Confused about DAC

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by 16610, Aug 15, 2017.
  1. 16610

    I'm about to pull the trigger on a high end open headphone that's on my current shortlist. In order to drive those 300+ ohm cans, I need a decent AMP and I think this one will do the job:

    Till this stage, nothing thrilling. But I have only digital files. No LP's unfortunately (new generation). In fact I only have CD's that I rip into flac. These files are on my laptop.

    So this means I need a DAC to feed the AMP. Right? So welcome in the world of DACs, portable DACs, DAC+AMP in 1...

    So how weird is it to buy a DAC and amp separately? And to what extend can a DAC be a bottleneck between the AMP and de digital file? In terms of sound quality.

    Since my music collection is only digital, should I still buy these 2 products separately or should I buy a DAC+AMP in 1? Does it makes sense to connect a dragon fly red to a headphone AMP like the Valhalla 2?

    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017
  2. theveterans
    You might want to post this on the introduction and help thread since it looks like this post doesn't belong here
  3. 16610
    Ok thanks.
  4. pinnahertz
    Output Z is kinda high, ok for your current cans, but not exactly universal.
    I don't see the point of separate DAC and amp, there should be plenty of combinations that work just fine, unless you plan to deal with some really out-there headphones. The DAC is not a bottleneck. There are frankly more performance differences in amps than DACs. The Dragonfly is good, but there are others. I have more issues with the amp, frankly.

    Depending on your laptop, there's a chance it's internal DAC is adequate, less likely it's internal HPA is very good though.[/QUOTE]
  5. ev13wt
    Until a mod move it, I will certainly help out:

    Your computer has a DAC. And audio out. Your computer is quite "noisy", and some internal DAC (older PCs, analog section) have bad shielding. You will hear artefacts when you move the mouse for instance.
    Your phone has a DAC.

    If your PC isn't noisy it is just fine. In the other parts of the forum you will hear about anything not being a separate DAC sounding really bad etc etc. This is simply not true. Used as line out, you will have a very hard time telling the difference.

    If you want that shiit, buy it and a 3.5mm to RCA adapter cable. Try it out. Order a soundcard / shiit dac - try it out. Try to not be affected by the: "New gear, spent money, must sound good" spiel your head wants to play with you. :)
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2017
    obobskivich likes this.
  6. blackrain139
    If you're tempted to get a DAC and avoid using the soundcard, instead of the Valhalla, you could also opt for the Magni/Modi stack.

    It doesn't cost a lot and it's a great entry level setup.
  7. ev13wt
    Entry level? No, its already a dedicated "chain". Entry level is using a smartphone and headphones the end. :)

    To get any improvements from the magni modi you are already in diminishing return areas. Another 5 grand only gets you "different" sound, not "better" sound.
  8. bigshot
    I want a MagnaNoodle!
  9. pinnahertz
    Doubtful it would even be "different". Of course there's that imaginary ratio $:dB thing. If you spend enough, you will "hear" a diffence, and have bragged no rights about what you spent.
    ev13wt likes this.
  10. mcgo
    If you're looking for a suitable source that won't break the bank, try a PS1 (early models: SCPH-100x, SCPH-5x0x -- if buying on Amazon ask seller for model #). You'll be able to get one of those models with an AV cable for $29 or so. Add a dvd remote control with eye receiver for another $8. I've totally given up on my computer as a source while I search for a DAC that matches the quality and timbre of the PS1 AK4309. The few DAC chips I have in my collection just don't compare (PCM2900, CS4344, ES9018). I do have a cheap TDA1543x4 NOS on the slow boat from China, I'm hopeful it will measure up.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2017

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