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Best DAC/Headphone Amp at $150

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hi. I'm looking for the best DAC/Headphone amp unit at 150 USD (I can stretch up a little higher if it's really worth it).

 

I have a Macbook Air and so it needs to be connected to the USB port (the 3.5mm on the MBA really sucks).

 

My speakers, of which I usually listen to music from, are the M-Audio BX5's. I also have the ATH-AD700 headphones as a secondary music source.

 

I don't need portability, this is strictly for home use.

 

Which is the best DAC/Headphone Amp at my budget? I heard the Fiio E17 could get the job done, but would like some second opinions and other suggestions.

 

Thanks.


Edited by shonor6 - 1/28/13 at 7:02am
post #2 of 18

Point of interest: the BX5s have their own internal preamp/amp so will be happy with line-out from a DAC.
 

post #3 of 18

Aune T1 is too expensive for your budget?

post #4 of 18

The Audioengine D1 falls into your price range. It's easy to setup and use. The headphone amp is on the weaker side. If your cans are efficient it'll do the job but I feel it falls short with cans even slightly more demanding. I think of it less as a headphone amp and more of a dac with a dinky opamp in it. 

post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RamblinE View Post

The Audioengine D1 falls into your price range. It's easy to setup and use. The headphone amp is on the weaker side. If your cans are efficient it'll do the job but I feel it falls short with cans even slightly more demanding. I think of it less as a headphone amp and more of a dac with a dinky opamp in it. 

 

I noticed that it has 2 audio RCA inputs. So I guess I need to find high-quality XLR - RCA cables, any help with that? And it's fine that it's more of a DAC than a headphone amp, that's exactly what I'm looking for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CoiL View Post

Aune T1 is too expensive for your budget?

 

It's really pushing it, but still a valid option as long as it provides a lot of bang-for-buck, and as long as it's better than the Audioengine D1 (is it?).


Edited by shonor6 - 1/28/13 at 11:26am
post #6 of 18

A little over your budget, but I would look at the Yulong U100.

 

http://shop.grantfidelity.com/Yulong-U100-D-A-converter-headphone-amplifier.html

post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by shonor6 View Post

 

I noticed that it has 2 audio RCA inputs. So I guess I need to find high-quality XLR - RCA cables, any help with that? And it's fine that it's more of a DAC than a headphone amp, that's exactly what I'm looking for.

 

It's really pushing it, but still a valid option as long as it provides a lot of bang-for-buck, and as long as it's better than the Audioengine D1 (is it?).

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CoiL View Post

Aune T1 is too expensive for your budget?

 

 

I just ordered a T1 from here:

 

http://www.aliexpress.com/item/FA035AA-AC-110V-BLACK-COLOR-Aune-T1-24Bit-96KHz-DAC-Hi-Fi-Preamp-Audio-Decoder-6N11/695478897.html

 

$147 including shipping. (I paid $154 for FedEx upgrade)

 

 

Seems like a LOT of bang for the buck - plus you can "upgrade" at will by ordering different tubes.


Edited by Grevlin - 1/28/13 at 12:29pm
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 

This seems like an excellent DAC, I researched it a bit further and read that people like it a lot.

 

I think I'll buy it unless someone says that there's something better from his experience.

 

So basically, the cable I'll need to use is an XLR -> RCA cable such as this, correct? I any case, I'll open a new thread in the Cables forum so I could get some help with finding high quality connectors.

post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by shonor6 View Post

This seems like an excellent DAC, I researched it a bit further and read that people like it a lot.

I think I'll buy it unless someone says that there's something better from his experience.

So basically, the cable I'll need to use is an XLR -> RCA cable such as this, correct? I any case, I'll open a new thread in the Cables forum so I could get some help with finding high quality connectors.

As far as I know, it comes with a USB cable. That goes from 'puter to T1. Then you just plug in your headphones in to the front of the unit. There is an RCA IN and OUT on the back. The Xlr looking plug on the back is for the power brick.

I'll be using an RCA male to male cable to go from the out to my Onkyo reciever/amp to power some bookshelf speakers.
Edited by Grevlin - 1/28/13 at 8:45pm
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 

^

I mentioned XLR because that's the connection on my monitors (M-Audio BX5). Well, actually I can use TRS too, but I prefer XLR.

 

So basically I assume I'd need to connect the XLR from each speaker into the "in" connections on the T1? My speakers are powered BTW.

post #11 of 18
I'm gonna let the far more wise chime in on this. But I'm pretty sure you are going to want the OUT on the T1.

Puter (source) to T1 to speakers.

I've been told just the headphone jack is amped. The RCA output on the back is not amped so I believe you can go from there to your powered speakers.
Edited by Grevlin - 1/28/13 at 9:32pm
post #12 of 18
If you can stretch to $200, the combo of Schiit Modi and Magni is worth a look. Hard to beat at the price.


Edited by Maxvla - 1/29/13 at 11:53pm
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 

BUMP:

 

Last question before I'm buying the T1 - I've noticed it has a "power" connection on the back. Doesn't it get the power from the USB connection? And if not, in my country, we use the 230V voltage frequency I guess, rather than the US's 115V. Would that be a problem?

 

Thanks.


Edited by shonor6 - 2/15/13 at 7:14am
post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by shonor6 View Post

BUMP:

 

Last question before I'm buying the T1 - I've noticed it has a "power" connection on the back. Doesn't it get the power from the USB connection? And if not, in my country, we use the 230V voltage frequency I guess, rather than the US's 115V. Would that be a problem?

 

Thanks.


It does not run off the USB cable - it has a "brick" that plugs into the wall outlet. You will need to order the version that works with your voltage.

 

...as far as I know.

post #15 of 18

Aune T1 doesn`t need +5V from USB. It`s sold with ~230V 15-0-15 transformer, in your case it`s ok. 

 

And tube buffer is used ONLY when source comes from USB! If you need to use RCA-in then Tube won`t take part in audio out, you still have audio out from RCA-out but only with amp section.

So, in your case if you want to have audio with tube buffering it would look like this: PC > USB > Aune T1 > RCA-out (for speakers/amp/reciever) or 6.3mm TRS-out for headphones.

 

 

 

Quote:
If you can stretch to $200, the combo of Schiit Modi and Magni is worth a look. Hard to beat at the price.

Well, there`s only one review comparing them to Aune T1 but reviewer liked Aune T1 more (I think it was headfonia review).


Edited by CoiL - 2/15/13 at 8:24am
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