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List some good DACs that have balanced outputs & built in headphone amp


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So after some digging I've found the following results that tick the boxes that I need in a DAC...

I need a DAC to not only do the usual DAC stuff but also several other things:

-Must have balanced XLR outputs that can be controlled via the volume of the dac so that I can connect the DAC to my studio monitors.

-Must have a very good built in headphone amp for my current headphones (DT770 Pro 80ohm) and future headphones.

-Also up there as far as features that I would like to have is a optical input.

 

Budget?

$500 would be nice to stay under. I've been toying with the idea of cans such as the Sennheiser HD 800 or Tesla T1. So I'd be willing to drop a bit more money on the DAC/Headphone amp if it's really worth it.

 

Products I've found so far that look far:

Emotevia Stelth DC-1:

https://emotiva.com/products/dacs/electronics/dacs/stealth-dc-1

 

Schiit Jotunheim:

Schiit Audio, Headphone amps and DACs made in USA.

 

Matrix Mini-i Pro 2:

Matrix Audio Mini-i Pro 2

 

Any others that I'm missing?

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May be a dumb question ,but since I'm in the market and eyeing a Chird Mojo, what is the benefit of a balanced DAC?

 

CMNR: Common Mode Noise Rejection. Plus balanced circuits have roughly 3dB of noise performance than single ended connections. Also your cable runs can be longer and not worried about them picking up noise.

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BMC PureDac. $1800 new and a lot less used.

And these are available for $500 used?

 

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Computer Audiophile mobile app

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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And these are available for $500 used?

 

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Computer Audiophile mobile app

 

Well he is considering $1500 headphones, so he should be more demanding on the Dac to drive them! The ifi iDSD Micro 2 may be the ONLY viable $500 SE Dac, but he asked for BALANCED.

 

He ALSO did say this:Budget?

$500 would be nice to stay under. I've been toying with the idea of cans such as the Sennheiser HD 800 or Tesla T1. So I'd be willing to drop a bit more money on the DAC/Headphone amp if it's really worth it.

 

Yeah, I did read ALL his requirements!

 

Here is a decent used price: http://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649308724-bmc-bmc-puredac-digital-to-analog-converter/

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Well he is considering $1500 headphones, so he should be more demanding on the Dac to drive them! The ifi iDSD Micro 2 may be the ONLY viable $500 SE Dac, but he asked for BALANCED.

 

He ALSO did say this:Budget?

$500 would be nice to stay under. I've been toying with the idea of cans such as the Sennheiser HD 800 or Tesla T1. So I'd be willing to drop a bit more money on the DAC/Headphone amp if it's really worth it.

 

Yeah, I did read ALL his requirements!

 

Here is a decent used price: http://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649308724-bmc-bmc-puredac-digital-to-analog-converter/

 

Usually money spent on transducers (headphones or speakers) buys a bigger improvement than money spent on electronics.

 

So $1500 phones and a good $500 DAC will give better sound than you'll likely get with $1000 phones and $1000 DAC.

 

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Computer Audiophile mobile app

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Usually money spent on transducers (headphones or speakers) buys a bigger improvement than money spent on electronics.

 

So $1500 phones and a good $500 DAC will give better sound than you'll likely get with $1000 phones and $1000 DAC.

 

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Computer Audiophile mobile app

 

So, do you have a BALANCED Dac with decent headphone output to recommend for $500?

 

It is my understanding that while transducers matter a lot, you have to have decent enuff electronics to hear the better quality. HD 800 is a truly primo HP, so skimping on the HEADDac while requiring TRUE balanced config is really a no-go, and if you are honest you MUST agree. Not faux balanced, not SMPS, not USB powered. Without these minimum requirements, its better to buy a cheaper HP, unless its a future proof investment for when more funds are available to step up the Source.

 

Besides, I have heard BeyerDynamics that approach the Senn (for my taste) that cost a lot less. There are some great Ups for less that would mate with the BMC that may likely sound better than some cheap BAL HeadDac with the HD800. Balance and synergy are key.

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So, do you have a BALANCED Dac with decent headphone output to recommend for $500?

 

It is my understanding that while transducers matter a lot, you have to have decent enuff electronics to hear the better quality. HD 800 is a truly primo HP, so skimping on the HEADDac while requiring TRUE balanced config is really a no-go, and if you are honest you MUST agree. Not faux balanced, not SMPS, not USB powered. Without these minimum requirements, its better to buy a cheaper HP, unless its a future proof investment for when more funds are available to step up the Source.

 

Besides, I have heard BeyerDynamics that approach the Senn (for my taste) that cost a lot less. There are some great Ups for less that would mate with the BMC that may likely sound better than some cheap BAL HeadDac with the HD800. Balance and synergy are key.

 

My pick would be the Stealth from Emotiva. It is balanced for real and stuff using linear power supplies. $499.

 

I guess that means I MUST NOT agree to be honest.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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My buddy with the HD 800 said a high impedance amp is a must. For the lowest price quality to make them sound good, he recommends the Cypher Labs THEOREM. As the has Woo amps, Senn amp, and Lampi HeadDac, I am confident he knows what he speaks of. He also has Stax ES HPs, Audeze LCX and a few other quality HPs like HifiMan 1000.

 

The Theorem is less than $800 he told me.

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You are aware that the HD 800 is not that easy to get sounding good, right?

Horses for courses.

 

Sennheiser HD800 headphones Measurements | Stereophile.com

 

Seems the idea they are hard to drive is just that an idea.

 

The result for the Sennheiser HD800 is shown in fig.1. (I wore the headphones for this measurement.) The impedance ranges between 340 and 650 ohms, which is considerably higher than the impedance of Grados and Sonys. The HD800 will therefore be very easy to drive. While it is unlikely that someone will use the bulky Sennheiser HD800 with an iPod, the specified sensitivity of 102dB/V should mean that the headphones ought to play loudly enough for all but the most fanatical headbanger.—John Atkinson

Read more at Sennheiser HD800 headphones Measurements | Stereophile.com

 

The Emotiva can put out a clean 7.32 volts into that load. Should be enough. The Cyber Theorem is spec'd to 4.5 volts into that same load. The Theorem also uses an SMPS which you implied was a no go.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Sennheiser HD800 headphones Measurements | Stereophile.com

 

Seems the idea they are hard to drive is just that an idea.

 

The result for the Sennheiser HD800 is shown in fig.1. (I wore the headphones for this measurement.) The impedance ranges between 340 and 650 ohms, which is considerably higher than the impedance of Grados and Sonys. The HD800 will therefore be very easy to drive. While it is unlikely that someone will use the bulky Sennheiser HD800 with an iPod, the specified sensitivity of 102dB/V should mean that the headphones ought to play loudly enough for all but the most fanatical headbanger.—John Atkinson

Read more at Sennheiser HD800 headphones Measurements | Stereophile.com

 

The Emotiva can put out a clean 7.32 volts into that load. Should be enough. The Cyber Theorem is spec'd to 4.5 volts into that same load. The Theorem also uses an SMPS which you implied was a no go.

 

Never said hard to drive...I said high impedance was a must to get it to sound good. The Hifiman HE500 is an example of hard to drive. I assume my buddy was talking about the battery playback. SMPS is only for charging the battery...so not a valid point you made there. $660 and has been tested with HD800 for synergy.

 

Not knocking the emotive, I don't know it or if it would mate well with the HD800. Being able to JUST drive the HD800 was never my point. This is a primo HP and needs to be mated well to get the best out of it, or the potential may lie unrealized.

.

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Never said hard to drive...I said high impedance was a must to get it to sound good.

Noticed the high impedance comment before and was going to let it slide. It makes no sense. I believe you mean low output impedance. High impedance would limit its ability to properly mate to the phone and make the response of the headphone be altered by the amp.

 

 

The Hifiman HE500 is an example of hard to drive. I assume my buddy was talking about the battery playback. SMPS is only for charging the battery...so not a valid point you made there. $660 and has been tested with HD800 for synergy.

 

Not knocking the emotive, I don't know it or if it would mate well with the HD800. Being able to JUST drive the HD800 was never my point. This is a primo HP and needs to be mated well to get the best out of it, or the potential may lie unrealized.

.

 

Faith in magical synergy..........................................................

 

Again I believe you meant low impedance. The Emotiva, like the Theorem has an output impedance a bit below 1 ohm for the phones.

 

 

http://emotiva.com/resources/media/DC1_AP_Report.pdf

 

This is a fairly comprehensive group of test results Emotiva runs on these units. Like 200+ pages worth.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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I paid less than 500.00 for my current Dac. It is four channel output, all balanced, and can be configured for the volume knob to control the volume for either 2 or 4 channels. It also has two separate headphone amps and two output controllers.

Since you have active monitors it is designed to control subs also with the single knob. Uses a software control panel to set the routing.

There are several limitations; 192/24 is as high as it goes. No DSD. And no USB, it is Thunderbolt instead. To change inputs a computer is needed.

It replaced a Light Harmonic Infinity X. Sounds meatier, more fleshed out. Plus more dynamic.

 

2012 Mac Mini, i5 - 2.5 GHz, 16 GB RAM. SSD,  PM/PV software, Focusrite Clarett 4Pre 4 channel interface. Daysequerra M4.0X Broadcast monitor., My_Ref Evolution rev a , Klipsch La Scala II, Blue Sky Sub 12

Clarett used as ADC for vinyl rips.

Corning Optical Thunderbolt cable used to connect computer to 4Pre. Dac fed by iFi iPower and Noise Trapper isolation transformer. 

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