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Recommendations on DAC with preout. Budget up to $230.

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by FunkeXMix, Jul 13, 2018.
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  1. FunkeXMix
    Hi all,

    Would really appreciate some help from the experienced.

    My analogue setup:
    • HK 670 integrated amp
    • Dali 2002 passive speakers

    Computer:
    • High grade power supply
    • MSI PLUS SLI Z370 motherboard with crap integrated sound implementation of Realtek ALC1220 to my ears. Good amping power but thats about it. No finesse in the sound. Bad soundstage, bass and clarity in highs.

    I never liked changing volume in Windows. It reduces a lot of detail in music just in lowering volume to 80%, so I am looking for a pre-out external DAC with a volume knob with the option to use fixed line out.

    Future proofing:
    • I might buy powered speakers in the future
    • Not interested in powering some hard to power headphones

    We can skip the Fulla 2 and Fiio e10k. My old motherboard from 2008 had better sound than those.

    Any recommendations? Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2018
  2. FunkeXMix
    Found this one so far:
    Scarlett 2i2
     
  3. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    Not for $230. There's the AudioGD NFB-11 for $370. Fixed output requires opening it up and putting in some jumpers (or removing them, you'll have to check the manual) though despite the switch out front.


    I don't think that one has a fixed line out option. Also even if you don't need a lot of power that one still has a 30ohm output impedance. To maintain its not too high to begin with damping factor you need to use a 300ohm headphone, but given its output is less than 50mW at 32ohms, there's the very real possibility it has less than 10mW at 300ohms (if its power delivery profile meant that output was higher at higher impedance loads, they would have used that figure instead, so we can safely assume it has lower output at high impedance).
     
  4. FunkeXMix
    Thanks. I will need to take that into consideration. The ohm matching is new to me so i'll have to get into that a bit. I read someone who used IEMs headphones with their Scarlett 2i1..well it didn't work. The IEMs I will use are 10ohms (FLC8n, amazing IEMs with the right tip on).

    Generally though, audio interfaces seems a more practical choice for a stereo setup. As for the DAC, I don't know. So the plan is firstly to buy these and compare and maybe then move onto AudioGD NFB-11:
    • Scarlett-2i2
    • Mackie Onyx Artist
    • Audient ID4
    • Steinberg UR22 MKII
    • Cyrus Soundkey
     
  5. TheoS53
    Head over to JDS Labs and just buy a $45 passive preamp/switch. It's called the OL Switcher
     
    Baten likes this.
  6. FunkeXMix
    Thanks. Good to know. But I will go for the audio interfaces for now cause I need the built in DAC as well.
     
  7. FunkeXMix
  8. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    FunkeXMix likes this.
  9. FunkeXMix
    Thanks. My IEMs are 11 ohm/8 = 2. That made things harder...
     
  10. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    HiFi DAC-HPamps have low output impedance. Problem is the ones that have both preamp and fixed voltage line outs are either higher than your budget with the cheapest being the AudioGD NFB-11 at $370+shipping.
     
    FunkeXMix likes this.
  11. drtechno
    for just under $100 gets you this one:https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/UR12--steinberg-ur12-portable-usb-interface?mrkgcl=28&mrkgadid=3248788399&rkg_id=0&product_id=UR12&campaigntype=shopping&campaign=aaShopping - Core - Studio & Recording&adgroup=Studio & Recording - Audio Interfaces&placement=google&adpos=1o2&creative=213185928233&device=c&matchtype=&network=g&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIvqehhIip3AIVAWl-Ch3jMwXEEAkYAiABEgIkVvD_BwE

    its made for 40 ohm headphones. My AKG K240 studio headphones @32 ohm sound good . Btw don't be afraid of this brand, as this brand is part of the Yamaha Professional Audio Electronics division. Yamaha bought them several years ago and made hardware to market under this software brand. But if you buy certain Yamaha commercial products (like a TF1 mixer) they package the Nuendo Live with it.

    Plus if you have crappy usb power, you can run it off of a usb battery :wink:
     
  12. FunkeXMix
    Hmm, knowing more about output impedance matching thanks to you.. it got me thinking as to the reason my motherboard onboard audio might sound bad.
    It adjusts the output impedance automatically according to the headphones connected. But when I connect my HK 670 integrated amp through a RCA to 3.5mm cable it always puts it at maximum 1000 output impedance. I suppose that could mess up sound balance quite a bit? Speakers are 4ohm each. Integrated amp gives 4 ohm to each speaker.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. escalibur
    (In case $299 is fine with you.) Burson Play with basic opamps
     
    FunkeXMix likes this.
  14. FunkeXMix
    Thanks. I will consider it if my integrated audio/portable usb journey fails. hifime 9018 also has the sabre dac but a suitable output impedance of 2ohm. Gotta try that one first.
     
  15. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    For headphones that could be problem, although it's hard to know what exactly the motherboard or soundcard does because of all the marketing gimmickry. Some for example also alter the gain thinking that high impedance is just overcome by gain, not by actual sustained voltage output as load impedance rises...although even then it's not that necessary given how high impedance gives some headphones higher sensitivity. HD6xx series is higher sensitivity than their AKG competition, and the HD660S dropped sensitivity a little when it went down to 150ohms (response is otherwise nearly identical to HD650's, so it's likely it was the exact same driver but with a new coil design).

    Adjusting the impedance though can still introduce problems even for high impedance headphones. As much as a 30ohm output impedance will still have more noticeable EQ effect on the bass on a 62ohm headphone, even a 300ohm headphone can get a midrange boost off a 150ohm output impedance amp circuit. However...


    ...This shouldn't be as much of a problem in your use case since a DAC's line output is a somewhat higher output impedance due to how it's going to "see" a very high impedance amp input anyway, ie, 1000ohms and up. If anything it should even have less of a problem as 1000ohms is fairly low; I mostly see this in portable amplifiers (some of which go down to 500ohms), while most speaker amps tend to be 10,000ohms (although it doesn't mean your HK has to be anywhere near that).

    ----

    In any case I just remembered something that could get around your need for both fixed and variable line out. Check if your HK670 has an amplifier direct input - not a simple "direct" input that bypasses the bass and treble controls, but one that bypasses the preamp circuit altogether. If it does, you can just use a DAC with preamp output through there and use the DAC's volume control like you would with powered speakers. This way you can get something within your budget, like an Audioengine D1, which has a DAC and preamp and you won't be paying for a high power headphone amp circuit.
     
    FunkeXMix likes this.
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