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Amp / Dac < $300 that actually sounds better than my MacBook Pro

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I'm looking for a desktop (can be portable as well) amp / dac combo for < $300 (ideally) that sounds better than the audio straight out of my MacBook Pro. I just auditioned a NuForce Dia, which I had bought to power some desktop speakers and also used it for a headphone amp. Honestly, I could not tell the difference between the output of my MacBook when powering headphones. Previously I had an iBasso D2+ which did sound a bit better, but only a bit. So I'm wondering is there anything in this price range that will give me a nice improvement in SQ over my MacBook?

 

BTW - The head/ear phones I currently use - AKG K550s, AT A900s, and UE Triple Fis. 


Edited by slantedview - 12/31/12 at 12:40pm
post #2 of 7
Thread Starter 

bump :)

post #3 of 7
ODAC+O2?
post #4 of 7

Dragonfly, Modi+Magni, UHA6S-MKII. I feel any decent entry in this price range should offer some noticeable improvement.

If you don't hear any, congratulations! You've just saved yourself $300. 

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tzjin View Post

Dragonfly, Modi+Magni, UHA6S-MKII. I feel any decent entry in this price range should offer some noticeable improvement.

If you don't hear any, congratulations! You've just saved yourself $300. 

LOL. Well put. Thanks for the recommendations. I am indeed looking at a Dragonfly or Modi/Magni (still waiting to see a comparison between these setups).

post #6 of 7

Dragonfly only works with computers because it's USB, can't scale up because it's an internal combo, and won't supply enough power to drive many headphones. I would not recommend regardless of its sound.

 

I'd say the Magni and Modi combo because they're gorgeous, no-fuss and have great price/performance ratio.

Portable amps and DACs are largely waste of time because it makes your rig very fussy and large, and background noise is going to overwhelm any real advantage they may provide sound-wise. I'd only recommend if you've got custom IEMs that block the vast majority of noise and use lossless files in your music player.

post #7 of 7
Take a look at the Centrance Dacport http://centrance.com/products/dacport/. The Dragonfly sounds shallow and tinny in comparison. The Dacport has a full and rich sound and is a great pairing with a MacBook. It's also very portable. The price has been lowered recently to $299 and they pop up in the head-fi buy/sell forums every now and then.

BTW, did you just use the sub line out on the Nuforce Dia or did you try it using the remote button combo that switches the output from line out to amped headphone out? In headphone mode the speakers turn off and the volume works for the headphones. I just got the Dia for my bedroom and it definitely sounds better than straight out of the MacBook with the K550's. the AKGs are easy to drive and sound really good un-amped but they really open up with a good Dac/amp.
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