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DAC and AMP with line out under US $200

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

-I am not sure whether this should be in "Dedicated Source Components" or "Introductions, Help, and Recommendations" so if a moderator sees that this is in the wrong place, feel free to move it.

 

-To begin with, let me say that I am definitely not an audiophile. So I am definitely not looking for a" really great sounding so and so, but you have to look past the fact that it comes from North Korea and it has a cardboard box for a case" What I am looking for is a budget unit that will last a while and provide no problems while meeting my requirements.

 

-I currently have a lot of disparate audio gear that I want to piece together. I have a pair of bookshelf speakers pilfered from an unused sony radio, powered by a lepai 2020a+ amp. I have a pair of gaming headphones, the Corsair 1400 . (I needed the mic attached, SQ was not important to me at the time, but they aren't totally horrid.) I finally have a pair of AKG k181 "DJ" headphones.

Currently, the speakers are powered by the lepai, fed by my computer's realtek 1150 audio chip. The Corsair Headphones also run off of that chip, through some software changes to the back panel's outputs (so i can have two "headphone outs") I have no way to plug my AKG into my computer because the back is difficult to access, and I am constantly unplugging the AKG to take them with me wherever i need audio. i also don't want to have to set up a third headphone out.

 

-Ideally, all I need is a dac, headphone amp, and speaker amp, as I can just leave the corsair connected to the realtek. However, my price range is below 200. The musical paradise mp-302 would have been perfect, but it is discontinued, to have a mk ii available sometime in the vague  future. I am okay with keeping my lepai, as i have no real problems with it, and it is only powering cheap speakers. So that means I need a dac, amp, and line out/preamp to the lepai.

 

-Option 1- Combination dac and headphone amp, with line out/ preamp integrated. There are a lot of options in this configuration.

From low to high price, what i have found(listing only problems i might have)

-Creative SoundBlaster Z soundcard- $85(sale)- but requires a headphone extension cable and has probably the worst SQ (i'm not sure about that though)

-NuForce Udac-2 or 3- $100/$125-no coaxial/spdif input though (I have linux so usb can be worrisome), low bit-rate, no switch between line out and headphone(cannot leave 1/4 to 1/8 adapter plugged in)

-Audioengine D1- $170- no output switch either, seems basic/boring for price

-Aune T1- $170- not quite sure what tube sound really is or what extra processes are required for a tube amp, no coaxial/ spdif

-Aune X1- $200- looks a bit weird, no clue about SQ on it

-Zero 24/192khz Dac Head Amp- 150-200- Ebay, big

-Tube Magic D1- $200-0tube doesnt connect to headphone out, big

-GD NFB-15-$250- out of budget, foreign, looks bad

 

-Option 2- Seperate DAC and Amp. I don't really know how to budget each one because i don't know how much i buy into "Audiophile myths" or how much a cheap dac hurts SQ as opposed to a cheap amp

Some cheap dac's i've found (based upon assumption that cheap dac is better than cheap amp)

-Fiio D30k $30

-Fiio D07  $50

-Hifimediy Sabre USB dac $42

-ELE EL-D01- $24

 

-Option 3- Fiio E70k and E9, I suppose i could use the e70k as a portable, but not sure how often i'd actually use that functionality. This doesn't really fit as in the above categories.

 

-If there is something with actual speaker wire outs that also fits tell me right away, please as i do intend to upgrade my speakers.

 

Any and all advice is always appreciated, thank you.

 

*EDIT- I forgot to say that i like bass-centric and high energy music, but i listen to everything that doesnt sound like pop music or country (although folk is okay)


Edited by HappyFishFace - 5/19/14 at 9:40pm
post #2 of 11

Not usually the best solution, but I'd recommend you save up for the Audio GD NFB 15, yes it's ugly yes it's heavy and yes it's foriegn but, as an owner of the NFb 10ES2, I can say that it was worth the money I spent for it and it took 3 days to get to me... FROM CHINA to the USA in 3 days! 

 

There for If you can afford I recommend you get it, I too was at one point looking for a Dac with multiple outs so that I could utilize multiple amps with one dac. And my Audio GD does that wonderfully, it even has multiple digital ins... which is great since I run my Wii U through it too! 

 

I think in the long run you'd be very happy with the NFB 15, and yes it's ugly but they are built rock solid and are incredaibly useful! Not to mention you get SO much for the money you spend. 

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

To be totally honest, i only really included it because that way it wouldn't be recommended as if i had missed it. I really don't want to spend more than my budget, and 200 is a very upper limit. The more and more you say, but this one is a lot better for only like 50 dollars more, the more and more this habit can become out of hand. If there was some decisive feature then maybe, but I don't really think it's worth an extra 50 dollars above my hard set budget limit.

 

But thanks for giving your honest opinion and trying to help me out!

post #4 of 11

Audioengine D1, accepts USB and optical S/PDIF in, has RCA out at line levels for external speakers. $169.

 

 

edit: Didn't see it buried in the wall of text up there, but it would be my pick (switch is unnecessary IMO).


Edited by sub50hz - 5/20/14 at 6:06pm
post #5 of 11
the desicive feature of n audiogd nfb15 is its mny outputs n inputs. The only reason U got rid of my oDac was i need more ins n outs...

honestly sound aside tge nfb 15 is just more vetsitle as a dac. Ive got no need to upgrade from my 10es2. the audio gd unirs r really the best deals! They offer all ull ever need at a killer price. not to mention they hqve enough power to drice cans like the lcd2. The audio gd amps r not more n more. They r one an done units imi
post #6 of 11

I picked up a uDac2 brand new for $60 and it works great. I'm using a PC though. I have it connected to a pair of powered studio monitors.

post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyFishFace View Post

I currently have a lot of disparate audio gear that I want to piece together. I have a pair of bookshelf speakers pilfered from an unused sony radio, powered by a lepai 2020a+ amp. I have a pair of gaming headphones, the Corsair 1400 . (I needed the mic attached, SQ was not important to me at the time, but they aren't totally horrid.) I finally have a pair of AKG k181 "DJ" headphones.

Currently, the speakers are powered by the lepai, fed by my computer's Realtek 1150 audio chip. The Corsair Headphones also run off of that chip, through some software changes to the back panel's outputs (so i can have two "headphone outs") I have no way to plug my AKG into my computer because the back is difficult to access, and I am constantly unplugging the AKG to take them with me wherever i need audio. i also don't want to have to set up a third headphone out.

 

-Option 1- Combination dac and headphone amp, with line out/ preamp integrated. There are a lot of options in this configuration.

From low to high price, what i have found(listing only problems i might have)

-Creative SoundBlaster Z soundcard- $85(sale)- but requires a headphone extension cable and has probably the worst SQ (I'm not sure about that though)

Audio-GD NFB-15-$250- out of budget, foreign, looks bad

Any and all advice is always appreciated, thank you.

 

For the price, the SB-Z (Sound blaster Z) is a good value, I tested one for a month and the sound quality is fine.

You would just need to run a 3.5mm extension cable from the SB-Z's back panel to the top of your desk.

 

6ft 3.5mm Stereo Plug/Jack M/F Cable - Black

http://www.monoprice.com/Product?c_id=102&cp_id=10218&cs_id=1021808&p_id=648&seq=1&format=2

 

Sell off the Corsair 1400 and buy some better headphones for gaming (Sennheiser HD558?)

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
     Like I said, i really, really don't want to go over budget for anything other than say a 90% increase in what I get. The inputs and outputs are matched and maybe even beaten by the the Tubemagic D1, and the SQ is (at least not to my knowledge) not definitely 90% better. There's also the fact that all i really need is one input and two outputs (for the combined units of course)
post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyFishFace View Post
 

Whoa

 

I hear you there dude, honestly the Audio GD site has been down for a while and looking at the NFB 15... yea not the best selection there... I've got an NFB 10ES2 with like triple the amount of ins and outs 

 

ehm, yea I would wait for like something like the Audio GD 10.33, at around $500 it's really a steal. But ofc that's a future you may not need to get to lol 

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

The nuforce icon hd is currently available for 200 dollars. Is this a steal or is it only comparable to the other options?

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

Ended up buying the Fubar IV from Firestone because it seemed like a nice sturdy all in one product with comparable sound quality.

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