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Suggestions for a low-cost DAC?


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5 hours ago, AnotherSpin said:

 

If acid is right, everything in this world will sound just perfect.

 

Yeah, but the next day I'll still have this nice DAC.  😉

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> wi-fi to router -> EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> USPCB -> ISO Regen (powered by LPS-1) -> USPCB -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Someone has already compared the pro ject S2 digital with some of the iFi audio products (nano, micro iDSD, micro BL or micro iDAC2) because iDAC2 is very satisfied with it, but I am curious about who can deliver better sound quality.

A friend offered me a digital S2 for a good value, will it be worth exchanging the iDAC2 for the S2 or it will not have much difference ??
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I'm surprised this has not been mentioned yet in this thread, where it definitely belongs!

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

https://www.khadas.com/tone

https://www.khadas.com/tone-specs

It measures as DACs costing multiple time its cost, as you can see here.

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

It decodes all PCM resolutions up to 384 Khz and DSD up to DSD256, no MQA

 
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I think we out ot break up this thread into various categories:

 

$100 -

$200 -

$400 - Pro ject??

$700 - same with quality power supply

 

$1,000 - that Octagon thing Kal posted on recently...

 

etc.

 

we could also use a 1, 2, 5 sieving of categories like on Tek scopes...

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On 4/5/2019 at 12:13 PM, Rinaldi said:

A friend offered me a digital S2 for a good value, will it be worth exchanging the iDAC2 for the S2 or it will not have much difference ??

 

I haven’t listened to the iDAC2 specifically, and whether it makes a difference *to you* depends on you and the rest of your system. I would consider it.

Custom room treatments for headphone users.

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6 hours ago, franz159 said:

I'm surprised this has not been mentioned yet in this thread, where it definitely belongs!

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

https://www.khadas.com/tone

https://www.khadas.com/tone-specs

It measures as DACs costing multiple time its cost, as you can see here.

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

It decodes all PCM resolutions up to 384 Khz and DSD up to DSD256, no MQA

 

 

What else is needed with this board, if anything, besides what the $99 pays for? For me that wasn't clear from the website. Also it's described as a "development" board, so that's something else that made me think more boards or connectors might be necessary.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> wi-fi to router -> EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> USPCB -> ISO Regen (powered by LPS-1) -> USPCB -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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By the way, the Pro-Ject passed the "having company over" test with flying colors.  :) 

 

In fact we gave it quite a test with kind of a game that a friend/neighbor came up with. It requires a local music collection and/or a streaming service, controlled remotely, preferably with a tablet.  You pass the tablet around, and everyone there takes turns picking songs.  Great fun.  (In my case it was the Audirvana+ Remote on an iPad with my local collection and Qobuz.) Switching between tracks, sometimes after another track had already started, the Pro-Ject was flawless.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> wi-fi to router -> EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> USPCB -> ISO Regen (powered by LPS-1) -> USPCB -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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17 hours ago, Jud said:

 

What else is needed with this board, if anything, besides what the $99 pays for? For me that wasn't clear from the website. Also it's described as a "development" board, so that's something else that made me think more boards or connectors might be necessary.

Hi Jud,

     the Khadas Tone Board can be used immediately as a USB Dac, powered by the USB itself.

In the box you get a USB-A to USB-C for the USB connection.

 

The Kahdas also has a Coax entry. To use it you have to power the board, either through the USB -C plug or through its PIN header .

I guess it is called a "development" board maybe because you can use it also with the SBCs produced by Khadas, called VIM.  The Khadas "Vim" edition is called that way simply because it has the pin connectors to use it with the VIMs SBCs already soldered to it.


The generic edition (the one I have bought) is used "standalone" as you can see from these two pictures of my "headphone travel system" on the minuscule bedside table of the hotel I was a couple of weeks ago...

khadas1w.jpg.f67baa428fc696c22c8d049297198968.jpg

khadas2w.jpg.439fb3ca3f18bdbfca1bbe265c6c1014.jpg

 

I bought a case for the board from Audiophinics, but I haven't received it yet

https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/aluminium-boxes-cases/aluminum-case-for-khadas-tone-board-p-13626.html

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That looks like a great travel system! Is the computer feeding the DAC a Pi or similar?

 

And that's a handsome-looking case for not a lot of money.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> wi-fi to router -> EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> USPCB -> ISO Regen (powered by LPS-1) -> USPCB -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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12 minutes ago, franz159 said:

Yes it is a raspberry pi, and the headphones are HiFiMan 400i.

 

For the "case", I guess you could also buy this one ...😀

https://www.sonore.us/toneDAC.html

I cannot tell for sure, I'm sort of guessing, but the name clearly hints of what is the DAC inside.

 

Just note: the little Sonore unit is intended just for use with the Sonore streamers. 

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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On 4/6/2019 at 1:10 PM, Ralf11 said:

I think we out ot break up this thread into various categories:

 

$100 -

$200 -

$400 - Pro ject??

$700 - same with quality power supply

 

$1,000 - that Octagon thing Kal posted on recently...

 

etc.

 

we could also use a 1, 2, 5 sieving of categories like on Tek scopes...

 

That would be great. At least list the options of each price range.

Setup #1: GoldenEar Triton Reference --> Parasound Halo Integrated --> Allo DigiOne Signature

Setup #2: ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2 --> Akitika GT-102 --> ???

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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

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12 hours ago, DuckToller said:

@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

Since I typically use the Khadas while I'm "on the go", I usually connect my Headphones directly to the RCA output, but an HP amp could be used...

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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

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  • 2 months later...
  • 10 months later...

My office is shutdown for the time being, so I had to set up a home office.  I have been running straight out of the 3.5mm headphone jack of my HP laptop for the last month.  Since the COVID situation could last a while, I decided to spring for a DAC.

 

Scanning the options available, I decided to go with a flagship, cost-no-object option... the Modi 3! 😁

 

I have the Modi 3 connected to my Cavalli Liquid Carbon amp, using my Senn HD800's or Meze 99 Classic (I share this office with my wife, so sometimes I need to use a closed can).

 

I must say I am exceptionally impressed with this little $99 DAC!  

IMG_0155.jpg

Home: Melco N1A/2 | EtherRegen+Farad | UltraRendu+Farad | Denafrips Gaia | Denafrips Terminator Plus | Jeff Rowland Coherence II Series 2 pre | Blue Circle Audio BC-202 amp | Raidho XT-1 | 2 Revel Performa3 B112 subwoofers  | PS Audio DS Power Plant 12

 

Desktop: Denafrips Iris | Chord Qutest | Blue Circle Audio SBT preamp|  Eddie Current Zana Deux Super | Hifiman 1000SE/Meze Empyrean/Sennheiser HD800S

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I don't know what the $99 one sounds like, but I have a great idea what the Multibit sounds like and I am impressed. I like the sound of it better than the McIntosh MHA50 I was using when I travel. This will be clunkier to carry around, but much better sounding. Still looking for a small amp to pair it with though.

IMG_4741.jpeg

No electron left behind...

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On 4/6/2019 at 11:10 PM, Ralf11 said:

I think we out ot break up this thread into various categories:

 

$100 -

$278 - SMSL M200 ( with AK 4497

$400 - SMSL M500 ( ESS 9038Pro with MQA and super super clean headphone amp section) 

$799 - Topping D90  -   SMSL M400    -    Denafrips venus II 

 

$1,000 - that Octagon thing Kal posted on recently...

 

etc.

 

we could also use a 1, 2, 5 sieving of categories like on Tek scopes...

 

My suggestion above. 

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Where does the Project Box S2 fit into this list? I have one, been getting the itch to maybe change again. But to what. My budget is under 500.00 at 399.00 the S2 fit the bill, per amp, MQA,  etc 

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11 minutes ago, Ottoa62 said:

Where does the Project Box S2 fit into this list? I have one, been getting the itch to maybe change again. But to what. My budget is under 500.00 at 399.00 the S2 fit the bill, per amp, MQA,  etc 

The pro-ject s2d is my recommendation at this price point. if you want to bump up a couple bills the the iFi iDSD micro BL

Custom room treatments for headphone users.

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18 hours ago, jabbr said:

The pro-ject s2d is my recommendation at this price point. if you want to bump up a couple bills the the iFi iDSD micro BL


For my usage (feeding DSD512 to the DAC) I prefer the Pro-Ject to the silver (original) micro iDSD, both of which I own. I also prefer the BL to the silver model, but haven’t heard it enough to know whether I like the BL or Pro-Ject better.

 

Anyone happen to know what components the BL and Pro-Ject use in their final analog filters and outputs?

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> wi-fi to router -> EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> USPCB -> ISO Regen (powered by LPS-1) -> USPCB -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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On 4/10/2019 at 4:52 PM, DuckToller said:

 

 

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

..answering one year later..... my HiFiMan 400i headphones remained in a drawer at the office in Milan, but the Khadas Tone Board is with me and I'm now "smart working" at home in Rome.

Here I use it with 300 Ohms Sennheiser HD600.

But in this case i much prefer the sound with a headphone amp in between the Khadas and the headphones, a Linear Tube Audio Micro Zotl 2..

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The soon to be released Gustard A18 looks phenomenal for the price?

 

balanced, femto clocks, linear power supply, bluetooth (i dont want but someone else may), dual ak4499, assuming it will have galvanic isolation, since their older models do...

 

THat's what i am waiting for right now,unless someone comes up with better for the money??

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