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$200 dac for matrix m-stage

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hey guys,

I just got my he 400's and I need and amp and dac. I have settled on the matrix m - stage for my amp and I need to find a USB dac. What dacs will work well with the matrix m - stage and he400 for $200. Thanks
post #2 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loganksi33 View Post

Hey guys,

I just got my HE400's and I need and amp and DAC. I have settled on the Matrix M-Stage for my amp and I need to find a USB DAC. What dacs will work well with the Matrix M-Stage and HE400 for $200. Thanks

Skip the Matrix M-Stage.

 

Audio-GD NFB-15.32 external DAC amplifier, $255+shipping.

Dual WM8741 DAC chips and a headphone amplifier that can drive headphones up to 600-Ohms

USB, optical & coaxial inputs, separate line-output (for speakers?)

http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB1532/NFB15.32EN.htm

 

If your really into detail, get the NFB-11.32 ext dac/amp, $340+shipping

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Oh jeez now I have to rethink my whole setup. I always thought that having a separate dac and amp was preferable to a single unit. What makes the NFB-15.32 better?

post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loganksi33 View Post
 

Oh jeez now I have to rethink my whole setup. I always thought that having a separate DAC and amp was preferable to a single unit. What makes the NFB-15.32 better?

I'm not passing judgement on separate vs combo.

I can understand why getting separates can be preferable.

The 15.32 offers everything you need in one package for a lot less then separates, which leaves more of your budget for headphones, or more leftover cash in your pocket.

The 15.32 offers 3 digital inputs (USB, optical, coaxial) and 2 analog outputs (headphone and line-out).

S/PDIF (optical & coaxial) inputs work with sound cards, USB bypasses sound cards.

Low headphone output impedance (2-Ohm), which works great with my 32-ohm and 40-Ohm headphones.

Plus, I really like my 15.32.

post #5 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

I'm not passing judgement on separate vs combo.

I can understand why getting separates can be preferable.

The 15.32 offers everything you need in one package for a lot less then separates, which leaves more of your budget for headphones, or more leftover cash in your pocket.

The 15.32 offers 3 digital inputs (USB, optical, coaxial) and 2 analog outputs (headphone and line-out).

S/PDIF (optical & coaxial) inputs work with sound cards, USB bypasses sound cards.

Low headphone output impedance (2-Ohm), which works great with my 32-ohm and 40-Ohm headphones.

Plus, I really like my 15.32.

Will it also work with higher impedance headphones like the sennheiser hd 650 or hd 800?

post #6 of 8

How about the Schiit Asgard 2 for $250?  Has everything the Matrix does plus american made and cheaper. For a DAC, the Schiit Modi for $100 or for added flexibity the HRT Microstreamer?  Use the line out on the HRT for desktop listening into the Asgard and can always disconnect and use with phone or iPad for mobility.  I personally like the flexibility of separate units as it is easy to get the upgrade itch.

post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loganksi33 View Post
 

Oh jeez now I have to rethink my whole setup. I always thought that having a separate dac and amp was preferable to a single unit.

 

Separates and integrated units have their advantages and disadvantages. For combo devices, you avoid longer paths for the analog signal to travel and any chance of coloring it as it doesn't leave that box, in some cases not even the circuit board (believing in cables does not necessarily mean you're the type to blow thousands on them, but actually avoid them as much as possible). For separates it's easier to design a power supply for each device, whereas in devices that integrate both DAC and amp in one box, there is a concern that they might not have a good enough power supply. Most of this is coming from how more affordable AV receivers are designed and rated, and the experiences of people with these devices (and then went around the younger folks here on Head-Fi) : one power supply for the surround processor and 5- or 7-channel amplifier, which is rated as follows for example:

1. 175watts @ 2,000hz, 8ohm load, single channel loaded / 55watts per channel all channels driven ; or

2. 175watts @ 2,000hz, 8ohm load, single channel loaded (nothing follows, then it sounds like crap next to a 2ch integrated amp rated at as low as 25w for Class A or A/B amps)

3. 85watts per channel @ 8ohms (nothing follows, then it sounds like crap next to a 2ch integrated amp rated at as low as 25w for Class A or A/B amps)

Note: I've noticed that more affordable A/V receivers nowadays are sometimes still rated in similar fashion, but have a "discrete amplifier design," which I assume also comes with at least separate capacitor banks for each channel (will confirm once I buy one used and get a peek inside). Regardless I also read less and less complaints on them vs entry-level 2ch amps, now the only argument against mainstream brand A/V receivers is that you won't pay a lot more for Emotiva separates (not to mention you'll probably upgrade the processor every few years anyway)

 

Another concern is where their money goes: in some devices, it is primarily either a DAC or an amp, with an amp or DAC that sometimes feels like it was just an after thought, or otherwise limited by the PSU design, especially in USB-powered DACs if you're planning on using high-impedance or less efficient headphones on them.

 

However, it all really depends on the design. Some amplifiers for example use USB DACs that use the 5v from the USB port to drive it instead of sharing the amp's power supply. Or if from the ground up the power supply was designed well enough to power the DAC and amp sections adequately, and each one designed to do its job right, then the gains made in having only one box (no stacking, which might allow for less airflow on the device on the bottom) are more advantageous given the trade-offs are insignificant. Take for example my Meier Cantate.2 amp - it has a basic PCM2702 USB DAC using the same power supply. When using the USB DAC, voltage swing drops only a measly 0.3v from 12v peak to peak to 11.7v peak to peak; at the same time I've pitted this DAC against some entry-level and mid-level CDPs, lo and behold, its small soundstage is at least consistent in imaging in front of my head (the CDPs tend to put percussion all over the place around my head; sometimes other instruments aren't level on the Y-axis either).


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 1/23/14 at 8:15am
post #8 of 8

that is an excellent post.  If I wasn't always thinking about what to move to next, I should value the simplicity aspect more and the other benefits from a one unit design.

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