Hello, I'm a college student starting off on the path of being an audiophile. That being said, I unfortunately cannot spend ridiculous amounts of money on audio components yet. I have a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-M50s which I mainly listen to through my Dell laptop, and I do not have an amplifier for them yet. I can either buy a DAC and an amp separately or buy something with both built in. I was hoping you all could give me good recommendations for a DAC (or DAC/amp combo) below $200 that I can use to compliment my headphones.
DAC for laptop
Gear mentioned in this thread:
Hmm...I heard lots of people like Schiit Audio products but not sure about their entry level amp "Magni" and their entry level dac "Modi". The amp and dac cost $99 each. Seems very reasonable especially since they are made in the USA!
I would still suggest getting the E10, sell off the ATH-M50 and put all the cash towards better headphones (not really against the ATH-M50, but should be able to get better).
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I have the Fiio E17, but like another user said I don't think those M50's really need a DAC or an amp, they should be able to run fine with your laptop. That being said I have owned both the Fiio E10 and the E17 and the sound is fairly comparable, but go with the E17 if you want more functionality (EQ, portability, S/PDIF, all that jazz)
The review for the Shiit's amp and dac sounds promising. Here's the link on the latest review by CNET: