Portable vs. desktop amps
Oct 13, 2011 at 4:01 PM Post #16 of 27
You might look at the Yulong Crystal DA DAC/Amp
Yulong's D100 and U100 are pretty well regarded - albeit pricier than your budget. This is a bit above your stated price, with shipping. But you might be able to find a pre-loved one. 
Likewise the B version of the Audio-GD Sparrow - a touch above your budget, but the boost in sound quality from either of these manufacturers is pretty groovy.
Finally, I'm a big fan of the Hifiman EF2A Tube amp and DAC. Also slightly above your price, but cheaper shipping (via Amazon). This may not be the best performing amp/dac out there - but it does sound great, and is a LOT of fun. And a good entry to tube rolling, if you ever want to really geek out. 
Used versions of all of these can be found (sometimes on the for sale/trade forum here) and might bring them within your stated budget. 
Oct 13, 2011 at 6:28 PM Post #17 of 27
I've had no QC problems with my E9, other than the oft-reported vibration which is almost certainly related to the $5 wallwart and not the amp itself. The biggest problem, as previously mentioned, is the output impedance. Unfortunately, I havent seen any other measurements to confirm nwavguy's findings re excessive noise, and so far its been worth every penny with my modest source/cans.
Oct 13, 2011 at 7:32 PM Post #18 of 27
Mr . OP,
I'd suggest a desktop amp.
A decent one will output enough voltage for high impedance headphones,
enough current for low impedance headphones and
enough power for low efficiency headphones.
also look for a desktop amp with a low output impedance, say about an ohm or less to properly drive low impedance phones.

So basically you want versatility to drive any phones you might get in the future.

You might be able to get a used Matrix M Stage that fits in your budget.

Oct 13, 2011 at 7:32 PM Post #19 of 27
double post
Oct 14, 2011 at 12:07 AM Post #20 of 27
tbh with your budget, i would stick to buying the lower impedance beyers so you don't need as much voltage swing. even with desktop amps the options are pretty slim in that price bracket
those recommending coloured dac amps like those from audgd seem to have missed the point that he wants this for monitoring mixes, so deliberately colouring the sound is a really dumb idea.
Oct 14, 2011 at 8:10 AM Post #21 of 27
I've never really felt the Audio-GD or Yulong dac/amps were that colored. Certainly the EF2A is though. But just about anything is going to be better than his computers headphone jack unless he has seriously upgraded to a real soundcard (something better than the E-Mu series).
Oct 14, 2011 at 6:49 PM Post #23 of 27

Well, I went with the Maverick TubeMagic D1 DAC. Above what I wanted to spend, but given all the great reviews, I doubt I'll regret it. I'm about to enter the world of high fidelity!

Hey, I hope those words dont come back to haunt you. There are folks here who have bought kit on the basis of glowing reviews (and significantly larger pricetags) and lived to regret it, but most of us are in the same boat - we just have to take that leap of faith. Look forward to your impressions.
Oct 14, 2011 at 8:52 PM Post #24 of 27
Well, my budget was very small, and before this I was going to get the NuForce uDAC-2, so I think I'll be okay. I'd be shocked if a DAC right at the top of the list at head-fi didn't sound great to an audiophile-newbie like myself. Never even heard music through a DAC before.
Oct 15, 2011 at 12:19 AM Post #25 of 27
I agree that it has very favorable reviews, and at that price its difficult to argue for another option. Only real complaint I've seen about the Tubemagic relates to the build quality, but what do people expect for that kind of money ?
Jan 21, 2012 at 6:10 PM Post #26 of 27
usually a desktop amp will gives you a better impact and dynamic, while the portable gets advantages on portability and simplicity
for driving a big cans, go for the desktop one

Users who are viewing this thread