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Help me look for a DAC System

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Hi all, this is my first posting to this forum, but have been following various threads for some time. A little bit of an introduction. I am primarily a headphone centric user, and currently using (and enjoying) the Earsonics EM4 customs. Beyond that, my other main headphones (not with me) are the HD650 and DT880. These have been powered by kit and DIY tube headphone amps of various designs (see signature below). I recently relocated to Hong Kong for work and have a young family. So time for music is limited; but an important part of my routine to unwind from work and relax.


Currently, I am looking for a competent setup to bridge between my Macbook Pro and the EM4. All of my music has been ripped into AAC Lossless and stored on an external drive, and have just started into HD and have purchased 24/96 tracks. I am currently exploring between Amarra Mini and Audirvana as the player of choice, after trying out some of the others. My requirements for the system are the following;


1. Maximum two box plus two cables between computer and headphone.

2. The boxes can't be full size (i.e., 19") and should be relatively small.

3. Price is not in the equation yet...

4. Sound and quality that will last, I don't plan on upgrading or replacing anytime soon.


To this end, I ask for your help in suggesting some solutions and sharing your experiences with similar requirements and/or setups. As you may see, I prefer tube amplification, but with the EM4, noises is an issue. Currently, my short list of items to consider are;


1. Weiss DAC-202

2. Mytek DSD-DAC Pre

3. Halide Bridge (I know it is only USB-SPDIF)

4. Metrum Octave/Quad (again, it is only a DAC with no computer connection or headphone amp)

5. Some sort of DIY DAC, but time and patience is limited, so will probably not be a real option. To provide example, I have all parts and Amplimo transformers for the Twisted Pear Buffalo II and Legato, but yet, unbuilt.


All thoughts and suggestions welcome and will be appreciated!


David [br]Gear: MBP, Calyx Coffee and iBasso D-zero.[br]Headphone Amps: O2, Elekit Tu882R, Mini MaxMillett, Bottlehead Crack, Mapletree Audio Ear++ and LV Millett.[br]Headphones: EM4, HD650, DT880, AD700, SE210 and HF5.

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