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Beginner needs help with laptop to headphone setup

repr

New member
Apr 9, 2013
1
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Hi all,

I'm thinking about setting up my first audio system, i.e. making a step up from just plugging my headphones into my laptop's audio out.

The laptop is supposed to remain the main audio source: I have a collection of mainly high quality mp3s (320 kbps) and FLACs, but a significant fraction is Spotify premium streaming. Please keep this streaming component in mind when giving advise on how much sense the suggested setup makes ;-) Also, apologies for still being a bit naive in this area.

Afaik my laptop (MacBook Pro 6,2) has an optical output, which I gather I would need to wire into an DAC.

Cambridge Audio DacMagic100 (http://www.whathifi.com/review/cambridge-audio-dacmagic-100)

Beresford Caiman (http://www.whathifi.com/review/beresford-caiman)

and Musical Fidelity M1 DAC (http://www.whathifi.com/review/musical-fidelity-m1-dac)

all look reasonable from what I read here.

The next step would be to get a headphone amplifier - I found the Little Dot MK3 Valve amp / preamp which looks good to me.

Headphones are already in place, AKG K550.

Does that look reasonable? And would I need any additional components?

Putting down about 200 £ each for the DAC and headphone amp I would hope being significantly and noticably better off than just plugging my headphones into the audio out of my MacBook, even listening to high quality streaming music. Am I correct?

Thanks!!
 

repr

New member
Apr 9, 2013
1
0
0
Thanks for the replies - I take it the two solutions suggested just combine the DAC and headphone amp in one box, for about half the price? Do you guys reckon the extra 200 for the two separate boxes would just not be justified for MP3s as main source, or what's the thinking here.

Thanks again
 

andrew_cawood

New member
Nov 13, 2011
34
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Yes, they do both. If you really want to spend £400 on a dac/amp combo - I'd try to get a second hand Audiolab Mdac, or wait for the Qdac which is out in May. Also saves you a few quid on RCA connections.
 

Overdose

New member
Feb 8, 2008
279
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0
repr said:
Thanks for the replies - I take it the two solutions suggested just combine the DAC and headphone amp in one box, for about half the price? Do you guys reckon the extra 200 for the two separate boxes would just not be justified for MP3s as main source, or what's the thinking here.

Thanks again
I really don't think you'll get better for the money than the amp/DAC I linked to, although you might find something similar. There are quite a few amp/DACs that have headphone capability at this price point, some better than others.
 

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