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mcminty
Moderating your content for the Australian Govt.
+879|5647|Sydney, Australia
Hey guys,

Recently I've been doing some research on USB DAC's (or DAC+amp) set ups, as I feel that my Sennheiser HD555's aren't reaching their full potential. Currently, I'm running my headphones straight from the audio out port of my Macbook Pro. The MBP is connected to a 1m 3.5mm cable, which is then connected to a shitty $5 3.5mm to 6.35mm converter (so I can plug in my headphones). The thing is, that for 5 dollars, half the time it fails to connect the two cables properly, giving me sound in only one ear/sound lacking bass.

It's just bullshit.


So, I've been looking into just going the "pro" route and purchasing a USB DAC/amp to provide audio out for my MacBook Pro. I would prefer one with an inbuilt amp, so it can decently my headphones as well.


Soooo, does anyone here use a DAC? Any general audio advice in this area would also be appreciated, cause aside from the headphones I don't know that much about audio gear.
Uzique
dasein.
+2,865|5396
Hate to sound like .Sup/Freezer here- but what the hell have you been doing with HD555's running from the onboard audio-port of a Macbook? Someone with the knowledge and budget to buy decent mid-level headphones can surely use the same consumer initiative and funding to buy a DAC or soundcard alternative. I'd definitely recommend buying a DAC, or any form of simple solution that will give the muchly-needed boost to your headphones.
libertarian benefit collector - anti-academic super-intellectual. http://mixlr.com/the-little-phrase/
mcminty
Moderating your content for the Australian Govt.
+879|5647|Sydney, Australia

Uzique wrote:

Hate to sound like .Sup/Freezer here- but what the hell have you been doing with HD555's running from the onboard audio-port of a Macbook? Someone with the knowledge and budget to buy decent mid-level headphones can surely use the same consumer initiative and funding to buy a DAC or soundcard alternative. I'd definitely recommend buying a DAC, or any form of simple solution that will give the muchly-needed boost to your headphones.
I know, I know.. but it doesn't seem as clear cut as the headphones. There is a decent selection of Sennheiser/Bose/whatever headphones in a majority of music stores (such as JB Hi-Fi, although they aren't really a "hi-fi" store), but when it comes to DAC's there is fuck all to look at. Given some spare time, tomorrow I should be heading to a local Hi-Fi store to see what they have. In the mean time, whatever advice you guys can offer would be good.
Freezer7Pro
I don't come here a lot anymore.
+1,446|5122|Winland

The Xonar U1 is quite decent. It's basically a D1 with a USB plug. It doesn't have a super headphone amp (2x80mW into 32Ohm, doubt the HD555s really need much more), but it's quite cheap, usually going for <$100. It's small and doesn't require any extra power supply, either, so it's quite good for laptops.

Last edited by Freezer7Pro (2009-07-12 04:35:43)

The idea of any hi-fi system is to reproduce the source material as faithfully as possible, and to deliberately add distortion to everything you hear (due to amplifier deficiencies) because it sounds 'nice' is simply not high fidelity. If that is what you want to hear then there is no problem with that, but by adding so much additional material (by way of harmonics and intermodulation) you have a tailored sound system, not a hi-fi. - Rod Elliot, ESP
mcminty
Moderating your content for the Australian Govt.
+879|5647|Sydney, Australia

Freezer7Pro wrote:

The Xonar U1 is quite decent. It's basically a D1 with a USB plug. It doesn't have a super headphone amp (2x80mW into 32Ohm, doubt the HD555s really need much more), but it's quite cheap, usually going for <$100. It's small and doesn't require any extra power supply, either, so it's quite good for laptops.
Mmm, interesting..


For reference, this is one of the ones that I was looking into. The Fubar III. (Quite an unfortunate name, lol). Obviously, one of the major pluses for me is the 1/4 inch output, so I can plug my headphones straight into it.
Freezer7Pro
I don't come here a lot anymore.
+1,446|5122|Winland

mcminty wrote:

Freezer7Pro wrote:

The Xonar U1 is quite decent. It's basically a D1 with a USB plug. It doesn't have a super headphone amp (2x80mW into 32Ohm, doubt the HD555s really need much more), but it's quite cheap, usually going for <$100. It's small and doesn't require any extra power supply, either, so it's quite good for laptops.
Mmm, interesting..


For reference, this is one of the ones that I was looking into. The Fubar III. (Quite an unfortunate name, lol). Obviously, one of the major pluses for me is the 1/4 inch output, so I can plug my headphones straight into it.
That one is indeed a good performer. If you're comfortable with spending >$200 on it, it's a keeper.

The only possible downside I see is that it needs an external power supply, something that can be a hassle if you're using it with a laptop and want to move around.
The idea of any hi-fi system is to reproduce the source material as faithfully as possible, and to deliberately add distortion to everything you hear (due to amplifier deficiencies) because it sounds 'nice' is simply not high fidelity. If that is what you want to hear then there is no problem with that, but by adding so much additional material (by way of harmonics and intermodulation) you have a tailored sound system, not a hi-fi. - Rod Elliot, ESP
mcminty
Moderating your content for the Australian Govt.
+879|5647|Sydney, Australia

Freezer7Pro wrote:

mcminty wrote:

Freezer7Pro wrote:

The Xonar U1 is quite decent. It's basically a D1 with a USB plug. It doesn't have a super headphone amp (2x80mW into 32Ohm, doubt the HD555s really need much more), but it's quite cheap, usually going for <$100. It's small and doesn't require any extra power supply, either, so it's quite good for laptops.
Mmm, interesting..


For reference, this is one of the ones that I was looking into. The Fubar III. (Quite an unfortunate name, lol). Obviously, one of the major pluses for me is the 1/4 inch output, so I can plug my headphones straight into it.
That one is indeed a good performer. If you're comfortable with spending >$200 on it, it's a keeper.

The only possible downside I see is that it needs an external power supply, something that can be a hassle if you're using it with a laptop and want to move around.
I figured from the exchange rate that it would go for about $290 here. The problem would be finding it.. and a little bit of the funding it part.

I'm not really bothered by needing an external power supply. I'd really only be using this in my room, or if I take my laptop somewhere to do sound stuff (not that I've done that yet XD).
.Sup
be nice
+2,646|5379|The Twilight Zone
I hate to sound like Uzique but WHY THE FUCK DID YOU RUN STRAIGHT FROM A MACBOOK PRO??
...........

I have 3 DAC's so I'm quite familiar with them.
http://www.apogeedigital.com/products/one.php

https://www.apogeedigital.com/images/one-gallery4_lg.jpg
Made especially for Apple laptops, the cheaper version of the extremely successful DUET.
Price? 249$

Apogee is a company that is also making professional audio components so you can be sure this is a state of the art product.

The One features a high end 24bit DAC (@ 44.1/48kHz)
and a headamp
https://www.shrani.si/f/3H/7h/45GTw71U/untitled-1.png
mcminty
Moderating your content for the Australian Govt.
+879|5647|Sydney, Australia

.Sup wrote:

I hate to sound like Uzique


I had a look at an Apogee Duet when I was last in the Sydney Apple store. They were going for like $750 (AUD), so they were totally out of my price range. That Apogee One looks interesting, although it has a 1/8 inch output. It would be ideal if I could find one with a 1/4 inch output, as that would eliminate my current problem of the 3.5mm -> 6.35mm converter being a piece of shit.

What other DAC's do you have?

Lol, and just how much of a difference will I notice going from the MBP to a DAC when listening through my HD555's?


EDIT: Here we go http://store.apple.com/au/product/TQ936Z/A

It also says it uses firewire 400. My MBP's FW400 port is early always connected to my TimeMachine backup hard drive.
.Sup
be nice
+2,646|5379|The Twilight Zone

mcminty wrote:

.Sup wrote:

I hate to sound like Uzique


I had a look at an Apogee Duet when I was last in the Sydney Apple store. They were going for like $750 (AUD), so they were totally out of my price range. That Apogee One looks interesting, although it has a 1/8 inch output. It would be ideal if I could find one with a 1/4 inch output, as that would eliminate my current problem of the 3.5mm -> 6.35mm converter being a piece of shit.

What other DAC's do you have?

Lol, and just how much of a difference will I notice going from the MBP to a DAC when listening through my HD555's?
The difference will be huge. The cable on the 555s is replaceable. If you don't mind spending 40$ on cable you could go with a better quality, shorter and terminated of your own choice (1/8) cable. Or you could make your own. The adapter will be annoying, trust me I have 555s myself. I also have have a very affordable Beresford 7520 DAC with a dedicated headamp and the unit also features a preamp.
http://www.homehifi.co.uk/main/main.html

Its not as lovely as the One but quite the bang for the buck.

Your budget is spot on as there is no point in more expensive units since 555s will be inferior.
555s also sound fantastic in synergy with a tube amp but that will make your laptop audio immobile.
https://www.shrani.si/f/3H/7h/45GTw71U/untitled-1.png
mcminty
Moderating your content for the Australian Govt.
+879|5647|Sydney, Australia
Thanks for the help there. It's 2am here, so I'll look into this more in the morning. Heh, I ought to look for a job this uni semester to pay for this shit
.Sup
be nice
+2,646|5379|The Twilight Zone

mcminty wrote:

What other DAC's do you have?




EDIT: Here we go http://store.apple.com/au/product/TQ936Z/A

It also says it uses firewire 400. My MBP's FW400 port is early always connected to my TimeMachine backup hard drive.
The One has USB. DUET is out of your budget isn't it? But you can always get additional firewire ports with addon pcmcia, pc express,.. cards.

I have EMU0404 USB
Beresford TC7520
Cambridge Audio DacMagic

Do you wan't smaller, portable DACs or can they be desktop DACs?
https://www.shrani.si/f/3H/7h/45GTw71U/untitled-1.png
mcminty
Moderating your content for the Australian Govt.
+879|5647|Sydney, Australia

.Sup wrote:

Do you wan't smaller, portable DACs or can they be desktop DACs?
I'd be looking towards a smaller, more portable one. If I want to take my setup somewhere, I don't want to lug around a load of gear.
mcminty
Moderating your content for the Australian Govt.
+879|5647|Sydney, Australia
JB Hi-Fi had nothing in the way of DAC's. Tomorrow, I'll try to head to an actual "Hi-Fi" store to see what they have.

><
VicktorVauhn
Member
+319|5317|Southern California

.Sup wrote:

Made especially for Apple laptops,
Its basically a USB sound card with amp right? what makes it for any one computer more then another?
.Sup
be nice
+2,646|5379|The Twilight Zone

VicktorVauhn wrote:

.Sup wrote:

Made especially for Apple laptops,
Its basically a USB sound card with amp right? what makes it for any one computer more then another?
It simply does not work on other systems. Probably software related.
http://www.apogeedigital.com/products/o … patibility
https://www.shrani.si/f/3H/7h/45GTw71U/untitled-1.png
Little BaBy JESUS
m8
+394|5074|'straya
/offtopic
You might already know of this site but it is brilliant.

http://www.audiojunkie.com.au/

I havent checked closely but I don't think they have DAC's, but since your an aussie and into sound stuff I thought i'd link you anyway.
Got my HD555's off there for $158, then saw them in JB Hi-Fi the next day for $220.
.Sup
be nice
+2,646|5379|The Twilight Zone
Here a couple portable but non battery powered devices:
http://www.whiplashaudio.com/amplifiers/dacs.html

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f75/iqube … le-432181/

http://www.raysamuelsaudio.com/products/predator

also check ibasso's site which is currently down for me

Just noticed Meier audio has a sale, there are couple good battery powered units on sale you might wanna check out:
http://www.meier-audio.homepage.t-online.de/
(under "specials" tab)
https://www.shrani.si/f/3H/7h/45GTw71U/untitled-1.png
mcminty
Moderating your content for the Australian Govt.
+879|5647|Sydney, Australia

Little BaBy JESUS wrote:

/offtopic
You might already know of this site but it is brilliant.

http://www.audiojunkie.com.au/

I havent checked closely but I don't think they have DAC's, but since your an aussie and into sound stuff I thought i'd link you anyway.
Got my HD555's off there for $158, then saw them in JB Hi-Fi the next day for $220.
Goddamnit. I got them at JB Hi-Fi.

Still. Cheaper than the apple store.


Cheers, will look at that website.
mcminty
Moderating your content for the Australian Govt.
+879|5647|Sydney, Australia

.Sup wrote:

Here a couple portable but non battery powered devices:
http://www.whiplashaudio.com/amplifiers/dacs.html

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f75/iqube … le-432181/

http://www.raysamuelsaudio.com/products/predator

also check ibasso's site which is currently down for me

Just noticed Meier audio has a sale, there are couple good battery powered units on sale you might wanna check out:
http://www.meier-audio.homepage.t-online.de/
(under "specials" tab)
Lookin' at the links now.



Oh oh oh, for the luls.. and to make you sound like Uzique again When I'm not listening to my headphones, the laptop is usually connected to some Logitech Z-4's. ("logitech"... *hides from Freezer*)

Someday I'll replace those. Actually, I've unsuccessfully been trying to find a thread where you are Freezer both recommend the same speakers. I think they were some cheapish monitors.. ?

What speaker system do you guys have?
Rod Foxx
Warblgarbl
+78|4909|Perth, Australia
Nobody knock the Z-4's. I have them and i'm quite fond of them. They aren't the greatest speakers but i could get them at cost so i figured why not.

Never buy anything audio from JB's minty, unless you know someone who works there and even still you can prolly find things cheaper elsewhere.

This site is a pretty good store. I've bought from them and a mate also buys there (admittedly his budget is significantly larger) and they deliver all headphones and most other products anywhere in Australia for free. You might be able to find something there as i believe they will order things in for you if they don't list it. Don't quote me on that though.
some_random_panda
Flamesuit essential
+454|5316

I like my Z-4's.  I had a line of generic speakers before that, and the subwoofer is sufficiently better for me not to care too much.
.Sup
be nice
+2,646|5379|The Twilight Zone
lol can't discuss not as i posted in the official drun k thread but i conpletely forgot about Pico DAC. Very good DAC/amp amd it has lots of fans. Recommended by many, check it out
https://www.shrani.si/f/3H/7h/45GTw71U/untitled-1.png
mcminty
Moderating your content for the Australian Govt.
+879|5647|Sydney, Australia

.Sup wrote:

Cambridge Audio DacMagic
I just got back from one of the more local Hi-Fi stores. They only had this model. Looked pretty nice, tho at ~$600(AU) it's a liiiiittle out of my range.
VicktorVauhn
Member
+319|5317|Southern California

.Sup wrote:

VicktorVauhn wrote:

.Sup wrote:

Made especially for Apple laptops,
Its basically a USB sound card with amp right? what makes it for any one computer more then another?
It simply does not work on other systems. Probably software related.
http://www.apogeedigital.com/products/o … patibility
oh... Do they list that as a feature? Sounds like a HUGE drawback to me... I mean I know wants it for his mac but still, after spending dollar amounts like that it would be nice to be able to use it on what ever computer you might end up using.

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