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DAC Help

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hey all.

I need some help choosing a DAC or alternatively a decent player. I originally was planning on getting a JDS Labs C5D, but then decided on a Aune T1. However I have just read that Tube's aren't as good for Techno music.

 

So my requirements are:

$200. Happy to buy second hand.

Will be using a Samsung Tablet or my laptop. Unless a decent player is a better option.

Amp isn't needed as will be used for studio monitor speakers mainly, or a pair pair of IEM that don't need an amp.

Portability isn't really important.

Will be listening to Techno mainly.

 

Any help would be appreciated, as it seems like I have spent ages changing my mind multiple times.

post #2 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by martindagun View Post

 

So my requirements are:

$200. Happy to buy second hand.

Will be using a Samsung Tablet or my laptop. Unless a decent player is a better option.

Amp isn't needed as will be used for studio monitor speakers mainly, or a pair pair of IEM that don't need an amp.

Portability isn't really important.

Will be listening to Techno mainly.

 

Even if an IEM doesn't need to use an amp to sound good, you'd stil need the DAC to have a headphone amp circuit in it to drive the IEMs if you want to hear the signal through the DAC then to the IEMs. Also, did you check the Android DACs thread for compatibility with your tablet? You should start your search there considering you're planning on using the tablet, that way you can start with the DACs that work with USB OTG. 

 

Also consider one with a preamp, that way you can set the gain on each monitor then use the DAC's volume control knob for the whole system.

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

I've read random parts in it.

A few weeks ago I was thinking about the Fiio E18. And I think I can get a new one for $140 delivered. Would this be decent for a first DAC?

The Aune is still on my mind, as I really like the idea of a tube. I have seen that some people have been able to set it up with their Samsung Devices.

How would the sound of this compare with the Fiio for electronic music?

post #4 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by martindagun View Post
 

I've read random parts in it.

A few weeks ago I was thinking about the Fiio E18. And I think I can get a new one for $140 delivered. Would this be decent for a first DAC?

 

That actually has a headphone amp built into it; so basically what you mean you don't need is a separate/dedicated headphone amp, but you will be using a DAC that has its own. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by martindagun View Post
 

The Aune is still on my mind, as I really like the idea of a tube. I have seen that some people have been able to set it up with their Samsung Devices.

How would the sound of this compare with the Fiio for electronic music?

 

 

I wouldn't know about either, but in theory if there is anything about tubes that makes them less suitable for electronic music, it would be two things: the output impedance on many tube headphone amps, and the power and current output of tube amplifiers. The first can become a problem because some tube amps might not have a low output impedance, while most bass headphones tend to have a very low impedance - as a general rule the headphone's nominal impedance must be around 8x the amp's output impedance. This means that a 32ohm bass headphone will need a headphone amp with an output impedance of around 4ohms or less, otherwise there is a tendency for the bass to sound weaker. For the other factor, generally you will want to see output power double as impedance is halved, since headphone and speaker nominal impedance may swing lower on bass notes. For tube headphone amps, this might be a problem not out of sheer output power, but that many of them are voltage-driven designs, meaning they're designed to output more power at higher impedance, as opposed to a current-driven design for lower impedance headphone - it is not rare to see tube amps (heck, even solid state amps) having a higher output at 300ohm (ex. Sennheiser HD600) than at 52ohms (ex. AKG K701). For speaker amps it has more to do with pure output power - designing a tube amp that makes, say, 50wpc at 8ohm and 100w at 4ohm will require a lot of tubes and a huge, inefficient amp over, say, a fullrange Class D chip-based amplifier.

 

I for one however liked my Little Dot MkII with my Sennheiser HD600 for one kind of electronic music: house. The tubes make the female vocals sweeter (ex. Late Night Alumni) and they make the bass sound "deeper" without the harsher, upper bass emphasis on faster techno music (like the background music on Blade) or metal (although I didn't like this combo for metal). So basically it's not so much that tubes and a certain music genre won't go well together, but rather whether 1) the tube amp and headphone go well together and 2) if the tubes color the sound too much. The Aune T1's tube, AFAIK, isn't driving the headphone, so finding a match for it shouldn't be too hard without getting stuck with 300ohm+ headphones; what you might need to check aside from a matching headphone is how far that tube colors the sound, especially if you don't listen to the same kind of dance music as I do that makes tubes and dreamy female vocals sound satisfying when I get home intoxicated at 3AM.

post #5 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by martindagun View Post

I've read random parts in it.
A few weeks ago I was thinking about the Fiio E18. And I think I can get a new one for $140 delivered. Would this be decent for a first DAC?
The Aune is still on my mind, as I really like the idea of a tube. I have seen that some people have been able to set it up with their Samsung Devices.
How would the sound of this compare with the Fiio for electronic music?

The goal of the tubes is to add pleasurable distortion to the audio signal. Whether or not you would like that sound better than a regular solid state amp that aims towards more accuracy/transparency is a personal listening preference. Some people like it. Some don't.

The FiiO E18 would be a great first DAC/headphone amp. Just make sure

(1) That your tablet does provide usb audio out. Not all tablets do, and some DAC/Android device pairings only work with USB Audio Recorder PRO, whereas others will work with your Android media player, YouTube, movie player--everything, all sound coming out of your device. The FiiO E18 was designed to be very Android friendly, so good bet is that if your tablet works with other USB DACs, the E18 should work well.

(2) That the E18 has line out capability for hooking up your monitors. I don't know if it does. For best sound, you need a DAC/headphone amp that bypasses the headphone amp and sends the DAC signal straight to the line out.

Also, even though your IEMs might be easy to drive, some standalone DACs would not be a good choice for using with your IEMs. They can't output the proper impedance.
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your help guys. I ended up get the Aune T1, got it for a good deal. And I think I was always set on a tube, as there is just something cool about it sitting in my room.

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