Discreet external DAC/sound card for office use?
Aug 16, 2010 at 1:20 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 21

Zoide

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I'm thinking of getting an external DAC or sound card for my laptop at work.  The idea is that I can use a big external HD and play the music from the laptop instead of being limited to my iPod's 60GB of storage.
 
However, I'd like the DAC to be very discreet.  As in, I don't want my coworkers going "Hey, what's that?  How much did it cost you?"  
ksc75smile.gif

 
Any suggestions?
 
Thanks
 
Aug 16, 2010 at 2:09 AM Post #2 of 21

Dalamar

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While I'd normally not recommend an overrated piece of fail like udac... it's very discreet. Tiny.
Honestly? I think you should buy a used EMU 0404 for ~$100. Way better, but may draw attention.
 
Also, discrete and discreet are 2 very different words, you meant discreet.
 
Aug 16, 2010 at 2:37 AM Post #3 of 21

Zoide

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While I'd normally not recommend an overrated piece of fail like udac... it's very discreet. Tiny.


Honestly? I think you should buy a used EMU 0404 for ~$100. Way better, but may draw attention.


 


Also, discrete and discreet are 2 very different words, you meant discreet.





Argh! I knew something was wrong with discrete :D Thanks for pointing that out.


The 0404 looks nice, but as you said it's too flashy. Does the uDAC sound bad? Or what is it that you dislike so much about it?
 
Aug 16, 2010 at 2:41 AM Post #4 of 21

Dalamar

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The uDAC is practically realtek onboard and a cmoy shoved into a tiny box. The measurements are terrible considering what you pay for it. Haven't seen rmaa measurements of it - but if their claimed specs are real, then it has a better SNR but more distortion than typical onboard. However, there's $80 (retail price) sound cards that measure waaay better than it.
 
EMU0404 is aimed at budget studios, while udac is a fad product with no real justification to it's price or existence besides being small.
 
Aug 16, 2010 at 2:46 AM Post #5 of 21

Zoide

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The uDAC is practically realtek onboard and a cmoy shoved into a tiny box. The measurements are terrible considering what you pay for it. Haven't seen rmaa measurements of it - but if their claimed specs are real, then it has a better SNR but more distortion than typical onboard. However, there's $80 (retail price) sound cards that measure waaay better than it.


 


EMU0404 is aimed at budget studios, while udac is a fad product with no real justification to it's price or existence besides being small.





Sigh. Maybe I should just get a 160gb iPod Classic...
 
Aug 16, 2010 at 2:53 AM Post #6 of 21

Dalamar

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Or you could get a player that uses mini SDHC and lug around a small box full of tiny chips, lol.
Seriously... flash uses much less power than a spinning drive. Not to mention it's easy to damage the head on a hdd... flash will pretty much last forever if you don't do many writes to it.
 
I wish HDDs would die, flash and SSDs are so much better.
 
Aug 16, 2010 at 1:23 PM Post #7 of 21

ROBSCIX

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Quote:
I'm thinking of getting an external DAC or sound card for my laptop at work.  The idea is that I can use a big external HD and play the music from the laptop instead of being limited to my iPod's 60GB of storage.
 
However, I'd like the DAC to be very discreet.  As in, I don't want my coworkers going "Hey, what's that?  How much did it cost you?"  
ksc75smile.gif

 
Any suggestions?
 
Thanks



Most DAC's are pretty large except units that use the USB power.  I think your co workers are goin to see anything yo uget unless you tuck it behind your laptop screen.
It is hard to recommend anything without knowing what is your budget?
 
Aug 16, 2010 at 1:30 PM Post #8 of 21

Zoide

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Quote:
Most DAC's are pretty large except units that use the USB power.  I think your co workers are goin to see anything yo uget unless you tuck it behind your laptop screen.
It is hard to recommend anything without knowing what is your budget?

 

[size=medium]
I would consider anything in the range up to about $300.
[/size]

 
Aug 16, 2010 at 2:42 PM Post #9 of 21

krmathis

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How about a Matrix Mini-i?
I have one at the office and it does a nice job. Hooks up directly to the computer using USB, and with its relative small size it blends in with the docked computer, screen, keyboard, ...
 
 
Aug 16, 2010 at 6:59 PM Post #10 of 21

Bones13

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Look into the DACPort - extremely small, and great sound - is DAC and AMP in one tiny package. A bit over your budget.
 
Aug 16, 2010 at 11:13 PM Post #12 of 21

Zoide

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Hmm...  The Matrix Mini-i is just at my budget limit, plus it's pretty showy.  The DACport is super discreet, but way too pricey.
 
What about something like the HeadRoom Total BitHead?  Is it too low-fi?
 
(I would be listening through Fischer Audio DBA-02 IEM's, not through something like the HE5-LE).
 
Aug 17, 2010 at 2:29 AM Post #13 of 21

Zoide

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Aug 17, 2010 at 3:15 AM Post #15 of 21

Yoga Flame

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Audinst HUD mx-1 is another good DAC/amp that's not flashy and can run on USB alone. Can't really beat the uDAC in terms of compactness though. There's an old review on Headfonia with comparisons between the uDAC-1 and the Audinst. Good pictures too, for comparing their size and appearance side by side.
http://www.headfonia.com/nuforce-udac-and-comparisons
 

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