pathway View Post

Thanks for the response - much appreciated.

 

However, I perhaps should have been a bit clearer on my main driver which is to improve audio from my laptop as this is the primary source in office and for home listening. I am not looking for a DAC to connect to the iPhone 5 as I am happy with the V-Moda and iPhone 5 combination for general use and the Roksan Caspian CD is no longer my main music source as all the media in the house generally comes from a Network Storage drive via the PC.

 

So the two scenarios are really:

 

Scenario 1 Office: Laptop to DAC/AMP to V-Moda M80s. I know the M80s don't 'need' amplification but I am thinking a DAC would be an improvement over my laptop sound card and I would need the amp to then drive the headphones

 

Scenario 2 Home: Laptop to DAC to X-Can V2 to HD580. Again, here I am looking to improve on the laptop sound card but rather than use the amp that might be built into the dac/amp I would want to use just the DAC stage and then line out directly to the X-Can then hook my 580s to that.

 

(Of course, if the 1 box DAC/Amp combo turns out to be better than the DAC and X-Can then so be it - I would ditch the X-Can to recoup spent $$ which is another option that could expand my budget slightly)

 

Still recommend the Fiio E10 (USB-DAC-Amp)

The E10 should come with a DAC (WM8740) that is far better the what is in your laptop (and PC)  and the E10 comes with a very low headphone output impedance (like 1-Ohm), which is a benefit for driving low Ohm (28.5-Ohm) headphones.

 

The line-out on the Fiio E10 is pre-amp. (headphone out is separate connection) so you would be only using the E10s DAC feature (not amp) with the X-Can/HD580

 

So you covered for home and office for $64.

 

If you wanted something nice for home use only (PC to X-Can), you could get the ODAC (Objective DAC), $150.

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks again for the suggestions - much appreciated.

After further consideration I am leaning more towards a dedicated DAC that can feed the X-Cans at home and I would use the iPhone for general office and portable use with no amp (the V-Modas sound good and plenty loud enough out the iPhone 5 output)

My interest has certainly been tweaked by reading up on this and the Stoner Acoustics UD100 looks like a nice budget option as does the Hifimefiy Sabre USB.

However, the hifimediy latest piece also looks interesting with the same DAC but increased inputs and a headphone out as well as line out.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/HiFimeDIY-Sabre-COAXIAL-and-OPTICAL-inputs-DAC-ES9023-CS8416-incl-PSU-230V-/140887851871?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item20cd92035f

I know this is a lot bigger than the Sabre USB but do those of you with more experience than me think this is going to be essentially the same sound quality but with additional input flexibility or is the design likely to bring other benefits?

Anyone had experience of this yet?

Olly
post #6 of 9

Check out the Audioquest DragonFly.

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the response. I am familiar with the Dragonfly but would rather not spend so much hence looking at other Sabre DAC options like the ud100/hifimediy USB to which I can add my desktop amp at home.

Fiio E10 price range is about where I am (so about £60) but could stretch to about (£100) or so.

Perhaps a better ask would be:

Is the hifimediy Sabre USB a better dac than the fiio e10/17? I could easily add a cheap portable amp to it later for office use e.g. Fiio e6/11
post #8 of 9

The Hifimediy unit with amp and digital-in looks like it is mains powered, so not really a portable solution.

 

One comparison of the Stoner and Hifimediy can be found in the thread on the Stoner.

 

I ordered a Hifimediy based on that comparison and my intended use (IEM-direct, no amp) on November 9th and it made it to Swiss Post (Singapore) on the 13th. From my read of a few of the Swiss Post sites, I've got 11-15 working days until I see the unit. That means about a month after I ordered it. Painful...

 

From my eBay account:

Quote:
I haven't received my item yet: We found 1 answer(s)
I haven't received my item yet

eastern_audio received your payment on Nov 09, 2012 and your tracking number is redacted. Your delivery estimate is Dec 05, 2012 - Dec 21, 2012.


Edited by jeffsf - 11/19/12 at 1:25pm
post #9 of 9

Bump. I was searching for threads comparing the hifimediy Sabre USB and the Fiio e10, and found this one. But I still couldn't find anything saying which offers a better sound. Anyone?

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Portable Headphone Amps
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphone Amps › Recommendations wanted for a DAC/AMP needed that can run as DAC only when needed