Help Decide Which (USB) DAC
Dec 10, 2007 at 6:05 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 17

noddyisking

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I am setting up a headphone rig alongside a current desk audio setup. Currently I have the latest iMac feeding from USB through an Edirol UA-1Ex and an old Marantz KI Signature CD63 Mk II as sources. Both go through a Nad C340 integrated amp to Mordaunt Short 902i speakers which are wall mounted to either side of the iMac. Increasingly I am storing music on lossless files on the Mac and using this source as much as the CD player.
I recently bought a Musical Fidelity X-Can V3 amp and Sennheiser HD650's and feel that the next logical upgrade is to put a reasonable DAC between the Mac and the X-Can. I may try routing the CD through the DAC and back to the Nad amp via the line out on the X-Can if this improves the sound from the Marantz through the headphones and/or speakers.
Researching options, I found diykits in Hong Kong who appear to offer highly spec'd DACs at very good prices, even allowing for shipment and import duties to Ireland. I'm looking for advice from anyone who has experience with these products and this seller.
One of my basic questions is around USB output from the Mac. Is the potential sound quality better coming directly from a USB port rather than through the optical out on the Mac.
If this is the case then the Citypulse DA2.03e looks like the best option from diykits. If not, are either of the Citypulse DACs worth the extra cost compared to the Zhalou D3.
Can anyone suggest other alternatives to these DACs for less than $500
All help and opinions welcome and much appreciated
 
Dec 10, 2007 at 9:02 PM Post #3 of 17

epaludo

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Quote:

Originally Posted by cconnaker /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Headroom Mini DAC


Aren't you trying to recommend the MicroDAC? I don't remember of any Mini DAC from Headroom. If there's one, my mistake, sorry.

I own a Headroom MicroDAC (not the 2007 model) and i personally love it. It's a very versatile DAC (has USB, coaxial and optical inputs), very compact and it sounds awesome. The 2007 model retails for $399. The older model used to retail for $299 and it can be found for around $215 ...
 
Dec 10, 2007 at 9:04 PM Post #4 of 17

cconnaker

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Quote:

Originally Posted by epaludo /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Aren't you trying to recommend the MicroDAC? I don't remember of any Mini DAC from Headroom. If there's one, my mistake, sorry.


oops! You're exactly right! I forgot they named them micro and ultra micro. For some reason I was thinking mini and micro. Thanks for the correction.
 
Dec 10, 2007 at 10:53 PM Post #5 of 17

patgod

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Not to be confused with Headroom's Macro Dac, "The Endtable".
 
Dec 10, 2007 at 11:37 PM Post #6 of 17

noddyisking

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Hey patgod,
See you have a headsix, got mine today and impressed already. What are your thoughts on the best choice of USB DAC for $400. I just spoke to a guy at audiomagus after getting their name from a different thread. He says that they have a new USB DAC being launched in the new year at around $400 that will outperform products that cost 2 or 3 times as much.
 
Dec 11, 2007 at 12:02 AM Post #7 of 17

patgod

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That's a good question. I'm looking for a new usb dac myself and can't for the life of me make up my mind.

I'm thinking for $400 the headroom micro dac is probably a safe bet, but personally, I'm thinking of waiting and saving up for the ultra micro dac.

Other dacs in the running: Emu 0404 usb (under $200), Fubar (WAY under $200), Keces usb dac for sale on ebay (waiting to hear more reviews about this one).

The more I wait though, the more I may just save and invest in something I'll keep for a long time like the Benchmark Dac1 now with usb. (or heck, Jan has hooked me, maybe I'll get an Opera).

Will keep an eye on Audiomagus, tho.
wink.gif
 
Dec 15, 2007 at 11:56 PM Post #8 of 17

noddyisking

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I ran out of patience!!! and cut and ran on instinct. Just ordered a MHDT Laboratories Paradisea + for $600. Obviously I couldn't listen to it but the feedback and reviews on lots of review sites and forums was consistently excellent wrt the build quality, sound and seller customer service. In the end I decided to go for a non over sampling DAC. If I think that i want to over sample I will buy a separate processing unit. So hopefully I have bought the highest spec DAC available for $600. I will post when I burn it in and listen. But as I will have nothing to compare it to, it will be a very subjective opinion.
 
Dec 16, 2007 at 3:47 AM Post #9 of 17

tyrion

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Dec 16, 2007 at 4:54 PM Post #12 of 17

FreeBlues

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Quote:

Originally Posted by noddyisking /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I ran out of patience!!! and cut and ran on instinct. Just ordered a MHDT Laboratories Paradisea + for $600.


Perhaps a dumb question, but does this have a USB input? How are you connecting this to your computer?
 
Dec 16, 2007 at 6:22 PM Post #13 of 17

tyrion

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Quote:

Originally Posted by noddyisking /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Thanks for that link. I will read through the article later. Does anyone have a view and/or comparisons between connecting from a Mac to a DAC via USB or via Toslink?


Sorry to give you homework but if you want to answer the question, the search function is helpful (you may have tried already). Here is an article by Steve Nugent of Empirical Audio on the subject: nugent

You may want to check out this thread: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f46/da...ptical-274781/
 
Dec 16, 2007 at 7:36 PM Post #15 of 17

bowraboy

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I owned a Constantine + & preferred the optical out from my imac.

I think the USB I/P on the DAC converts it to SPDIF, so I thought it better just to feed it with optical.

Don't really remember if there was a big difference between the two. Really nice sounding DAC though.
 

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