DAC to drive headphone amp

DT79

Well-known Member
Hi folks,

Looking for a DAC to drive my headphone amp.

At the moment my headphone set-up is an NJC headphone amp (lesser known but very high quality) and Senn HD650 headphones. I’m feeding the headphone amp from my Lyngdorf amp, but since the analogue outputs are being used for something else I’m using the digital output which obviously needs to go through a DAC before going in to the NJC.

Because I don’t do a great deal of headphone listening (maybe 5% of total) it didn’t seem worth spending a lot on a DAC, plus I’m running out of rack space so I got a cheap ‘in-line’ USB powered DAC from Amazon - a ‘Techole’ for £12.

I think I may have gone a bit too far in the cost saving stakes though bearing in mind what’s up and down stream of it and I’d like to buy something a bit better.

Can anyone recommend a DAC that meets the following criteria?
  • Small form factor (as small as possible but definitely no bigger than the NJC which is ~10cm wide * 8cm tall).
  • Does justice to a my sources and a dedicated headphone amp and HD650s
  • < £200 (keeping this in proportion to how much headphone listening I actually do)

Cheers!
Dan
 

TheHighFlyingBirds

Well-known Member
Topping e30 would fit the bill. Right size and got a really good write up on here on a recent review.
 

DT79

Well-known Member

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
My three to try would be E30 as already suggested, Smsl Sanskrit 10th mk2 and Soncoz LAQD1 (If you need balanced out put plus this does not have the ESS bump).
 

3rdignis

Active Member
My dac sounds the same as ub9000 on hd650

Have you tried your oppo?
 

3rdignis

Active Member
I liked these eq through dsp, shame dsp is in another room?

Have you tried through lyngdorf/650?

 

Paul7777x

Member
My three to try would be E30 as already suggested, Smsl Sanskrit 10th mk2 and Soncoz LAQD1 (If you need balanced out put plus this does not have the ESS bump).

I’m sure, but I may be wrong, that the E30 has also killed the ESS bump.
 

DT79

Well-known Member
My dac sounds the same as ub9000 on hd650

Have you tried your oppo?
The Oppo is a good idea. If all i wanted to do was stream or listen to disc then that would probably be the way to go from the Oppo analogue outs, but I would like to be able to listen to my turntable via headphones as well, and all sources go through the Lyngdorf.
I liked these eq through dsp, shame dsp is in another room?

Have you tried through lyngdorf/650?

Using the digital out from the Lyngdorf to drive a DAC/headphone set-up I could apply the Lyngdorf’s voicings to tailor the sound I. I was thinking that only today. I haven’t tried it but probably will at some point.
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
I’m sure, but I may be wrong, that the E30 has also killed the ESS bump.
The E30 uses an AK4493 chip so doesnt have the hump that the Ess9038q2m has and some DAC manufacturers are starting to suss out. The Smsl 10h mk2 uses the AK4493 as well so should have pretty much the same performance as the E30.
 

DT79

Well-known Member
My three to try would be E30 as already suggested, Smsl Sanskrit 10th mk2 and Soncoz LAQD1 (If you need balanced out put plus this does not have the ESS bump).
Thanks. Love the look of the SMSL in the red or the blue. After doing a little bit of reading, I reckon it’s the Topping or the SMSL so far.
 

Going Grey Now

Active Member
Schiit Modi 3+.
I’ve just had a look at the (Schiit) UK site and they appear to be in stock.
Admit, though, I have no first hand experience of the other DACs mentioned above.
Oh, and I’m a fellow HD650 owner/user.
 

DT79

Well-known Member
OK so that’s the Topping E30, SMSL Sanskrit 10th Mk2 and Schiit Modi 3+ on the shortlist so far.

Still liking the look of the SMSL, just to jazz things up a bit.
 

DT79

Well-known Member
I went for the SMSL, but bottled it on the colour and got black :blush: :laugh:
 

DT79

Well-known Member
It’s smaller than I thought it would be. From the pictures you only get the proportions, no context for size so I assumed it would be the same ‘1/4 width’ size as the headphone amp.

Getting the black was the right move. Its presence has thus far gone unnoticed….

D3899188-4ECE-4B2A-A075-7AD66C535663.jpeg


On the basis of one track and a no way fair or comparable test, it sounds dramatically better than the Techole.
 

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