Musical Fidelity stuff vs E-MU 0404 ?
Jul 13, 2008 at 10:13 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 6


Headphoneus Supremus
Dec 12, 2003
Shawnee, KS
I currently have a bunch of stuff from MF, including X-Cans V3 and X-24K DAC with X-PSU (and Sennheiser HD-600 for output). I previously used M-Audio Audiophile 2496 as a digital source on my desktop and was pretty happy with it, but now I only have my new laptop and I'm looking for a decent source for bit-perfect digital audio output from it.

The first option which came to my mind was just to purchase something like M-Audio Transit and use it the same way I did with PCI Audiophile in my desktop... btw, it's quiet expensive here in Czech Republic, like 120$. But then I've started to think about other options.

I've noticed that my X-24K DAC is quiet obsolete in current terms of DAC perfomances... comparing to E-MU 0404 USB it looks creepy (ON PAPER)... So what about E-MU 0404 USB + X-Cans V3 combo? Is it worth it? Will the 0404 be a worthwile upgrade from X-24K+X-PSU as an external DAC (or even headphone amp)?

I've also noticed, that the 0404 USB's headphone amplifier characteristics are also better than X-Cans V3's ! Is it really true or is it just "on-paper" technical stuff, far from real world experience?

So now I have the following source options to choose from:

1) M-Audio Transit -> MF X-24K -> MF X-Cans V3 -> HD-600,
2) E-MU 0404 USB -> MF X-24K -> MF X-Cans V3 -> HD-600,
3) E-MU 0404 USB -> MF X-Cans V3 -> HD-600,
4) E-MU 0404 USB -> HD-600.

The second and fourth options are most confusing to me, considering how much better the 0404's DAC/Amp combo is better ON PAPER than X-24K/X-Cans V3's... but how does it correspond to real life ?

In case of third option, I'm a bit worried about the TS<->RCA issue, since 0404 only has TS outputs and my X-Cans only RCA inputs... I really like my current RCA-RCA ICs and not feeling good about changing them or fiddling with some weird adapters...

Please let me know your thoughts...
Jul 13, 2008 at 6:21 PM Post #2 of 6
The XCANv3 is much more powerful than the E-MU 0404 USB headphone amplifier. I use the E-MU 0404 USB > XCANv3 > HD580, and it is all good. No weird adapters either, I just use the appropriate cable.

I haven't heard the X-24 so I can't say anything about it.
Jul 13, 2008 at 6:49 PM Post #3 of 6
Thanks, speaking about the power - certainly X-Cans is much more powerful with its 1 Watt, but what about quality? Can you compare?
Jul 14, 2008 at 8:14 PM Post #4 of 6
The high notes from the 0404 tends to be uncomfortable for me. But I am not comparing right now, so do listen for yourself. I simply do not quite enjoy the sound of the 0404 headphone out. Maybe it's just me, because the 0404 does have a class A amplifier. Although through the XCAN it sounds just fine like from my Arcam CD player.
Jul 31, 2008 at 9:27 AM Post #5 of 6
Some more nuanced differences:

The E-MU 0404 USB bass hits deep and hard as does the XCANv3.

As I wrote before I found the 0404 sound to be a bit uncomfortable. That is because it really does not shave off any edges of the music. The "S" in songs gets a bit sharp, uncomfortably so I think, on some songs. The same goes for many high notes, on for instance Personal Jesus (Depeche Mode). The sound is at the same time crisp. Compared to the XCAN the high notes become emphasized, which to me is a good thing on Oxygene (Jarre).

If you worry about the Sennheiser veil, then in my opinion, the 0404 does not show it, but to me neither does the XCAN. Other people might disagree....

Now which one do I recommend? Both do what they do just fine, so it is a matter of taste. And as the old saying goes, the taste is like the ass, divided into opposite halves.

However... if you go for the 0404 and dislike the sound, don't go ahead and sell your HD600 before you hear them with a different amp!

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