Headroom Micro stack - other options?
Nov 3, 2005 at 10:44 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 18

AdamWill

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I'm considering getting the Headroom micro stack (amp and DAC) as an upgrade for my current source chain (AV710 in high quality mode to Twinstarr Black amp, which is basically a maxed Cmoy). The price for the stack is $600. My question is whether there's a DAC / amp combination that might be better at the same or lower price point. (Please no sound card recommendations, I run Linux, the only better sound cards you can use are RME, and DACs are cheaper). I wonder this because the Micro is designed at least partly with portable use in mind, but I won't be using these portably, they will be 100% stuck to my desk. Any suggestions?
 
Nov 4, 2005 at 1:10 AM Post #3 of 18

AdamWill

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warp: very very interesting, thanks a lot for the link
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. The DAC is certainly the stage I'd wonder about, as well - does anyone know how it stacks up to the Headroom DAC? I'm not very worried about the amp stage, given Meier's reputation
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Nov 4, 2005 at 1:24 AM Post #4 of 18

TheSloth

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It's not up to the Micro DAC by a fair margin. If you read Jan Meier's posts regarding it's design, perforance, and intended use, it gives the impression of performance similar to the DAC section of the Total Bithead. It's desgined to compete with good computer sound cards, not a standalone DAC.

The Micro stack is a very serious piece of kit, and at this point I'm not aware of anything that directly competes with it. There is certainly competition for the Micro Amp, though I'm not sure there's anything better for the money - it's just a matter of personal preference. The DAC however is currently unchallenged.
 
Nov 4, 2005 at 2:08 AM Post #5 of 18

warpdriver

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I'm not sure that one can make any kind of judgement until somebody actually hears one in person. I'd be willing to give Meier the benefit of the doubt that the DAC is at least reasonably good. DAC chip part numbers don't tell the whole story, it's the whole synergy of the combo that matters, and as you said, the amp is going to be good (based on all the raves about the prototype)

I will probably go with the Micro DAC myself in due time since I have the Micro Amp DM, which still amazes me with its clear, dynamic sound. I like its flexibility as a DAC for USB, coax and digital inputs as well. The Micro DAC is quite unique in this regard.
 
Nov 4, 2005 at 2:08 AM Post #6 of 18

AdamWill

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Thanks, Sloth...

ahh, decisions, decisions. Now I'm tempted to get the Aria *and* the Micro DAC. Curse you, head-fi. :p
 
Nov 4, 2005 at 2:19 AM Post #8 of 18

TheSloth

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warpdriver, I wasn't making a judgement at all. I was simply passing on Jan Meier's comments regarding the positioning of his own product. It may sound excellent for the money, but it is not designed to be in the same SQ bracket as the Micro DAC is. That isn't to say it couldn't possibly sound as good, but it just wasn't intended to compete with it.

Looking forward to impressions of Firestone stuff. It looks neatly built, and the board layout looks paticularly good on all their products.
 
Nov 4, 2005 at 7:50 AM Post #9 of 18

socrates63

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Quote:

Originally Posted by AdamWill
The price for the stack is $600. My question is whether there's a DAC / amp combination that might be better at the same or lower price point.


First, on the price, don't forget that becoming a Head-Fi contributing member gets you a 10% Headroom discount. That's $60, bringing the combo to $540.

I bought Sloth's Micro Amp (haven't picked it up yet from the post office) to complete my Micro Stack. For the price, I couldn't find any alternatives to the Micro DAC. The only portable-size DAC that I'm aware of is AOS Piccolo but that's been discontinued. For me, the Micro DAC was a no-brainer as there wasn't any alternatives when I bought it a month ago, and it's a good product to boot.

For a while, I considered the Headroom Desktop line wth Home amp and Home DAC options, but with my source, I just couldn't justify the cost.
 
Nov 4, 2005 at 8:30 AM Post #10 of 18

Andrea

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Quote:

Originally Posted by RnB180
overseas company firestone, also a sponsor of head fi has a couple of dacs, no impressions Ive seen yet though.

http://www.firestone-audio.com/



You beat me to it
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I'm quite inspired by them Cutes. As I've been saying
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, I might even do the pioneer and try the Cute Beyond amp myself. Unless I get the Micro Amp, and in any event, when I have the $$.
 
Nov 4, 2005 at 5:29 PM Post #12 of 18

elrod-tom

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I haven't seen (heard?) anything yet that competes at the $600 price point with the Micro Stack...especially if you elect to get the Desktop module. I listen to my Coda/Overture (the limited edition that preceeded it) daily at work, and it never ceases to amaze me what a great product it is. Tyll and company really did their homework on this one.
 
Nov 4, 2005 at 7:50 PM Post #13 of 18

Andrea

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Quote:

Originally Posted by elrod-tom
I haven't seen (heard?) anything yet that competes at the $600 price point with the Micro Stack...especially if you elect to get the Desktop module. I listen to my Coda/Overture (the limited edition that preceeded it) daily at work, and it never ceases to amaze me what a great product it is. Tyll and company really did their homework on this one.


This is becoming cruel.
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Nov 4, 2005 at 8:36 PM Post #14 of 18

AdamWill

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socrates: remember, I don't want a portable rig. A gigantic, non-battery-powerable desktop-hogging monster would be fine if it sounded better at the same price
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Well, from the impression I'm getting here, it sounds like I'm probably best to go with the stack. The Aria + Micro DAC would be nice but possibly just a little overboard
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. I'll probably do this in a couple of months when the speaker rig is done. Thanks for all the input, everyone!
 
Nov 4, 2005 at 10:37 PM Post #15 of 18

Budley007

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Another bump for the MicroStack. It beat my Echo Indigo by a decent margin even with just the Micro Module. (Get the Desktop Module if you're not going portable as you say. -it's free-)

FWIW, I honestly can't see you finding the MicroStack lacking for the price. I can't find anything better at that price, but that may just be me. You see, I haven't searched for anything else since owning this combo.
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Headroom has several great options for true desktop audio, but you're looking at equipment that will push you well out of your implied budget. The MicroStack is truly an amazing combination for the price.

I don't want to officially go on record as stearing you away from Meier's gear. I use a Corda Prehead at home with the MicroUSB and that combination is bliss, but also, much more expensive. HeadRoom and Meier-Audio both make outstanding products. You won't go wrong with either of these companies.
 

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