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USB Amp/DAC for computer desktop

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

Hello, fellow head-fiers. I'm obviously fairly new to the forum, but I have spent many hours reading through reviews and, in doing so, I have really started on my (slightly expensive) quest for the perfect sound production (damn all of you for making me so interested in this stuff).

 

The first part of my quest has been trying several different brands/models of headphones. Starting with only ATH-M20's and Bose Triports (hush hush), I definitely needed to branch out. With the combined efforts of a friend of mine, we currently have the following headphones: ATH-A900X, Alessandro MS1, Alessandro MS1000, M-Audio Q40, Beyerdynamic DT770/80 Pro, and Sennheiser HD600. Now, as far as music we listen to goes... pretty much everything. I primarily listen to EDM and rock with the occasional classical or newage.

Now for the question: what is the best USB Amp/DAC setup for the $150-300 range? I've read a lot about the E17+E9K combo but is this the best bang for the buck? Obviously the E17 is nice by itself for portable usage, but I have a pocket amp and, from what I've seen, iPods have decent DAC's built in. Now, the HD600's seem to have a little trouble with the pocket amp (which is as expected considering this is the highest impedance 'phone in the bunch). Would they perform much better with the E17? Since I'm not majorly concerned with the portability of the HD600's (as I would probably just use them on the computer anyway -  and they are actually my buddy's), is there a better option for a desktop Amp/DAC combo in that price range?

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 22

The O2+ODAC Combo Amp/DAC is arguably one of the best sounding and best measuring amps out there for under $300.  I give that my vote.

post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NA Blur View Post

The O2+ODAC Combo Amp/DAC is arguably one of the best sounding and best measuring amps out there for under $300.  I give that my vote.

Thank you for your post! I hadn't heard of JDS Labs before, but I'll have to keep this one in mind. I guess I should mention that I'm sort of hoping for one that I can get off Amazon (gift card). Though I am willing to buy elsewhere if I have to...

post #4 of 22

the newer popular ones out there are the meridian explorer and hrt microstreamer

and im not too sure about reviews but the above seem to beat the audioquest dragonfly, but there also fotm at the moment

post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by fuzzyash View Post

the newer popular ones out there are the meridian explorer and hrt microstreamer

and im not too sure about reviews but the above seem to beat the audioquest dragonfly, but there also fotm at the moment

The Dragonfly just scares me. Very small, it would stick out from my computer, etc.. I'm hoping to have something on my desk with a knob on it smily_headphones1.gif

post #6 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thujone View Post

The Dragonfly just scares me. Very small, it would stick out from my computer, etc.. I'm hoping to have something on my desk with a knob on it smily_headphones1.gif

the others ive listed are connected by usb cables

the hrt doesnt have as many reviews out as the meridian as it came out last although its been said to be better

post #7 of 22
From what I have read of the new FiiO E12 on head-fi, seems like it's probably a little bit better amp than what's in the E17. I don't know how it would handle the HD600s, but someone in this thread might: http://www.head-fi.org/t/620339/fiio-flagship-portable-amp-mont-blanc-e12-discussing-thread-the-pre-order-unit-arrives

The ODAC dac and O2 amp are definitely worth considering, although the O2 is rather large if you want portability.

If you don't need portability, the Schiit Modi and Magni are worth looking into.
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

From what I have read of the new FiiO E12 on head-fi, seems like it's probably a little bit better amp than what's in the E17. I don't know how it would handle the HD600s, but someone in this thread might: http://www.head-fi.org/t/620339/fiio-flagship-portable-amp-mont-blanc-e12-discussing-thread-the-pre-order-unit-arrives

The ODAC dac and O2 amp are definitely worth considering, although the O2 is rather large if you want portability.

If you don't need portability, the Schiit Modi and Magni are worth looking into.

Ooooo, I forgot all about Schiit. I've looked at the Magni+Modi combo before and I gotta say, that's almost perfect for what I'm looking for. Very sleek and solid desktop amp with knob. Does anyone have any opinions on the E17+E9K combo vs the E12?

 

Thanks a lot for the help, everyone!

post #9 of 22
For $99/ea. the Schiit Modi and Magni are one of the top bang-for-buck picks out there. Cheaper than ODAC/O2 combo, better functional and aesthetic design, and Magni has more power on tap than most any other amp in its price range. You might be able to get something of similar output from Audio-gd as well for close to $300.
post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 

What about a DAC to go with the E12? Just realized it doesn't have a built in DAC.

post #11 of 22
If you want a portable solution, the ODAC would work well with the E12. I have the 3.5mm input plug version of the ODAC, and it's tiny. About half the size of iPhone but maybe twice as thick.
post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 

Now that I think about it, it would be very nice to have a multiple source output as well. I currently have a 2.1 system but I plan on replacing it with some nice monitors. 

post #13 of 22
I use a switcher with the ODAC, the Niles AXP-1. I can easily switch between my Little Dot I+ hybrid tube headphone amp, O2 headphone amp, and my HK 3390 running my Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 SE speakers.
post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I use a switcher with the ODAC, the Niles AXP-1. I can easily switch between my Little Dot I+ hybrid tube headphone amp, O2 headphone amp, and my HK 3390 running my Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 SE speakers.

Yikes! I just want one amp+DAC combo! I'm trying to suppress this new addiction! confused_face.gif

 

So you recommend the O2 amp over the rest?

post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thujone View Post

Yikes! I just want one amp+DAC combo! I'm trying to suppress this new addiction! confused_face.gif

 

So you recommend the O2 amp over the rest?

 

you're going to be buying more stuff in no time

 

i recommend the schiit stack- didnt realize you dont need portable

as separate components, it will be easier to upgrade and its cheaper

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