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Need advice for an inexpensive Amp with a line level (loop) out.

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

A few weeks ago, I decided on purchasing an ODAC from JDS Labs.  I have been pleased with the objective nature of the sound.  I currently have it connected to my computer desktop speakers.  When I have my headphones connected to the speaker control pod there is a, nearly inaudible, background hiss that is not present if they are directly connected to the ODAC.

Ideally I would like to have the ODAC connected to a headphone amp that has a line level output (bypasses the volume pot - to reduce the chance of altering the sound and remove any need for micro managing the volume pot in regards to an output to the desktop speakers).  Are there any sub $200 (prefer $150 or less) headphone amps that may provide a solution like this?

Unfortunately, I have the luck to find out that Schiit released the Modi DAC shortly after my return period.  There seems to be a fairly early consensus with TMRaven's brief summary, "The two perform too close to each other to make any practical difference."  I may have been able to save about $50, but the size and portability advantage of the ODAC may outweigh any technical/aesthetic differences for me.

An update to the Maverick Audio TubeMagic D1 (Plus) DAC, could have provided an interesting all in one solution (updated with the Tenor 7022L pro audio USB chip, the same as the ODAC?), but from the pictures it no longer seems to have the volume control bypass switch.  It too, unfortunately became available shortly after my return period.

 

Thanks for any advice that may help me find an ideal headphone amp.

post #2 of 8

A long shot, but I've seen sub-$200 used Gilmore Lites before, so those would be perfect.

post #3 of 8
The Matrix M-Stage has L/R pre-amp line outs. You can typically find it for $150-$200 new. It's $258 directly from their eBay store.
post #4 of 8
The M Stage is a very nice piece of kit for the $$$!

In addition, there is also the FiiO E09K for approx. $120.00, a nice sounding amp for the $$$.
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the suggestions.  The FiiO E09K looks promising.  I am not sure if I would ever use its dock capability to combine with the E17.  It has all my needed connections and is affordable enough that I may try it out.  (Edit:  The images on the FiiO website are a bit confusing, USB connector on back (for DAC?), but the specifications have no details on its capabilities.  If it is there for a DAC, it would be redundant for me.)

 

Before investing too much into a solution like the Matrix M-Stage, I will need to educate myself more on pre-amping.  This may alleviate my skepticism on any sound quality issues and increase my confidence with its operation.
 

The Gilmore Lite looks like it would have been the perfect fit, though very hard to find.  I will keep it in my shortlist if I see one in my price range.


Edited by clonalvex - 12/31/12 at 8:45am
post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by clonalvex View Post

Thanks for the suggestions.  The FiiO E09K looks promising.  I am not sure if I would ever use its dock capability to combine with the E17.  It has all my needed connections and is affordable enough that I may try it out.  (Edit:  The images on the FiiO website are a bit confusing, USB connector on back (for DAC?), but the specifications have no details on its capabilities.  If it is there for a DAC, it would be redundant for me.)

Before investing too much into a solution like the Matrix M-Stage, I will need to educate myself more on pre-amping.  This may alleviate my skepticism on any sound quality issues and increase my confidence with its operation.

 
The Gilmore Lite looks like it would have been the perfect fit, though very hard to find.  I will keep it in my shortlist if I see one in my price range.

Hi,
At the risk of being too redundant, here goes!
The E09K dock does not need the E17 to operate.
However, it does not have a built in DAC, the USB input is routed into a docked E17 so does nothing if it does not have an E17.
The E09K has two analog outputs, one is fixed, the other is variable. But it only has one line in.

The Matrix M Stage has only one line out which is variable, but two line inputs.

I own and use both, sound wise I have no complaints for the $$$.

I hope this helps?
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

Yes, that cleared up how the USB input is passed through the dock connector to the E17.
 

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

I had disappointing results with the E09K.  Background hiss was audible and there was a channel imbalance at low listening volumes.  I may be comfortable with settling on cable management between my desktop speakers and the JDS Labs O2 headphone amplifier.

 

These are my headphones and IEMs that I would be using with ODAC/O2 pairing:

 

Sennheiser PX 100 (32 Ohms)

Audio-Technica ATH-A900 (40 Ohms)

Etymotic hf5 (16 Ohms)

Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10 (32 Ohms)

 

The hf5 is the most sensitive and is the one I can most easily hear any background hiss, if it is present.  Would these impedance levels warrant a request to have the gain specification of the O2 customized to the "2.5x/1.0x" configuration?
 

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