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Battery operated DAC???

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In my primary system I have a Mac mini and a Benchmark DAC1 USB. I plan to purchase a new MacBook Pro when the new models come out (near future, I hope). I would like to get a battery operated USB DAC with a headphone input. Any suggestions of which ones to look at? The headphones I use most often are my Sennheiser HD600's (at home) and the Sennheiser 280 Pros (on the road). I could also put this DAC in the system that plays music on the patio. The patio speakers are purely used for background music, so it does not have to be a Benchmark quality DAC. The Headroom DAC is a little pricey, but that may be the way I have to go.


Thanks for any suggestions that you may have


Alan B

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I hope you can get a review scheduled soon. Gordon responded that he hoped the Proton would be shipping soon after completion (end of August), so hopefully in September???? What headphones would you be able to use in your review/test?




Alan B

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  • 4 weeks later...

Steve Nugent at Empirical is working on just a DAC. He's calling it the "Overdrive". It's also going to have volume control which is ideal for headphones. I've got one of his pacecars (which can also be battery driven.

BTW no, I don't resell his stuff...I've just had great experience dealing with Empirical, and that's from the other side of the planet! I highly recommend checking out his gear. AB


New simplified setup: STEREO- Primary listening Area: Cullen Circuits Mod ZP90> Benchmark DAC1>RotelRKB250 Power amp>KEF Q Series. Secondary listening areas: 1/ QNAP 119P II(running MinimServer)>UPnP>Linn Majik DSI>Linn Majik 140's. 2/ (Source awaiting)>Invicta DAC>RotelRKB2100 Power amp>Rega's. Tertiary multiroom areas: Same QNAP>SMB>Sonos>Various. MULTICHANNEL- MacMini>A+(Standalone mode)>Exasound e28 >5.1 analog out>Yamaha Avantage Receiver>Pre-outs>Linn Chakra power amps>Linn Katan front and sides. Linn Trikan Centre. Velodyne SPL1000 Ultra

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The first proto of the Overdrive DAC is running now, but not on batteries yet. Based on what I'm hearing, it will be the one to beat, for performance and price. This DAC is a preamp and a USB DAC, but unlike any preamp that has ever been offered. Ultra-simple signal path, ultra-low jitter through the USB interface. Also has S/PDIF and I2S inputs. The outputs drive 1 watt, so it doubles as a headphone amp, either single-ended or balanced.


You can follow the progress at my forum:




Expectation is availability before the end of the year and base price around $2K.


Steve N.

Empirical Audio


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