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Opinions on integrated dac/headamp with DSD


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For quite some time now i've wanted to try out some quality headphones, i've never head the pleasure of hearing what all the fuss is about so i've finally decided to do a little desktop headphone setup for when i'm working on the computer.

 

I'm not looking for anything crazy and don't feel like spending the cash on separate dac and headamp, i'd prefer to have a nice little all in one package.

 

There are lots of devices out there that are integrated dac/headamp with volume controls built in but I can't seem to find many with DSD.

 

First choice was the Geek Pulse, but I quickly scratched that off my list since I don't feel like waiting until July (at the earliest by the sounds of it)

 

Second choice was the Resonessence Concero HP. Was really drawn to it because of all the great reviews but i'm going to scratch it off my list because of the functionality. For some reason it really bothers me that they made a HD and HP version instead of combining the 2. It upsets me that if I get the HP I can ONLY use it for headphones, kind of upsetting that they couldn't put some simple analog outputs so that I could incorporate it as a DAC for other uses instead of just headphone use, likewise with the HD, how hard would it have been to put a headphone output on it :(

 

And that takes me to the end of my list.

 

Does anyone have any other recommendations? And yes, I know there are hundreds of great solutions without DSD, i'd rather not debate DSD vs. not having DSD, it is an option I would really like so i'd love to hear any other opinions on something that meets these requirements.

 

Budget is $1500 max.

 

Thanks

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Hi There, I am just looking for the same thing, I was checking the Teac UD 501 and in fact enrolled to this forum to see if anyone has it and read his/her opinions. Here below the link:

Product: UD-501 | TEAC

 

So anyone has this USB DAC/HeadPhones Amp?

thanks,

A

 

BTW was also looking for the "Introduce yourselfie" thread, is there one?

Sources: Analog: Goldnote Giglio, Rega Exact+Rega Aria; Digital: Denon DVD A1 UD & Mac-mini + Rega DAC-R. Amps: Solid State: Omega Audio Integrated Mono; Tubes: Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL+ZOTL40 mk II.

Speakers: Ascendo D7-C.

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Hi There, I am just looking for the same thing, I was checking the Teac UD 501 and in fact enrolled to this forum to see if anyone has it and read his/her opinions. Here below the link:

Product: UD-501 | TEAC

 

So anyone has this USB DAC/HeadPhones Amp?

thanks,

A

 

BTW was also looking for the "Introduce yourselfie" thread, is there one?

 

I'm on the same journey - I actually bought the HP Concero, but I couldn't get it to be stable at any rate over 24/192 (which ruled out DXD) or at DSD 128 :( so sent it back.

 

I'm pretty sure the TEAC does not have a powerful enough headphone amp for my HE-500s.

 

I've settled on the Geek Pulse X (with all the available upgrades) and have resigned myself to wait until June / July. In the meantime, I should receive my Geek Out this month, and start whetting my whistle with that ;)

John Walker - IT Executive

Headphone - MacMini running Roon Server > Netgear Orbi wireless > Blue Jeans Cable Ethernet > mRendu Roon endpoint > iFi Audio xDSD + iFi Audio xCAN > Focal Elegia

Home Theater - Mac Mini running Roon Server > Blue Jeans Cable HDMI > Pioneer Elite SC-81 > MartinLogan Motion series home theater speakers + M&K subwoofer

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I have the TEAC UD-501 in my desk/office system and I highly recommend it. The DAC is great for PCM and DSD. Very smooth sound but retains detail. It measures well (check out Miska's and other's measurements).

 

At first the different filters and slow/sharp settings were too much for me to mess with. It was too many (good) choices. But I soon learned that the different filters and settings come in handy when you listen to a wide variety of music and different headphones. I may use slow with up-sampling for modern dynamically compressed music. I go NOS mode and maybe up-sample with software (Audirvana+) for better recordings or some high res. I even experimented with PCM to DSD conversion with JRiver.

The headphone amp is more than respectable, it is very good for many headphones. I've never really had a "perfect pairing" until I heard some Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro (32ohms) with the headphone amp and DAC in the TEAC. The Beyers are very detailed and have strong bass but the TEAC keeps the treble from crossing the line to "fatiguing" and controls the bass. With this pair your can hear EVERYTHING. Musicians turning the pages of the sheet music. Vocal cues and conversation between the players while they play live. Some far off synth line in an electronica aural landscape you missed before. Grunts and coughs of the musicians. I could go on... the Beyers are probably more a mixing/monitoring headphone, but with the TEAC they are very musical and fun and not too clinical.

Also great with: Denon D2000, Grado SR-80

Very good with: Sennheiser Amperior, Audio Technica ATH-ASW9

I'd bet it is good with most headphones under 200-250 Ohms.

It drives my 300 ohm Sennheiser OK and to sufficient volume, but it sounds thin and a not very detailed. the 650s sound much better on my more powerful headphone amp (Musical Fidelity).

 

Others that I can think of with DSD would be the iFi iDSD nano ($200) and I think the Mytek has a good headphone amp in it too ($1600). You could also get any PCM DAC/amp and add a Schitt LOKI for DSD ($150). I have no experience with these.

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Do you know what headphones you'll be using?

Like speakers, power requirements, resolution and transparency are all over the map. If you start there, the rest of the chain may narrow down quickly.

 

Oppo has released some info on their player, Modwright is cooking up something. There will most likely be many more DSD capable integrateds in the bullpen after CES this week.

Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not." — Nelson Pass

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I'm not looking for anything crazy and don't feel like spending the cash on separate dac and headamp, i'd prefer to have a nice little all in one package.

Sometimes that's the best approach, it gives you the best flexibility. You need to know what load will be your headphones - 32 ohm (like Grado SR60)?

An observation - Analog volume control is a must for 'modern' multilevel Sigma-Delta DAC's.

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Hi All!

and thanks for your contributions. I'll be using the AKG K701 Headphones. Even though, I must say, the main use I'll do of the box is as USB DAC. Anyway here are the specs of my headphones:

- Impedance at 1kHz: 62 ohms.

- Sensitivity: 105dB/V.

- Maximum input power: 200mW

Sources: Analog: Goldnote Giglio, Rega Exact+Rega Aria; Digital: Denon DVD A1 UD & Mac-mini + Rega DAC-R. Amps: Solid State: Omega Audio Integrated Mono; Tubes: Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL+ZOTL40 mk II.

Speakers: Ascendo D7-C.

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Apart of this,

 

what I wanted to say is that in the recent years I have seen the number of USB/DAC/PRE/Whatever producers increasing enormously. So much that I am loosing a bit grip on the features/functions that are really important, and that are really "future-proof".

Eg. some are offering also HDMI-in like this one: Essence DAC Comparison Chart

Others are offering DSD/DXD capabilities, like the Teac and few others

Others are offering all sorts of variety of connections, eg AT&T, I2S, and all the like!

Finally, some require drivers on mac/win pc and my experience with drivers is to... stay away from drivers!!!

 

This all makes very difficult to make a choice. Perhaps you all could help shed a light on all this fuss???!!

 

cheers from Italy

Sources: Analog: Goldnote Giglio, Rega Exact+Rega Aria; Digital: Denon DVD A1 UD & Mac-mini + Rega DAC-R. Amps: Solid State: Omega Audio Integrated Mono; Tubes: Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL+ZOTL40 mk II.

Speakers: Ascendo D7-C.

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Do you know what headphones you'll be using?

Like speakers, power requirements, resolution and transparency are all over the map. If you start there, the rest of the chain may narrow down quickly.

 

Oppo has released some info on their player, Modwright is cooking up something. There will most likely be many more DSD capable integrateds in the bullpen after CES this week.

 

 

I have Beyerdynamic t1's. I believe they are 600ohm and have very high sensitivity, above 100db/w/m if i'm not mistaken.

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Sometimes that's the best approach, it gives you the best flexibility. You need to know what load will be your headphones - 32 ohm (like Grado SR60)?

An observation - Analog volume control is a must for 'modern' multilevel Sigma-Delta DAC's.

 

I guess i'm not against going with a separate dac/headamp as long as it still falls within my budget.

Any recommendations on a headamp with analog attenuation?

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I have Beyerdynamic t1's. I believe they are 600ohm and have very high sensitivity, above 100db/w/m if i'm not mistaken.

 

I haven't heard them but the reputation is that they are unusually transparent and will reveal a low-budget amp for what it is.

 

There is a thread at headfi on amp matching for them - Best amp for Beyerdynamic T1

 

 

With separates there are so many options out there, different SS topologies, tube topologies and then dacs.

 

My headphones are warm, lush & slow which is different enough from my main rig that I consider the over-all sound to be a nice break or different perspective at least. Chasing after the SQ of your main rig isn't the only option.

Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not." — Nelson Pass

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I guess i'm not against going with a separate dac/headamp as long as it still falls within my budget.

Any recommendations on a headamp with analog attenuation?

 

Have you considered the Yulong audio DA-8 at $1199? People over at head-fi are big fans. Its DAC has got a lot of favorable reviews and its headphone amp can be switched out of the circuit to maximize pure DAC performance.

 

Yulong has had quite a few exceptional products in the last few years and they have a NA online dealer in Grant fidelity.

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Have you considered the Yulong audio DA-8 at $1199? People over at head-fi are big fans. Its DAC has got a lot of favorable reviews and its headphone amp can be switched out of the circuit to maximize pure DAC performance.

 

Yulong has had quite a few exceptional products in the last few years and they have a NA online dealer in Grant fidelity.

 

Had not heard of that. Looks like something along the lines of what I was looking for. integrated dac/pre/headamp that has a decent headphone amplifier, does dsd and can be hooked up to my main rig using the analog outputs.

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+1 on IFI DSD, great products with excellent reviews.

 

+1 on the iFi iDSD. I've had it for a few days now, and I'm really impressed, especially for all the functionality and quality it packs for a very affordable $189

 

Even though I got it to be my portable DAC to play high resolution files from my iPad, I am currently in the burn-in phase, connecting it this way:

Mac Mini -> iFi iUSBPower -> iFi iDSD -> RCA output to Yamaha amplifier. I'm using Audirvana to play high rez files up to 24/192 and DSD files through Audirvana. It sounds terrific even out of the box without any burn-in time.

 

For the portable configuration, I performed some tests this afternoon and got pleasantly great results:

1. Works perfectly just connecting the iDSD to the iPad using CCK

2. No need for Powered Hub at all

3. The iDSD has a led light with colors that show the specific frequency, similar to the Dragonfly. It has different lights for 1X (44.1, 48), 2X (88.2, 96) and 4X (176.4, 192), as well as different colors for DSD content at different frequencies: DXD 353/384Mhz, DSD 2.8/3.1Mhz and DSD 5.6/6.2 MHz. I actually did not know that there was a led light with changing colors at all - it was a nice surprise when I got the unit and read the instructions - this is something that could be marketed better by iFi!

4. I played content in all different formats and frequencies above in my iPad and got the right results - bit perfect every time. Used the FLAC app for PCM content and the Onkyo HF Player for DSD content. I selected the option to play DSD directly without any PCM conversion.

So far this little technology marvel will be my travel companion as it does not require the USB Powered Hub as it has its own internal battery.

 

 

The iDSD is very accurate in all frequency ranges, seems to reproduce the music exactly as it was recorded without any coloring. It does not have the smooth coloring of the Meridian Explorer (which is only PCM), but very close in terms of sound quality.

The above is just an assessment based on the sound. If the assessment is based on functionality, the iDSD wins compared to the Explorer hands down. Here are a few features that the iDSD has that are not available in the Explorer:

 

- Internal battery power, up to 10hours (alleged)

- Ability to play DSD files up to 1 bit, 6.2MHz

- Volume knob for manual control

- RCA outputs

- SPDIF digital output (PCM only)

- USB 3.0, with USB 2.0 compatibility

- PCM up to 32 bit, 384 KHz

- Digital filter option

 

I have no idea how iFi was able to pack all these features on a $189 device. The packaging (Apple-like) and build quality are first class as well.

Home: Mac mini -> iTunes & Audirvana Plus -> Meridian Prime -> Ultrasone 8 headphones[br]On the road: iPad -> Seagate Wireless Plus + Media app -> CCK -> iFi iDSD -> Ultrasone 8 or Monster Turbine Pro Copper headphones

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  • 4 months later...
It seems like it will be limited to DSD64 only...

no, DSD 128 capable

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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