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Amp/DAC with spdif/optical for @ $200

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Looking to get a decent desktop setup to use my IEMs. I have an X-Fi xtreme sound card with optical out (is this a better option than using USB?). I also run a separate powered 2.1 system out of one if the line outs from the sound card (could switch that to new DAC output if that is a better way to go) so I do not want to have to enable one to play the other (powering one off, or changing a quick setting in software is fine, but not want to have to be switching between devices on the PC settings)

Looking for an amp/DAC either combo or separates for around $200.
post #2 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocoolhifi View Post

Looking to get a decent desktop setup to use my IEMs. I have an X-Fi xtreme sound card with optical out (is this a better option than using USB?). I also run a separate powered 2.1 system out of one if the line outs from the sound card (could switch that to new DAC output if that is a better way to go) so I do not want to have to enable one to play the other (powering one off, or changing a quick setting in software is fine, but not want to have to be switching between devices on the PC settings)

Looking for an amp/DAC either combo or separates for around $200.

Is the sound card the Creative Xtreme Audio?

If it is, might be best to replace it.

The Creative Labs Z sound card is around $120

 

What make and model is the IEM?

post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 

Yes, it is the Creative X-Fi Xtreme Audio PCi card. I would rather not replace that but rather use the optical output from the card to go into an external DAC and AMP.

 

IEM's are RE0, GR02 BE, X10, MTPG and GR07 BE.

post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 

And I believe the X-Fi only does 24/96 and not the full 24/192, correct?

post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocoolhifi View Post

And I believe the X-Fi only does 24/96 and not the full 24/192, correct?

I think 24/192 is more a marketing thing then a something that is really needed.

I leave my Essence STX at 24/96, everything sounds fine.

post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 

So I may try the lineout on my sound card first without a DAC. What is a good headphone amp for around $100? I know the Schiit is good but if I do go the DAC as well the matching Schiit does not have Optical input. Anyone ever tried the SMSL SD-650? Look like a decent All in one unit?

post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocoolhifi View Post

So I may try the lineout on my sound card first without a DAC. What is a good headphone amp for around $100? I know the Schiit is good but if I do go the DAC as well the matching Schiit does not have Optical input. Anyone ever tried the SMSL SD-650? Look like a decent All in one unit?

I own 4 SMSL products, two of them do not work.

 

The Xonar DX & D1 sound card comes with the CS4398 DAC chip and cost around $67.

(DX/D1 is a good sound card, but does not come with a headphone amplifier)

You can plug any external amplifier (Magni) into the Xonar sound card.

post #8 of 22

I'm looking for more or less the same thing. I want to use the optical out of my MacBook Pro to use with my Bowers & Wilkins P5.

I've 3 devices on my shortlist so far that covers everything I (and OP) need and reviews here saying it are good devices.

The iBasso D12 (which is a bit out of the price range of the OP)

Audioengine D1

Fiio E17 

Still not sure which one I should get though.

post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 

I am thinking the Magni to start and then if I need to add a quality DAC I can do that separately, possibly add the Fiio D3 - Total for those 2 would be $125.

post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweex View Post

I'm looking for more or less the same thing. I want to use the optical out of my MacBook Pro to use with my Bowers & Wilkins P5.
I've 3 devices on my shortlist so far that covers everything I (and OP) need and reviews here saying it are good devices.
The iBasso D12 (which is a bit out of the price range of the OP)
Audioengine D1
Fiio E17 
Still not sure which one I should get though.
Did you pull the trigger on anything yet?
I am currently debating between the audioengine d1 and the maverick audio tabe magic d1
post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocoolhifi View Post

I am thinking the Magni to start and then if I need to add a quality DAC I can do that separately, possibly add the Fiio D3 - Total for those 2 would be $125.

The Fiio D3 is a good value for it's price, but you might consider spending more for a DAC.

But I guess the Fiio D3 is easy to replace, in the future.

post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

The Fiio D3 is a good value for it's price, but you might consider spending more for a DAC.
But I guess the Fiio D3 is easy to replace, in the future.
Yes I agree, I am currently looking at an amp/DAC unit or separates but I do want not only a headphone amp but also line out to feed my external amp for my 2.1 system. Currently looking at audioengine d1/maverick audio tube magic d1/audio-gd Nfb, do you have any experience with those or have other suggestions (want USB and optical inputs)
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocoolhifi View Post

Yes I agree, I am currently looking at an amp/DAC unit or separates but I do want not only a headphone amp but also line out to feed my external amp for my 2.1 system. Currently looking at AudioEngine d1/Maverick Audio Tube Magic D1/Audio-GD Nfb, do you have any experience with those or have other suggestions (want USB and optical inputs)

I really can't say either way on those external DAC amps.

 

Chances are some or all your IEMs are very low Ohm (impedance) headphones.

So you want to get a headphone amplifier where it's headphone output impedance is 8 times (or less) the impedance of the IEMs

Lots of desktop headphone DAC/amps are 10-Ohms, but you should be looking at head amps that are 1-Ohm or less.

(like the Schiit Magni or O2)

post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocoolhifi View Post

Did you pull the trigger on anything yet?
I am currently debating between the audioengine d1 and the maverick audio tabe magic d1
Yes I ordered the iBasso D12 and it should arrive in one or two days I guess.
I choose for that one for several small reasons:
I read somewhere that the dual opamp of the iBasso gives you better sound quality than the fiio.
I personally also liked the fact that it's more analog than the E17 and that you can easily open it and "play" with it (opamp rolling etc)
As my headphones are rather low impedance I was a bit afraid of the digital volume control of the E17.
I'll let you know what I think of it, although it probably won't be a real audiophile review.
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweex View Post


Yes I ordered the iBasso D12 and it should arrive in one or two days I guess.
I choose for that one for several small reasons:
I read somewhere that the dual opamp of the iBasso gives you better sound quality than the fiio.
I personally also liked the fact that it's more analog than the E17 and that you can easily open it and "play" with it (opamp rolling etc)
As my headphones are rather low impedance I was a bit afraid of the digital volume control of the E17.
I'll let you know what I think of it, although it probably won't be a real audiophile review.


Thanks, please let me know the Lineout works with heaphones as when I am not using my headphones, I want the unit to feed my 2.1 system without doing a lot of monkeying around.

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