"Forced" upgrade - Over-the-Counter SE or DIY Balanced?
Dec 2, 2013 at 11:16 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 2

Zaubertuba

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Well, my Windows installation went belly up, and my 1212m is finally driver-dead.  I recently came into (a little) cash, and was thinking of reterminating my HD580's back to SE so I could upgrade along the lines of:
 
Audio-GD 15.32
Asus Xonar Essence ST
Schiit Modi/Magni
 
Only problem is, after listening to my "backup" SE setup (onboard audio > old Pioneer receiver headphone out > HD202's), I was reminded of how electrically noisy my listening environment is.  My previous setup was balanced from source to phones.  I fear an upgrade to the SE components I listed might be prone to interference.  I don't know that I could tolerate the intermittent artifacts/digital noise that crops up (and by intermittent I mean maybe 5 instances over 2 hours).
 
Problem is, it seems balanced external DACs are clearly the next level of magnitude beyond my $200 (O.K., maybe $300) dollar budget.
 
I also wanted to upgrade from my diy balanced a47 amp.  I had the boards built for an alpha-20 based balanced amp, but I overbiased one of the four and fried it (didn't have the multimeter hooked up right
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 ) , so to finish that project I'd probably need to get at least a new quad of transistors from AMB.
 
Still, I was thinking *maybe* if I went this route I'd have a balanced amp worthy of a better DAC, and possibly could string together Twisted Pear OPUS for around $200?  I know it would be a pretty basic build.  The catch here is I see TPA's USB receiver modules are out of stock, so I'd be stuck using the SPDIF directly off the motherboard--perhaps another concession 
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.
 
EDIT:  I guess what I'm asking is, are the DIY options I'm considering plausible, and reasonable alternatives to the over-the-counter solutions I listed?  Or are there better options I'm not considering?
 
EDIT II (Sorry it's been awhile): I listen mostly to classical, jazz, classic rock and TV/movies (stereo only, no special processing).
 
Dec 3, 2013 at 1:33 PM Post #2 of 2

Zaubertuba

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Well, my curiosity got the best of me and I succumbed to an impulse buy---Emotiva's has a sale going on their XDA-2 for $250 so I snapped one up.
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  Didn't even consider this one before since it was out of my price range.
 
Figure if the headphone amp really does turn out to be weak (and I'll end up making a Y-Adapter just to see...don't want to have to re-re-terminate my headphones later), I could still finish my a20 balanced headphone project, and in the meantime I still have my balanced a47--and don't have to reterminate my headphones.
 
Nervously optimistic....
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