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DAC to go with HA-160 and HD600?

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by jimistroll, Jun 29, 2013.
  1. JimisTroll
    Listening to music from a Macbook pro. I'd like to keep things on the cheaper side (sub $500). I really don't know much about DACs, so any help is appreciated. 
    thanks in advance! 
    edit: just realized that I've never posted anything on the forum since joining the forum, so I guess this will be my first post![​IMG]
  2. Duncan Moderator
    Welcome to the forums :)
    I had a sort of similar setup (160D, and HD800), and what I can say is that you definitely do NOT want a DAC like the AudioQuest Dragonfly, as using a 3.5mm jack causes hum on the Burson...
    Not a positive answer, but - hopefully one to help you on your way :)
  3. PurpleAngel Contributor
    Value priced External DACs
    ODAC, $155
    Schiit Modi, $99
  4. Destroysall Contributor
    I think first before recommendations are given for a DAC, you should determine the sound you wish to achieve.  Most DACs would be suitable for the job (I've heard the FiiO E10 serve as a source for the HA-160 and loved it), but each unit does contribute a sound signature of it's own.  For example, the FiiO E10 is a warm sounding DAC compared to the internal DAC of a Hifiman EF2a. 
  5. RonaldDumsfeld
    What do you intend to listen on? Hi-Fi?, 'Phones, Monitors? Mixer/Controller?
    Does it need to be portable?
    Might you want to plug in inputs such as a microphone, instrument, TTs, console, TV, CD..
    How long do you expect it to last?
    What don't you like when you plug your headphones and/or amplifier into the macBook pro atm?
  6. sionghchan
    Hi... welcome to the forums!
    Not knowing your preference for sound signature or your type of music, I'm just going to list down some well received DACs at around your price.
    1) If you are located in Canada, the following shop is offering hell of a deal for the ESS Sabre based Burson DAC DA160:
    http://www.headphonebar.com/burson-da160/ (CAD$569 for a CAD$999 DAC).  Considering the Burson DAC DA160 is from the same family as the HA160, it should pair very well.  Heard that the DA160 has a lot of PRAT (as does most of the ESS Sabre based DAC).
    2) HRT (High Resolution Technologies) Music Streamer II+, nothing much to look at but hell of a DAC.  This is the unit that I'm using with my HA160.  Warm in character with a lot of PRAT.  Best place to purchase this if is via amazon.com.
    Hope this helps!
  7. K_19
    Just a correction, DA160 is not a ESS Sabre based DAC. It uses a PCM1793. There are new Sabre based DACs in the Conductor and the Conductor SL though. Not sure if Burson will decide to release a standalone DAC this time around...
  8. The Fed
    Hey Jimis Troll I just wanted to chime in here as I was recently on the same search you were on.
    Part of it, as everyone has eluded to, is what type of sound you want to get.... As a sort of rule of thumb my research led me to a few different options in the sub $500 market.
    Peachtree DAC-it $459 (sabre based) you can buy aftermarket linear power supply from Teradak for like $90 
    Metrum Acoustics Quad - (Super secret chipset) 
    Arcam rDac - Wolfson (although this model is due for a reboot and needs the same power upgrade as the Peachtree
    Audio GD 2.3 - Gives you all the parts/ Wolfson chipset that a $1k Rega DAC gives you + asynch and at 50% of the spend
    And obviously the Schiit Bifrost - Asahi chip set - 
    I was originally going to go this route but I shy'd away from the Bifrost because half the people were saying it was amazing and full bodied and propulsive and the other half were saying it was to the thin side of neutral and a bit bland.... Worried me how wild the review swings were. Plus the resale market it flooded with Schiit, so I figured something more exotic would get me better resale when the time comes to roll gears. 
    I ended up getting a Rega second hand for a bit more than $500. Digital Audio Review has a lot of info on DACs as does Audiostream from Michael Lavorgna. Because there aren't alot of DAC's sitting around at big box stores or very many brick and mortar audio stores... you have to research it online and maybe buy through someone with a good return policy so you can test drive a couple few before you commit.
    Good luck on your search. 
  9. sionghchan
    My bad.  You are absolutely right.  I didn't realise they switched from Burr Brown PCM1793 to the Sabre and assumed that they were always Sabre.  Still PCM1793 is a great DAC (I believe same chip as the Simaudio DACs).  Usually, what's more important is the implementation of the analogue output stage.
  10. The Fed
    A couple more sub $500 units for your consideration. These were last minute considerations of mine and I almost pulled the trigger on the XDA-2 but stumbled across the Rega for sale on Audiogon and the rest is history. The Emotiva unit also has a preamp function with volume control and a killer aluminum remote. For what its worth.
    Parasound Zdac - $475 - Uses Analog Devices 1853
    Emotiva XDA-2 - $399 - Uses an Analog Devices 1955

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