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Do I need a DAC or DAC/AMP for my current setup?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Long time reader, but never registered and posted before.

 

My current setup: PC --> Denon PMA-510AE --> Klipsch B2 bookshelf speaker & Sennheiser HD598 (connected to the Denon 6.3mm headphone output).

I use my PC for gaming (mostly) and music (mostly Dance, but also some guitar and film scores).

I'm fairly happy with that, but recently the headphone output of my Denon AMP seems a bit damaged: I can hear a small static noise (mostly on the right channel) when wearing the HD598 (note: this does not always happen, but from time to time and can be somewhat annoying). Already verified it is the Denon AMP, as other source devices do not produce this sound. (And already contacted Denon and waiting for their response.)

 

So I was thinking and looking around if I would need and benefit from a dedicated DAC and a seperate headphone AMP (or a combo). I just received an entry level DAC, the Muse-audio NOS DAC TDA1543. Which is OK (After replacing the power supply), but I don't feel it's an upgrade of what I had before.

 

Now the main question is: Should I invest in an expensive DAC with 2 analog outputs (2x set of RCA output) and one going to my Denon (for the speakers) and one going to the headphone AMP (to be bought). I searched for this kind of DAC before and could only find 1. (Burson DA-160)

 

Or should I look for a new DAC with an integrated headphone AMP? (newbie question: if I plug in the headphone, will it automatically mute the analog output?) I prefer to keep my headphone plugged in and possibly mute it (or lower down the volume to zero).

Models that seem to fit my need: 

Asus Xonar Essence STU

Asus Xonar Essence One MUSES Edition

TEAC UD-H01

FiiO E09K (+E07/E17)

Topping D2

Maverick D1 (but not sure if I want tubes already)

 

Or am I overlooking something?

 

Budget is around 200 euro, but can be extended to 400 euro if it is really an improvement.

Any input and thoughts are welcome.


Edited by Knud - 1/2/14 at 8:23am
post #2 of 7

A low cost way to improve audio quality would be a Asus Xonar DX or D1 sound card (used is fine)

Then run an analog 3.5mm to RCA cable from the Xonar to the Denon.

The Xonar DX/D1 comes with a CS4398 DAC chip :) and Dolby Headphone 7.1 Surround sound.

 

For 186 Euros (plus shipping)

You can get the Audio-GD NFB-15.32 external DAC/amp

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


Edited by PurpleAngel - 1/2/14 at 12:23pm
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info & feedback.

Forgot to mention: I have limited (to zero) options to install a internal sound card as most of my PCI-e slots are taken or covered by my graphics card. (2x)

But that option is still something I would consider.

 

And I was also looking to that DAC and the precessor NFB12.1 as well.

Will check the 15.32 a bit more.

post #4 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Knud View Post
 

Thanks for the info & feedback.

Forgot to mention: I have limited (to zero) options to install a internal sound card as most of my PCI-E slots are taken or covered by my graphics card. (2x)

But that option is still something I would consider.

 

And I was also looking to that DAC and the precessor NFB12.1 as well.

Will check the 15.32 a bit more.

So no more PCI-E slots, what about PCI slots?

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Also covered/unusable unfortunately.

 

I have an EVGA X58 classified and could use the top pci-e x4 slot - but card length is an issue.

And I could use another pci-e x16 slot, but that would heavily interfere with airflow and that is something I don't want. (and thus blocks this option)

 

That is why I was looking for external options.

post #6 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Knud View Post
 

Also covered/unusable unfortunately.

 

I have an EVGA X58 classified and could use the top PCI-E x4 slot - but card length is an issue.

And I could use another PCI-E x16 slot, but that would heavily interfere with airflow and that is something I don't want. (and thus blocks this option)

 

That is why I was looking for external options.

Low cost USB DACs

 

Hifimediy Sabre U2 USB DAC, $57

Schiit Modi USB DAC, $99

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
That Modi looks very interesting.
One last question: can I just use an audio switch to switch between my Denon and a separate headphone amp? Or would that have a negative impact on the sound?
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