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How much do I have to spend on an external DAC to outperform my Macbook pro DAC?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I've realized that the internal DAC on my Macbook pro is actually quite good. But I want something that I can use with my other devices. I don't want to sacrifice performance. 

 

My Headroom Total Bithead sounds inferior to my Mac.

 

Is something like a Fiio E-17 going to outperform the Macbook chip? Or, at the very least, rival it. 


Edited by armyowalgreens - 12/24/12 at 6:38pm
post #2 of 15
Thread Starter 

It's worth mentioning that I drunk purchased a Fiio E-17. I'm wondering whether or not to cancel the order. 

 

I would be using it with both my Macbook Pro and an Ipod Classic. Run through AKG K550s. 

post #3 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by armyowalgreens View Post

I've realized that the internal DAC on my Macbook pro is actually quite good. But I want something that I can use with my other devices. I don't want to sacrifice performance. 

 

My Headroom Total Bithead sounds inferior to my Mac.

 

Is something like a Fiio E-17 going to outperform the Macbook chip? Or, at the very least, rival it. 

 

I'd like to know the same thing! I purchased a Fiio E7 and I hear no difference playing my Q701s through it or my Macbook Pro (even thought the E7 is broken now so I can't compare anymore). I'm just left wondering if my ears don't work or if the DAC in my Macbook is actually better than the relatively inexpensive Fiio. confused.gif

post #4 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Godspeeded View Post

 

I'd like to know the same thing! I purchased a Fiio E7 and I hear no difference playing my Q701s through it or my Macbook Pro (even thought the E7 is broken now so I can't compare anymore). I'm just left wondering if my ears don't work or if the DAC in my Macbook is actually better than the relatively inexpensive Fiio. confused.gif

What are you listening to, on a youtube video it likely wouldn't matter, but if you are using a well mastered CD you probably should have heard a difference.

post #5 of 15
Using a MacBook Pro retina and IMO there is a difference in the sound - for the better with the E17 and it has the added bonus of hooking up to my iPhone and iTouch for music on the go. On the iTouch I wouldn't be without it now.

To my ears, the MBPR gives a very clinical, sterile sound and the E17 brings it alive, with a warmer sound.
Edited by GSARider - 12/25/12 at 5:34pm
post #6 of 15
Depends on how you want to quantify "outperform" - if we're talking objectively, probably a lot, if we're talking subjectively, really depends on you. Best advice would be to try out a variety of devices and settle on one that you like. smily_headphones1.gif
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 

Well, I just don't want to sacrifice accuracy or cleanliness for a plusher sound. I would like both if that's possible. Assuming I'm not spending a crap-load of money. 

post #8 of 15

audio engine d1 dac/amp combo anyone?

post #9 of 15

An Audioquest Dragonfly maybe? I'm not sure that getting a pair of headphones more suited the music you like first wouldn't be in order though.

post #10 of 15

Honestly, I don't see a huge need to upgrade if the internal DAC is decent. Otherwise, that $18 Ele DAC that dsnuts has been raving about will probably provide a slight upgrade. If you are looking for a complete package, the Topping D100 Mk2 can be had for around $80. 

 

As someone mentioned above, the source will matter a lot. If you have a bad recording, a revealing DAC will probably be less pleasing than a lower resolution one. And lastly, if you don't hear a difference, just save some money and don't worry about it. As long as your setup makes you happy, it's a good rig.

post #11 of 15

I've never heard the E17, but I've owned the E7 and like it better than my macbook pro soundcard. At the very least, it's worth using it just to get rid of all the noise. The macbook pro is a very noisy (hissy) source. It's also nice having the flexibility of having a bass/treble boost if you want it.

post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

An Audioquest Dragonfly maybe? I'm not sure that getting a pair of headphones more suited the music you like first wouldn't be in order though.

 

My AKG K550s are already suited to my musical tastes. They perform very well. What I want is "more" of what I like. Clearer sound. More competent low end. Soundstage

post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tzjin View Post

Honestly, I don't see a huge need to upgrade if the internal DAC is decent. Otherwise, that $18 Ele DAC that dsnuts has been raving about will probably provide a slight upgrade. If you are looking for a complete package, the Topping D100 Mk2 can be had for around $80. 

 

As someone mentioned above, the source will matter a lot. If you have a bad recording, a revealing DAC will probably be less pleasing than a lower resolution one. And lastly, if you don't hear a difference, just save some money and don't worry about it. As long as your setup makes you happy, it's a good rig.

 

I'm running uncompressed files ripped straight from the CD (16/44.1) using Vox. I mean, there are better players I assume. But from what I understand, Vox seems to be pretty well regarded. 


Edited by armyowalgreens - 12/26/12 at 12:02am
post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by armyowalgreens View Post

My AKG K550s are already suited to my musical tastes. They perform very well. What I want is "more" of what I like. Clearer sound. More competent low end. Soundstage

And I'll tell you that you won't get much "more" even if you put out a few times what the K550 cost. If you want reasonable changes, you should consider upgrading the cans (and if needed, the amp; depends on what cans you end up with).
post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 

I've been working with the E-17 for about an hour and I can say that it is slight improvement over the internal DAC on my Macbook Pro. It's not as airy. But it feels more competent. And the instruments seem to be a bit more defined. 

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