Upgrade to New DAC or just Power Supply for Audinst HUD-MX1?
Oct 20, 2016 at 12:55 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 6

darkarn

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Hi guys, here's my current setup:
 
Computer > USB cable > Audinst HUD-MX1 > RCA to 3.5mm > Fred's 12AU7 tube amp > 3.5mm to RCA cable > RCA switch > RCA cable > Swans M10
 
Computer > USB cable > Audinst HUD-MX1 > RCA to 3.5mm > Fred's 12AU7 tube amp > 3.5mm to RCA cable > RCA switch > RCA to 3.5mm cable Modded Superlux HD668B or Beyerdynamics Custom ONE Pro
 
(all components same; just showing both ways that I use my setup)
 
I am thinking of upgrading my Audinst HUD-MX1's power supply considering that many users seem to find that doing this will improve the sound greatly or at least, give me the full potential of the MX1.
 
I am considering either ifi DC iPurifier (use with given wall-wart of course) or ifi iPower; both of which can be found locally. I am also aware of AMB's sigma 11 but I am not confident of my DIY skills for this time.
 
At the same time, I am having doubts considering the following:
 
1. I may want a different USB DAC as I realised that it has a volume knob i.e. it has its amp too and therefore may not be as pure as what I like to think.
But I am also not sure if changing the DAC to either of these models will help improve SQ.

a. SMSL's M8
b. Maverick Audio's TubeMagic D2
c. Schitt's Modi 2 (or even Bifrost?)
d. JDS Labs' ODAC
 
2. Upgrading its power supply seems like a short-term move; from the looks of things I don't think I can bring over the ifi stuff in the future (especially the iPower) since most DACs use wall-warts of different voltages or even get straight from wall sockets.
 
So, the questions I will like to ask are these:

1. Am I understanding the volume knob issue correctly?
2. Should I go ahead with upgrading the power supply and then aim for higher-end DACs, or should I just change the DAC first before reconsidering this (i.e. if the power supply for the new DAC is good, don't need to)?
 
Thanks!
 
Oct 21, 2016 at 12:10 AM Post #2 of 6

NA Blur

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I think if you are expecting huge improvements in audio from either of those you may be sadly disappointed. Almost all DACs that I know of have some sort of amp to bring up the output to some useful voltage. Unless you notice some serious stuttering or noise issues then your DAC is probably just fine.
 
Let's start by discussing what you would like to improve upon sonically. Do you want more bass? Need more volume? Less noise?
 
Give us some clues as to what you are not satisfied with and we can help from there hopefully.
 
As for the power supply upgrade I do not think this will give you improvements in audio quality either. My bet is upgrading your headphones and some of your music will be the best place to start. This is coming from years of upgrading, learning from those at HeadRoom, Tyll, and the community in general.
 
I'll have an M8 coming next week if you can wait I can tell you if it is a decent DAC or not. This includes the linear power supply.
 
What types of music do you typically listen to?
 
Here are two tracks that will give you an idea of how good your setup can sound.
 
Artist: Taste of Honey
Track: Never Tear Us Apart (Robot Needs Oil Remix)
Album: Never Tear Us Apart (feat. Lukash) - Single
 
Artist: Days of Funk
Track: Water
Album: Berlin - Monday Morning Hours, Vol. 2
 
Artist: Stick Figure
Track: Coming Home
Album: Burial Ground
 
Enjoy!
 
Oct 21, 2016 at 4:20 AM Post #3 of 6

darkarn

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Thanks! Yes please, let me know how does the M8 works.
 
Also, the purpose of these questions are more for me to understand if my thinking and planning makes sense or not (i.e. I am not in a rush to buy)
 
My next goals for my setup is the following:
1. Find a DAC that allows two or more outputs, so that I won't need to rely on the RCA switch and too many wires
2. This DAC should also be able to give more details and maybe bigger soundstage; you can say that I am big on details :D
3. This DAC should also allow me to use my tube amp with both my powered speakers and headphones without any concern of double-amping (if that ever matters)
 
Idea is, if this DAC is going to have to be much high-end, I need to figure out if replacing the power supply of the Audinst will make sense or not (which you and many others have pointed out, doing so is not a good move)
 
Note that I am also thinking of getting either a Garage 1217 amp or Little Dot Mk III to replace my current tube amp; if this solves point number 1 it will make things a lot easier. (I am addressing this in http://www.head-fi.org/t/823564/amps-with-pre-amp-rca-and-headphone-out-possible-to-switch-between-both)
 
The music I listen to are of a big variety since they come from different music games.
 
Oct 25, 2016 at 12:15 AM Post #5 of 6

NA Blur

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Received the M8, VA2, and linear power supply today. I set everything and gave it a brief listen. So far it is very capable of driving the HE-400i. I am still playing around with the filter settings of the M8 DAC, but playing non-DSD files using optical I had the entire setup running in less than a minute.
 
Initial impressions is there is some harshness in the treble compared to my HeadRoom BUDA, but it is hard to say if it is the amp or just the signature of the HE-400i and the fact that the BUDA sounds a tad dark. I'll try to separate the M8 from the VA2 and test just the DAC for you in the next few days.
 
Nov 5, 2016 at 3:46 PM Post #6 of 6

darkarn

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  Received the M8, VA2, and linear power supply today. I set everything and gave it a brief listen. So far it is very capable of driving the HE-400i. I am still playing around with the filter settings of the M8 DAC, but playing non-DSD files using optical I had the entire setup running in less than a minute.
 
Initial impressions is there is some harshness in the treble compared to my HeadRoom BUDA, but it is hard to say if it is the amp or just the signature of the HE-400i and the fact that the BUDA sounds a tad dark. I'll try to separate the M8 from the VA2 and test just the DAC for you in the next few days.

 
Sorry for the late reply! How did it go?
 
Also, based on more auditions at shops and advice, I may be upgrading other parts of the audio chain instead
 

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