USB DAC for headphone amp and home stereo (Headroom Desktop amp?)
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Clemit

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So you guys got me now, too. I want to upgrade. After reading Head-Fi for quite some time and buying Sennheiser and Grado headphones I would like to replace my Total Bithead (which I really like, btw).
Since I'm using my computer as the sole source (notebook with external harddrive and apple lossless) I need a USB DAC and amp. The new Headroom Desktop amp with home module and DAC looks great but the people over there seem to be really busy (I sent them an email exactly one month ago without reply) so I figured it's time to start my first thread on this board:

I want to be able to use the same DAC for my headphone amp and my home stereo. Does this mean I need a separate DAC (like the micro DAC) from where I go to either the headphone amp or the integrated amp which drives my speakers? Or should I get the headphone amp with integrated DAC and use it as a pre-amp? And if so, would I connect it to the normal aux input of the speaker amp or would I split my speaker amp (into pre-amp and power amp) and connect it to the main in, effectively replacing the integrated pre-amp of the speaker amp with the headphone amp (I think this would render the volume knob of the speaker amp unfunctional and I would have to use the one of the headphone amp to adjust the volume)?

I'm looking for the best SQ here, and also enough power to drive my speakers (B&W Matrix 3 Series 2). My stereo amp is a NAD C350 which sold for €500 two years back. I'm sure other people use the computer as a source for both headphones and stereo as well, what do you guys do?

Thanks for your help!
-Clemens
 
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YngwieJMalmsteen

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Both of the scenarios you presented would work, my guess is that it would sound best used as a line input (not bypassing your amps pre). Of course, why not try it both ways?

I think you'll be quite pleased with the improvement over the bithead. If you get the micro you can bypass the volume control (not much difference, IMO) but you'd have to use an RCA-mini as opposed to a (more available) RCA-RCA.

As for emailing headroom, I don't think you'll get a response from tyll or jamey (you might try PMing) but mario (mario@headphone.com) has always been prompt and helpful in his replies. Good luck.
 
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Clemit

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Thanks a lot for your reply. I guess I'll try to contact Mario one more time. It's just that if I get the Micro DAC separate I can go directly into my home stereo amp and I think the Desktop Amp with DAC doesn't let me bypass the headphone amp to just use the DAC since the output in the rear is variable. So getting the integrated headphone amp means I always have to use it as a pre-amp with my hifi system. And I don't know how that affects SQ.
 
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Teerawit

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Clemit
Thanks a lot for your reply. I guess I'll try to contact Mario one more time. It's just that if I get the Micro DAC separate I can go directly into my home stereo amp and I think the Desktop Amp with DAC doesn't let me bypass the headphone amp to just use the DAC since the output in the rear is variable. So getting the integrated headphone amp means I always have to use it as a pre-amp with my hifi system. And I don't know how that affects SQ.


That's true, you cannot separate the DAC from the amplifier. If you have a better pre-amp to use at home...then a standalone DAC would be better.
 
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Clemit

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Teerawit
That's true, you cannot separate the DAC from the amplifier. If you have a better pre-amp to use at home...then a standalone DAC would be better.


Thanks, I should go with a separate DAC then, it would be a lot more flexible.
 
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