Do I need a DAC that can handle more than 16bit music files?
Apr 25, 2015 at 6:53 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 17

GreenMachine

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Basically exactly what I asked in the title.
 
I'm searching around for a DAC for my Project Polaris and HE400i headphones as I've noticed I'm getting a lot of background noise from my laptop internals when I plug my amp directly into the headphone jack. I'm not going to spend more than $150 on the DAC and I have two options in mind.
 
The first being the Glow Audio DAC 1.3 http://www.glow-audio.com/glow-dac-.html
This one has always appealed to me because it is small and looks very clean and I've always liked the company. Something about it draws me in.
Max sample rate: 16 bit/48Khz
 
My other option is the Schiit Modi 2 Uber http://schiit.com/products/modi-2
Just incase I do need the option for supporting 24bit rate files
Everyone seems to like Schiit
Max: 24/192
 
So I'm a total novice and I've been spending some time reading up on different bit rates and whether or not they are really necessary but I have a question (probably a painfully ignorant one).
 
The Glow Audio DAC only handles up to 16 bit files which I'm completely fine with, but when it comes to some of my music files that are 24bit files, will there be any issue with the DAC handling the music? Will it not be able to handle it due to the higher bit rate or will my computer simply compress it down into the 16bit size? I honestly would rather have the Glow DAC over the Schiit.
 
I apologize if this question is painful stupid!
 
Apr 25, 2015 at 7:25 PM Post #2 of 17

Chris J

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Basically exactly what I asked in the title.

I'm searching around for a DAC for my Project Polaris and HE400i headphones as I've noticed I'm getting a lot of background noise from my laptop internals when I plug my amp directly into the headphone jack. I'm not going to spend more than $150 on the DAC and I have two options in mind.

The first being the Glow Audio DAC 1.3 http://www.glow-audio.com/glow-dac-.html
This one has always appealed to me because it is small and looks very clean and I've always liked the company. Something about it draws me in.
Max sample rate: 16 bit/48Khz

My other option is the Schiit Modi 2 Uber http://schiit.com/products/modi-2
Just incase I do need the option for supporting 24bit rate files
Everyone seems to like Schiit
Max: 24/192

So I'm a total novice and I've been spending some time reading up on different bit rates and whether or not they are really necessary but I have a question (probably a painfully ignorant one).

The Glow Audio DAC only handles up to 16 bit files which I'm completely fine with, but when it comes to some of my music files that are 24bit files, will there be any issue with the DAC handling the music? Will it not be able to handle it due to the higher bit rate or will my computer simply compress it down into the 16bit size? I honestly would rather have the Glow DAC over the Schiit.

I apologize if this question is painful stupid!


When at all possible, always get a DAC able to decode 24 bits, 192 kHz files.
That way you can play almost any commercially available PCM based file.
Another good tip is to download a free program called "Foobar" to play your music files.
"Foobar" can decode almost any commercailly available music file.
 
Apr 25, 2015 at 7:26 PM Post #3 of 17

Sapientiam

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16bits is fine - normally the file is truncated (8bits are lopped off the end). Strictly speaking, dither should be used and the 24bits rounded to 16 but I'm doubtful if any computer actually does this.
 
Apr 25, 2015 at 7:52 PM Post #4 of 17

GreenMachine

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When at all possible, always get a DAC able to decode 24 bits, 192 kHz files.
That way you can play almost any commercially available PCM based file.
Another good tip is to download a free program called "Foobar" to play your music files.
"Foobar" can decode almost any commercailly available music file.

So it would just be a safe bet to get one with the 24/192? Any other sub 150 DAC capable of doing that that you would recommend?
And I'll be getting foobar tomorrow when I take some time to transfer all my music files over to it. A member on here taught me all about it so now I just need to deal with it
  16bits is fine - normally the file is truncated (8bits are lopped off the end). Strictly speaking, dither should be used and the 24bits rounded to 16 but I'm doubtful if any computer actually does this.

Would you say it would still be safer to just get the 24bit DAC?
 
Apr 25, 2015 at 7:59 PM Post #5 of 17

PurpleAngel

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  Basically exactly what I asked in the title.
I'm searching around for a DAC for my Project Polaris and HE400i headphones as I've noticed I'm getting a lot of background noise from my laptop internals when I plug my amp directly into the headphone jack. I'm not going to spend more than $150 on the DAC and I have two options in mind.
The first being the Glow Audio DAC 1.3 http://www.glow-audio.com/glow-dac-.html
This one has always appealed to me because it is small and looks very clean and I've always liked the company. Something about it draws me in.
Max sample rate: 16 bit/48Khz
My other option is the Schiit Modi 2 Uber http://schiit.com/products/modi-2
Just incase I do need the option for supporting 24bit rate files
Everyone seems to like Schiit
Max: 24/192
So I'm a total novice and I've been spending some time reading up on different bit rates and whether or not they are really necessary but I have a question (probably a painfully ignorant one).
The Glow Audio DAC only handles up to 16 bit files which I'm completely fine with, but when it comes to some of my music files that are 24bit files, will there be any issue with the DAC handling the music? Will it not be able to handle it due to the higher bit rate or will my computer simply compress it down into the 16bit size? I honestly would rather have the Glow DAC over the Schiit.
I apologize if this question is painful stupid!

 
Here is a 16-bit/44.1K PCM2704 USB DAC for $10.50 (play the extra $3 for faster shipping).
http://www.ebay.com/itm/141598657897?_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT
Surprising decent DAC for it's price.
 
Here is a 24bit/96K USB DAC for $57 (+ $7 shipping?)
http://hifimediy.com/U2-DAC
 
Apr 25, 2015 at 8:01 PM Post #6 of 17

Sapientiam

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I'd not myself make a purchasing decision on 'safety' - you said you'd prefer the 16bit one and I'm saying there's no reason not to go for the one you feel drawn to. 24bits is definitely hype as no recording can approach that kind of signal-to-noise (144dB). Even the groundbreaking Yggy is only 21bits.
 
Apr 25, 2015 at 8:14 PM Post #7 of 17

Chris J

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Audioquest Dragonfly does up to 96 kHz, 24 bits for $150
 
Apr 25, 2015 at 8:16 PM Post #8 of 17

Chris J

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FiiO E17 does 96 kHz/24 bits for $170
 
Apr 25, 2015 at 8:21 PM Post #9 of 17

Chris J

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Scratch all that.
For $150 I would get the Modi 2 Uber.
It's very versatile, and Schiit has an absolutely outstanding reputation.
 
Apr 25, 2015 at 10:12 PM Post #10 of 17

GreenMachine

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Thank you everyone! I'll definitely take a look at the others mentioned.
 
Sounds like even though I want to GA DAC I probably will end with one that can handle all type of files so the Modi 2 Uber is probably the way I'm going to go. Would rather have the tech for all options.
 
Also, I'm going to look on the classifieds for a bit before I decide on my DAC.
 
Apr 29, 2015 at 2:30 AM Post #11 of 17

taiz

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This DAC on Amazon looks pretty good for <$70 although I haven't tried it personally:
http://www.amazon.com/SMSL-SD793-II-PCM1793-DIR9001-amplifier/dp/B00A2QLPJM
 
Audioengine D1 is a solid and affordable choice as well. I bought for my brother (and I've listened to it pretty extensively myself) and he loves it.
http://www.amazon.com/Audioengine-D1-24-bit-Digital-to-Analog-Converter/dp/B006IPH5H2
 
Apr 29, 2015 at 2:25 PM Post #12 of 17

PurpleAngel

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  This DAC on Amazon looks pretty good for <$70 although I haven't tried it personally:
http://www.amazon.com/SMSL-SD793-II-PCM1793-DIR9001-amplifier/dp/B00A2QLPJM

 
I've bought 4 assorted DAC and DAC/amps SMSL products (about three years ago), reliability is not great.
 
Apr 29, 2015 at 9:08 PM Post #14 of 17

bgentry

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You haven't mentioned any kind of headphone amplifier yet.  Currently you're using the output of your laptop, which has a small (probably not so great) headphone amp built in to it.  The Glow DAC you linked has a *tiny* headphone amp in it, that can output 12 mW.  Compare that to more typical amps at something like 200 mW to 1200 mW.
 
The Schiit Modi 2 has no amp at all and no volume control, so you'd need an amp.  The Schiit Magni 2 is it's companion piece and has 1.2 W per channel (1200 mW).
 
Just trying to help you avoid that moment when you unbox the DAC and figure out that it can't power your headphones adequately, or at all.  :)
 
Brian.
 
Apr 30, 2015 at 11:11 AM Post #15 of 17

GreenMachine

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@taiz Been looking at the D1! It looks like a solid DAC
 
@PurpleAngel I agree, thanks for the heads up! I'll stay clear of those.
 
@bgentry I should have made it more clear in my post lol! I do have an amp. The Project Polaris by Garage1217. It's pretty intense and can crank out around 1.6 W of power for the 400i's. http://www.garage1217.com/garage1217_diy_tube_headphone_amplifiers_015.htm
I appreciate it though! I do think I'm probably going to end up with the Modi 2 Uber.
 

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