Jump to content

Suggestions for a low-cost DAC?

Recommended Posts

Hi Shangri-La,
just saw your question, and thought I may be able to share some personal experience.
I own the V-90, Gieseler Klein, Dragonfly Red, Hifiberry+ Dac pro (to be used with RPi3b) , iFi iDSD BL and since December a Topping NX-4 DSD Dac & headphone amp
From my subjective sound experience, they rank like that:
1. iFi iDSD BL (2016) - 500-600 USD - up to DSD 512, IME best to use with Regen, ISO Regen or any iFi device which enhances the USB connection. Found his place aside the Klein in the main system
2. Gieseler Klein DAC (2015) - 500 USD -  up to 24/192 . 4 years ago a real value for money device with the AKM4490EQ Chip and a proper output stage.
3. Dragonfly Red (2016) - 200 USD - up to 24/96, easy to use, but imho a bit coloured, but very nice sounded device. Device broke after 2 years of heavy usage.
4. Topping NX-4 (2018 version) - 125 USD - up to DSD 512, nearly en par with DF Red, but very neutral, and much more functions, now part of the Desktop system. Used with Senn HD650.
5. Hifiberry Dac (2017) + pro 45 USD, good bass and separation, ok, but far away from the top 4.

6. V-90 (2014) - 300 USD, by far the DAC which has the least sq, even compared with the 45 Euro Hifiberry+ . I despised the listening fatigue it produces. Stays in the closet for wcs.
I bought everything in Euro, but converted 1:1 to USD.
IMHO, stay away from the V-90, rather save money with Dragonfly/Topping or go iFi/Chord. Being happy with the iFi, for 300 I'd look to the iDAC2 or the iONE Nano.
Cheers, Tom

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, matthias said:

There is a new Gieseler Klein DAC, the Klein III, which outperforms the Klein from 2015:

Thank you Matt, for the update,

I think I have read last year, that Clay now has officially limited shipping to Australia only.
IOW, for shipping outside of Australia, a personal note to the manufacturer might make things possible 😉


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/6/2019 at 6:02 PM, franz159 said:

My strong recommendation for a low-cost DAC but very high quality for the cost would be the 99$ Khadas Tone Board

@franz159 Thank you very much for that recommendation. There might be a new little project on the horizon ...
Do you connect the Tone Board directly to your headphones or is there a HP amp in between ?

Best regards, Tom

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, franz159 said:

I usually connect my Headphones directly to the RCA output


On 4/7/2019 at 7:09 PM, franz159 said:

HiFiMan 400i


On 4/6/2019 at 6:02 PM, franz159 said:

The sound is clear,  detailed and airy, with an unbelievable sense of rhythm.

Franz , thank you for your anser.

Please let me rephrase your information,

The sound is clear, detailed and airy, with an unbelievable sense of rhythm, when I usually connect my Headphones HiFiMan 400i directly to the RCA output.

I'd think this is possible due to the low impedance of just 35 Ohms for the Hifiman 400i. That may suit well an USB powered DAC board. 

I had asked about the HP amp, because my HD650s were never near as "detailed and airy" as with my iFi iDSD micro BL's HP amp,  neither with the output of my PI's/Hifiberry Dac nor with the Dragonfly Red.
I have subsequently noticed the post from Sonore about their Tone, where they just disclose the RCA to minijack cable for connecting headphones. without further elaboration about the usage or output specs.

Did you perhaps try the Tone board with HP's that have a higher impedance, comparable to the HD650s, which have 300 Ohms?? Did it sound clear, detailed and airy as well?

Thanks in advance, Tom

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites


Thank you for your reply.!

I bought the KTBD last June and made the same experience:  Using IEMs or the Focal Elegia "en direct" and the HD650 driven by a JDS Atom HO amp.

Stay safe and sound


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Create New...