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"Best" portable DAC-only for under USD 300?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I am interested in recommendations to use with a latop, or my iPad and CCK, which I understands bypasses the iPad's internal DAC.  I am interested in a DAC only without an internal amp, so I can swap different amps in the future.  Today, I use the iBasso P4 Warbler or a FiiO E17, or add an external USB SONY battery to power my HRT iStreamer as my iDevice DAC.

 

It appears that the Leckerton UHA-6S.MKII has one of the best values, though I read its DAC is merely OK.  This seems to be a good candidate for a future amp.

 

The Centrance DACPort LX may be a possibility, but I read it has the same internal amp as the DACPort with a fixed level-out.  So, I don't want to pay for the amp section.

 

I prefer to have the money go for the DAC only.

post #2 of 4

Dac only? Do you try Odac? It's cheap but SQ is excellent. Hardly to find any individual portable dac better than odac in this price range. I think you don't need to care much about all your money will go for dac not a combo dac/amp.  Most of highrated portable dac under 300 is in the package of a combo dac/amp :D . I personally saw many rich audiophiles use centrance dacport as a pre amp for headphone and speakers. At this price range, it's not a big deal dude ^^.      

 

I've own dacport (with no LX) and odac/o2 combo both. They share a similar sound signature which is natural ,clean and open. I think Odac deserves the best "value" dac under 300. Centrance dacport is better in the depth of soundstage. More boost in sub bass. On the other hand, odac produces the most natural and clean sound i've heard in this price range. Odac focuses more on midbass. I found odac is more fun dac to my ear. 

 

However in term of best "portable" and "fun" dac, I highly recommend Dragonfly . I tried my friend's several time. At the first time, I thought he made a bad bad very bad purchase when I saw the dac look like an usb with a ridiculously high pricetag. Then I must say I was so wrong after few tests. I was very impressed in how amazing this sound signature is. Smooth treble and mid range .Bass is full ,solid and a little bit attack. Detail is great . Soundstage is decent .Although it's not so natural to my ear, it's very musical and addictive. Vocal ,pop and jazz sound absolutely wonderful.  

 

      

post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hecxa View Post

Dac only? Do you try Odac? It's cheap but SQ is excellent. Hardly to find any individual portable dac better than odac in this price range. I think you don't need to care much about all your money will go for dac not a combo dac/amp.  Most of highrated portable dac under 300 is in the package of a combo dac/amp :D . I personally saw many rich audiophiles use centrance dacport as a pre amp for headphone and speakers. At this price range, it's not a big deal dude ^^.      

 

I've own dacport (with no LX) and odac/o2 combo both. They share a similar sound signature which is natural ,clean and open. I think Odac deserves the best "value" dac under 300. Centrance dacport is better in the depth of soundstage. More boost in sub bass. On the other hand, odac produces the most natural and clean sound i've heard in this price range. Odac focuses more on midbass. I found odac is more fun dac to my ear. 

 

However in term of best "portable" and "fun" dac, I highly recommend Dragonfly . I tried my friend's several time. At the first time, I thought he made a bad bad very bad purchase when I saw the dac look like an usb with a ridiculously high pricetag. Then I must say I was so wrong after few tests. I was very impressed in how amazing this sound signature is. Smooth treble and mid range .Bass is full ,solid and a little bit attack. Detail is great . Soundstage is decent .Although it's not so natural to my ear, it's very musical and addictive. Vocal ,pop and jazz sound absolutely wonderful.  

 

      

hecxa,

Thank you for the substantive reply.  

 

I have been considering those three DACS; ODAC, Dragonfly, and Dacport.  The reason for my DAC-only desire is that I had spent plenty on my iBasso P4 Warbler amp, and am very happy with it (unless someone tells me why I should not be in comparison to something better.  I am open to changes.)

 

iBasso's web site makes it difficult for me to identify a DAC-only device that would pair well with the P4 amp.

 

That the Dragonfly can perform so well in such a diminutive package is quite an achievement.  Pure portability is not the highest criterion for me, since the objective is to pair with my iPad+CCK, or a laptop.  

 

I need something a little more portable than my HRT iStreamer plus battery, need not be as portable as the dragonfly.

 

I will do some more research into the ODAC...

 

any suggestions on an iBasso DAC-only ?


Edited by Angular Mo - 11/24/12 at 7:14pm
post #4 of 4

I have no experience with ibasso DAC . All I know that except DX100 dap using a beast dac chip sabre 9018 ,all dac chip they use is wolfson 8740 which is so popular and average  . On the other hand, you know ibasso's fame come from portable headamp with flixiblely opamp-rolling ability not from dac only. At least, I think you shoundn't expect much of ibasso dac ability. Honestly, I've never heard any "portable dac-only" + battery inside + under 300 >.<.  Double your budget and here is what you need . I know rising the budget is the most terrible suggestion :( 

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