Mid - High End DAC/AMP Combos (Please Rate)
Nov 15, 2012 at 7:23 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 61

theque

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 31, 2012
Posts
158
Likes
23
Location
Germantown, MD, USA
All,
 
After hours of research I have found the following 10 DAC/AMP combos to be in the mid - high end of the spectrum. Unfortunately, there are only a few reviews on each, and very few reviews which compare them to each other. Therefore, I am attempting to start a thread where people can rate them according to sound quality and value. As of today's date (Prior to Christmas 2012), these seem to be the top tier single unit portable DAC/AMP combos.
 
Please give your rating of highest quality sound and best value for the money. Portability, Features, and Battery life can all be easily found on each devices spec sheet.
 
Thanks.
 
 
Leckerton UHA-6S.MKII - $279 (leckertonaudio.com):
 
High quality AMP, mid quality DAC. Good size and good battery life. Build quality good as well.
 
 
JDS Labs O2+ODAC Combo - $285 (jdslabs.com):
 
Not portable. Either have 2 devices C421 + ODAC or have no battery. 
 
 
iBasso D12 Anaconda - $285 (iBasso.com):
 
No real review yet.
 
 
CEnterence DacPort - $299 (centrance.com):
 
Unacceptably weird shape. Gets hot over time.
 
 
Matrix Cube 24 192 - $300 (matrixelectronics.net):
 
No real review yet.
 
 
Venturecraft GO-DAP X - $465 (venturecraft.jp):
 
High quality build. Good battery life. Sound quality seems great, but very limited reviews as it is so new. 
 
 
RSA Emmeline "The Predator" - $475 (raysamuelsaudio.com):
 
Requires the DAC to be powered from the USB of the phone. According to Ray at RSA, this will drain the phone battery quite quickly. The DAC was intended to be used with a PC. High build quality and great sound quality. Just not portable.
 
 
TTVJ Apex Glacier - $495 (ttvjaudio.com):
 
I refuse to purchase a portable device at $500 with such low build quality. If the letters on the faceplate wear off so easily, what else was skimped on in the QC department.
 
 
Pico Portable DAC/AMP - $499 (headamp.com):
 
This requires a powered USB Hub to operate. Simular to the Predator, except the phone does not even have enough power to run it.
 
 
Fostex HP-P1 - 619.94 (Amazon as of this posting):
 
Very good DAC/AMP. Size and cost prevent me from owning this for my portable setup. Otherwise, reference quality.
 
Nov 15, 2012 at 9:19 PM Post #2 of 61

max pl

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Dec 29, 2009
Posts
252
Likes
12
good thread.
 
I'm interested in a few of these as well so I'd like to see them all ranked. 
 
Nov 16, 2012 at 1:29 AM Post #4 of 61

theque

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 31, 2012
Posts
158
Likes
23
Location
Germantown, MD, USA
Quote:
Centrance is coming out with the M8. You might want to add it to the list.

 
Agreed. But as there is no price, and I do not think anyone has listened to it yet to make any comparisons.
 
I will try to keep this thread updated as I will be purchasing one or more of these in the near future. With the USB out function of my Samsung Note 2, and the UM Miracles that are currently being made; I am going to want that last high quality piece of audio gear.
 
Nov 16, 2012 at 1:44 AM Post #6 of 61

theque

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 31, 2012
Posts
158
Likes
23
Location
Germantown, MD, USA
Quote:
I don't know if this is within the budget, but I, myself is considering
1) Pan Am (as amp, I heard the DAC component isn't amazing) + DACport
2) ALO Rx Mk3 + DACport

 
This is the Mid - High end thread, so the budget is there. However, I am trying to limit it to "All-in-One" devices. After talking to several people on the forum as well as those I work with (engineers), it seems that there is a huge market for a single device as it is relatively convenient. I am finding many of these people have been carrying an MP3 player + cell phone. Now with cell phones (in general not just iPhones) becoming more powerful with more functions, they are tossing their separate MP3 players. This happens to leave a pretty nice window where people are willing to trade their Cell + MP3 player combo for say a Samsung Galaxy S3 + DAC/AMP. On top of that, some of these are really small and inconspicuous. 
 
I would argue that with two sensitive vacuum tubes on top of the Pan Am, its not very portable.
 
Nov 16, 2012 at 2:27 AM Post #7 of 61

seraphkz

New Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 23, 2010
Posts
20
Likes
10
Quote:
 
This is the Mid - High end thread, so the budget is there. However, I am trying to limit it to "All-in-One" devices. After talking to several people on the forum as well as those I work with (engineers), it seems that there is a huge market for a single device as it is relatively convenient. I am finding many of these people have been carrying an MP3 player + cell phone. Now with cell phones (in general not just iPhones) becoming more powerful with more functions, they are tossing their separate MP3 players. This happens to leave a pretty nice window where people are willing to trade their Cell + MP3 player combo for say a Samsung Galaxy S3 + DAC/AMP. On top of that, some of these are really small and inconspicuous. 
 
I would argue that with two sensitive vacuum tubes on top of the Pan Am, its not very portable.

I agree. But reading some reviews, it seems like the Pan Am is semi-portable, not too bad.
Anyways, I kind of want to know how good the DAC is in the Pan Am. If it's half decent, I might just buy a Pan Am and call it a day.
 
Nov 17, 2012 at 11:44 AM Post #9 of 61

aamefford

I have a custom title!
Joined
Nov 28, 2007
Posts
3,914
Likes
644
Centrance HIFI-M8 is $699 and serves as a regular DAC/AMP combo, as well as extracting the digital signal from an iDevice.

Of the list, I have owned both the DacPort and the Pico DAC/AMP. Both sound excellent. The dacport plays 24/96 files and provides a bunch of power output running from the USB bus. It does not have a battery or analog input, so it is a computer DAC or sound card only.

The Pico plays 16/48 max resolution, has a battery for stand alone use, and analog input so it also works as an outstanding portable amp.

As noted, both devices have excellent sound quality, but different functionality. The dacport gets music out of your computer and into your headphones. The Pico does this and serves as a fine analog amp as well.
 
Nov 17, 2012 at 12:07 PM Post #10 of 61

max pl

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Dec 29, 2009
Posts
252
Likes
12
why does the JDS labs combo require an AC adapter and cant simply run through a USB port like a few other amps such as the Dacport you mentioned as well as a Fiio E10 for example?
 
i'd love to get the JDS combo but not if i have to run an AC adapter.
 
Nov 17, 2012 at 6:11 PM Post #11 of 61

The Monkey

Monkey See, Monkey DAC
A really sick dud
Joined
Oct 28, 2004
Posts
8,010
Likes
135
Quote:
Centrance HIFI-M8 is $699 and serves as a regular DAC/AMP combo, as well as extracting the digital signal from an iDevice.
Of the list, I have owned both the DacPort and the Pico DAC/AMP. Both sound excellent. The dacport plays 24/96 files and provides a bunch of power output running from the USB bus. It does not have a battery or analog input, so it is a computer DAC or sound add only.
The Pico plays 16/48 max resolution, has a battery for stand alone use, and analog input so it also works as an outstanding portable amp.
As noted, both devices have excellent sound quality, but different functionality. The dacport gets music out of your computer and into your headphones. The Poco does this and serves as a fine analog amp as well.

 
 
The DacPort is also a headphone amp.  Perhaps you mean the DacPort LX?
 
EDIT: Sorry, reread your post more carefully (shame on me) and I see what you mean and agree--just wanted OP to know that it is indeed also an amp (class A claimed), just not a standalone amp.
 
Nov 17, 2012 at 9:10 PM Post #13 of 61

aamefford

I have a custom title!
Joined
Nov 28, 2007
Posts
3,914
Likes
644
The DacPort is also a headphone amp.  Perhaps you mean the DacPort LX?

EDIT: Sorry, reread your post more carefully (shame on me) and I see what you mean and agree--just wanted OP to know that it is indeed also an amp (class A claimed), just not a standalone amp.


I've owned the LX and regular dacport. It wasn't clear I meant DAC plus amp. I was drawing the distinction that it runs from the computer bus only, and won't serve as a stand alone amp. I just didn't word it very well. For the record, I could hear no difference between dacport LX and dacport set at 1:00 on the volume pot. For this reason I found the dacport more versatile. I know others disagree.
 
Nov 18, 2012 at 1:15 AM Post #15 of 61

seraphkz

New Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 23, 2010
Posts
20
Likes
10
Just purchased the Alo Pan Am. We'll see how it goes. If the DAC is half decent, I might just use the Pan Am as a portable unit. If the DAC isn't so good, then I might purchase the dragonfly. What do you guys think?
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top