Hmm, what USB DAC for about $150?
Jul 29, 2010 at 10:05 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 12

mralexosborn

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I am going to begin this hobby. I will be getting a pair of HD555's in a few weeks. I only have an on-board sound card on my PC and don't feel like getting a better one due to the fact I do not plan on using speakers, just headphones. 
So, I want a good USB DAC (and amp) for around $100. If you suggest something cheaper, that is even better.
 
Thank you.
 
Jul 29, 2010 at 10:20 PM Post #2 of 12

KnightK

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For about $120 new, you can get an awesome Musiland Monitor 02 US (assuming you have Windows). For Mac or lower price range, the Nuforce uDAC is a pretty good bet ($100 new or find one used on the For Sale forums here ~$80).
 
Jul 29, 2010 at 10:25 PM Post #3 of 12

kboe

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I just got the NuForce uDAC yesterday and am enjoying the snot out of it.  For $100.00, I don't see what else could compete, but I haven't heard everything.  It does beat the Total BitHead though which is $169.00.  It also drives my DT990s really well.
 
Jul 29, 2010 at 10:42 PM Post #4 of 12

KnightK

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Quote:
I just got the NuForce uDAC yesterday and am enjoying the snot out of it.  For $100.00, I don't see what else could compete, but I haven't heard everything.  It does beat the Total BitHead though which is $169.00.  It also drives my DT990s really well.


I tested the uDAC against the Monitor 02, and I solidly preferred the Monitor 02, although it's a bit more expensive. Both of them easily beat the Bithead, which has a noisy background hiss (especially with IEMs) and the DAC section isn't that great, either.
 
So here's the breakdown for mralexosborn for uDAC vs. Musiland Monitor 02 US:
 
uDAC:
+ Cheaper ($100 new, ~$80 used)
+ Has a built in volume control
+ A bit smaller and easier to travel with
+ Works with no messy drivers
- Awesome DAC but a bit harsh/edgy without external amp, IMO, YMMV
 
Musiland Monitor 02 US:
+ Best sound quality in price range
+ Accepts USB and optical in
+ Works with low and high impedance headphones (has 2 headphone outs)
- Fussy drivers that only work in Windows
- A bit pricier but worth it ($122 new, hard to find used)
- No built in volume control (controlled through computer audio)
 
Hope that helps :)
 
Jul 29, 2010 at 10:51 PM Post #5 of 12

kboe

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It sounds like a sweet unit for the money.  I like that it has a optical input, a connection a usually prefer, but you cant get much more connectivity in a unit the size of the uDAC.  
 
Jul 29, 2010 at 10:55 PM Post #6 of 12

mralexosborn

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@ KnightK It certainly gives me faith you use the Musiland DAC for you HD650's.
 
Where could I get either of these other than eBay?
Are the drivers for the Musiland terrible for Windows 7?
 
Jul 30, 2010 at 12:18 AM Post #8 of 12

khaos974

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HRT streamer II
 
http://blog.stereophile.com/ces2010/hrt_music_streamer_ii_ii_and_pro/
http://www.amazon.com/HRT-Music-Streamer-II-Resolution/dp/B0038O4UFQ
 
Jul 30, 2010 at 11:50 AM Post #10 of 12

KnightK

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Quote:
@ KnightK It certainly gives me faith you use the Musiland DAC for you HD650's.
 
Where could I get either of these other than eBay?
Are the drivers for the Musiland terrible for Windows 7?


Ebay might be the only way. I picked mine up (lightly) used here in the F/S forums. It's a chinese product and not a name brand so it's not marked up and it's a good value. The drivers are great for Windows 7 (both 32 and 64 bit) and have never caused me any problems. If you need any help installing drivers, just PM me.
 
Aug 2, 2010 at 3:48 PM Post #12 of 12

jr41

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I'm a fan of my new NuForce uDac. It's made a big improvement to my computer audio setup, significantly increasing detail, separation and realism. It's well worth reading HeadphoneAddict's excellent review of the uDac for a more detailed impression:
 
http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/456945/first-impressions-nuforce-udac-usb-dac-amp-with-line-out-and-s-pdif-out
 
As a pure DAC the Musiland Monitor 02 US also looks very interesting, I would like to try them side-by-side given the opportunity. Not sure about the software volume control for the amp section though.
 

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