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Best DAC with Volume control for under $100


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I'm looking for recommendations on USB or Firewire Dacs under $100 with volume control so I can go straight into my PS Audio amp. I've been monitoring this site looking at DACs for a while now but now I am definitely in the market to buy now. The $100 isn't firm but it has to be close to that price and significantly better than the cheaper options. It has to be compatible with MAC (I want to pick up an old G4) but PC compatibility is a plus too. He Rez would be a plus too but isn't necessary. (hey, can't be picky at this price)

 

Looking for comparisons on these DACs:

Fubar II - could I control the volume with the MAC without losing too many bits?

 

Beresford TC7520 (used if I can find one)

 

Musiland SVDAC06 ($120 on ebay)

 

M-Audio Transit - Does it control volume

 

Behringer FCA202 Firewire

 

I listen to all kinds of music from rock to jazz

 

Any comparisons or suggestions are aprreciated!

 

Thanks

 

 

 

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I think the Behringer volume control is for it's headphone output, which will work, but may not be ideal. Recommend you check the specs on the others for the same reason.

 

Come to think of it, I don't exactly know why a headphone output is less suitable than a line out, so perhaps someone else can chip in on that.

 

Also, check this thread for info on the EMU usb 0404, which has a volume control:

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/24192-USB-20-beer-budget-EMU-0404-mini-review

 

It's list price is a bit over your budget though - closer to $200, but it does have a little brother - the 0202 (but back to headphone volume control only I think)

 

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Have either of you heard the FCA202 and can tell me what it sounds like? It seems to be a cheaper option than the other dacs which would be good.

 

Also I saw a Musiland dac on Pacific Valve's website. It says it is Asynch usb. I know it wasn't included in Chris' article so I don't know if it's legit asynchronous usb or not. Any insight would be helpful.

 

Here's the link to it:

http://www.pacificvalve.us/MusilandMonitor01US.html

 

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......works for the line out as well as headphone. The TC-7520 has two RCA outputs, a fixed and a variable line output. To use the volume control you would connect your amp via the variable output.

 

The EMU-0404USB's volume control is "always on," so you can use it as well to connect to your amplifier. In terms of user interface, though, the 0404 shows itself for what it was truly designed to be; a portable mixing/recording console for the audio professional that just so happens to have a very good DAC inside it.

 

EDIT...I originally said Behringer when I meant to say Beresford, of course referring to the TC-7520:)

 

CD

 

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The Musiland DAC doesn't use the "standard" protocols for connecting to Windows sound system and therefore requires drivers (this isn't necessarily good but requires continued support from the manufacturer). Currently these are only available for Windows so no good for Linux or Mac. No idea of sound quality.

 

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.

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If Musiland doesn't work with MACs that eliminates them. I also found a review of the Behringer from TechConnect Magazine and they said "The unit has no volume control on the line out so powered studio monitors with volume control are a must."

 

If I'm using a G4 Mac what would happen if I adjusted the volume on the computer itself? I know Windows has to be full blast to avoid the K mixer but is there a big sound difference on the Mac?

 

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In order to enjoy music from your Mac with bit perfect output, you have to set all volumes to maximum inside audio midi and itunes, turn EQ off, Soundcheck off, Sound enhancer off, etc. There may be others adjustments I have failed to mention, but if you google bit perfect itunes output or even search this forum, you'll find the answers.

 

I have found that simply turning on the EQ (with all the settings at flat) still affect the sound.

 

Why won't the Musiland work with Macs? With the older G4 models, like mine, USB will be the limitaion on the Mac since the G4s have USB 1.1. The most economical fix for that would be to get a PCI USB 2.0 card, like the $30 Sonnet Aleggro USB 2.0 card.

 

CD

 

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The Musiland doesn't work with the Mac because it requires drivers (for all computers) which, at least currently, Musiland have only written for Windows.

 

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.

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Ah, not exactly correct.

 

The Musiland Monitor replaces the Windows ASIO drivers so it can support 192K Async. It does not work on MAC.

 

The rest of the Musiland line does not use the ASIO technology and in compatible with any USB 2.0 (Windows, MAC, Linux et. al)

 

 

I am on staff at Pacific Valve - Take my comments for what they are worth.

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I have one of the FCA202's, and to answer the simple question: the volume control works only on the headphone output, which is unbalanced stereo. The main outputs are balanced line.

 

I have been most impressed with the performance of the FCA202, I am even more convinced that Firewire is the interface of the future, both for quality and for convenience (it supplies the power to the FCA202 as well, no ugly AC powerpack/more wires needed).

 

Remember the FCA202 is good only up to 24bit/96kHz not above, but that it interfaces with the Mac computers with no additional software drivers required, just plug it in, set up AudioMIDI to 24bit/96kHz output and select sound output to the FCA202 and click on a song in iTunes.

 

 

 

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I appreciate the clarification sygany - That would seem to eliminate the FCA202 because I need the volume. I don't think it would work right going out of the headphones to a power amp - probably wrong impedances and such...

 

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I took a look at the SVDAC06 and I see it has USB input, but this is good only up to 48kHz, so you will not have 96kHz HD audio capability. It also uses some pretty old chips in there.

 

Take care to check the specs to see if it is OK for you.

 

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The SVDAC06 will take samples to 192K. The 48K restriction is for any USB DAC because of the nature of USB ASIO drivers. Hence, the Monitor software was borne. That's why it (the Monitor) can take USB samples to 192K. Make sense? Clear as mud?

 

I am on staff at Pacific Valve - Take my comments for what they are worth.

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It's possible for me to get 192K if I use an input other than USB. I'd be using USB almost exclusively so for my purposes it would be 16/48, which is fine for me. Most of my music is redbook anyway. Hi-Rez music isn't a priority for me now.

 

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