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Best sub-$1000 DAC/Amp Combo?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

I've been away from my fullsize rig for a couple of years now. While the JH16 is a great portable companion during that time, I just miss the sound of the cans. After digging the HD650 out of storage and cleaning it up, I realized I misplaced the Singlepower PPX3 Slam. And I have no DAC. So I return to the board looking for inspiration. Originally I only wanted a solid-state budget combo that is acceptable with a bit of portability (as I'll be moving around a lot the in the upcoming year). So many new faces but I narrowed down to the o2/odac and Schitt M/M. But staying true to the "I'm sorry for your wallet" spirit here at HF, I discovered the Burson HA160D, which ticks all boxes for me. Then I saw the Woo WA7 vs the PanAm thread, both which are quite versatile and good-looking I might consider tubes after all.

 

My question is, how would the o2/odac or M/M stack up against bigger guys like HA160D/WA7?  If the difference is substantial, then what other products stand out at that price bracket (cash is tight right now so I'm hoping to stay within the $1000 mark)? How does the Burson fare against the WA7?

 

Thank you in advance for any recommendations/suggestions.

 

Cheers.

post #2 of 5
Thread Starter 
Anyone?
post #3 of 5

I'm a fan of Audio GD gear in that price range. I used to own the NFB-10SE, which has since been replaced by the NFB-10.33. There's also good feedback on the forums for similar ESS Sabre units (the NFB-28 and NFB-10ES3).

 

The NFB-10SE was noticeably better to my ears than the Audinst HUD-MX1, which is a good $180 dac/amp. I've demoed the HA160D in the past and while it has similar technical capabilities and a more upfront sound signature, the Audio GD unit outputs a lot more power, which can make a big difference with orthos.

post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by DNT View Post
 

 

 

My question is, how would the o2/odac or M/M stack up against bigger guys like HA160D/WA7?  If the difference is substantial, then what other products stand out at that price bracket (cash is tight right now so I'm hoping to stay within the $1000 mark)? How does the Burson fare against the WA7?

 

Thank you in advance for any recommendations/suggestions.

 

Cheers.

 

Basically the difference is added features, more driving power and better build quality. Burson and Woo makes aesthetically pleasing amps, but they are on par with its performance. 

 

Now, Burson vs Wa7 you're comparing tubes vs Solid state. It depends on what kind of sound you like. 

post #5 of 5

I've owned quite a bit of gear and I would like to share that a used DAC1 (even an early model) is still by far the best money I've spent on this hobby (i get buyers remorse a lot).  if I had to start over, I would buy a DAC1 again in a heartbeat.  Why? it practically does everything, it's a great standalone DAC (single ended and balanced) for computer or any other transport, decent headphone amplifier (IMO the weakest function of the DAC1), and source for stereo speakers.  It still impresses my friends who are into high end speaker setups (rather than headphones).  On the used market a DAC1 probably goes for under your specified budget depending on which model you get.  I would recommend spending a more to get the USB version.

 

I have both the o2 amp and the odac.  the Odac has nothing on the dac1...not even close.  although the Odac sounds extremely clean for $100 (definitely a valued attribute) it cannot touch the DAC1 in terms of natural tonality and detail retrieval.  Not sure why that cant be measured; maybe it's in my head or im biased.  Not meant to be a fair comparison, but I really believe that someone like yourself would be able to notice a difference between the two.

 

on the other hand I think the o2amp is a VERY good amp for the money especially with a good source.  I like it better than the DAC1's internal headphone amplifier which is why I felt the HPA in the dac1 is the weakest link.  the o2amp is my all around general purpose setup


Edited by jh4db536 - 10/3/13 at 10:39pm
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