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Looking for DAC+amp for use with ATH-M50's and Audioengine A2's

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Well, I had a very nice long post written and then lost it when I hit submit and was no longer logged in... :mad:


So to cut to the chase, I'm pretty much a newbie, looking for a good setup that I will enjoy but don't want to obsess over. Recently bought some Audioengine A2's, they are good but haven't blown me away, which I think may be because they are plugged straight into the onboard audio output of my motherboard after being split with a 3.5mm Y-splitter to an old subwoofer. First, for my own curiosity, are there any problems introduced by splitting in this manner? My intuition would say that this could cause signal reflections or something along those lines, but is this an OK thing to do or not? (as in, will it cause anything that is actually noticeable, or is it just not ideal in theory?)

 

Second, I am looking at getting a nice pair of headphones for listening to music while working and am probably going to go with the Audiotechnica ATH-M50's given that I can get them for $90 right now. So I need a good USB DAC for the ATH-M50's, I'm hoping to spend under $150, and I would like it to have a line output so that I can use it to drive my A2's as well.

 

I've looked at the Fiio E10, Audioengine D1, and NuForce uDAC-3. Most reviews and opinions seem to favor the E10, especially when compared to the other two. Thoughts on this or other recommendations?

 

Finally, JDS Labs' products have also caught my eye. The C5D and O2+ODAC combo are sexy and appealing. I might be persuaded to splurge if there is truly a noticeable difference between them and a sub-$150 DAC+amp. They not only look really good but seem very well engineered and the company seems responsive. However, neither of them have a line output. Would it be possible to plug the A2's straight into the amplified headphone output, or is this a bad idea? I'm not going to be using the A2's and my headphones at the same time, so I wouldn't mind having to plug and unplug the 3.5mm output each time I switch. The question is whether there is anything technically wrong with this. Will the amplified output damage the A2's in any way? If not, will this work or why not? What's really the difference between the amplified headphone output and a true line output, and would I really notice a difference if I just plugged the A2's into the amplified output?

 

Thanks very much for your advice and recommendations!


Edited by Eriksrocks - 12/3/13 at 12:44am
post #2 of 5

Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z (SB1500, retail box) sound card, $70

Comes with separate headphone and speaker jacks.

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Aren't external DAC's far better, though? I'm mostly worried about EMF within the case and anything that might be induced in the cable as it snakes its way through the rats nest of cabling that currently resides underneath my desk. Having something on the desk that I can easily plug/unplug from would be convenient...

 

EDIT: I should also mention that I have a MacBook Pro that I use regularly, so having something that could be used with that as well and/or is at least semi portable would be nice. I'm not looking to stick it in my pocket and use it with my phone on the bus everyday, but if I'm travelling or setting up somewhere for an extended period of time it would be nice to have the option of using the DAC with the MacBook.


Edited by Eriksrocks - 12/3/13 at 12:35am
post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eriksrocks View Post
 

Aren't external DAC's far better, though? I'm mostly worried about EMF within the case and anything that might be induced in the cable as it snakes its way through the rats nest of cabling that currently resides underneath my desk. Having something on the desk that I can easily plug/unplug from would be convenient...

 

EDIT: I should also mention that I have a MacBook Pro that I use regularly, so having something that could be used with that as well and/or is at least semi portable would be nice. I'm not looking to stick it in my pocket and use it with my phone on the bus everyday, but if I'm travelling or setting up somewhere for an extended period of time it would be nice to have the option of using the DAC with the MacBook.

As your not having EMF problems with your current on-board audio, the Sound Blaster Z, with it's EMI shield, should not have anymore of a EMF problem, over the on-board audio.

 

But as your looking for something that can also be used with a Macbook, the Fiio E10 would make more sense.

post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

Ok, thank you.

 

Any second opinions? And would anyone be able to answer my question about whether there is anything wrong with plugging the A2's into the amplified headphone output instead of a standard line out?

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