DAC/AMP Combo or Stack Reccomendations

Rochambeaux

Well-known member
Jan 18, 2020
3
0
520
Looking for suggestions on a DAC/AMP combo device or stack that will pass through to my desktop speakers without having to manually switch outputs while my headphones are plugged in.
 

doifeellucky

Well-known member
Feb 3, 2016
64
35
10,570
What is your source and budget?

I connect a Zen DAC V2 via USB to my PC and then connect that via RCA to a Sabaj A10a amp which connects to my speakers. I use Grado 325x connected to the Zen. The amp only has one input (does have a sub out though which I don’t use), which is fine for my scenario, and is a bargain at £120. One reviewer tested it with his LS50’s (not meta) and was surprised how well it worked. He said sound quality wise it is better than the NAD 3020 V2 which is £400. I’m personally not that impressed by the Zen. I don’t hear any significant difference in quality compared to plugging straight to my phone, with Spotify, CD quality and hi-res. I keep seeing comments about a ‘night and day improvement’ which are utter nonsense. VHS to 4K is a night and day difference. To me it just gives more volume but your results may vary. Hope that helps.
 

Rochambeaux

Well-known member
Jan 18, 2020
3
0
520
What is your source and budget?

I connect a Zen DAC V2 via USB to my PC and then connect that via RCA to a Sabaj A10a amp which connects to my speakers. I use Grado 325x connected to the Zen. The amp only has one input (does have a sub out though which I don’t use), which is fine for my scenario, and is a bargain at £120. One reviewer tested it with his LS50’s (not meta) and was surprised how well it worked. He said sound quality wise it is better than the NAD 3020 V2 which is £400. I’m personally not that impressed by the Zen. I don’t hear any significant difference in quality compared to plugging straight to my phone, with Spotify, CD quality and hi-res. I keep seeing comments about a ‘night and day improvement’ which are utter nonsense. VHS to 4K is a night and day difference. To me it just gives more volume but your results may vary. Hope that helps.
I'd be willing to spend up to $700 total. My sources would primarily be Apple Music Lossless and Spotify when they introduce their equivalent. I also have a small library of personal FLAC files.

By desktop speakers are already powered so I need something with an RCA output. Any reason the Zen DAC V2 couldn't drive the RCA and headphones? I don't see any output controls and it doesn't use a remote. I'm worried it might be like the Cambridge DacMagic 200M I just got but will likely return since the only way to use the RCA output is to physically unplug the headphones.
 

doifeellucky

Well-known member
Feb 3, 2016
64
35
10,570
The Zen powers both at the same time and has a switch on the back for fixed and variable output. I use fixed if using the amp and speakers so I control that volume off the amp, and variable to use the Zen volume for headphones. I’ve previously used powered speakers, now in our kitchen, and just had it on variable all the time and set the volume on the Zen. In my desktop setup everything is reachable so the lack of remote isn’t an issue for me. Although I was quite critical of the Zen’s lack of sound improvement it is ideal in my current setup, which has changed since I bought it, and the bass boost feature can be useful for certain types of music through the Grados.
 

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