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  1. #1

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    Default USB DAC/Headphone amp combo 300 or less

    So I am looking to possibly get another USB DAC/headphone amp for my mini itx work computer. I have an Audio GD-NFB 5 which I kinda like as the DAC in my office at home.

    I need something smallish and around 300 or less. It does NOT need to function as a pre-amp but if it can kudos.

    I am initially looking at something like the Audioquest Dragonfly or Meridian Explorer. Both of those are small enough I might even be able to put them inside the extra room I have in the Mini-ITX build which would be an added bonus.

    I will be listing to FLAC via XBMC as the player and maybe on occasion through a CD drive on the computer, but rarely.

    Any other DAC's in that price range I should look at? Some criteria I am looking for are below:

    Needs:
    - USB input
    - Portable
    - Decent power for a set of closed headphones (think Beyerdynamic DT-770's, or Audio Technica's ATH-M50s)

    Optional:
    - Coaxial or Optical input
    - Asynchronus
    - 24 bit or higher capable
    - locking headphone jack

    P.S. I am posting this on a couple different forums so you might see this exact thread elsewhere if you frequent multiple sites
    Last edited by EndersShadow; 04-05-2013 at 01:10 PM.
    Advice is free, the Flea Market is earned - F1Nut

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  2. #2

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    Well so far I have suggestions for the following:

    Schiit Modi DAC and Schiit Magni amp combo
    HRT Headstreamer
    Audioquest Dragonfly
    Meridian Explorer
    Advice is free, the Flea Market is earned - F1Nut

    Lessons cost money, good ones cost LOTS - Tony Beets

    HT: APC H15 | Pio 51FD | Uverse | Xbox 360 | Squeezebox Classic | Integra DTR 5.9 | Carver AV-705x & M1.0t MKII Opt002 | LSi 15 | LSiC | LSi F/x | Kimber Hero IC & 8VS SC

    Office: Win 7 -> DacMagic w/ Pangea PSU | Sunfire TGP-II | Parasound HCA-750ii | Polk RTA 11TL | Cables TBA

    Bedroom: Uverse | Roku 2 | Samsung LCD | SurroundBar 2000

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  3. #3

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    On the flip side, if someone wants to recommend a straight USB DAC for my 2 channel setup in this price range and then I will just take the Audio GD to work, go for it.
    Advice is free, the Flea Market is earned - F1Nut

    Lessons cost money, good ones cost LOTS - Tony Beets

    HT: APC H15 | Pio 51FD | Uverse | Xbox 360 | Squeezebox Classic | Integra DTR 5.9 | Carver AV-705x & M1.0t MKII Opt002 | LSi 15 | LSiC | LSi F/x | Kimber Hero IC & 8VS SC

    Office: Win 7 -> DacMagic w/ Pangea PSU | Sunfire TGP-II | Parasound HCA-750ii | Polk RTA 11TL | Cables TBA

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  4. #4

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    I'm thinking about trying one of these for curiosty's sake. Same Sabre chip as Dragonfly.

    There's also a very thorough review.*
    http://www.amazon.com/HiFiMeDIY-Digi.../dp/B00AOH5JTQ

    http://www.amazon.com/HiFimeDIY-Sabr...pd_sim_sbs_e_1


    http://us.hifimediy.com/
    Last edited by dkr919; 04-13-2013 at 04:02 PM.

  5. #5

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    ^^^Now unavailable from Amazon. $46 from http://us.hifimediy.com/

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by dkr919 View Post
    I'm thinking about trying one of these for curiosty's sake. Same Sabre chip as Dragonfly.

    There's also a very thorough review.*
    http://www.amazon.com/HiFiMeDIY-Digi.../dp/B00AOH5JTQ

    http://www.amazon.com/HiFimeDIY-Sabr...pd_sim_sbs_e_1


    http://us.hifimediy.com/
    Yeah.... I dont know how I feel about that one... for 50 bucks there gotta be a bunch of places they skimped. If I really was trying to go low cost I would go with the HeadRoom Total Bithead which has been around for a long time and is pretty decent just outdated a little bit...

    A decent list of equipment to check out can be found in this document: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/...BVHFDbVE#gid=0

    A list of a bunch of decent headphone amps/dac's can be found here with reviews: http://www.innerfidelity.com/content...dphone-ampdacs

    I think I am liking the Arcam rPAC as an option provided I can find one for a decent price.

    As I dont have any high rez music and dont see my headphone setup benefitting from such I am hoping to find an older high quality DAC that is now within reach used.

    I am fine with a sample rate of 16 bit/44.1 as well provided its a good quality piece of gear.

    So new stuff is something I will consider but if I can find something used that meets my needs and is a bit cheaper than thats what I will go with.
    Last edited by EndersShadow; 04-15-2013 at 08:36 AM.
    Advice is free, the Flea Market is earned - F1Nut

    Lessons cost money, good ones cost LOTS - Tony Beets

    HT: APC H15 | Pio 51FD | Uverse | Xbox 360 | Squeezebox Classic | Integra DTR 5.9 | Carver AV-705x & M1.0t MKII Opt002 | LSi 15 | LSiC | LSi F/x | Kimber Hero IC & 8VS SC

    Office: Win 7 -> DacMagic w/ Pangea PSU | Sunfire TGP-II | Parasound HCA-750ii | Polk RTA 11TL | Cables TBA

    Bedroom: Uverse | Roku 2 | Samsung LCD | SurroundBar 2000

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  7. #7

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    Grant Fidelity TubeDAC-11
    Usher CP-6311, Shuguang S200MK, Shuguang S845MK, Pioneer BDP-51fd, Essence Audio HDACC, Douglas IC's, Douglas Alpha bi-wire SC's, Pangea/Douglas PC's, Epson 8100

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by DSkip View Post
    Grant Fidelity TubeDAC-11
    Will do some reading up on it. If you can give me a call later anytime from around 3:30 eastern to 6 eastern if you can....

    Also looking at the older AudioEngine D1. The D1 can be had for a relatively cheap price new and used and looks like it does just what I need without too much extra.

    For now I think I will just truck my mini computer, and Audio GD unit back and forth to work until I find something I really like. I am more than content to wait it out and drop on something really good if I have to, or just keep moving my Audio GD back and forth every day (since I dont think I want about 1k of gear sitting in my cubicle at work).
    Last edited by EndersShadow; 04-15-2013 at 09:45 AM.
    Advice is free, the Flea Market is earned - F1Nut

    Lessons cost money, good ones cost LOTS - Tony Beets

    HT: APC H15 | Pio 51FD | Uverse | Xbox 360 | Squeezebox Classic | Integra DTR 5.9 | Carver AV-705x & M1.0t MKII Opt002 | LSi 15 | LSiC | LSi F/x | Kimber Hero IC & 8VS SC

    Office: Win 7 -> DacMagic w/ Pangea PSU | Sunfire TGP-II | Parasound HCA-750ii | Polk RTA 11TL | Cables TBA

    Bedroom: Uverse | Roku 2 | Samsung LCD | SurroundBar 2000

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  9. #9

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    The D1 was excellent and well worth the money. If you research my thread on DAC's , you can re read my impressions.
    The Dragonfly is also very good and what I like about it I've also posted about , the really nice thing about it is the fact it uses USB 5v to power itself. I really like that.
    I recently experienced the Meridian Explorer. I was hanging out with the Rep and he just so happened to have one in his pocket. He personally uses it himself. He let me try it out and I was blown aaway on it's quality. very clear and fantastically musical. This comes to no shocker if you know anything about the company. They don't build anything that sucks IMO and most of the worlds as well. They pay close attention to all details and I believe waited in the wings for Audioquest to make their move so they can make theres. Good move at that.

    I strongly suggest checking out all 3 DAC's as for the money , I don't see how anyone could go wrong with any of these products.
    If I had to rate them I would as follows.

    3) Audioengine
    2) Audioquest
    1) Meridian
    All are very close but If I had to buy one , I think the Dragon fly or the Explorer would come home with me. Nothing wrong with the Audioengine at all but a personal opinion.
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.

  10. #10

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    Side note ,
    I heard the Meridian Explorer with a pair of B&W headphones , WOW is all I can say. The best sounding head phone experience I have had to date. I was floored on the quality. I didn't catch the model number of the B&W's but they where remarkable. The Rep said the Dac took them to another level and loves the combo.
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by mantis View Post
    The D1 was excellent and well worth the money. If you research my thread on DAC's , you can re read my impressions.
    I did but I didnt know if you put the D1 up against the Dragonfly on headphones or just as a DAC alone. I also didnt know how fresh your thoughts were on the D1 when you looked at the Dragonfly. I read all your threads on your DAC impressions again earlier today so I wanted to just make sure I kinda got what you were saying quality wise....

    Quote Originally Posted by mantis View Post
    The Dragonfly is also very good and what I like about it I've also posted about , the really nice thing about it is the fact it uses USB 5v to power itself. I really like that.
    Yeah I like that, my main issue is digital volume control as my headphone setup at work is running headless with no keyboard or mouse input so I need a physical knob if possible. I do have a IR reciever in the computer but using ASIO or WASAPI on a Win 7 machine I think disables the ability to control volume via the computer IIRC, which would be a problem with the dragonfly and also the explorer.


    Quote Originally Posted by mantis View Post
    I recently experienced the Meridian Explorer. I was hanging out with the Rep and he just so happened to have one in his pocket. He personally uses it himself. He let me try it out and I was blown away on it's quality. very clear and fantastically musical. This comes to no shocker if you know anything about the company. They don't build anything that sucks IMO and most of the worlds as well. They pay close attention to all details and I believe waited in the wings for Audioquest to make their move so they can make there's. Good move at that.

    I strongly suggest checking out all 3 DAC's as for the money , I don't see how anyone could go wrong with any of these products.
    If I had to rate them I would as follows.

    3) Audioengine
    2) Audioquest
    1) Meridian
    All are very close but If I had to buy one , I think the Dragon fly or the Explorer would come home with me. Nothing wrong with the Audioengine at all but a personal opinion.
    Thanks for that. Of those three the D1 is the easiest to incorporate since it actually has a physical knob. However I may have to try all three out as I dont really want to cut corners with as much work and effort I put into the computer itself to make it good high quality. I do have a IR receiver in the unit and it works with my Windows Media Center remote but again not sure how the digital volume control will work with ASIO or WASAPI through XBMC.

    The Meridian Explorer in the Flea Market has my eye and if things align I might just scoop it up and wait to get my headphones (yet again)....

    Someday this setup will be done... (after I get a better power supply for my computer, a decent surge protector, headphones, usb cable, lol....)
    Last edited by EndersShadow; 04-15-2013 at 11:01 PM.
    Advice is free, the Flea Market is earned - F1Nut

    Lessons cost money, good ones cost LOTS - Tony Beets

    HT: APC H15 | Pio 51FD | Uverse | Xbox 360 | Squeezebox Classic | Integra DTR 5.9 | Carver AV-705x & M1.0t MKII Opt002 | LSi 15 | LSiC | LSi F/x | Kimber Hero IC & 8VS SC

    Office: Win 7 -> DacMagic w/ Pangea PSU | Sunfire TGP-II | Parasound HCA-750ii | Polk RTA 11TL | Cables TBA

    Bedroom: Uverse | Roku 2 | Samsung LCD | SurroundBar 2000

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