DAC and HP Amp for under $1200
Jan 10, 2014 at 12:08 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 11

subsonic1050

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Well if any of you have been on this forum much for the past few weeks you may have noticed that I have been having some issues trying to get a decent DAC that WORKS. I started with an Emotiva XDA-2, which I personally thought sounded pretty amazing for a $250 DAC/HP Amp - but alas, it broke in 2 days. Next, I upgraded to the DC-1, which I just got - and it is buzzing in asynchronous USB mode, and there is some static playing music.
 
My question is this: I am looking to spend $1000 or less on a DAC AND Headphone amp. It can either be a combined DAC/HP Amp, or 2 separate units. 
 
Currently, I am using Hifiman HE-400 cans, but am also picking up a pair of LCD-2's, so I will need something powerful enough to drive either of them well.
 
Obviously, I would like to spend less if possible, and have been looking at the Yulong D100 MKII as a possible alternative to the DC-1. However, I might be open to simply returning the DC-1 to Emotiva for a replacement if it is the popular opinion that the DC-1 is the best DAC/Amp in this price range, and that I simply must have had two bad units from them. I'm struggling, because the build quality on both of the Emotiva's seems great, and they are so well regarded on the forums. 
 
So, if you could have any combination of DAC and HP amp for under $1200 (but preferably less) - what would you go with?
 
Jan 10, 2014 at 12:37 AM Post #2 of 11

HPiper

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  Well if any of you have been on this forum much for the past few weeks you may have noticed that I have been having some issues trying to get a decent DAC that WORKS. I started with an Emotiva XDA-2, which I personally thought sounded pretty amazing for a $250 DAC/HP Amp - but alas, it broke in 2 days. Next, I upgraded to the DC-1, which I just got - and it is buzzing in asynchronous USB mode, and there is some static playing music.
 
My question is this: I am looking to spend $1000 or less on a DAC AND Headphone amp. It can either be a combined DAC/HP Amp, or 2 separate units. 
 
Currently, I am using Hifiman HE-400 cans, but am also picking up a pair of LCD-2's, so I will need something powerful enough to drive either of them well.
 
Obviously, I would like to spend less if possible, and have been looking at the Yulong D100 MKII as a possible alternative to the DC-1. However, I might be open to simply returning the DC-1 to Emotiva for a replacement if it is the popular opinion that the DC-1 is the best DAC/Amp in this price range, and that I simply must have had two bad units from them. I'm struggling, because the build quality on both of the Emotiva's seems great, and they are so well regarded on the forums. 
 
So, if you could have any combination of DAC and HP amp for under $1200 (but preferably less) - what would you go with?

 
Have you looked on Audese's web site. They recommend the ALO Pan Am, which has a 24/96 dac built in. I don't know about the dac, but if they are saying that amp works well with their phones I'd tend to believe them. Its only $500 too. You would have enough left over to get a Bifrost Uber if the built in dac wasn't that good.
 
Jan 10, 2014 at 8:42 AM Post #3 of 11

boatheelmusic

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I love my DC-1.
 
But if you want something different, look at the Dangerous Music Source for about $900 at Sweetwater.
 
Does what you want, and made in US.
 
Was Gary's second choice.
 
Given your unfortunate experience, I'd stay clear of Yulong.
 
But first, give Emotiva one more chance and save $400.
 
Jan 10, 2014 at 2:10 PM Post #5 of 11

subsonic1050

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I am actually extremely intrigued by the Alo Pan Am - at only $500 for the DAC and amp it seems like a real bargain. Unlike most of the DAC/Amp combos, it seems that the Pan Am's forte is in the amp rather than the DAC. I wonder if the DAC itself is any good.
 
Jan 15, 2014 at 7:34 AM Post #7 of 11

i019791

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Well if any of you have been on this forum much for the past few weeks you may have noticed that I have been having some issues trying to get a decent DAC that WORKS. I started with an Emotiva XDA-2, which I personally thought sounded pretty amazing for a $250 DAC/HP Amp - but alas, it broke in 2 days. Next, I upgraded to the DC-1, which I just got - and it is buzzing in asynchronous USB mode, and there is some static playing music.


 


My question is this: I am looking to spend $1000 or less on a DAC AND Headphone amp. It can either be a combined DAC/HP Amp, or 2 separate units. 


 


Currently, I am using Hifiman HE-400 cans, but am also picking up a pair of LCD-2's, so I will need something powerful enough to drive either of them well.


 


Obviously, I would like to spend less if possible, and have been looking at the Yulong D100 MKII as a possible alternative to the DC-1. However, I might be open to simply returning the DC-1 to Emotiva for a replacement if it is the popular opinion that the DC-1 is the best DAC/Amp in this price range, and that I simply must have had two bad units from them. I'm struggling, because the build quality on both of the Emotiva's seems great, and they are so well regarded on the forums. 


 


So, if you could have any combination of DAC and HP amp for under $1200 (but preferably less) - what would you go with?

 


I would go with Audio gd Compass 2, getting all possible 3 dac chips
 
Jan 15, 2014 at 12:52 PM Post #10 of 11

subsonic1050

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Thanks for the help everyone. I just recently purchased a Burson HA160DS off of the classifieds. I am going to be returning my Emotiva DC-1, but not before I do a comparison!
 
I ended up buying the HD800's, but I am still hoping to get the LCD-2's as well at some point in the future. I'm hoping the Burson unit will do the trick. If not, I will look into the Audio GD compass or the Burson Conductor series. Everyone raves about the Audio GD - I'm just not crazy about their enclosures. All of the buttons and knobs look like an afterthought, which always makes me wonder about the internal components (being made in China doesn't ease my mind either). I just can't help feeling like I would be drastically overpaying for a cheap DAC that should cost me hundreds less. However, I guess that's the world we live in now!
 
Jan 24, 2014 at 5:42 PM Post #11 of 11

subsonic1050

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So, I received the Dangerous Source today. I should mention that in between the Emotiva DC-1 and the Dangerous, I tried a Burson HA-160DS amp/dac combo that I bought off of this site. I also got a pair of Audeze LCD-2 cans and some HD800's. For the past few weeks I was listening to these headphones on the Emotiva and then the Burson (primarily the Burson). I always felt as if they never sounded quite right - not the way they had when I auditioned them in the store. Good - but not great.
 
Well as I mentioned - I got the Dangerous Source today. HOLY CRAP ON A CRACKER!!! This thing is seriously amazing. I know in Gary's test, he determined that the DC-1 and the Source were "indistinguishable" - and I believe him, because he was using the DAC only, NOT the built in amp. He did mention that he much preferred the headphone output of the source to the DC-1, but I can't overstate how huge the difference is here. Not just between the DC-1 and the source, but the Burson as well. This thing completely eclipses both of them. Clarity is about the same, but the depth of the sound, the fullness of the sound across the spectrum is vastly improved. Most surprisingly to me - the soundstage is at LEAST double what it was on either of the other two units with the LCD-2's, and a bit wider with the HD800 as well. This is contrary to what Gary experienced (he said he felt the soundstage was smaller) - but he must have been using a better separate amp) 
 
It even tamed the highs of the HD800, which were previously so shrill that I noticed I would physically cringe while listening to them. I could only handle a song or two on them before my ears were hurting, even at modest volumes.
 
Neddless to say - I am sold!
 

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