Hi, I'm trying to decide on a portable DAC/amp combo that will be used with my 2012 Macbook Air (via USB?) and possibly my current HTC One X via USB OTG (or future Android smartphones). I will be using either Mr Speaker's Mad Dogs or IEMs like my Shure SE215. I will occasionally be using this DAC/amp combo with my iPod as an amp only as well.
Although I have read a lot of stuff here at Head-Fi and know some basics about DACs and amps, I am not to sure what specific specs to look out for to suit my setup. Especially what power is needed to drive the Mad Dogs and perhaps what is needed to make sure my IEMs don't hiss (not sure if my SE215s are considered sensitive?). Also what inputs/outputs should I be looking for? There balanced vs unbalanced, digital, toslink, rca, xlr, optical, coaxial, asynchronous, etc. I really am quite lost about all the connections.
I have a few on my list, but not sure which will fit all my requirements.
I would love some pointers regarding the specs I should look out for (I'm open to any recommendations too) so that I could find a good DAC/amp combo. I haven't invested in anything much yet and I want to get it right early! :P
The Fiio E12 seems to be good bang for buck and is recommended by some for the Mad Dogs, but as an amp only I will need to buy a separate DAC... The O2/ODAC also seems pretty good for the MDs and anything in general but too large to be transporting around.
I would actually want to go modular, but as a student and I'm always travelling around, portability is very important so I think I will need a combo device rather than two different devices like the Audioquest Dragonfly + O2 amp for example. But I think I can compromise if it was the Dragonfly + something smaller than the O2 perhaps? But then I am not sure if the Dragonfly would play nice with USB OTG.
My budget for the DAC/amp is roughly US$300, can go over by a bit if there's something that really suits my requirements.
Really appreciate any answers. Thanks so much.
Edit: I forgot to mention I want to use the DAC in this combo for my setup at home with my Fostex PM0.3 powered speakers and subwoofer (Fostex PM0.5 Sub mk2). Cheers
Edited by vermilions - 12/8/13 at 10:43am