General DAC/Amp/Headphone setup questions
May 14, 2009 at 6:06 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 5

K_19

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Sep 29, 2008
Posts
3,072
Likes
63
Hey all,

I've recently purchased the Head-Direct EF1, and definitely liking it having upgraded from the Total Bithead. TB is the only DAC I have currently, so if I wanted to play music off my computer I have to take this route:

Eee PC 1000HE -> USB (generic) -> Total Bithead -> Mini to Mini (generic) -> EF1 -> K701.

Couple questions regarding this setup:

1) What should the volume level be in each of the components of this setup? I'm sure that the volume on my 1000HE should be maxed out, but I'm not sure of which volume to put the Total Bithead in this setup. Should it be maxed out then have volume controlled from the EF1 (I'm guessing wouldn't go past 8'o clock), or should it be low and turn the volume on the EF1 a little higher?

2) Will the Total Bithead ultimately be the weak point of this setup? If so, what would the most appropriate standalone DAC be for this setup? I've seen some of Hotaudio's standalone DAC's which seems to be very cheap, but I'm not certain they would be an improvement over the Bithead. Any suggestions? DAC only hopefully since I already have an EF1 and have no need for combos. While Pico standalone DAC looks hot I'd like to keep this on the low side hopefully (sub $200 CDN for certain).

3) I've literally got "weak links" in this setup in that both my USB and mini-to-RCA interconnects are generics (radio shack to be exact). While I am one of those believers that believe buying those $100 plus interconnects is equivalent to swimming in snake oil, I do realize that too cheap of an interconnect may possibly drag the setup down and fail faster in the long run. What would be the best bang for the buck choices, let's say, in the sub $50 range? I'm obviously not much of a cable buyer so any help here would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
 
May 15, 2009 at 1:09 PM Post #2 of 5

K_19

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Sep 29, 2008
Posts
3,072
Likes
63
bump.
 
May 15, 2009 at 2:34 PM Post #3 of 5

theBigD

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 8, 2007
Posts
588
Likes
11
What is it your finding weak about your current setup? My EF1 was pretty muddy in its first 100hrs so plan to burn it in. Then roll the tubes and op amp and have fun!
 
May 15, 2009 at 3:40 PM Post #4 of 5

K_19

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Sep 29, 2008
Posts
3,072
Likes
63
I'm personally finding nothing wrong with the EF1 itself, although maybe it could use maybe a tad more smoothness and richness overall for my K701... but I should have a mullard on the way pretty soon hopefully that will take care of that. Been flipping back and forth with RCA and Sylvania and I decided I like the Sylvania best with K701 (RCA's can be too sharp) but RCA for most of my other stuff. I'm the third owner of the EF1 so I'm thinking it should have been burned in by now.

I guess I'm just concerned that Bithead and my interconnects is not utilizing the setup fully. Bithead is a very competant DAC IMO, but I can't help but to wonder how the ones on the higher end will sound like (such as D10 and Pico). My interconnects are generics as I've mentioned before and I'm wondering how much benefit I would get if I decided to upgrade those. Still wondering what the proper setup for the volume is, too... for now I got Bithead bit past half way and EF1 around 11 o'clock and getting nice sound.
 
May 15, 2009 at 9:09 PM Post #5 of 5

crossmd

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 21, 2009
Posts
411
Likes
11
I've heard that you should spend about 10% on interconnects in relation to the total rig cost. i.e.-if its 800$, spend 80$ on interconnects. This *supposedly* tends to lead to an accurate interconnect performance ratio based on the caliber of the system. While it does pain me too to spend that, I think that there could be some truth to this. Remember that you're technically only as good as the weakest link in your chain, and if you think your interconnects are bringing you down, it seems to me to be a no brainer in taking care of that. Let me put it this way: Why wouldn't you? compared to what you've already invested into your rig, I think there's no question.
wink.gif


Also, I'm running k702's out of a Gigalab Moon DAC and an EF1 too, and I've actually found that the DAC seemed to me, to be one of the more important components of the chain..in that, assuming that your source is as good as it can possibly be(for your price range, maybe) that you can only build good things off of that. I might look into a DAC maybe that will let you go optical out? I know that for me, I did notice a difference in quality after going usb to optical.

Lastly, as far as the EF1 is concerned, the active volume pot on the amp seems to like atleast 10-11 o' clock on the dial. I've had issues in the past though about it needing a strong push from the signal source, so turn that up too if you end up getting any problems from it.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top