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Need recommendations on external sound cards/DACs

#1CC RicersPosted 9/15/2013 2:21:37 PM(edited)
I have a Asus P8Z77-i Deluxe board and the downside to the Mini ITX boards is that I can't use my sound card along with the graphics card. It's a noticeable downgrade going from a Xonar DG to the Realtek Audio drivers, even though the Xonar DG was a mere 30 bucks.

So I need something that can connect either by digital out or USB to use as a sound card, or a DAC for my audio needs. I actually don't know which would be better for me, but 99% I will be using Sennheiser headphones. You could drive a lot of juice into them so a good headphone amp is the most important thing here. I don't want to spend more than $100.
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#2CC Ricers(Topic Creator)Posted 9/16/2013 8:09:35 AM
Bump
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#3ShubPosted 9/16/2013 8:18:10 AM
Did you look at FiiO DAC/amps? They have several devices that do both and cost less than $100. There's also the Asus Xonar U3, but I have no experience with it.
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#4aak57Posted 9/16/2013 8:20:53 AM
For under $100, you're probably looking at a Fiio E07K.
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#5LusoryPrimePosted 9/16/2013 8:24:17 AM
Probably the best value DAC/Amp combo right now is the "Schitt Stack" of the Schiit Audio Magni and Modi. But that will start at $200 for both the DAC and Amp. They're very good and I use them in my office. A step up from that would the O2 + ODAC combo from Mayflower Electronics or someone like them. I believe those are still around $400 for a combined unit.

A much cheaper but still good option if you just want a solid DAC and average amp is the Behringer UCA202 at ~$30. The headphone output is nothing great but it works decently enough for sensitive headphones.
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#6CC Ricers(Topic Creator)Posted 9/16/2013 8:34:20 AM
LusoryPrime posted...
Probably the best value DAC/Amp combo right now is the "Schitt Stack" of the Schiit Audio Magni and Modi. But that will start at $200 for both the DAC and Amp. They're very good and I use them in my office. A step up from that would the O2 + ODAC combo from Mayflower Electronics or someone like them. I believe those are still around $400 for a combined unit.

A much cheaper but still good option if you just want a solid DAC and average amp is the Behringer UCA202 at ~$30. The headphone output is nothing great but it works decently enough for sensitive headphones.


Behringer... oh man.. I've had bad experience with their headphones and DJ equipment. Although their budget desktop mixers and interfaces are supposed to be good for the price. The $30 price tag does make it tempting, though.
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#7LusoryPrimePosted 9/16/2013 8:43:51 AM
CC Ricers posted...
LusoryPrime posted...
Probably the best value DAC/Amp combo right now is the "Schitt Stack" of the Schiit Audio Magni and Modi. But that will start at $200 for both the DAC and Amp. They're very good and I use them in my office. A step up from that would the O2 + ODAC combo from Mayflower Electronics or someone like them. I believe those are still around $400 for a combined unit.

A much cheaper but still good option if you just want a solid DAC and average amp is the Behringer UCA202 at ~$30. The headphone output is nothing great but it works decently enough for sensitive headphones.


Behringer... oh man.. I've had bad experience with their headphones and DJ equipment. Although their budget desktop mixers and interfaces are supposed to be good for the price. The $30 price tag does make it tempting, though.


Yeah I have no experience with their headphones or DJ eq but I will say that it is a good DAC especially for that price. The headphone output is just there for monitoring, though, not really ideal for enjoyment. If you have any other amps lying around you can use the line output on it to feed into another amp.
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#8CC Ricers(Topic Creator)Posted 9/16/2013 8:56:22 AM
LusoryPrime posted...
Yeah I have no experience with their headphones or DJ eq but I will say that it is a good DAC especially for that price. The headphone output is just there for monitoring, though, not really ideal for enjoyment. If you have any other amps lying around you can use the line output on it to feed into another amp.


I do have spare DJ mixer laying around that can boost a analog line signal, but I'm not sure if connecting it from the speaker out would help much if the onboard audio will already make it sound cruddy. Never mind it would also add a lot of bulk to my computer setup.

The E07K on the other hand is very compact, and I like having the volume control right at my fingertips. There's also the ESI DAC Nano for the same price but it looks barebones in comparison.
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#9JowyBlightPosted 9/16/2013 10:07:21 AM
iBasso has some good budget portable DAC/amp combos as well, and the emu1616 and its big brother is a good cheap option as well, if you're looking for a bit more features.
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#10CC Ricers(Topic Creator)Posted 9/18/2013 8:56:35 AM
I think I'm getting either the E07K or iBasso D7. D7 comes in silver which matches my build better, but it's also pricey. Hmm, better sell some stuff...
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