Audio DAC/Amp suggestion


d33p

Member
Disciple
I am looking for a dac/amp combo.
Would be paired with my desktop n laptop (onboard sound) and cowon mp3 player.
My Headphones -> Senn HD555, Grado Sr80i, Ultrasone HFI 580, Denon AH-D1100.
So what are my options ?
E17 seems to be the dac/amp to go for but maybe there are better alternatives.
Budget is 10K but can be extended if needed.
Thanks in advance.
 

Chaos

Well-Known Member
Veteran
Audinst mx1 or mx2 is pretty good.[DOUBLEPOST=1396449685][/DOUBLEPOST]I have an mx1 that I will sell for around 8.5k. Lemme know if interested. Audition available before you buy.
 

d33p

Member
Disciple
How does E17 compare vis a vis mx1/mx2 ?
I would go with whichever offers superior SQ.
 

Chaos

Well-Known Member
Veteran
Never heard to be honest. However every fiio I have heard - e7 or e9 has been noisy and horrible.
 

Brendon

Well-Known Member
Veteran
The ASUS U7 is a pretty good DAC. I quite liked it. Very good headphone amp and is purely USB driven to boot.

Costs around 5.8k. Compared fairly well with most other DACs I have tried.
 

rdst_1

Well-Known Member
Veteran
The ASUS U7 is a pretty good DAC. I quite liked it. Very good headphone amp and is purely USB driven to boot.

Costs around 5.8k. Compared fairly well with most other DACs I have tried.

Help out a fellow HD650 owner and suggest a beginner amp/dac mate.
 

d33p

Member
Disciple
The ASUS U7 is a pretty good DAC. I quite liked it. Very good headphone amp and is purely USB driven to boot.

Costs around 5.8k. Compared fairly well with most other DACs I have tried.
is the performance of U7 on par with E17 SQ wise ?
I am also being suggested Audioengine D1......will that be better than U7 and E17 ?
 

Brendon

Well-Known Member
Veteran
I haven't heard the E17 so cannot comment on that.

But I tested the U7 with the following DACs sound cards -

1. Creative ZX - U7 is noticeably better for bass and treble.

2. Creative Omni - Haven't tested side by side but both are comparable in SQ and the Omni is slightly cheaper.

3. Music Streamer II - Pure DAC and I currently use this. The MS II has slightly better treble and soundstage but that's about it. The U7 is so darn close and it has a capable headphone amp to boot ! :)

4. ASUS Xonar STU - The STU has slightly better treble and detailing and a slightly wider soundstage with a more powerful headphone amp. However the U7 has better bass and is powered from the USB port only making it more convenient. In the end the STU's lesser bass bothered me enough that I would prefer the U7 over the STU.

5. Creative RX - Slightly better SQ than the Omni but its an internal soundcard.

The STU uses the same chipset as the Xonar STX/ ST sound cards.

@rdst_1 - The U7 and Creative Omni drive the HD650 just fine. :)

Honestly comparing the performance of the HD650 out of the Omni (don't have the U7 with me anymore) to my MS II + EHHA amp there isn't a world of difference. More soundstage, slightly better mids and slightly better treble. Not enough difference that I wouldn't mind using the Omni exclusively if my amp died and I couldn't repair it.
 

d33p

Member
Disciple
Hmm so now I have three options to choose from E17 / Asus U7 / Audioengine D1.
Looks like have to spend more time reading comparative reviews.
Thanks for the U7 info.
 

Brendon

Well-Known Member
Veteran
Consider Audioengine D3 also. More compact than D1.

D3 has slightly better treble and detail than U7 but lesser bass too.
 

d33p

Member
Disciple
For now I think U7 is more appropriate for me being my first DAC and @5.5K its really hard to ignore.
Any performance doubts have already been cleared by your robust endorsement and detailed comparison with other dacs.
Also it seems there isn't really much of a diff bet U7 and E17 in terms of SQ with E17 having a slightly more powerful amp but then none of my Headphones are particularly hard to drive so in the end U7 seems to be my best bet for the moment.
 

Brendon

Well-Known Member
Veteran
^^ Again I have never heard the E17 so honestly I have no clue how good it sounds.

However yes the U7 didn't really have any glaring fault whatsoever.

And yes for 5.5k it is pretty decently priced too. :)
 

d33p

Member
Disciple
Received the U7 yesterday and I must say its pretty good for an entry level dac.
The sound is much more refined and detailed with a punchy bass.
Only downside for me is the Dolby Home Theatre is not available for windows XP and the "Xear Surround" offered by U7 Audio Centre is not good enough infact its pure crap.
Wondering if there's any way to get the Dolby Home Theatre to work on XP ?
 

Brendon

Well-Known Member
Veteran
You still on XP ??? Wow !!!

AFAIK the audio stack was one of the major changes MS did to Vista and 7. So IMO there is no way for a Windows 7/Vista only software to work with XP. :(

Congrats on the DAC though. TBH I didn't really use the Dolby Theater software. Either disabled it or used it very sparingly.
 

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