I've been quietly reading along the last few years - now I feel kinda stuck with my decision and hope you can help me out.
I've been looking to upgrade my asus xonar xense to an external dac and I feel about as overwhelmed as I am underwhelmed by the extend and limitation of choices.
Budget first: I am willing to spend up to 400 euros, please consider that I am living in the eu and have to pay tax/toll upon arrival of an imported device, which means the limit for imported goods is $400, too.
20 bucks more wont kill me, but I honestly dont wanna spend much more than that.
Equipment-wise the dac/amp will drive the bluesky exo2 speaker system, which I am currently not planing on upgrading. As for headphones, theres the crossfade m-100 and the fidelio x1.
I dont plan on using my in-ears often (westone um3x and probably sd-3 in the near future) but it would be nice if the device were to drive those acceptably. Same for headphones that are harder to drive than the x1/m100, doesnt have to be perfect, but acceptable would be nice.
So, to the dac/amp.
Im looking for cheaper or better alternatives of the essence one.
- usb and rca are required (obviously)
- volume knob, no buttons please.
- no bright leds or displays up front, dim or small ones are ok
- xlr out would be nice
- neutral or relaxed and a liiiittle bit bright sound signature, no recessed or too boosted bass please
- internal psu would be nice, but i can live with external ones
Devices i've considered:
Q-dac (too expensive, too hollow sound)
Fiio e17 + e09k: i would like a bit more details in sound, plus the setup is too simplistic
Maverick d1 seems very nice feature-wise on the outside, but its a tube amp and i honestly do not want to change the tube every two years
Maverick d2 is too simplistic
Little dot dac II seems like a viable option without compromising too much
Asus xonar essence one is perfect feature-wise on the outside, but the leds bother me and i would like to have a little better sound quality, since ive been hearing/reading its not quite the best option in that price range
So, considering the backstory, are there other viable options for my taste that it should take into consideration?
Edited by Thallassa - 12/12/13 at 4:25am