DAC-AH or MicroDAC? Help a n00b out!
Mar 20, 2006 at 5:20 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 8

johan851

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Well, I've spent the last couple of days using the search function rather extensively, trying to find a good price/performance DAC to upgrade sound on both of my PC's. I've narrowed it down to the Headroom MicroDAC and the DAC-AH, which both seem to be very good performers.

This DAC will be used primarily (95%) with my desktop, which has optical out through my AV-710. It will also be used with my stereo speakers, which I'm building myself. It probably won't see a lot of headphone usage. Because of this, I'd take a harder look at the 1212m or another high-end sound card, but I don't like the two-card setup of the 1212m, and the whole EMI thing inside the computer steers me away from that as well.

Laptop usage wouldn't really involve the portability/battery power aspect, since I'd be using it plugged in most of the time. I'd only use it when I'm away from home, and then I would be using headphones. Headphones are also a possibility at home when I need to keep things a little quieter than my speakers will allow. An external DAC is just more convenient in this regard, and gives me a little more flexibility.

The DAC-AH is quite a bit cheaper, and I hear terrific things about the MicroDAC (specs look a lot better, too) but this thread in particular is throwing me off:
http://www6.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=139906
The DAC-AH is rated a lot higher in most of those lists, and I definitely like the prospect of saving a bundle of money. More money = more cool stuff, like maybe an amp or some HD580's or something.

So what do you think? Do any comparisons between the DAC-AH and the MicroDAC exist? The MicroDAC looks a whole lot cooler, BTW....
biggrin.gif
I realize you guys always get these "make a choice for me because I won't do my homework" threads, but I really can't seem to find a good comparison...
 
Aug 14, 2006 at 7:38 PM Post #2 of 8

russdog

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You asked the question I have. Too bad nobody answered. Maybe people who know both might respond now. I'd like to know about how the DAC-AH-M (for "modded") from Pacific Valve fits in to this too.
 
Aug 14, 2006 at 7:42 PM Post #3 of 8

Jahn

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i still hold to my guns on that old list linked in the OP, but since then i've heard the modded microDAC (well, when it was called the "overture") and it jumped over the stock DAC-ah in terms of awesomeness. but then i had my DAC-ah modded and it jumped back over that. take that! keep in mind tho that the microDAC is portable (if a bit big) while the DAC-ah is definitely a home-DAC only.
 
Aug 14, 2006 at 7:47 PM Post #4 of 8

TheSloth

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Jahn
i still hold to my guns on that old list linked in the OP, but since then i've heard the modded microDAC (well, when it was called the "overture") and it jumped over the stock DAC-ah in terms of awesomeness. but then i had my DAC-ah modded and it jumped back over that. take that! keep in mind tho that the microDAC is portable (if a bit big) while the DAC-ah is definitely a home-DAC only.


What were the mods done? Because stock, the difference between the Micro and Coda is that the Micro has better caps and resistors, and uses the AD822 as the output device instead of the OPA2137. All of those changes are sonic improvements to my ears.
 
Aug 14, 2006 at 7:49 PM Post #5 of 8

Jahn

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Quote:

Originally Posted by TheSloth
What were the mods done? Because stock, the difference between the Micro and Coda is that the Micro has better caps and resistors, and uses the AD822 as the output device instead of the OPA2137. All of those changes are sonic improvements to my ears.


oh yeah it's called the coda, not the overture. to be honest, i have no idea, you'd have to ask Lan. i think JJCha owns it at the moment. heck, i don't even know everything done to my own DAC-ah!
biggrin.gif
 
Aug 14, 2006 at 11:06 PM Post #7 of 8

panyncor

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Quote:

Originally Posted by mrarroyo
I have both the Micro Dac and an un-modded Lite Dac-Ah. When you throw cost in the equation the Lite Dac-Ah comes on top IMO. I prefer it because it sounds closer to analog than digital.


I've owned both and agree with this. They sound different but are close enough in terms of overall quality that I'd recommend going with the DAC-AH if you don't need the MicroDAC's protability.
 
Aug 14, 2006 at 11:41 PM Post #8 of 8

uzziah

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Quote:

Originally Posted by panyncor
if you don't need the MicroDAC's protability.


therein is the real question. generally, i don't buy anything "portable" unless i really need it to be portable. if it's going to sit on your desk, a dac-ah or zhaolu would be much more price-effective
 

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