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Headphone DAC/Amp advice to also pre amp powered monitors?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

New to amps/DACs so please be patient with my supposed ignorance.

So I've finally decided to get a headphone amp, but would like it to preamp my powered monitors as well. Reasoning being I'm starting to produce music, and my current DAC/Amp is actually my DJ controller/mixer, and it won't output sound through the headphone jack unless I'm actually DJing, or playing music in Traktor, which is entirely inconvenient. Initially I was pretty sold on the iBasso D7, considering it's affordable and pretty well recieved around here, but I need something with RCA (and/or XLR) in/out, as my controller/mixer is fed sound via USB.


While my controller has a decent soundcard for mixing, and hp monitoring, the sound coming from my monitors isn't exactly to my liking. My Fostex pm0.4 monitors have definitely sounded better. That said, I have a new set of monitors on hold with a fellow head-fi'er, which will be an upgrade in sound anyways, but even still, I'm sure they'll benefit from preamping. 

 

I'm looking for something with RCA in/out (balanced XLR would be nice though), with seperate volume controls from the hp. I also have a budget of $250, but I'd like to spend much less. Oh and it'd be preferable if it pairs well with MadDogs by MrSpeakers.

post #2 of 11

If I understand correctly you want to put a device between your DJ controler and your speakers/headphone, is this correct?

If so, in this situation a new Dac doesn't make sense, since your controler is already playing that role.

I think you'll be better of upgrading you controler instead.

 

Anyway, to share the signal from your controler (RCA in) to your speakers (RCA out) and hp (HP out) within your budget, the only thing I can think of is the Fiio E9K.

It doesn't have XLRs and I don't think you'll find anything with XLRs within your budget... at least in the audiophile market.

I also don't know if it can output sound through both HP out and Line out or Pre out at the same time... and if the volume control has influence on both HP and Pre out, you'll have to read up on that.

 

I doubt that this is going to give you a worthy sonic improvement, though...

I really think you would be better of upgrading your DJ controler.

Or, if possible, doing all the DJ work on PC software and get an external audio interface or DAC/AMP.

 

Hope this helps.

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kkl10 View Post

If I understand correctly you want to put a device between your DJ controler and your speakers/headphone, is this correct?

If so, in this situation a new Dac doesn't make sense, since your controler is already playing that role.

I think you'll be better of upgrading you controler instead.

 

Anyway, to share the signal from your controler (RCA in) to your speakers (RCA out) and hp (HP out) within your budget, the only thing I can think of is the Fiio E9K.

It doesn't have XLRs and I don't think you'll find anything with XLRs within your budget... at least in the audiophile market.

I also don't know if it can output sound through both HP out and Line out or Pre out at the same time... and if the volume control has influence on both HP and Pre out, you'll have to read up on that.

 

I doubt that this is going to give you a worthy sonic improvement, though...

I really think you would be better of upgrading your DJ controler.

Or, if possible, doing all the DJ work on PC software and get an external audio interface or DAC/AMP.

 

Hope this helps.

http://www.native-instruments.com/#/en/products/dj/traktor-kontrol-s4/?page=1808

Those are the specs for my controller. It really doesn't need upgrading, but I want headphone use outside of the controller, as well as amplification for my monitors.

 

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

Also considering the hassle of switching between my controller and an iBasso D7, for general hp/monitor use, rather than DJ/controller use.

post #5 of 11

Unfortunately, your controler doesn't seem to have a digital output (coax or optical) so you really would have to switch between your controler and the new Dac/amp for general music listening through headphone... if you get a new Dac.

 

I guess then something like the Fiio E17 + Fiio E9K combo is what you want, still within your budget but I still maintain that the increase in sound quality might not be very noticeable.

You could have your controller, hps and speakers connected to the E9K all the time, but for general music listening you would have to dock the E17 on the E9K and connect your E9K to your PC or source through USB.

 

On the go the Fiio E17 would serve you has a nice portable amp.

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

Woah woah woah...

 

 

What about the Matrix M-Stage? It has RCA in, and TWO (!!!) RCA outputs.

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/475618/matrix-m-stage-amp-review-simple-cheap-and-excellent
I almost don't even care about a comparison with the E09k/E17 combo considering I wouldn't have to switch USB back and forth


XLR isn't necessary, but this amp might be exactly what I'm looking for

post #7 of 11

The M-Stage is another alternative, but it's quite on the limit of your budget and it's just an amp it has no Dac.

So general music listening would be only through your controller to the M-Stage.

The sonic upgrade on your headphones could be more substancial, though.

But you wouldn't have a portable solution neither.

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kkl10 View Post

The M-Stage is another alternative, but it's quite on the limit of your budget and it's just an amp it has no Dac.

So general music listening would be only through your controller to the M-Stage.

The sonic upgrade on your headphones could be more substancial, though.

But you wouldn't have a portable solution neither.

 

I think for the time being, this is the way for me to go. If I so choose to upgrade with a DAC, would the ODAC pair well with the M-Stage?

As for portability, not a concern, as this is mainly a desktop rig I'm going for (I just realized this is the wrong forum for this thread in that case... oops...), where as I'm investing in a portable rig elsewhere, likely cMoyBB, or similar bass boosting portable amp.

I might as well ask here, considering it's my thread, in the wrong forum, I'll get it a bit on topic.

Other than my desktop rig, I will require a bit of extra bass in my portable listening. I'm a basshead listening primarily to drum and bass. I have a pair of M-100s on their way to me, so I'm pretty sure they're not going to need the boost in bass, but I'm also a hair away from ordering MadDog by MrSpeakers for home use mainly, but I'm definitely going to want to take them out for more critical listening, and that's where I require the bass boosting portable amp.

 

I was looking at cMoyBB by JDSlabs, but I also am pretty interested in the ZO2.3, considering it's main focus is bass. not sure if either would be a decent pair for MadDogs, though considering all this talk that they seem to require a bit of juice to drive. and come to think of it, not even sure if they're amps or dacs, or both :\

 

Amping/DACs are a little over my head. So many products with different functionlity, the choices are overwhelming

post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apo0th3karY View Post

New to amps/DACs so please be patient with my supposed ignorance.

So I've finally decided to get a headphone amp, but would like it to preamp my powered monitors as well. Reasoning being I'm starting to produce music, and my current DAC/Amp is actually my DJ controller/mixer, and it won't output sound through the headphone jack unless I'm actually DJing, or playing music in Traktor, which is entirely inconvenient. Initially I was pretty sold on the iBasso D7, considering it's affordable and pretty well received around here, but I need something with RCA (and/or XLR) in/out, as my controller/mixer is fed sound via USB.


While my controller has a decent soundcard for mixing, and hp monitoring, the sound coming from my monitors isn't exactly to my liking. My Fostex pm0.4 monitors have definitely sounded better. That said, I have a new set of monitors on hold with a fellow head-fi'er, which will be an upgrade in sound anyways, but even still, I'm sure they'll benefit from preamping. 

 

I'm looking for something with RCA in/out (balanced XLR would be nice though), with separate volume controls from the hp. I also have a budget of $250, but I'd like to spend much less. Oh and it'd be preferable if it pairs well with MadDogs by MrSpeakers.

What is the source(s) of the USB audio?

 

I'm guessing two possible problems with the audio quality,

Low voltage coming from your DJ controller/Mixer? (make and model?)

or the DJ controller/Mixer does not come with a very good DAC?

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

What is the source(s) of the USB audio?

I'm guessing two possible problems with the audio quality,
Low voltage coming from your DJ controller/Mixer? (make and model?)
or the DJ controller/Mixer does not come with a very good DAC?

Source audio is 320cbr/flac/wav from my laptop.

Controller specs:
http://www.native-instruments.com/#/en/products/dj/traktor-kontrol-s4/?page=1808
honestly, if someone could maybe help explain some of these specs to me while advising me, it would help me understand a lot more of the amp/dac world.

Anyhow, I've come to the conclusion that its not the s4 that's my issue, its the monitors, which I plan on replacing anyways. The s4's main problem for me is its lack of normal headphone use (ie iTunes, chrome, etc) unless through traktors proprietary Dj software, and that's where the M-Matrix comes in.

My only other concern is that my moitors are active. So I dont know of the m-matrix will be where the monitors are powered from, or if theyll Be powered by themselves, or both. If theyre powered by their own amp and the m-matrix, is that considered double amping? Is that bad for the monitors?
post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apo0th3karY View Post


Source audio is 320cbr/flac/wav from my laptop.
Controller specs:
http://www.native-instruments.com/#/en/products/dj/traktor-kontrol-s4/?page=1808
honestly, if someone could maybe help explain some of these specs to me while advising me, it would help me understand a lot more of the amp/dac world.
Anyhow, I've come to the conclusion that its not the s4 that's my issue, its the monitors, which I plan on replacing anyways. The s4's main problem for me is its lack of normal headphone use (ie iTunes, chrome, etc) unless through traktors proprietary Dj software, and that's where the M-Matrix comes in.
My only other concern is that my monitors are active. So I don't know of the m-matrix will be where the monitors are powered from, or if they'll be powered by themselves, or both. If they're powered by their own amp and the m-matrix, is that considered double amping? Is that bad for the monitors?

Sign up on the Native Instruments forum, should be a good place to ask questions about the DJ controller.

 

Active monitors are self powered, so the Matrix M-stage will only send them a signal, not power the active speakers.

If you use the line-out feature on the Matrix M-stage, it will not be double amping and you really do not want to use the Martix M-Stage headphone jack, line-out is better.

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