Opinions on a portable DAC
Apr 19, 2007 at 5:57 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 6


New Head-Fier
Mar 5, 2007
Alrighty ladies and gents, I need some opinions on this....

I'm leaving for a 2 week vacation to Mexico in 12 days, and I'm looking to purchase a portable DAC to go with this. I currently have a Headroom MicroAmp to go with my 30GB ipod and it WOULD make sense to get the MicroDAC to go with it, but here's the fly in the ointment...

I would like to use it at home with my desktop, but the DAC in the MicroDAC is identical to the one in my Elite Pro, so I can't see any benefit in going that route. Ditto with going with the Headroom Portable Desktop (uses the same DAC from what I have been told).

I'm really torn on what to do, and with me being an entry audiophile, I'm not really sure what route to go, hence my post.

What I am looking for is probably one with equal or better quality than the MiniDAC, portable, and with a cost not to exceed $350 - 400 dollars. I again would like it to exceed the MiniDAC because I would definitely use it at home as well.

Any suggestions would be more than appreciated, and thanks for any recommendations that you place.

Apr 19, 2007 at 6:28 AM Post #2 of 6
I can make a strong recommendation: SCREW THE DAC AND SPEND THE HOLIDAY WITH YOUR EARS OPEN!

Sorry to shout, if you were away for a few months I'd say just upgrade your DAP (although what to, I couldn't recommend), but I reckon it's such a waste to go overseas for such a short time and completely block one of your senses from enjoying a foreign culture etc!

Just my opinion of course.
Apr 19, 2007 at 6:47 AM Post #3 of 6
The answer is real simple. You can't use a DAC with the iPod as the iPod lacks the necessary digital/optical output. As rincewind suggests, just go enjoy your holiday and don't get worked up about a DAC since you can't use it with your DAP.

What's a MiniAmp? Are you referring to the Micro Amp?

When it comes to a portable DAC, your choices are severely limited. There simply aren't many choices when it comes to a commercially produced portable DAC. So, if you want a portable DAC, then your choice is clear, the Micro DAC, and fortunately, it's a great and versatile little DAC.

If, however, you want to get a home DAC, my suggestion is to look for a used DAC. There are many used DACs in the $300-$400 range. I picked up a used MSB Link DAC III for $250 but I've seen it go for as low as $150. I think it sounds better than the Micro DAC.
Apr 19, 2007 at 4:00 PM Post #4 of 6
The only time I would use it would be mid-afternoon while studying.. I have no issues with soaking up a foreign culture, however while studying, I find it a lot easier with selective music being pumped into my head.

And I edited my original topic to say "MicroAmp". I was tired.. sleepy...

Any other suggestions are more than welcome.

Thanks, Christopher
Apr 20, 2007 at 3:53 AM Post #5 of 6
For the sound quality required while concentrating on something ELSE, you do not need an external DAC. Hell, the worst of the worst iPods will do.

Don't think about buying a Ferrari when all you really want to do is potter down to the shops 1 mile away for some milk.
Apr 20, 2007 at 6:35 AM Post #6 of 6
As socrates63 mentioned above the iPod doesn't have a digital output so you cannot use a dac with it. If you bring along a laptop or some other source such as a portable CD player with a digital output, you could use an external dac, however. Unfortunately, there are not many commercial portable dacs other than the MicroDac with the exception of the Core Sound Headline which doesn't seem to be targeted to audiophiles. I believe that Rudistor makes the NKK-01se which is a portable combination amp/dac but it is well above your price range.

Happy Listening!

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