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DAC / headphone amp for beginner

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

Hello!

 

I've been lurking on this forum reading posts for a few weeks and decided to join.  This is my obligatory first post requesting recommendations on a good setup for a beginner.

 

Some quick background - I've always used Sony MDR series headphones and have been satisfied with them.  Recently the pair I've had for some time wore out and in the process of reading reviews on getting a new pair I was led to head-fi.  It sounded like the Audio Technica ATH-M50s were a solid recommendation for a beginner's choice for a closed, over the ear set so I ordered a pair.  I got them in a week ago and am impressed with them so far.  I wish I still had the old sonys to compare them side to side but the M50s seem much clearer and cleaner to my untrained ears.

 

Being happy with the upgrade in headphones has me considering another upgrade to the gear to plug them into (currently the bose speakers attached to my computer).  The DAC and amp combo unit I'm looking at is the Maverick Tubemagic plus DAC, what are some other good choices to look at?  I want to stay in the $200-300 range.

post #2 of 24
ODAC + O2.
post #3 of 24
I have the regular Tubemagic D1 (not the Plus model). The Tubemagic is a great choice in this situation because of it's pre-amp capability. Know that the Tubemagic's headphone output does not go through the tube pre-amp; only the pre-amp rca out gets the tube sound.

A cheaper option is the Audioengine D1. I'd lean toward the Tubemagic over the Audioengine because the D1 is USB powered; the Tubemagic plugs into the wall (better power). The Audioengine D1 would obviously be better if have a laptop and would like to be able to take your DAC/headphone amp with you.

An option that is over your budget is the Schiit Modi coupled with the Schiit Asgard 2. But I wouldn't spend that much unless you plan on getting into the audio hobby and buying lots more headphones and/or upgrade your speakers. The Tubemagic or the Audioengine D1 should make you very happy smily_headphones1.gif
post #4 of 24

Good suggestions already!  

 

At less than your target price range, but also high quality,

is the AudioQuest Dragonfly v1.2.  I believe it is around $150.  It's super

portable, being the size of a USB flash drive.

post #5 of 24

If I were in your place, i'd certainly Go Audio-GD NFB-15.32 (http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB1532/NFB15.32EN.htm)

It's a great DAC/AMP combo. betters the ODAC/O2 in my opinion. 

The DAC is smooth and warm, and the AMP has more power than you'll ever need.

it is suitable for just any headphones you ever gonna have (but electrostatics).

post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 

After talking with a few guys, researching and checking reviews I ended up ordering the Schiit Magni Modi stack.  I originally was only interested in a combo unit but thought it would be useful for upgrading to upgrade one or the other at a time.

 

I got them in yesterday and it isn't working out too well.  After listening to them for 30, 45 minutes they went silent and my computer screen went blank.  The only way I could recover was a reboot.  I was hoping it was a fluke occurrence but it's happened several times since then.  : ( 

post #7 of 24

I have had trouble with the modi disconnecting and refusing to reconnect sometimes, but the screen went blank? Maybe email Schiit, they respond really fast and tend to be pretty helpful. Unless somebody after me knows why the modi would make the whole computer lock up. That is strange.

post #8 of 24
This sounds a lot more like a problem with the computer rather than the DAC.
post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorrofox View Post

This sounds a lot more like a problem with the computer rather than the DAC.

+1

I'd go with that first for troubleshooting. Mainly because if it is the computer, you don't want to go through the trouble of sending the Schiit stack back, getting another/something else, then finding out it still doesn't work.

Find a friend. Try the Modi and Magni on their computer.

Did you get the Modi with optical? Or USB?
post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorrofox View Post

This sounds a lot more like a problem with the computer rather than the DAC.


That may very well be the case.  All I can say is that I've used a wide variety of usb devices in the past and have never had any problems.  Right now all I have connected via USB are my mouse, keyboard and printer.

 

Schiit was very quick to get back to me.  They believe it is a power-related problem and some troubleshooting pages from Microsoft I've found seem to support that.  Schiit's recommendation was to get a powered usb hub to connect the DAC to.  I just spent $50 on a decent quality usb cable though and I don't like the idea of having a cheap hub inline.

 

Magni & Modi are going back.  I will plan on going optical with the next DAC I get.

post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wheezy View Post

Magni & Modi are going back.  I will plan on going optical with the next DAC I get.

Then exchange the Modi for the optical version.
post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post


Then exchange the Modi for the optical version.

+1 on that. See if its not too late to exchange the $50 usb for a $50 optical cable ;)

 

I ended up using optical as well because honestly, usb is a pain. Never had an issue since.

 

I don't know if you can do better for the price on a different optical dac, but anyone feel free to contradict me with one, I might try it lol.


Edited by grayfox157 - 5/14/14 at 8:02pm
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by grayfox157 View Post

+1 on that. See if its not too late to exchange the $50 dollar usb for a $50 dollar optical cable wink.gif

Or return the USB cable and get an Amazon Basics optical cable smily_headphones1.gif
post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by grayfox157 View Post
 

+1 on that. See if its not too late to exchange the $50 dollar usb for a $50 dollar optical cable  ;)

I just realized I put the $ and "dollar" lol. I feel dumb.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post


Or return the USB cable and get an Amazon Basics optical cable smily_headphones1.gif


Those are pretty decent :)

post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by grayfox157 View Post

Those are pretty decent smily_headphones1.gif

Some of the Amazon Basics stuff is really good. For instance, I don't most people realize that some of their rechargeable batteries are rebadged Eneloops.
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