Help me! Macbook Pro (FLAC) -> ?????? -> Swan M200MKIII
Feb 24, 2011 at 2:18 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 6


100+ Head-Fier
Jul 2, 2010
What would be the best DAC to put in this chain under $300 or so used?
I'm assuming I'd need one that connects into a USB port, although, the new Macbook Pro has a Thunderbolt port. Would this be better? If so, are there any DACs with Thunderbolt support?
It'd need to have stereo (L/R red/white) outs.
Thanks in advance!
regular_smile .gif

Feb 24, 2011 at 4:41 PM Post #4 of 6
Little Dot is a great DAC, I have one.  I'm about to audition a Benchmark DAC-1 Pre, as I'm looking for something with multiple inputs.  Giving the price differential, I'm quite hopeful that the Benchmark will sound better than the Little Dot (it had better, for more that 5X the cost).  If so, I'll be selling the Little Dot.  PM me if you're interested.
Feb 24, 2011 at 6:26 PM Post #5 of 6
You can also use the MacBook Pro's optical audio out. It doesn't look like it has one, but if you buy an adapter for the audio out jack that converts 3.5mm to optical, then you can run the optical cable. This is what I'm considering.
3.5mm to Optical adapter
Optical cable
I too am considering the Little Dot DAC I. I emailed Dave (or David) at Little Dot and he told me he was working on another DAC but it's still under development not to be released for some time.
I was hoping to use my MacBook Pro with FLAC or Apple Lossless files through the optical cable with the adapter to the Little Dot DAC I, then buy XLR cables to route the the Little Dot MK VI+, then route through balanced headphone cable to the LCD2.
I have none of these components, this is just what I'm scheming up. This whole solution I think would cost just a little over $2000 and for a balanced setup, a nice tube amp, the arguably the best headphones on the market, and a pretty good DAC. I know you could improve on the DAC but come on, for under 300 you get optical/USB input, balanced outputs, a Wolfson DAC. That's a pretty good value in my book. The only issue with the DAC is that it's prone to upgradeitis.
Feb 25, 2011 at 11:52 AM Post #6 of 6
This is precisely what I have, although I have the MKVI, not the VI+.  Same amp if you're running balanced.  Your strategy is perfectly sound.  This dac does not sound like a $259 dac, that's for sure!  My plan was to scale back the budget by starting with the LD dac, and then later on look to possibly upgrade.  I'm picking up a Benchmark today to try out, anxious to see the difference between a $259 dac and $1595 one. 
log0, don't forget to leave yourself adequate budget for tubes!  I have the Svetlana Winged C's for power dubes, and Valvos and Brimars to swap back and forth for drivers.  Cost me almost as much as the amp....

Users who are viewing this thread