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Please recommend a quality USB DAC

andrew00

Standard Member
Hey,

I recently sold some of my larger audio gear as I wasn't using it and wanted to go more minimal, so I picked up a pair of Genelec 6101A monitors (good quality, not perfect, but small) and some Sony MDR-7506's.

Plugging both into the headphone jack of my Macbook Pro I get radio interference, esp w/the Gene's.

The Gene's are silent with nothing plugged in and are silent when I tried them plugged into my iPhone - leaving me to conclude the problem is the much maligned MBP headphone jack.

To sidestep this and therefore get clear, interference free, audio, I thought I'd get a USB DAC. I want to get something small, with a minimal imprint. If It's small enough to use with my iPhone too, more's the better, but my A1 priority is to get a good signal for using my Gene's/Sony cans.

Can anyone recommend me something to try please?

I was reading how the NuForce uDAC-2's were pleasing people...that was until I read this blog - NwAvGuy: NuForce uDAC-2 Drama - and how their specs are pretty poor, and also how the head-fi forum apparently was deleting the discussion, which is not cool and also has sent me back to square one.

I'm not expecting miracles with the speakers and headphones that I've got but I'd like to get something that's doing them justice, from a technical/specs point of view and like I said, something that will give me quiet, interference free operation.

I've checked out the Fiio E7's, which seem cheap but reasonable, and also the Leckerton UHA-4, who have published tech specs to demonstrate their quality.

So, aye, can I please get some recommendations, most appreciated and all that!

Andy
 

andrew00

Standard Member
Hey thanks for the reply!

Looking at the fubar I think it might be a bit big for me, maybe that's foolish - i.e. maybe the smaller devices aren't as good - but I feel like something tiny is the order or the day.

The Fireye 2 by the same company is interesting - Fireye2 - although that can't be use away from the computer apparently and I read it has channel balance issues.

The Fiio E7 seems a good alternative at £65 - FiiO E7 Portable Headphone DAC Amplifier: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics

Although since I'm looking at preventing interference I don't know if it'd class as too 'cheap' to cut that out, thou apparently it holds it's own in tests.

I've also seen the Leckerton UHA-4 - UHA-4 Slimline USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier » Leckerton Audio - that seems to get good reviews and might be a bit more 'pro' I'm not sure!

What do you think?
 

mattr

Established Member
That website you mentioned about the uDAC's poor performance: elsewhere on his site he produces some sample wav files produced from the uDAC, the Behringer UCA202 and a Benchmark DAC. I couldn't tell them apart. Neither could he by the sound of it. So I bought the UCA202 (£35).
 

andrew00

Standard Member
Thanks for the replies.

I did a bit more testing today - I plugged my Zoom H4N into my computer (mains powered) via USB and turned it on as an interface. I then plugged the Genelec speakers into the zoom's output and told the mac output to use the zoom. I.E. I used the zoom as a dac.

The result is that I don't get interference this way, which is pretty sweet. The quality is also pretty good, not amazing, I don't think the zoom has particularly good pre-amps or whatever it's doing, but it's workable.

I'm actually therefore now thinking about buying one of the new Apogee Duet 2's which are coming out in a few weeks.

The reason being that, as I'm moving and therefore want to slim down what I have + general spring cleaning of under used stuff, I'm also planning on selling my Alesis Multimix 16 - which is a cool interface but I always found it a bit noisy and never came close to using all 16 inputs alas.

Since I was pondering buying the Fiio E7 anyway, if I were to also sell the Alesis I'd basically cover the cost of the Duet 2, which not only is a good dac so would rock the Genelec's but would also do a good job as an interface.

Considering it, not convinced, but considering!
 

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