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Dac XLR > RCA?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I have a Cambridge audio dacmagic connected to NAD 326bee using the RCA output....

 

I find that the NAD is not great for IEM due to the output impedance of the headphone jack probably.... So I want to get a dedicated headphone amp to use for IEM such as ibasso or fiio or similar....

 

Problem is that the only other output on my Dacmagic is XLR balanced out....

 

Is it possible to use these somehow as RCA? Some sort of adaptor or cable without damaging the sound quality? So that way I could use the RCA > NAD and also the XLR > headphone amp at the same time?


Edited by nicholars - 5/8/13 at 10:36am
post #2 of 11

Two options:

1) Get a balanced headphone amp. Setting aside debates on how beneficial this really is, which depends on a lot of other factors,* at the very least it will be very convenient for your DAC. Just make sure to use balanced cables for your headphone, and this is where it can get insanely expensive. The cheapest I think is the Ibasso, and you can get adapters from them on both ends of the amp (ie, XLR to HR10 for input, and a Hirose to Sennheiser). Here's where expenses can get tricky - a lot of balanced headphone cables can be insanely overpriced, because most people who make them also sell the SE cable at the same overpriced, "audiophile" price levels. If you don't use the Ibasso and have to get a headphone cable with an XLR output, expect to g on eBay and find them for around $100 minimum (maybe a small additional fee for an XLR plug), and some can be around $300 for the non-eBay brands.

 



2) Doesn't the NAD amp have a tape loop? As long as you use the multiple inputs (not the direct amplifier input that bypasses the preamp circuit), if it has a tape loop, the same signal will be sent out that way.

 

 

NOTE : You might find that some dedicated headphone amps might have too much power or gain for IEMs, and low impedance won't correct problems like uneven levels on both channels even at normal listening levels, or one that can go from barely audible to tinnitus-inducing at a twitch of the knob. So even if the amp has a gain switch, make sure you check reviews if it works well with IEMs. I have Meier Cantate and it works great on IEMs on low gain, which is -10db, but if I had to switch to high gain, I have to open the amp cover as there is no switch outside. Wasn't a problem though as I only borrowed that serious IEM (Westone2) and it drives the HD600/650 well enough at 1:00 on the volume knob, no need for high gain really.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*For one, the higher output on the portable balanced amps, whichis higher than most portables but not really spectacular vs desktop amps that cost just a bit more

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks, Maybe the tape loop is the best option then I remember talking about this a while ago.

 

Do you think that using the tape loop will degrade quality?

 

It will be : DAC > cable > tape loop > cable > amp > headphones

post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicholars View Post

Thanks, Maybe the tape loop is the best option then I remember talking about this a while ago.

 

Do you think that using the tape loop will degrade quality?

 

It will be : DAC > cable > tape loop > cable > amp > headphones

 

I doubt it, just make sure you use quality cables and of course use the same cable from the DAC to speaker amp's preamp input and from the tape loop to the headphone amp, that way it's for the most part just a longer version of the same cable for the headphone amp. You can go as afar as measuring impedance and other things on circuit board going to the tape loop, or the output from that vs a long cable direct from the DAC (to eliminate if the circuit is doing anything to it) but I seriously doubt it will deviate enough to really make a dent in the measurements, much less be audible.

post #5 of 11

Why don't you get XLR to RCA cables? I use them going from my DAC to my amp.

 

http://www.monoprice.com/products/search.asp?keyword=XLR+RCA

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by EraserXIV View Post

Why don't you get XLR to RCA cables? I use them going from my DAC to my amp.

 

http://www.monoprice.com/products/search.asp?keyword=XLR+RCA

 

Interesting... Will they just work normally as if I had plugged them into an RCA?

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

Wow those monoprice cables are a good example of how much cables SHOULD cost and how much of a rip off the "boutique cables" are.... Very good value.

post #8 of 11

Yeah they work just as if I was plugging in a normal RCA. Ran them out of the balanced output of my DAC to my amp which only had RCA inputs. The output voltage from the balanced output is likely higher though, so it will likely be louder than the RCA output.

 

Also, they are pretty well built and I was surprised by how flexible the cables were.

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

So If I run both the RCA and XLR out on my DAC at the same time.... Am I right thinking that both amps / outputs will play automatically as there is no switch to select outputs on the DAC and I am not sure if it is even designed to be used this way..... Then I will just need to turn the amp I am using on and the one I am not using off?

 

(speaker amp from the dacs RCA out and headphone amp from dacs XLR out with XLR>RCA cable)

 

Can this damage anything? I guess just leave the volume down and switched off when not using an amp?


Edited by nicholars - 5/10/13 at 8:16am
post #10 of 11
If there's no setting, it's likely the DAC outputs through all outputs at the same time. A properly built DAC should have enough power to support outputting through all its outputs at the same time. I turned off the amp that wasn't in use, or kept both on if I was using both.
Edited by EraserXIV - 5/10/13 at 9:19am
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the help... Not sure why they dont make more DACS with 2 sets of RCA out....

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