Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › Cheapest "pure" USB DAC solution?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Cheapest "pure" USB DAC solution?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hello head-fi, long time lurker but after hours of searching I still haven't been able to find clear enough information to answer my question.

 

Dipping my toe in the water of finer audio equipment - I have 2 pairs of headphones in the mail at the moment to satisfy the breadth of music that I listen to (ATH-M50 and Grado SR-60i). I listen to all of my music from my PC, and have the choice of bad onboard audio or a Creative soundcard that probably isn't ideal (carries the X-Fi name but in fact does not use the X-Fi chip). 

 

The solution that I think would work best for me is a USB DAC into a JDS Labs cMoyBB (mainly for the grados). I have been searching for the cheapest possible USB DAC (or DAC/amp that can be used purely as a DAC) that delivers clear as possible signal into the cMoy. Initially, I liked the idea of the Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Micro II, but after some research I have some concerns about the extreme loudness people are reporting. I also looked into the HiFiMan HM-101 but I've read from multiple sources that it colors the sound to be slightly warm even through the line-out.

 

So my question is, does anyone have experience with either of these DACs or have any other suggestions for a <$50 USB DAC? 

 

Thanks


Edited by fits - 11/21/12 at 10:25pm
post #2 of 19

I'm going to be going "cheap" on the USB DAC too, my first.

Stoner Acoustics UD100 - costs 45-50, something like that
Hifimediy Sabre USB DAC - $45 + shipping on ebay

From all the reviews, great performance from a minimilist product and low price

post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SurfWax View Post

I'm going to be going "cheap" on the USB DAC too, my first.

Stoner Acoustics UD100 - costs 45-50, something like that
Hifimediy Sabre USB DAC - $45 + shipping on ebay

From all the reviews, great performance from a minimilist product and low price

Glorious reply, this is exactly the kind of stuff I was looking for. I'm sure that tiny Stoner unit is of high quality but I'd probably lose it pretty quickly. On the other hand, the Saber looks PERFECT from the looks and comments on a diyaudio thread about it. That might just be the route I take. Thanks 100x

post #4 of 19

While Im sure those are great options in themselves, I too have been getting ready to take the plunge and take my music up a level grade. Recently I came across this forum over in the IEM section where another member by the name of Dsnuts has thrown a recommendation of this little unit here ---> http://www.ebay.com/itm/ELE-EL-D01-MINI-HIFI-USB-DAC-SOUND-Audio-CARD-PCM2704-BOARD-ELNA-Capacitor-S-/300820518430?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item460a4cd61e

Now if Im not mistake for around 25 dollars that gets you a phenomenal upgrade in sound and saves you quite a bit of money as well. make sure to look through a few of the pages for impressions. Some other ppl as well have reported great sound for the price. I'll be making my order here in the coming week and very much look forward to pairing it with my MH1C and seeing what more I can get out of it. 


(The link with reviews/impressions---->http://www.head-fi.org/t/586909/the-discovery-thread-new-ele-hi-fi-usb-18-dac-unbelievable-pg-328-the-sony-mdr-xb90ex-danny-bs-take-pg-182/4995 starts more towards the bottom. Take care)

post #5 of 19
post #6 of 19

If you want to be able to play hi resolution music (up to 24bit, 96khz), then the Hifimediy is the only option.  Looks like the rest are limited to regular 16bit, 44khz.  While implementation is as important if not more important than chips used, the 2704 USB chip is older and doesn't offer the performance of the newer Sabre chips.  I had the UD100 and though I couldn't listen to the few hi-rez songs I have, thought it was an incredible value, it is no larger than a USB thumbdrive and you can effective turn it into a DAC cable.  Very clear, energetic sound. 

post #7 of 19

fits,

 

Curious why you are not going to get an ODAC?  Obviously, you are familiar w/ JDS Labs, and I believe you can find an ODAC kit for around $99. 

post #8 of 19

sorry I didn't see the cheap part of my post so I give you my cheap and my spare no expensive recommendations and than my I'm new to this world you guys are crazy point of view.  lol

Cheap: HRT HeadStreamer

Expensive:

AudioQuest DragonFly Asynchronous USB Digital-Audio Converter (DAC)

 

This is the best pure DAC you will find.  Amazon it. 

  • Connects directly to headphones, powered speakers or an amplifier for stunning audio
  • User-selectable for either a Variable or a Fixed output
  • Sophisticated Asynchronous USB Audio Data Transfer
  • 24-bit/96kHz capability

 

I am a producer so I usually make sure I get a high quality DAC in whatever interface I am getting.  I still use the M-Audio Transit that Sweedish House Mafia recommended in a SoS interview (sound on sound, if you guys aren't reading it, check it). 

 

Its weird you can get a full audio interface with mic in and outs and everything for cheaper than this DAC. 

 

I am assured by my guru, he's old and wrinkly, this will be the best DAC only you can get.

 

this thing is $250.  I just think its crazy that people are just finally realizing that audio coming out of their computer is going to sound bad.

 

I personally prefer just to get a decent mid range USB/FW sound card with some ins/outs that might inspire creativity, give you a good DAC, and usually MIDI.  Your kid may be the next dr. dre.


Edited by pabloaugustus - 12/18/12 at 7:16pm
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
update on this. I went with the ELE DAC ExpiredLabel linked (black), mainly due to the impressions I read in that thread but also because it's so damn cheap. I actually ordered it a couple days after Christmas but it just got here yesterday because it ships from China (free shipping). The thing is such a massive upgrade over onboard sound that I can barely put it into words. So many details, crystal clear, just sounds really, really good.
post #10 of 19

schiit modi/magni 99 dollars each

totally made in usa

not as portable as dragon but are really small

BOTTOM LINE MADE IN USA great service and support

check out website 

bobbmd

post #11 of 19

Lol, I love your patriotism

post #12 of 19

'MERICA

post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by FraGGleR View Post

If you want to be able to play hi resolution music (up to 24bit, 96khz), then the Hifimediy is the only option.  Looks like the rest are limited to regular 16bit, 44khz.  While implementation is as important if not more important than chips used, the 2704 USB chip is older and doesn't offer the performance of the newer Sabre chips.  I had the UD100 and though I couldn't listen to the few hi-rez songs I have, thought it was an incredible value, it is no larger than a USB thumbdrive and you can effective turn it into a DAC cable.  Very clear, energetic sound. 

There are a multitude of options, one is a Creative Sound Blaster X-FI HD, which will decode 24/96. I think these sell for about 60 bucks. This external sound card also works as a USB to S/PDIF and S/PDIF to USB converter,  as well as an  ADC. It's an awesome device between computer and Home Theatre, allowing two way stereo playback and recording: digital to analog, analog to digital, and of course, digital to digital. I use it mostly to play my iTunes library on my Home Theatre system, and to digitize vinyl. I can also send non downloadable recordings from the Internet to DAT, which can then be downloaded to my iTunes library. Since I have a few files stored in iTunes at 24/96, the X-FI is set to up sample all input to 24/96 and iTunes is set to pass through up to 24/96. It sounds really great.  In fact, with my new Toshiba laptop, loaded with Windows 8, songs played through my HT from iTunes library sound as good as SACD. that's to say indistinguishable. I do not now see any point of continuing to pursue audio nirvana as it now appears, I have a system which completely satisfies me.


Edited by sterling1 - 4/1/13 at 9:36am
post #14 of 19

Came researching for a cheap dac and found some great suggestions here...but i have a few questions....i currently already have a devilsound dav which is a small device with integrated usb in, and stereo out...no power necessary...unfortunately i dont want to spend another $400 on a similar dac, so need something cheap. i like the Ele eld01 since its damn cheap...but have a few concerns.

 

my setup is as follows:

nad c372 integrated amp, connected to b&w 684 speakers.

 

i want to hook up the dac to one of the stereo inputs on the amp, and plug it into a small archlinux arm powered machine (the devilsound is tested and works on it).

Also i want something that doesn't require an external secondary power brick.

 

my questions are as follows:

 

1-can i use a line out to stereo (red and white) cable to connect from the headphone out jack to the red and white input on my amp? does this lose any quality?

 

2-Do these amps need any kind of drivers at all? my devilsound works driverless so i had no problem hooking it up to my archlinux machine.

 

3-is it worth to get the hifimediy sabre one instead? (if i can indeed use a line out to stereo splitter)

 

4-if a stereo out from line output is not recommended whats a cheap dac that has a red white stereo output built in, that is powered off usb directly?

post #15 of 19

Will add some comments about ELE EL-D01 when I receive it. I bought this dirt cheap ELE just for fun to test & gift for my friend laptop. 

I have Aune T1 to compare it with (although it`s already been confirmed by many users that there is no competition against T1, opposing to Dsnuts opinion). But it should be good upgrade from onboard sound.

 

I guess next in line of cheap DAC`s for me would be Hifimediy Sabre USB DAC ES9023+Tenor TE7022, 96khz/24bit, 96/24 +usb to optical


Edited by CoiL - 5/20/13 at 1:28pm
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Computer Audio
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › Cheapest "pure" USB DAC solution?