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Should I upgrade my DAC or Amp first?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I'm currently running computer audio through Foobar(WASAPI)> Muse Audio DAC (Cheap USB DAC)> Fiio 09k> Beyer DT880 600 OHM or DT770 250 OHM

 

I've been thinking about getting an Aune T1 but am not sure it will be enough for the 880.

 

An alternative I've been looking into is the Little Dot MKII as it's about the same price as the Aune, but would require continued use of the cheap DAC.

 

I'll be putting another $300-500 into this rig at some point, but for now I'm looking to spend $200 to step up.

 

So should I get the MKII and add another ~$400 DAC in the future or get the Aune T1 and upgrade amp later instead?

 

I'd also appreciate alternative suggestions! I've already considered the Schiit Magni/Modi stack and have decided in favor of the Aune on that count...

 

Thanks for looking,

 

Ben

post #2 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jewmeister View Post
 

I'm currently running computer audio through Foobar(WASAPI)> Muse Audio DAC (Cheap USB DAC)> Fiio 09k> Beyer DT880 600 OHM or DT770 250 OHM

I've been thinking about getting an Aune T1 but am not sure it will be enough for the 880.

An alternative I've been looking into is the Little Dot MKII as it's about the same price as the Aune, but would require continued use of the cheap DAC.

I'll be putting another $300-500 into this rig at some point, but for now I'm looking to spend $200 to step up.

So should I get the MKII and add another ~$400 DAC in the future or get the Aune T1 and upgrade amp later instead?

I'd also appreciate alternative suggestions! I've already considered the Schiit Magni/Modi stack and have decided in favor of the Aune on that count...

 

Sell off the Muse DAC and E09K and get the Audio-GD NFB-15, external DAC/amp, $270 + shipping ($45).

http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB1532/NFB15.32EN.htm

My NFB-15.32 (older version) can drive my 600-Ohm DT880 and 600-Ohm DT990.

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the feedback! I've heard good things about Audio-gd before.

 

I priced the nfb 15 at $290 to my door. Would you say it's $100 better than the Aune T1?

 

Is it upgradeable? Can I add a better amp and just use the DAC functionality from it and still get a better value than going the Aune T1 route?

 

I must admit the ability to "roll" tubes on the Aune T1 is a big positive for me.

post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jewmeister View Post
 

Thanks for the feedback! I've heard good things about Audio-GD before.

I priced the nfb 15 at $290 to my door. Would you say it's $100 better than the Aune T1?

Is it upgradeable? Can I add a better amp and just use the DAC functionality from it and still get a better value than going the Aune T1 route?

I must admit the ability to "roll" tubes on the Aune T1 is a big positive for me.

 

If your really looking into getting into tube rolling, then the Aune T1 would be the better choice.

but the NFB-15 has more to offer, like USB, optical and coaxial inputs.

USB bypasses the computer's sound card features, while S/PDIF (optical & coaxial) works with the sound card features.

The NFB-15 comes with dual DAC chips (WM8741), while the Aune T1 only has one DAC chip.

The NFB-15 comes with a separate line-output, which can be used for speakers or you can use the line-output with a simple tube amplifier, and do your rolling.

On eBay you can get a tube headphone amplifier for around $75, then buy whatever tubes you want to try.

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

I'm very confident that I will only ever want USB input for this rig so the other inputs don't add value for me.

 

It sounds like you're saying a better upgrade path would be Audio-GD dual DAC chips> inexpensive tube amp. Rather than Aune tube DAC> expensive solid state amp?

 

In that case why not just do the original idea of Muse DAC> Littledot followed by a DAC upgrade down the road?

 

I guess my question is, do you think that Audio-GD(DAC only) > Cheap tube amp, will sound better than Cheap DAC> Little Dot MK2?

 

What about Audio-GD(DAC) > ~$300 amp vs. ~$300 DAC > Little Dot Mk2?

post #6 of 8

The NFB-15 is just a good base to build from, one of the best buys in that price bracket. If you do drop the money for a good DAC (and you should), you should consider the Gustard X12 which is ~$500. IMO more money should be spent higher up in the signal chain, and a good amp can wait.

post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jewmeister View Post
 

I'm very confident that I will only ever want USB input for this rig so the other inputs don't add value for me.

It sounds like you're saying a better upgrade path would be Audio-GD dual DAC chips> inexpensive tube amp. Rather than Aune tube DAC> expensive solid state amp?

In that case why not just do the original idea of Muse DAC> Littledot followed by a DAC upgrade down the road?

I guess my question is, do you think that Audio-GD(DAC only) > Cheap tube amp, will sound better than Cheap DAC> Little Dot MK2?

What about Audio-GD(DAC) > ~$300 amp vs. ~$300 DAC > Little Dot Mk2?

 

I'm guessing you have a low cost $15-$30 Muse DAC, which I'm guessing has the PCM2704 DAC chip.

It's a surprising good 16-bit/44.1k DAC chip, I think I've bough 5 or 6 of those little low cost USB DACs ($13-$19) with the PCM2704 inside.

So maybe get the LD MK2 tube amp and plug it into the Muse.

Maybe later on get a Schiit Modi DAC ($99) or even a used Bifrost DAC, off eBay.

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

You're right about the DAC. It's quite good for $25, sounds about the same as my HRT Music Streamer 2.

 

It seems like the general advice I'm getting is to spend the $200 now on an amp and more on a DAC upgrade later. I'll probably get the Little Dot or some other similar tube amp and a Gustard DAC later on...

 

Thanks!

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