Jump to content
IGNORED

Looking for USB DAC for JBL LSR305 active monitors


Recommended Posts

I have been using my FiiO X3 as a USB DAC and analog source for the active JBL monitors in my office, but I thought it was about time to get a dedicated desktop DAC. I've found three contenders under $500:

 

Audio-gd NFB 17.32

Emotiva Stealth DC-1

Schiit Bifrost

 

All support 24/192 USB input and balanced XLR output. Do any of you have personal experience with these units or have other USB DACs that you could recommend for <$500? I will be sourcing the DAC using Foobar on my laptop with USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports.

 

Thanks... Brian

Link to comment
I am using IFI iDSD micro to drive my LSR305. You do not have to use balanced outs to the LSR305

 

Of course, you are correct. The output from my FiiO X3 is unbalanced. I was assuming that there was some fidelity improvement with the balanced output, but using unbalanced analog output certainly opens the door for some less expensive units (e.g. iFi iDSD and Audio-gd NFB-15). I would like to get away from units that are powered only by the USB. I do not know to what extent the battery charging circuit in the X3 isolates any noise on the incoming USB power, but I would like to remove as many noise sources as I can with the funds available. Perhaps the Micro iUSBPOWER unit would help.

 

Thanks... Brian

Link to comment
I am using IFI iDSD micro to drive my LSR305. You do not have to use balanced outs to the LSR305

 

I use an iFi iDSD Nano with my LSR305s and that sounds good too. Also I recommend IsoAcoustics stands with the LSR305 - they are a lot better than the Auralex MoPads I used before.

System (i): Stack Audio Link > 2Qute+MCRU psu; Gyrodec/SME V/Ortofon 2M Black/EAT E-Glo Petit/Magnum Dynalab FT101A) > Glow Amp One > Klipsch RP-600M/REL T5x subs

System (ii): Allo USB Signature > Bel Canto uLink+AQVOX psu > Chord Hugo > Tandy LX5/REL Tzero v3 subs

System (iii) KEF LS50W/KEF R400b subs

 

Link to comment

I used to have three balanced DAC's in the past and I do not find that balanced connections always better than single ended even when it came from that same balanced DAC even. It just takes more work to make good sounding balanced connections otherwise you will degrade the sound quality. I think that IsoAcoustics stands is a good idea.

Link to comment

Thanks for the replies!

 

So… If I drop the “balanced XLR” requirement and look at the iFi products, there are the iDSD and iDAC. The former has DSD/DXD capabilities with dual Burr Brown DAC chips. The iDAC has ESS Sabre chips. I currently have no DSD or DXD music files. Any suggestions on which might be better for my application? Are there advantages to the iDSD or iDAC that might not be apparent considering both units are likely to be converting 24/192 FLAC files?

 

Thanks… Brian

Link to comment

There are two iDSD models the nano and the micro. I will talk about the micro. The dual Burr Brown DAC chips will have a bit fuller more musical sound while the ESS Sabre chips will have the more analytical somewhat thinner airy sound. The micro will drive planners. Have bass boost and 3D sound. Have three gain levels for sensitive IEM's and three power levels. Has a USB power output for emergency power to your cell phone as an example. Has USB input, Intelligent SPDIF, Optical input and analog input as well. Pre-amp or fixed mode switch. There is more, check the IFI audio web site.

Link to comment

Thanks, John. That answers why the iDSD has an A USB port rather than a B. I'm thinking of this as a stationary desktop system and I am actually more interested in the difference in chips. I tend to prefer a more neutral sound signature (i.e. let the music speak for itself) so I'm leaning toward the iDAC.

Link to comment
There are two iDSD models the nano and the micro. I will talk about the micro. The dual Burr Brown DAC chips will have a bit fuller more musical sound while the ESS Sabre chips will have the more analytical somewhat thinner airy sound. The micro will drive planners. Have bass boost and 3D sound. Have three gain levels for sensitive IEM's and three power levels. Has a USB power output for emergency power to your cell phone as an example. Has USB input, Intelligent SPDIF, Optical input and analog input as well. Pre-amp or fixed mode switch. There is more, check the IFI audio web site.

John ... I may be incorrect but I thought both the Micro iDSD and Nano iDSD both utilised Burr Brown chips? Or am I confused and you are comparing the Micro iDSD and the older Micro iDAC?

 

Just for clarity there are three DAC products in iFi's range (ordered by their introduction)

Micro iDAC -- utilising ESS Sabre does not support DSD; has Type B USB

Nano iDSD -- utilising Burr Brown supporting DSD; has Type B USB

Micro iDSD -- utilising Burr Brown DAC chip and supports Quad Rate DSD; has Type A USB - requires a type A to type A cable (aka USB extension cable) for desktop use.

 

Eloise

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

Link to comment
John ... I may be incorrect but I thought both the Micro iDSD and Nano iDSD both utilised Burr Brown chips? Or am I confused and you are comparing the Micro iDSD and the older Micro iDAC?

Eloise

 

Yes the question that the OP was saying what is the difference between iDSD and the iDAC in sound. When I ordered the iDSD Nano I was send the iDAC by mistake. I send it back for exchange. Then I got the micro. I think that the iDSD comes closer to represent music as intended by the artist. It is not a huge difference, just a slight differnce in SQ. I also think that overall the iDSD is the better choice. The micro iDSD uses USB type A because it is a OTG Socket designed for better compatibility with portable devices. I am currently using USB3 from my PC to the micro iDSD. There will be a third iDSD the desktop mini coming in October.

Link to comment
Yes the question that the OP was saying what is the difference between iDSD and the iDAC in sound. When I ordered the iDSD Nano I was send the iDAC by mistake. I send it back for exchange. Then I got the micro. I think that the iDSD comes closer to represent music as intended by the artist. It is not a huge difference, just a slight differnce in SQ. I also think that overall the iDSD is the better choice. The micro iDSD uses USB type A because it is a OTG Socket designed for better compatibility with portable devices. I am currently using USB3 from my PC to the micro iDSD. There will be a third iDSD the desktop mini coming in October.

 

Would you say that the difference in SQ between iDAC and iDSD is worth the $200 difference in price? I was hoping that I could add the IsoAcoustic stands and still stay under $500.

Link to comment

Thanks to all for the recommendation about the isoAcoustics speaker stands. I just received a pair and was instantly rewarded with a cleaner bass and much improved sound stage.

 

I am still debating the DAC question. The iDSD micro is at the top of the list, but the lower cost of some of the contenders is tempting me.

Link to comment

Thanks, ed71. You are correct, no balanced output on Bifrost.

 

Update: I found a used iFi iDAC micro on eBay for $189 and thought it was worth a try. It, too, has unbalanced output, but dual Sabre DAC chips for $189 was too tempting not to at least audition. I may yet get the iFi iDSD micro or one of the others mentioned above if the iDAC turns out to be a bit thin (others have called it "airy") for my taste.

 

Cheers... Brian

Link to comment
I use an iFi iDSD Nano with my LSR305s and that sounds good too. Also I recommend IsoAcoustics stands with the LSR305 - they are a lot better than the Auralex MoPads I used before.

 

I've been using my HRT Music Streamer II+ with the LSR305s recently and I think it has better dynamics and tighter bass than the iFi iDSD Nano. On the other hand the Nano has a sweeter richer sound than the HRT, and overall I would say that they are different, but equivalent. Maybe the iFi iDSD Micro is a bit more dynamic than the Nano and would be the best of both worlds.

 

I was listening to 'Cruzando el Rio' by Radio Tafira last night with the HRT driving the 305s and the dynamics of the various percussion instruments they use was pretty amazing for a budget speaker.

System (i): Stack Audio Link > 2Qute+MCRU psu; Gyrodec/SME V/Ortofon 2M Black/EAT E-Glo Petit/Magnum Dynalab FT101A) > Glow Amp One > Klipsch RP-600M/REL T5x subs

System (ii): Allo USB Signature > Bel Canto uLink+AQVOX psu > Chord Hugo > Tandy LX5/REL Tzero v3 subs

System (iii) KEF LS50W/KEF R400b subs

 

Link to comment
Thanks, Richard. I note that the II+ only handles files up to 96KHz, but that the HD version supports 192KHz (and XLR output). Do you know what DAC chip HRT uses in these models?

 

Thanks... Brian

 

The II+ and HD use a Burr Brown 1794. A bake off of the HD against the if I iDSD Micro would be really interesting - the better the source the better the 305s sound, and I would love to hear one level up from my dacs

System (i): Stack Audio Link > 2Qute+MCRU psu; Gyrodec/SME V/Ortofon 2M Black/EAT E-Glo Petit/Magnum Dynalab FT101A) > Glow Amp One > Klipsch RP-600M/REL T5x subs

System (ii): Allo USB Signature > Bel Canto uLink+AQVOX psu > Chord Hugo > Tandy LX5/REL Tzero v3 subs

System (iii) KEF LS50W/KEF R400b subs

 

Link to comment

Update: I received the iDAC micro today and my first impressions are quite favorable. Sourcing my Creek 4330SE/Epos M12 system, there is a noticeable improvement in the presence of the sound stage over the FiiO X3. With Etymotic ER4s, the difference is even more impressive. I am hearing details that were simply not there before with the IEMs. The treble is much more forward, to the point that recording flaws are also more evident. There was a bad hum in the headphone circuit when the unit was trying to drive the RCA output at the same time, but, once the RCA circuit was disengaged, the floor dropped to zero. This is definitely not a "portable" setup, but it is a very nice desktop DAC. I'm looking forward to testing the iDAC with the LSR305s at work tomorrow.

Link to comment
Should work with the LSR305 without the hum. It does appear that you had a ground loop from your USB cable ground and the Creek 4330SE amp ground. The LSR305 amp is self contained and does not use a earth ground itself.

 

Thanks, John. I was using a stereo 3.5mm-to-RCA Y-cable since the X3 has a 3.5mm line out and used this same configuration with a an RCA-to-3.5mm out of the iDAC. Could the problem resolve with the Creek as well if I eliminated the Y-connectors since both channels are sharing a common ground? I'm just curious since I am not likely to be listening to the speakers and IEM at the same time.

 

Cheers... Brian

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×
×
  • Create New...