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Help the Audio Noob

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

I sit in a home office listening to music for most of the day - and my current speakers have decided to pack a sad. With this in mind, I've been looking at my options for an upgrade in sound - and so I'm here. Sound transport is my PC with onboard sound. Originally looked at a sound card upgrade along with speakers but have since decided to go the external DAC route as that seems to give me the best options going forward.

 

I'd like something with both optical and USB inputs. This is so I can pass through a dolby signal for gaming if I need to. I need something whereby I can plug my phones in, and drive a set of active speakers. The speakers will be some HiVi swan 1080's. My headphones are currently Sennheiser HD665's. They have a 6.3mm jack on them which is a PAIN.

 

I'm in the $300USD and below bracket - preferably lower.

 

I've done a lot of reading - and I'm restricted with the market I'm in, being in New Zealand makes finding some of these products harder. So far these are the options I have found;

 

FIIO E17 & E09k Package.

I can get this locally, and have heard it. Sounds great - but I need a desktop solution. The portability factor is a non-issue for me. I think some of my other options may produce a better sound. This would be where I'd end up at if nothing else worked. :D

 

Maverick Audio D1+.

This looks to provide a good set of input and output options and I like the fact that it is an all in one unit. Some of the comments I have read would suggest its not the best sounding unit - but it fits my price bracket and requirements. How does it compare to the fiio combo?

 

Audio-gd NFB-11.32

This is definitely hitting the higher end price bracket for me - but seemed to fit most of my requirements too. I'd be really interested in knowing how this compares to the other two options.

 

The maverick and Audio-gd are only options because I can import them at reasonable cost.

 

The magni / modi combo is not an option because of power requirements here.

 

What do you guys think? Am I missing the mark - is there something else I should be looking at?

 

Thanks in advance.

 

--
Cad

post #2 of 14
Thread Starter 

Eek - just noticed the PM re: posting this in the Help & Recommendations forum. Could a mod move it please? :)

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

Also - would the audio-ng 15.32 be an option? This looks almost identical to the 12 but with different chips?

post #4 of 14

Moved!

 

Audio-gd, or rather Kingwa who runs it, tends to design and make a LOT of different things. There's an impression thread for one of them here which you might find useful:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/624517/audio-gd-nfb-11-32-delivery-impression-thread/60

 

At least on the larger unit the gain switch also affects the pre-amp outputs so it is handy to get the volume in the place you want it for active speakers (though usually you can do that with the speaker volume controls anyway). 

 

None of the devices you mention will accept a Dolby multi-channel signal, only regular stereo unfortunately. 

post #5 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

None of the devices you mention will accept a Dolby multi-channel signal, only regular stereo unfortunately. 

Agreed. Are you trying to take advantage of something like Dolby headphone? For that, your soundcard on your computer would need to process Dolby Headphone and then send it via PCM over optical to the external DAC.
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
Yep, that's why all of the above dacs have a digital in too. I plan on making use of my motherboards digital out for the virtual surround capabilities.

To tell you the truth though the music is more important - so I may just end up going with the USB connection.

So what about some recommendations or comment on my original post? smily_headphones1.gif
post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cadriel View Post
 My headphones are currently Sennheiser HD665's. They have a 6.3mm jack on them which is a PAIN.

Sennheiser HD665?

post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 

Sorry, 595.

post #9 of 14
A good USB DAC/headphone amp combo will sound so much better than motherboard audio, you may not care that you are not able to use Dolby Headphone or other surround DSP effects. I personally don't care for those because I'd rather hear the 2 channel audio stream that was created by the game/movie audio engineer; DSP simulated surround that mixes multiple channels into two sounds artificial to me.

I've always thought the Maverick Audio D1 to be a weird duck since the headphone output apparently doesn't go through the tube preamp. Only your speakers would get the tube effect. Just solid state amp sound for the headphones. Might as well just buy a separate DAC and headphone amp if you want tube sound. For example, you could get the Little Dot MK II or Bravo Audio Ocean and combine it with a separate external DAC.

People always have really good things to say about Audio-GD products. Of your list, that would be what I would look into. The E17/E09k combo doesn't make sense to me if you don't need portability. I have the E17. Very good portable amp/dac. But I would get the ODAC to plug into the E09K instead. Better DAC. You can get one in the UK from Epiphany Acoustics: http://epiphany-acoustics.co.uk/products-page/dacs/e-dac-24bit-miniature-usb-dac/
Edited by cel4145 - 8/18/13 at 2:11pm
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks cel4145.

 

This is why I'm a little hung up on what to go for. In my case, most of my music listening will be through the speakers. So the D1 would be useful for me in that regard. However, I'm no audiophile (yet) - so I don't yet know what sort of sound the tube is going to give me anyway.

 

You're right with the E17 combo - I definitely don't think this is for me - and the audio-ng / d1  seem better suited to my particular needs. I checked out the ODAC - didn't know others made different enclosures, this is nice. I wasn't sure about the fact that its powered by USB though - I thought power through USB can cause noise on your output?

 

I did also wonder about the audio-ng drivers solution. It seems like the D1 is plug and play, no drivers needed. The audio-ng seems to require custom drivers - and I'd be slightly worried about ongoing support in the future and driver updates and stability etc etc.

post #11 of 14
It is always possible that you could get some noise through USB powering. I don't think it's super common with the ODAC. You might ask in the impressions thread I linked to: http://www.head-fi.org/t/611778/brief-odac-impressions. Some of those guys even build their own, so they know their stuff smily_headphones1.gif

One thing in favor of the USB is that it's plug and play.
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cadriel View Post

Thanks cel4145.

 

This is why I'm a little hung up on what to go for. In my case, most of my music listening will be through the speakers. So the D1 would be useful for me in that regard. However, I'm no audiophile (yet) - so I don't yet know what sort of sound the tube is going to give me anyway.

 

You're right with the E17 combo - I definitely don't think this is for me - and the audio-ng / d1  seem better suited to my particular needs. I checked out the ODAC - didn't know others made different enclosures, this is nice. I wasn't sure about the fact that its powered by USB though - I thought power through USB can cause noise on your output?

 

I did also wonder about the audio-ng drivers solution. It seems like the D1 is plug and play, no drivers needed. The audio-ng seems to require custom drivers - and I'd be slightly worried about ongoing support in the future and driver updates and stability etc etc.

 

The Audio-gd drivers are supplied by VIA. Previously Audio-gd used to use Tenor USB chips, which are one of the most common nowadays, but the drivers were causing people some trouble, so they switched to a USB multimedia receiver from VIA with a custom driver. Since then they've said it has been a much better solution. The reason this all came about is that people wanted to play back high-res audio files (the types used by recording studios during mastering) as well as pro-audio companies wanting to switch to USB as the interface between their equipment and the computer. Windows didn't have support for high-speed USB audio receivers, so every company that used one had to have a driver solution. I have a Mac and there is no driver needed. 

post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

Just wanted to thank you for the advice.

 

I ended up getting the maverick d1 in this case - I figure its a nice entry into the world of DAC's - and, importantly - tubes. We'll see where I end up in 6 months time eh? :)

post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cadriel View Post

Hi all,

Just wanted to thank you for the advice.

I ended up getting the maverick d1 in this case - I figure its a nice entry into the world of DAC's - and, importantly - tubes. We'll see where I end up in 6 months time eh? smily_headphones1.gif

This is a hobby that's a journey. Certainly a good place to start smily_headphones1.gif

And I bet you get it a lot quicker than the Audio-GD wink.gif
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