Best Laptop DAC for AD700 under $150?
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EuphonicSilence

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Hello everyone,
 
I've had my AD700's for just about three weeks with around 70 hrs of use. So far I LOVE everything about them except for the weird color design and the squeaky wing hinges lmao. Since this was my first pair of real (entry level) "audiophile" headphones, I don't have a good DAC or AMP to use them with. All I have is a Creative Soundblaster X-Fi 5.1 Pro external sound card which I bought a while back because it supported Dolby live and had an optical out port
(see here: http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Soundblaster-Surround-System-SB1095/dp/B0044DEDCA)
 
When comparing to my laptop's (Asus G73JH) headphone jack, the sound card did sound a little bit better, but I know these headphones are high quality enough to sound much better if used with a proper DAC. Since I've read numerous times that the AD700 does not really benefit with an amp, I am asking for you guys to suggest a good stand alone DAC under $150 that would make the AD700 really "sing" (if possible). 
 
I've been looking at the Fiio E7, which has gotten good reviews, but don't know if it is best for the AD700. Thanks for any suggestions!

 

 

 

 
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MalVeauX

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Heya,
 
Check this out.
 
Check this out too.
 
Save up a bit more, get the Maverick. It will serve you longer. Or, get the uDac2 if you ever plan on going portable. Both will serve higher up headphones down the road. Buying a DAC/AMP for right now will hurt you in the end. Try and get something that can really support your next headphone down the road.
 
Very best,
 
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EuphonicSilence

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Quote:
Heya,
 
Check this out.
 
Check this out too.
 
Save up a bit more, get the Maverick. It will serve you longer. Or, get the uDac2 if you ever plan on going portable. Both will serve higher up headphones down the road. Buying a DAC/AMP for right now will hurt you in the end. Try and get something that can really support your next headphone down the road.
 
Very best,
Thanks for the great suggestions! That Maverick looks really nice. I noticed that it drives up to 600 ohm headphones, so would it pair well with the HD600/650? (probably my next set of 'phones)
 
 
 
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MalVeauX

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Quote:
Thanks for the great suggestions! That Maverick looks really nice. I noticed that it drives up to 600 ohm headphones, so would it pair well with the HD600/650? (probably my next set of 'phones)
 
 
Heya,
 
It will drive most dynamic headphones you get. It's not a super powerful amplifier, but it's very capable, and having a DAC built in as well with a lot of connectivity allows you to really hook up whatever you want, so it doesn't really shoot itself in the foot when it cannot connect to a piece of gear. And since the amp can power pretty much all dynamic headphones (note: that doesn't mean drive them to their full potential, some headphones need gobs of power) of any impedance. Impedance is the least of your worries though. It will power the HD600/650 no problem. You may not hear it recommended the way something like the Matrix M-Stage is, but agian, this is a DAC/AMP combination and it's quite affordable for what it's able to do. It's a great entry point that allows you to put more budget into headphones, which is more important in this price range anyways.
 
Very best,
 
 
 
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wilzc

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Musiland Monitor 02
 
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fusedpro

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Outside of everything that has been mentioned so far, the HRT Music Streamer II is right around your price range and comes very highly recommended by many users on this forum.
 
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jupitreas

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The AD700 has 32 ohms of impedance so adding yet another amp into your path will only make the sound worse, not better.
If you really feel the need to waste extra money on a useless peripheral, please do yourself a favor and go for the Fiio E7 because it is relatively cheap. Even though it is cheap, it still measures way better than the nuforce uDac mentioned earlier in this thread, so its a no-brainer, really. I still doubt there will be any difference between the external Sound Blaster you have, though. There might be an extremely subtle difference, but is that worth the extra cash? Why not just play around with an equalizer to achieve a slight difference in sound instead of buying a dedicated device.
 
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afrobat

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I own the fiio e7 and ad700s. I highly doubt you'll hear much of any difference between the e7 and your soundcard. I *think* I heard a very subtle difference between my macbook pro's onboard sound and the fiio e7. It was likely more placebo than anything else so I really don't recommend it for you. If you are looking for an upgrade you probably should not be looking at portable DACs and amps like the Fiio e7 and udac that much. The differences will be pretty disappointing with your headphones. You might want to spend a little more and get a desktop dac/amp setup that can be used with future headphones and provide a noticeable difference.
 
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fabio-fi

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Why not upgrade headphones instead? 
 
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EuphonicSilence

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Ugh...so many options to consider! :p Lol thanks for the pointers everyone...it seems that the popular opinion is a portable DAC will not really improve the sound over my creative soundblaster. I find that odd since the creative is by no means an audiophile grade sound card, but what do I know haha (the world of hifi audio is very new to me). 
 
Quote:
I own the fiio e7 and ad700s. I highly doubt you'll hear much of any difference between the e7 and your soundcard. I *think* I heard a very subtle difference between my macbook pro's onboard sound and the fiio e7. It was likely more placebo than anything else so I really don't recommend it for you. If you are looking for an upgrade you probably should not be looking at portable DACs and amps like the Fiio e7 and udac that much. The differences will be pretty disappointing with your headphones. You might want to spend a little more and get a desktop dac/amp setup that can be used with future headphones and provide a noticeable difference.

Can you recommend some desktop DAC/amps? Maybe something that will suit the AD700 and the HD600/650?
 
*EDIT: Is this just Photoshop or does Walmart actually have BLACK and SILVER AD700's???
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Audio-Technica-Open-Air-Dynamic-Headphones-With-Titanium-Alloy-Cord/10980656?findingMethod=Recommendation:wm:RecentlyViewedItems
If you look at AD500's and AD900's there is a distinct difference in the color scheme.
 
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EuphonicSilence

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Bump...I have to decide by tomorrow if I am going to keep the AD700's. If I cannot find a good DAC I may return them.
 
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If the AD700 aren't doing it for you, it may be best to return them and go for something else.
 
When I had em, it didn't matter what they were being fed by, they pretty much sounded the same no matter what. So don't get your hopes up on a DAC/amp upgrade "fixing" them or something like that.
 
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EuphonicSilence

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Quote:
If the AD700 aren't doing it for you, it may be best to return them and go for something else.
 
When I had em, it didn't matter what they were being fed by, they pretty much sounded the same no matter what. So don't get your hopes up on a DAC/amp upgrade "fixing" them or something like that.

Thanks for the reply...I still have to think about it
 
 
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