This is my first impressions thread ever, so bear with me.
I bought the ELE EL-D01 Usb Dac through Ebay seller
The actual unit is $15.29, and shipping is free.
The setup I used for this impression is: Macbook Pro > Ele USB DAC > JDS Labs c421 OPA2227 > Hifiman RE-262.
I had never used any sort of DAC before for either my iPod Classic or my Macbook. It was all whatever DAC that was in the unit. Some Head-Fi user suggested this and I thought why not? I haven't tried a DAC yet and its $15.
Well it definitely was a good purchase.
The size is slightly shorter than my iPod Nano (the widescreen one), and about half an inch thick and wide. So its a very small form factor that is very unobtrusive. The only gripe is that is usb cable is the printer cable type, but other than that is amazing for $15. One end is the USB and the other is the AUX out, very simple. Very easy to use with my Macbook, just select ELE USB DAC in the sound settings and youre good to go.
The sound is very good for $15. It is a DEFINITE improvement over the soundcard in my Macbook. I have never tried a higher end DAC, but this little thing sounds so much better.
The soundstage is more expansive, nothing sounds squished together or compressed. I noticed the instrument and stereo separation was definitely improved. Everything was presented with so much more precision in terms of the setting and where the instruments were. The vocals were much more relaxed without the squished feeling I get out of my iPod classic. Bass is more accurate and is presented with more oomph. Treble is extended a little more and sounds more natural but it isn't as big an improvement as the Mids and the Bass.
Its like my ears were cleaned in all honesty, or my music had a thin veil lifted and everything is just so much more clear and concise.
For $15 why not, if you don't have a dedicated DAC then you are missing something.