I'm a long-time reader of the forum.
I bought a used AKG K501 many years ago, but for some reason it ended up in a cupboard at home for most of the time. I recently brought it to my office for listening to background music and soon realised I could benefit from a headphone amplifier. Moreover, the amp of my Audica MPS-1 I was using in my office broke down last week, so I think it's time to upgrade my whole computer audio system.
I plan to use my Windows PC as source (lossless CD rips and MP3s). The sound card has analogue output only, so I'll resort to a USB DAC.
As to the speakers, I was thinking of re-using the tiny speakers from the Audica system (they correspond to the Audica CS-S1 model), and maybe adding a sub. I was tempted to upgrade the speakers, but I the space on my desk is really limited, so I would not be able to accommodate anything much larger. Well, something like a Cambridge Audio S30 or Dali Zensor 1 would still fit both within my budget and on my desk, I suppose. And in that case, I may not need a sub.
What I'm looking for is a USB DAC, a 2.0 or 2.1 amp, and a high-quality headphone output, preferably as an all-in-one system.
The following units seem to be rather close to my needs:
- NAD D 3020: http://nadelectronics.com/products/digital-music/D-3020-Hybrid-Digital-Amplifier
- Teac A-H01: http://audio.teac.com/product/a-h01/overview/
They seem to have good reviews, but especially the NAD is a bit more money than I want to spend.
Due to space constraints, a full size integrated amplifier or AV receiver is not an option.
Another thing to consider is that I can only drive the speakers at barely audible volume anyway, so sound quality through the speakers is not a primary concern.
What matters more to me is quality of the headphone output.
I'd like to ask for some advice:
- Which of the two above systems (NAD D3020, Teac A-H01) has a better headphone output?
- Would you rather recommend another DAC+amp system under $500? it doesn't need to be an all-in-one.