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Please recommend me a DAC. ~200USD

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hello all, 

     Long time lurker here and while I generally understand most of the things going on with headphone equipment, there are just too many options for me to wrap my head around. My friend has finished school and he is upgrading his audio equipment with his graduation/new job money. Which means that he is selling me his pair of Sennheiser HD650 and Bottlehead Crack amp. Since I'm getting that upgrade, I need a DAC to go along with it.

 

I am currently using a Fiio E17 and Brainwavz HM5. 

I do not care about portability with the new DAC, my E17 just sits at home anyways. I would like for the budget to be around 200 USD with a hard cap of 300. I am returning to school in the fall so the more money saved, the better. 

 

Thanks for your help.

 

Sorry I didn't mention this earlier, but I am only taking a laptop to school. I won't have optical or coaxial outputs from the laptop and will have to rely on USB/3.5mm.


Edited by darkfire32 - 6/26/14 at 7:57pm
post #2 of 11

Hi,

 

as DAC only I can recommend the Musical Fidelity V-DAC MK1 (black one, silver is MK2 I think). I got one for myself a couple of years back to digitally hook up a Archos Tablet to my Valve Amp and I was pretty impressed with the results. Tested it against the built in DAC in my Opera Audio Reference CD 2.2 MK2 and it performed really well in my rig. So now I am still using it if i want to get my Computers hooked up to my Amp (but is basically replaced with the Cambridge Stream Magic 6). It does not look very nice, nor is it super compact. It should be in your pricerange as well, iirc.

So if you can get your hands on ohne of those, you there is not much you can do wrong in my opinion. Alas, I am not sure of this series is still sold everywhere.

 

 

edit: Typo


Edited by Muhkuh - 6/26/14 at 7:02pm
post #3 of 11
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thank you both for your recommendations.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Muhkuh View Post
 

Hi,

 

as DAC only I can recommend the Musical Fidelity V-DAC MK1 (black one, silver is MK2 I think). 

The DAC looked really good but I saw that the price was 350 dollars and I couldn't find a page on the maker's website or any other place that sells it. I'll keep my eye out but it might outside my price range even if I find one.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by headphonatic View Post

http://www.ebay.com/itm/2014-SMSL-Sanskrit-24bit-192kHz-USB-DAC-Coaxial-Optical-Decoder-SD-1955-upgrade-/261514243311?pt=US_Home_Audio_Amplifiers_Preamps&hash=item3ce376acef
If you're willing to do a little modding with the op amps, this is one of the best dacs you can get for the price.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/09-NEW-VERSION-ZERO-24-192KHZ-DAC-HEAD-AMP-USB-OPA627-/120742232779?pt=US_Home_Audio_Amplifiers_Preamps&hash=item1c1ccc42cb
It speaks for itself, spec-wise, it doesn't get better than this.

I couldn't find any reviews on the SMSL and I don't really have any modding experience with op amps.

 

The Zero did look really good but I only read a review for the old version on this forum. I also forgot to mention that I will only have a laptop at school so I will be limited to USB/3.5mm input, I won't have coaxial or optical. But thank you for the recommendation and sorry leaving that detail.


Edited by darkfire32 - 6/26/14 at 7:57pm
post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by darkfire32 View Post
 

The DAC looked really good but I saw that the price was 350 dollars and I couldn't find a page on the maker's website or any other place that sells it. I'll keep my eye out but it might outside my price range even if I find one.

 

I couldn't find any reviews on the SMSL and I don't really have any modding experience with op amps.

 

The Zero did look really good but I only read a review for the old version on this forum. I also forgot to mention that I will only have a laptop at school so I will be limited to USB/3.5mm input, I won't have coaxial or optical. But thank you for the recommendation and sorry leaving that detail.

The Zero has a USB input
84ee_1_bl.JPG 

If you're looking for something more portable, I'd suggest looking at topping's DACs.


Edited by headphonatic - 6/26/14 at 10:56pm
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by headphonatic View Post
 

The Zero has a USB input
 

If you're looking for something more portable, I'd suggest looking at topping's DACs.

First off, I should apologize. Being impulsive is one of my many faults. I read the older review and saw that there was no USB input and assumed that the new version didn't contain any changes to the inputs. However reading the Zero dac thread, people complained a lot about random burn outs of their systems. And I'm not sure if that was fixed since then. 

 

Second, I also saw that the Zero DAC was limited to a USB 1.1 and could only get 16/48kbps. Those numbers seem to be low, especially since there are new systems that can support 24/96. I've been looking at the ODAC and the Schiit Modi because they both are relatively cheap and there are a lot of supporters on this forum for them. Do you still recommend the Zero DAC over them?

 

Third, I'm not looking for portability. It doesn't hurt if I can fit the machine in a carry-on bag when I move but that is not a requirement. I looked at the Toppings DAC and the D20 popped out to me since its relatively the same price as all the others and it does manage 24/96. How does the D20 compare with the other ones?

 

Fourth, is it possible that I'm being too reliant on the brand name when choosing a DAC? Would I notice any difference between any of the models that are being thrown around here? 

post #7 of 11
Why hasn't anyone mentioned the Schiit Modi here? Excellent DAC at $99. The ODAC is also a good choice.
post #8 of 11

Audioengine D3

 

Dragonfly 1.2

 

ODAC

 

Schiit modi

 

Hifimediy Sabre

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thank you guys for posting these recommendations.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by xkonfuzed View Post

Why hasn't anyone mentioned the Schiit Modi here? Excellent DAC at $99. The ODAC is also a good choice.

I have looked at the Schiit Modi and the ODAC. People have reported that both sounded slightly flat, although the ODAC suffered that problem primarily due to low voltage provided by some USB slots. I suspect that for the amount of money that I am willing to spend, there aren't many choices that are completely devoid of any "problems".

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam21 View Post
 

Audioengine D3

 

Dragonfly 1.2

 

ODAC

 

Schiit modi

 

Hifimediy Sabre

I'm not particularly fond of the usb stick style of the first two. Wouldn't the parts heat up being in such a small space? Which Sabre? The quick Google search showed me 3 different models. I did like the small brick version, and a quick search on the forums showed that it wasn't too bad.

post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by darkfire32 View Post

I have looked at the Schiit Modi and the ODAC. People have reported that both sounded slightly flat, although the ODAC suffered that problem primarily due to low voltage provided by some USB slots. I suspect that for the amount of money that I am willing to spend, there aren't many choices that are completely devoid of any "problems".

Well, and there are many, many others that describe the Modi and ODAC as extremely transparent, accurate DACs, which is what you want of a DAC. Once you get up to DACs of this quality and accuracy, you have to take subjective impressions with a grain of salt because, quite literally, the differences you perceive between might only be as much as adding a couple of grains of salt to your potatoes (lol).
Quote:
Originally Posted by darkfire32 View Post

I'm not particularly fond of the usb stick style of the first two. Wouldn't the parts heat up being in such a small space? Which Sabre? The quick Google search showed me 3 different models. I did like the small brick version, and a quick search on the forums showed that it wasn't too bad.

With the Dragonfly, I can't imagine you need to worry about heat build up unless you are using it outside in the Arizona summer smily_headphones1.gif

The advantage to the Dragonfly is that you then get a headphone amp with it that can be used with a laptop when you travel without having to haul along a headphone amp.
post #11 of 11

+1 Schiit modi

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