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DAC Shopping - LD DAC_I?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hi all, I am piecing together a headphone setup to use at work. I was told that the people around me didn't appreciate german opera followed by Public Enemy. I guess thats their loss. Anyways, after much reading I ordered a pair of Sennheiser HD650s and I am going to order the Little Dot MKIII because I have always wanted a tube amp and it has some good reviews and well, I can afford it.


To finish my quest I need to find a good DAC. I have two requirements. The first is that it has optical input and second is that it be under $300. Since I am already ordering from Little Dot I thought I might go ahead and pickup the DAC_I. The problem I am having is that I am having a interesting time finding input about it. Most of the time someone asks the question that I am and the thread turns into a debate about $1000 DACs and then delves into baseball or something like that. I did find a review on a HiFi site I have never heard of that liked it but it seemed a little dodgy.


So my question is, Can anyone who ownes one or has used one (or is related to someone who used/owns one but only on the maternal side) qive me a quick yea or nay? Pros vs Cons?


Thanks for your time and input!

post #2 of 6

Hello Erieg,


I've had the LD DAC_I for years and still use it in a balanced setup.  Nice clean sound.  Old pic but sill rockin':







If you are going to use it with a single-ended amp only, if I may, suggest another option.


You can get an all-in-one (dac, headphone amp and preamp) for roughly the same price and have options should you want to move the gear.  You can connect the MKIII to it and use the dac only and get some tube love or use it as a dac and headphone amp when you want some solid state.


I would suggest the NFB-15.32 or NFB-11.32 (shipping on the 11.32 puts it over your budget though).  I own both however, mine is the 15.1 (usb32 was implemented in the newer ones).  Solid gear indeed and sound great.






Here is a crummy pic of the NFB-15.1 and the MKIV SE




post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the response! Honestly I don't know enough to know what a single ended amp is at least compared to balanced(?) I am shooting for the warmest (and hopefully with some bass) I can get out of my budget. I really wish I could listen to these things before ordering. The 15.32 does fit my budget.


Can I ask specifically what the diference between the DAC_01 and the 15.32 are? One is harsh and the other not? Sorry for the ignorance, for me it's a way of life I think.


I forgot to ask. Where did you get that headphone stand? It looks great! I have been cruising the internet and ebay looking for something like that. And your setup looks great.

Edited by Erieg - 1/19/13 at 9:54pm
post #4 of 6



The stand is from Woo Audio.  To use the DAC_I in balanced mode you need a balanced amp.  You would just be using the single-ended (RCA) output of the DAC_I to your MKIII.


Here are the balanced inputs and outputs of DAC and amp.







The differences are implementation, dac chips used, features etc.  Neither are harsh sounding.  I have used both units with the HD650s and they sound great.  The reason I mentioned the all-in-ones is not only the sound but you'll have options down the road.



post #5 of 6

Plus 1 to Heatfan's suggestion.


I run a single ended set-up for my cans (HD600, DT880. K701 and SR325i).  I have an Audio-gd NFB-12 (since superceded by the 15.32), and run it in combo with the LD MKIV.  This gives me:


 - a pretty good dac (good inputs, and good sounding)

 - a powerful solid state amp

 - and with the LD, I can add tubes to the mix using the NFB-12 dac.


It's not overly expensive, sounds very good, and has plenty of power. 

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys. I went ahead with the amp purchase and emailed ga-audio about the 15.32. Is the price bump up to the 11.32 worth it?

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