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Help me out of a pickle (DAC, amp related)

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Long post

Basically I'm in a bit of a pickle at the moment I've got an Onkyo 605 but I'm not using it to it's full functionality, probably won't in the future and it's a bit of a pain to have around. I did have multiple speakers, a TV, PS3, 360, PC connected to it, but I've got rid of my PS3 and 360, and now I'm back in uni it's just my PC and 2 speakers (Warfdale 10.1) and my headphones (HD 595s).  I use the headphones pretty much all the time unless I'm watching a film with people or my girlfriend. So basically to begin with I need a new stereo amp, and DAC or soundcard but the tricky part is I'm on a bit of a tight budget. ~£300 - £400, in the UK so for reference of US people that's like DACMagic 100 (non Pro) = £200, Marantaz PM5004 = £160, Schiit Modi would probably work out at £100 or so.  Asus STX = £150

I'm using onboard sound from my motherboard (Asus Gene-Z) at the moment, I'm not seriously fussed about games like I play them but I'd put that as the lowest priority behind movies and music, I listen to lots of music, very much varied, I listen to a lot of mashups, and go through Hype Machine and other blogs for a few hours a day listening to anything, most of the music on my PC is in flac but that's pretty varied as well.  So the issue is either a new soundcard or a DAC, I know a DAC would be preferred by most people because I'm not fussed too much on the gaming sound elements a soundcard can bring, but given my budget would it be worth it getting a cheapish DAC / more costly amp or visa versa.  Not quite sure how to split the budget.  Headphones themselves I can sort out at a later date or should it be sooner? 

 

Hopefully some second hand bits and bobs pop up after Christmas so I'll keep a look out there.

 

 

tldr version

 

Currently using onboard sound ---> Onkyo 605 (not using it fully, big and annoying) ----> headphones (HD 595) & speakers (Warfdale 10.1)

Lost of a music, few movies, not assed about gaming particulary

Need new soundcard or DAC & stereo amp

Tight budget (~£300 - £400 for soundcard / DAC & amp)

DAC or soundcard?

How to split the budget?

 

 

 

Thanks and Merry Christmas.   beerchug.gif

post #2 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrAzza View Post

Long post

Basically I'm in a bit of a pickle at the moment I've got an Onkyo 605 but I'm not using it to it's full functionality, probably won't in the future and it's a bit of a pain to have around. I did have multiple speakers, a TV, PS3, 360, PC connected to it, but I've got rid of my PS3 and 360, and now I'm back in uni it's just my PC and 2 speakers (Warfdale 10.1) and my headphones (HD 595s).  I use the headphones pretty much all the time unless I'm watching a film with people or my girlfriend. So basically to begin with I need a new stereo amp, and DAC or soundcard but the tricky part is I'm on a bit of a tight budget. ~£300 - £400, in the UK so for reference of US people that's like DACMagic 100 (non Pro) = £200, Marantaz PM5004 = £160, Schiit Modi would probably work out at £100 or so.  Asus STX = £150

I'm using onboard sound from my motherboard (Asus Gene-Z) at the moment, I'm not seriously fussed about games like I play them but I'd put that as the lowest priority behind movies and music, I listen to lots of music, very much varied, I listen to a lot of mashups, and go through Hype Machine and other blogs for a few hours a day listening to anything, most of the music on my PC is in flac but that's pretty varied as well.  So the issue is either a new soundcard or a DAC, I know a DAC would be preferred by most people because I'm not fussed too much on the gaming sound elements a soundcard can bring, but given my budget would it be worth it getting a cheapish DAC / more costly amp or visa versa.  Not quite sure how to split the budget.  Headphones themselves I can sort out at a later date or should it be sooner? 

 

Hopefully some second hand bits and bobs pop up after Christmas so I'll keep a look out there.

 

 

tldr version

 

Currently using onboard sound ---> Onkyo 605 (not using it fully, big and annoying) ----> headphones (HD 595) & speakers (Warfdale 10.1)

Lost of a music, few movies, not assed about gaming particulary

Need new soundcard or DAC & stereo amp

Tight budget (~£300 - £400 for soundcard / DAC & amp)

DAC or soundcard?

How to split the budget?

 

 

 

Thanks and Merry Christmas.   beerchug.gif

Are you using plain 2.1 stereo? 

 

If so, just go get yourself a Aduio engine USB DAC/amp and use the optical out on your mobo. It should be a done deal, but I can't make heads or tales out of your inputs on those speakers. If they are basic RCA inputs, then you can get the audio engine and get away with just that. If not, then please explain. 

post #3 of 21
O2+ODAC combo?

You can get them in the uk from epiphany acoustics
post #4 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by randomkid View Post

O2+ODAC combo?
You can get them in the uk from epiphany acoustics

I was thinking about that too, but it doesn't have RCA stereo out, so it wouldn't work. 

post #5 of 21
Can't you take a jack to RCA output from it?
post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by randomkid View Post

Can't you take a jack to RCA output from it?

 

You can, but it isn't recommended. The more cables you add, the lower the audio quality will become. plus the audio engine will work just fine for 100 bucks less and it has the correct outputs.  

post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 
Yeah just plain 2.0 stereo, and nope the speakers don't have RCA input, I have seen both the D1 and the O2&ODAC and they former looks like it would be fine if it wasn't for the speakers. Decent price as well.
post #8 of 21
Out of curiosity - what is the Onkyo doing that you don't like? I'm getting a very strong "help me spend more money for less features so I can say I'm being efficient by not buying features I don't use today" vibe - unless I'm missing something (and I don't mean to put words in your mouth, per se, I've just seen that genre of thread endure over the years; never figured out the logic behind it).

Anyways, there's two routes I would steer you in here:

- A competent soundcard with a built-in headphone amplifier, and an external power amplifier to drive the speakers (the soundcard will act as the preamp).
- A competent soundcard without above, and an external stereo receiver to drive the speakers and headphones (this will probably be the better option).

Can you get Emotiva in your region of the world? (I know they report international shipping, but I have no idea at what cost) How about Yamaha? Teac? (I just need an idea of what you're working with). There's also a few parts from Onkyo that I'd steer you towards as well; again, depending on availability. That having been said, unless the current Onkyo is doing something you don't like, you're gonna spend money to spin your wheels here.
post #9 of 21

I reckon when you looked at the Schiit gear, you answered your own question. That, plus an RCA splitter if I understand what you want to do correctly.

post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrAzza View Post

Yeah just plain 2.0 stereo, and nope the speakers don't have RCA input, I have seen both the D1 and the O2&ODAC and they former looks like it would be fine if it wasn't for the speakers. Decent price as well.

What do they have then?

post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tjj226 Angel View Post

What do they have then?

They're passive speakers...

http://www.wharfedale.co.uk/Products/Product/tabid/78/PID/166/CID/171/language/en-GB/Default.aspx
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tjj226 Angel View Post

What do they have then?

 

As obobskivich says.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

Out of curiosity - what is the Onkyo doing that you don't like? I'm getting a very strong "help me spend more money for less features so I can say I'm being efficient by not buying features I don't use today" vibe - unless I'm missing something (and I don't mean to put words in your mouth, per se, I've just seen that genre of thread endure over the years; never figured out the logic behind it).
Anyways, there's two routes I would steer you in here:
- A competent soundcard with a built-in headphone amplifier, and an external power amplifier to drive the speakers (the soundcard will act as the preamp).
- A competent soundcard without above, and an external stereo receiver to drive the speakers and headphones (this will probably be the better option).
Can you get Emotiva in your region of the world? (I know they report international shipping, but I have no idea at what cost) How about Yamaha? Teac? (I just need an idea of what you're working with). There's also a few parts from Onkyo that I'd steer you towards as well; again, depending on availability. That having been said, unless the current Onkyo is doing something you don't like, you're gonna spend money to spin your wheels here.

 

I wouldn't say so as I really can't see myself using it fully in the future, I'm just after something simpler really.  A mate has a DACMagic and some Yamaha think it might only be a AS300 and HD 650 (could well be 600 can't remember now) and it's so much better than just my amp and headphones.  I know it's a tight budget but it's not exactly a massive outlay of cash for myself given how nicer everything can be for my ears.

 

Emotiva I don't think there's any resellers in the UK, but Yamaha and Teac are available.

post #13 of 21
I wouldn't worry so much about the "using it fully" bit - if it sounds competent enough, I'd leave well enough alone. That said, it may not be the greatest sounding device (realize that the 600/650 will change character more with different amplifiers than will your 595), and I can understand wanting something more compact.

Anyways, the Yamaha stereo receivers are excellent, the RX-797 being a good choice (no idea what this costs in the UK). When it comes to Teac - look at the Reference line, they've got a nice desktop unit that has a Class D amplifier for the speakers. AH-01. Would be more or less exactly what you're wanting if I'm understanding you right.
post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
Hmm the A-H01 looks like it would fit the bill, on a couple of websites at £250.
post #15 of 21

A more common and tested option would be the Nuforce Icon 2.  It's a DAC, headphone amp, and can power smaller passive speakers, for 319£ on Amazon. The nominal output power of the Icon 2 is 24 Watts per channel @4 ohm, which should work considering Wharfedale says suitable amplifier power for your speakers is 20-100W (source), and their nominal impedance is 6 ohm. Do note that I don't have real life experience of the products in question, I'm just reading specs.

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