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Looking for 'entry level' desktop DAC between 100$-200$

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by sleeb, Mar 24, 2013.
  1. SLEEb
    Hello Headfi, first post here.
    Is there some kind of "Introduce yourself" thread? If so, please point me towards it. :)
    I've been lurking these forums for a few days as I've been on the lookout for a new set of cans. I've ended up deciding that I'll go with the V-Moda M-100. I come from the D1100, so as you can probably tell I am a Basshead :).
    In the midst of my lurking, I stumbled upon the term "DAC" and decided that this is what I've been missing! (Yes you've already destroyed my wallet :frowning2: )
    I'm still a bit confused about a few things though. The primary reason I want to get a DAC is to bypass my PC's internal DAC. I Mostly use my speakers for listening to music at home, so speaker connectivity is the main requirement. So the main question is:
    Will I feel a noticeable difference by connecting my speakers to a DAC and if so, which one should I get??
    At the moment I use the onboard soundcard from my Sabertooth P67. This is connected to my "Audio Analogue - Puccini" amplifier which amplifies my "Dali Concept 1" speakers.
    The plan is then to connect a DAC via. USB, and then connect the speakers through the Puccini amp to the DAC. (I assume this is the way to do it?)
    I mostly listen to what would be commonly associated as "EDM" even though I hate that term, I'd simply like to call it "Electronic Music".
    Besides that, I listen to Hip-Hop/Rap as well as some nu-metal and rock, like the sort Incubus produces, but I don't really limit myself to genres, if it sounds good to me, there's no reason it can't be a jazz or country track :). What I'm trying to say is that 70% of my music collection is probably "EDM".
    95% of my music library consists of 320kbit/s MP3's.
    The DAC's I've been looking at are:
    FIIO E09K - I don't really understand how the pairing with an E07/E17 would improve it, can someone explain this to me? Is the DAC in the E07/E17 better or?
    Audioengine D1 - Seems to have just what I need connectivity wise.
    Schiit Magni + Modi - These look amazing, but it doesn't seem like I can have my speakers connected simultaneously with headphones?
    Audinst-HUD-MX2 - This is a little above my budget, but it has all the features and connectivity that I could want.
  2. bootdsc
    I highly recommend the ibasso d-zero it functions as a usb DAC and headphone amp plus it has a battery for portable use as a headamp and can bypass the amp and just use it for a dac if you ever want to use it as a source with another amp.
    $110 gets you the d-zero and i have yet to find a dac/amp combo thats a better deal and no i don't work for them i just like the product.
  3. SLEEb
    The ibasso does look like a valid alternative, but what I'm really asking here is if I will be able to notice a difference with my speakers? Maybe a better solution would be to get a proper sound card?
  4. Satellite_6
    Well you don't need a headphone amp right? I wouldn't bother with a DAC/amp then.
    It will not make a huge difference but I would recommend the JDS Labs ODAC or HRT Music Streamer II.
    They are both 24 bit DAC's and the former has proven transparent performance. 
    They will sound as good as or better than any other DAC unless you like distortion or rolled off highs, etc. (there is no reason to spend more than $100-$200 on an excellent DAC)
  5. CoiL
    My recommendation - Aune T1 + Tungsram PCC88 tube (for electronic music) or Ultron PCC189 tube (better for rock/metal/jazz and suits better for every genre). "Stock" upgrade tube 6922EH (usually T1 comes with it) sounds pretty much same as Tungsram PCC88 but has littlebit less tight bass. Maybe you don`t even need another tube than 6922EH since most music you listen is electronic.
  6. SLEEb
    I wouldn't say that I won't need a headphone amp yet. I've just ordered the M-100 and it should arrive in about two weeks hopefully. But I think an amp might be necessary as my PC can't even properly drive my D1100's. 

    This device does seem very interesting! After reading a bit through the discussion thread, it sounds like it could be a one-time deal for me (but I guess you never know once you've tasted the sweet nectar of proper sound [​IMG]) . I love the design it has as well as the connectivity and layout, and I can get it for about 200$ within EU, which is a huge plus since I won't need to pay extra taxes when importing (EU is a bitch).
  7. lin0003
    Schiit Magni and Modi costs $200 in total, but after cables and stuff, you are looking at $250.
  8. bootdsc
    So the real question, is there anything wrong with your source and how it sounds now? Upgrading for no reason wont improve your listening experience but i can understand wanting to get rid of any hiss or static crackling. A clean source might be what you need. Now of course a USB DAC will have all the same problems as the built in soundcard if the pc psu is what caused the noise in the first place.
  9. SLEEb
    No I don't have any crackling or hissing noise, however sometimes with games running in fullscreen I do get some sort of weird hiss but it's very random when these occur. I'm merely looking for a cleaner output since I remember years ago when I upgraded from on-board sound to one of the older Soundblaster models from Creative I did notice a big difference.
    Besides this I'm looking for a more accessible way to attach my headphones for when I'm VOIP'ing or my roommate is sleeping, and a desktop DAC and or amp seems to be very good for this.
  10. CoiL
    One thing you have to consider, in case you missed it - tube buffer only works when using USB input. RCA line-in doesn`t involve tube in audio chain. 
    I`m also inside EU and got my Aune T1 from here for 129£ : http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/AUNE-T1-24bit-96kHz-Tube-Amplifier-USB-DAC-6922-Upgraded-Headphone-Amp-/251164443176?pt=UK_AudioTVElectronics_HomeAudioHiFi_Amplifiers&hash=item3a7a914228
    But I don`t know if you can use Aune T1 for VOIP`ing.
  11. SLEEb
    Wouldn't I just be setting the Aune as my playback source in the control panel and then set my integrated sound for the recording?
  12. CoiL
    Then it should work I guess. Never used external DAC/AMP`s for voiping, for that "crap" I would not waste my tubes.
  13. hodgjy
    HRT Music Streamer II.
  14. Currawong Contributor
    If it has everything you want, then I'd go for it.  I'd normally suggest seeing if one shows up in the classifieds as you can often get good gear somewhat cheaper, but given how new it is it might be a little while.
  15. HPiper
    Given everything you have said I would suggest you look at the Soundblaster Titanium HD sound card. It is well within your budget, has a good dac and a good headphone amp, plus it won't be a huge change from what you have right now, just better. They have a bunch of reviews of the unit on amazon, you might want to just drop in and read a few, see what you think.

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