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Noob Source questions

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

The only sources I have ever owned is my iPod Touch and my Asus Xonar Essence ST.

I've decided it's time to get myself a DAC, but I have a few questions.

1. Do you choose a DAC on the type of music you like or the type of headphones?
2. Do different DAC's have different sound signatures?
3. How many DAC's should you have in your collection or is there a good "All Rounder"?
4. Do you get a good DAC that also sports a CD Player?
5. Do you need to add a AMP to a DAC or does have a built-in AMP?
6. If I got a DAC would it better to use the optical audio connection from my Asus Xonar Essence ST or just plug straight into my USB port on my PC?
7. Does it make a big difference on what file format you put though your DAC? (mp3, FLAC etc.)

8. If you got your first DAC, what would be your first headphone that you would run out and get?

Anyway that's for starters.

Ben

post #2 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by SirBenn21 View Post

The only sources I have ever owned is my iPod Touch and my Asus Xonar Essence ST.


I've decided it's time to get myself a DAC, but I have a few questions.


1. Do you choose a DAC on the type of music you like or the type of headphones?
In general, you choose a DAC that has the best price/performance ratio within your budget. It will also need to satisfy your connection needs.

2. Do different DAC's have different sound signatures?
Yes, absolutely. However, many DACs in a similar price range sound alike so headfi members make comparisons under a magnifying glass (a bit exaggerated in order to help the reader)

3. How many DAC's should you have in your collection or is there a good "All Rounder"?
It depends. If you want a complete digital setup, only one DAC is needed. If you have CD player, it most likely has a DAC in it already. If you want a portable setup, that can be a third DAC.
4. Do you get a good DAC that also sports a CD Player?
Typically no. The mainstream trend is rapidly moving towards an all-digital collection of mp3's and lossless files.
5. Do you need to add a AMP to a DAC or does have a built-in AMP?
Some DACs have an amp built in. These are great for the budget or space conscious audiophile. However, its usually best to buy separates so you wont be wasteful when upgrading, and separates generally provide better performance.
6. If I got a DAC would it better to use the optical audio connection from my Asus Xonar Essence ST or just plug straight into my USB port on my PC?
USB direct will almost certainly be better as the ST digital out has quite a bit of "jitter" and most USB DACs today have anti-jitter built in.
7. Does it make a big difference on what file format you put though your DAC? (mp3, FLAC etc.)
FLAC/ALAC are lossless formats while mp3 is a lossy format. Therefore i always recommend the lossless files because you can make mp3's from your "master" copy.

8. If you got your first DAC, what would be your first headphone that you would run out and get?
This totally depends on your budget and musical preferences, but if you want something that is a budding audiophile classic, you can't go wrong with the Sennheiser HD 650's.

Anyway that's for starters.


Ben
post #3 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by SirBenn21 View Post

The only sources I have ever owned is my iPod Touch and my Asus Xonar Essence ST.

I've decided it's time to get myself a DAC, but I have a few questions.

1. Do you choose a DAC on the type of music you like or the type of headphones?
2. Do different DAC's have different sound signatures?
3. How many DAC's should you have in your collection or is there a good "All Rounder"?
4. Do you get a good DAC that also sports a CD Player?
5. Do you need to add a AMP to a DAC or does have a built-in AMP?
6. If I got a DAC would it better to use the optical audio connection from my Asus Xonar Essence ST or just plug straight into my USB port on my PC?
7. Does it make a big difference on what file format you put though your DAC? (mp3, FLAC etc.)

8. If you got your first DAC, what would be your first headphone that you would run out and get?

If you already have the Essence ST sound card with the PCM 1792A DAC chip, I can't really see a reason for adding an external DAC (or DAC/Amp).

(Unless you looking at spend $300 or more for an external DAC/Amp).

Maybe replace the 3 op-amps (operational amplifier) on the Essence ST with better op-amps (AD797BR or THS4032).

 

For improving the audio quality with your iPod Touch, maybe try the Fiio E11 portable amplifier.

 

What headphones do you use?

post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

You guys have been very helpful with your answers and suggestions.

 

I currently own the Beyerdynamic T90 (24 hours old as of this post) & the Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro, which I know don't need too much amplification.

I also owned a Alessandro MS-Pro which I really enjoyed.

 

I've been really interested in getting/trying the following:- Grado GS1000, Beyerdynamic DT990pro, Beyerdynamic T1, Hifiman HE-500 and a few others.

I'm looking at a budget of around $1500 (but if I can spend less I would be happy :)). What would you recommend? Just get an AMP or would a new source be worth it.

 

To be honest. I am not that super critical of the finest detail although I do enjoy good sound as I can afford.

 

As for the sound I enjoy. The best way I suppose to describe is that I enjoy a solid bass (not bassy like the bassheads do) with good detail, but not too "bright".

 

Ben


Edited by SirBenn21 - 1/26/13 at 10:59pm
post #5 of 5
I would
Quote:
Originally Posted by SirBenn21 View Post

You guys have been very helpful with your answers and suggestions.

I currently own the Beyerdynamic T90 (24 hours old as of this post) & the Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro, which I know don't need too much amplification.
I also owned a Alessandro MS-Pro which I really enjoyed.

I've been really interested in getting/trying the following:- Grado GS1000, Beyerdynamic DT990pro, Beyerdynamic T1, Hifiman HE-500 and a few others.


I'm looking at a budget of around $1500 (but if I can spend less I would be happy smily_headphones1.gif). What would you recommend? Just get an AMP or would a new source be worth it.

To be honest. I am not that super critical of the finest detail although I do enjoy good sound as I can afford.

As for the sound I enjoy. The best way I suppose to describe is that I enjoy a solid bass (not bassy like the bassheads do) with good detail, but not too "bright".

Ben
Based on your preferences and budget, I would recommed the audio-gd NFB 10.32 for $600 and hifiman he-500 for $700 which puts you at $1,300 for a respectable DAC+Amp+Headphone setup.
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