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Entry Level DAC / Amp - Audioengine D1, FiiO, etc.

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Itunes ALAC > [insert DAC / amp here] > HiFi Man He-400

 

 

Recently, I've been trying out some entry level DAC's and amps (mostly combo units). I've had the chance to demo the Audioengine D1 along with several FiiO products. The amps I have spent the most time with, though I've used others in the past, are the Audioengine D1, the FiiO E17, and the FiiO E9K. I was able to try the FiiO amps both together and separately.

 

A quick note about FiiO: They seem to have a serious problem with counterfeit products. Unfortunately, the first E17 I got from Amazon was bogus. Apparently there are quite a few sketchy FiiO dealers on Amazon, so be careful... or order from somewhere else. 

 

Setting aside the counterfeit issues, the best word I could use to describe the FiiO E17 is "okay". While it is versatile, rechargeable, and portable, it just doesn't perform all that well when it comes to audio quality. In my opinion, the E17's DAC is probably its biggest shortcoming. Don't get me wrong, it sounds alright considering what the E17 is intended for. It definitely works well as a portable amp. If I needed a device just for that (as opposed to something for a desktop rig), I wouldn't think twice about going for the FiiO.

 

The FiiO E9K amp performed decently, with the E17 plugged in and alone. It has a wide range of inputs and outputs, but lacks a 1/4" jack for some reason. Unless you already have the E17, I wouldn't bother with it. There are a lot better stand alone amps if that's what you're looking for. 

 

During the tryout process, I eventually came across the Audioengine D1. It is what I'm currently using in my desktop rig. The D1, as a DAC, sounds pretty good to my ears. It has an AKM 4396, which I'm pretty sure is the same chip used in the Schitt Modi that everyone here seems to like so much. It is a serviceable amplifier, but you would probably want something better for more expensive / difficult to drive headphones. Overall, I prefer it to the FiiO  combo for use as a desktop DAC / amp.

 

I know there are other entry level options out there that might be better than the D1. I like what I've heard about both the Schitt Magni / Modi combo and the JDS Labs Objective combo. The problem I'm having is that I need a DAC with line out so I can use it with my computer speakers. The Schitt and JDS offerings don't have that, otherwise I'd be all over them. The Audioengine D1 is the best entry level solution I've found so far. 

 

Does anybody have any other recommendations?


Edited by aschnickelfritz - 1/23/13 at 7:23pm
post #2 of 13

Might try asking on this thread about external DAC/amps with a separate line out that works well with the HE-400.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/604583/hifiman-he-400-impressions-and-discussion-thread

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks, I'll definitely check it out. 

 

Any other thoughts would be appreciated, though. I'm not necessarily looking for an amp / DAC to pair specifically with the HE-400's, just something for a solid entry level setup. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be too many DAC's at this price range with extra outputs. I might just stick with the Audioengine D1 for now, at least until I can find a better solution. If you've got any recommendations, I'd love to hear them. 

 

Oh, and if anybody has any questions about the D1 or FiiO stuff, ask away.

 

 


Edited by aschnickelfritz - 1/24/13 at 1:20pm
post #4 of 13

There's a DAC/amp coming out in the next week or two by the company Micromega under their "My" line of products.  My usual salesman at my local hifi shop told me it's going to be the best bang for your buck audio product of the year.  He thinks it's going to be about $399.  He's not a typical salesman because he basically talked me out of the Musical Fidelity M1 HPA to wait for this, which is twice the cost and twice the commission.

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

Interesting. I don't have any experience with the company, but that amp / DAC definitely fits the bill. I guess I'll have to wait and see if my local hifi shop gets one in, though I haven't seen any Micromega stuff in stock before. 

 

If you're interested, they have some info on the Micromega site. Unfortunately, they don't mention what kind of DAC it uses.


Edited by aschnickelfritz - 1/24/13 at 3:05pm
post #6 of 13
Micromega is a well renowned name and the MyDac announcement was followed by some fellow audiophiles on an italian forum a few months ago. popcorn.gif

ugPD2o2.jpg

It sports a XMOS microcontroller (USB), a Cirrus CS4351 DAC chip (2Vrms) and a TI OPA1642A op-amp on the output stage.
On the outside it feels a lil cheap (abs housing) but my fellow compatriots argued about it being a nice performer. biggrin.gif I didn't have the chance to hear it myself so I can't confirm on that anyway.
post #7 of 13

the mydac is just a dac, and $399 US, there is  separate headamp available.

i actually just compared the d1, and the modi(no magni), and i preferred the modi's sound,

though the d1 was close.

the d1 was more convenient , features.

if you want the modi, you can add a seperate pre-headamp, (many chinese tube models on ebay)

and keep the price around the d1, magi/modi price point
 

post #8 of 13

oh, and hrt just released the microstreamer , headamp/dac, $189.99,  there's the dragonfly, $250 as well

post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by aschnickelfritz View Post

that amp / DAC

Quote:
Originally Posted by SnailsAndSlugs View Post

DAC/amp

Oh thank you jaywillin, I didn't notice they were referring to the MyDac as a DAC/AMP. tongue.gif Yup, the MyDac doesn't have an internal amp.
Edited by MrScratch - 1/25/13 at 6:22am
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrScratch View Post

On the outside it feels a lil cheap (abs housing) but my fellow compatriots argued about it being a nice performer.

 

It does look kind of plasticy in the pictures. You'd think it would have a nice metal chasis for that price.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaywillin View Post

oh, and hrt just released the microstreamer , headamp/dac, $189.99,  there's the dragonfly, $250 as well

 

Do you have any experience with these? I've heard nothing but good things about the dragon fly, but it doesn't fit my setup. The HRT looks like it would be a pretty nifty portable amp / DAC. 

 

I might just keep the combo unit I have for now, and maybe upgrade to higher end equipement when I've got more money to burn. 

post #11 of 13

no experience with the dragonfly or the microstreamer, i'm hopiing to try them myself soon
 

post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrScratch View Post



Oh thank you jaywillin, I didn't notice they were referring to the MyDac as a DAC/AMP. tongue.gif Yup, the MyDac doesn't have an internal amp.

 

 

Supposedly they ARE releasing a DAC/Amp really soon that looks similar to the existing MyDAC.  I can't find any information about it online at all, but my local hifi shop dudes said they demo'd it at the CES convention and are getting it in soon.  The already stock the MyDAC.

post #13 of 13
Are you sure?
I know they are going to release an headphone amplifier (the MyZik) and a wireless streamer. D:
No mention of a new DAC/AMP here neither.
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