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USB DAC on a budget

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone! This is my first post on these forums after quite a while of hanging around and taking in all there is to learn.  I'm a university student without much spare cash to throw at this hobby, so I find my progress pretty slow.  I must say, at this point I'm a little confused as to where to go with my limited setup.

 

For a few years I have mainly been listening to music from two sources; my laptop (HP pavilion dv4), and my Sansa Fuze V1.  I was getting curious as to how I could improve my SQ on a limited budget, so I downloaded foobar2000, and straight away without any plugins I noticed a slight increase in sound quality.  I recently reached the point at which I felt I could only do so much to improve SQ from the source, so I decided to look into purchasing an amp.

 

Without too much in depth research, and a handful of positive reviews from head-fi members, I decided to go ahead and purchase the Bravo Audio V1 class A amp from Ebay. I wanted to experience the tube sound without the tube investment, and besides that it looks pretty cool sitting on the desk!  I immediately noticed an improvement in SQ, but at the same time there was a drawback in that when playing at moderate to high volume, and when the volume is up with no audio playback, there is a slight hiss when using my laptop as the source.  When I used my Fuze as the source, the hiss was almost not noticable even at full gain.  This led me to do some research, and I have all but concluded that I need to purchase a USB DAC. 

 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I suspect that integrating a DAC into the chain would decrease the microphonics, and at the same time the tube amp would benefit from an analog input as opposed to digital.

 

I would really like to keep the budget at or below $75, as I have previously mentioned I'm a college student with little spare change.  I realize this leaves me with only a few options, but I'm not too worried about that, as this is only my introductory setup anyway.  I have looked at the fiio E10 as a possible option, and also the Hifimediy Sabre as an inexpensive option.  I'm leaning more towards the fiio though as it would give me a chance to experiment with solid state compared with a relatively equal tube amp.  If I went with the fiio I would go laptop>fiio>bravo (via line out)>headphones, and skip the fiio's amp section completely for now.

 

I am open to any and all suggestions.  Thanks in advance!!

post #2 of 10

What headphone(s) are you using?

Chances are your laptop comes with a very low cost DAC chip, so adding an external DAC should improve audio quality.

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

That does seem the one thing I left out of that description.  I'm using Sony MDR-V6.  Don't have the cash for an upgrade, and I prefer the flat EQ.  smile.gif
 

post #4 of 10

HotAudio sells a USB DAC for $50, called the DAC Destroyer.

post #5 of 10

Hifimediy ES9023 dac

post #6 of 10

You might like to look into FiiO E07K. It is very good for the price.

post #7 of 10
Schiit Modi is an excellent option at $99.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by xkonfuzed View Post

Schiit Modi is an excellent option at $99.


I've looked into this one before. Do you think the price is justified in the quality over something around say the $75 range?

post #9 of 10
In my opinion, yes. The Modi beats DACs like HRT Headstreamer and AudioEngineD1 which cost more than $160.
post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by reeshahn View Post

You might like to look into FiiO E07K. It is very good for the price.

+1

Quote:
Originally Posted by xkonfuzed View Post

Schiit Modi is an excellent option at $99.


and +1

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