USB DAC + Headphone Amplifiers - List

quadpatch

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I have done a bit of research on combined DACs with built in headphone amplifiers that plug in to computers via USB. Listening to headphones through a laptop or computer make them an easy upgrade option, are pretty convinient and provide a nice boost in audio quality. I made a list of all the interesting ones that I could find for me but thought it could be useful for others looking to buy as well so here goes, ordered by price...

£50 - Fiio E7£60 - Fiio E10£100 - Fiio E17£110 - Zero DAC£114 - Audinst HUD-MX1£115 - Vivid Technologies V1£125 - Headroom Total Bithead£130 - Nuforce Icon uDAC2£145 - HRT Headstreamer£150 - Yulong U100£150 - Audioengine D1£180 - Matrix Cube£210 - Firestone Fubar 4 Plus£225 - Little Dot DAC 2£235 - HLLY DMK-IV £250 - Matrix Mini-I£280 - CEntrance DACport£300 - Nuforce Icon HD£300 - TEAC Reference 01 UD-H01£320 - Yulong D100 mkII£320 - Nuforce Icon 2£340 - Asus Xonar Essence One £395 - Furutech GT40£450 - Matrix Quattro DAC£430 - Nuforce Icon HDP£500 - Musical Fidelity HPA-1£500 - Fostex HP-P1 (iPhone)£550 - Firestone Libby£600 - APOGEE MINI-DAC£600 - Audiolab M-DAC£850 - Peachtree Audio Decco 2£900 - Chordette Tucan£1050 - Benchmark Media DAC1
£50 - Fiio E7

£60 - Fiio E10

£100 - Fiio E17

£110 - Zero DAC

£114 - Audinst HUD-MX1

£115 - Vivid Technologies V1

£125 - Headroom Total Bithead

£130 - Nuforce Icon uDAC2

£145 - HRT Headstreamer

£150 - Yulong U100

£150 - Audioengine D1

£180 - Matrix Cube

£210 - Firestone Fubar 4 Plus

£225 - Little Dot DAC 2

£235 - HLLY DMK-IV

£250 - Matrix Mini-I

£280 - CEntrance DACport

£300 - Nuforce Icon HD

£300 - TEAC Reference 01 UD-H01

£320 - Yulong D100 mkII

£320 - Nuforce Icon 2

£340 - Asus Xonar Essence One

£395 - Furutech GT40

£450 - Matrix Quattro DAC

£430 - Nuforce Icon HDP

£500 - Musical Fidelity HPA-1

£500 - Fostex HP-P1 (iPhone)

£600 - APOGEE MINI-DAC

£600 - Audiolab M-DAC

£850 - Peachtree Audio Decco 2

£900 - Chordette Tucan

£1050 - Benchmark Media DAC1

I also want to try and make a chart to show the features of each one but this will take me a while. Using the one that I currently have as an example: I will put in there all this information:

Yulong D100 mkII

DAC / USB chip: AD1955 / TE7022L

Max Impedance (ohm): 600

Max Sample Rate (USB): 24bit / 96khz

Max Sample Rate (other): 32bit / 192khz

Digital Inputs: Optical, Coaxial, USB, AES / EBU

Headphone out (3.5mm / 6.35mm): No / Yes (x2)

Other Outpus: RCA (unbalanced), XLR (Balanced)

Asynchronous USB?: Yes

Jitter: 1PPm

SNR: >120dB

Dynamic Range: 115dB

THD+N: 0.0005% @ 1khz

Volume Dial on Unit?: Yes (Stepped)

Power - USB / AC / Battery?: No / Yes / No

Dimentions (mm): 250x180x50

Weight : 1500g

Any thoughts on models to include (remember just ones that you have heard good things about) or specifications to include for the chart let me know. I will try to get this chart done and uploaded as soon as I can but some of the info is hard to find.
 

quadpatch

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Ok I have done some of the chart now and this is probably the most useful end of it for most people so I will upload it now.

Hopefully this will help people looking to buy a combined USB DAC + amp. No indicator of greatness, still ordered by price but remember they are only on here if the general opinions are really good-great. This could be a useful reference for people on a specific budget that just need to know what features that they support.

DAC%2520List.jpg


Oh Damn it gets resized *sigh*, OK to see this properly click here.
 

quadpatch

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OK I have done a roughly finished chart for the DAC list.

**CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FULL LIST**

I have added a column for the country of origin - I thought that might help people assess value. I have taken off the 'Benchmark Media DAC1' because even the 'DAC1 USB' as far as I could see does not have a USB input (only output - WTF?!), if that's correct it doesn't belong on the list since that's a requirement.

Enjoy and please drop a message if you notice any mistakes or omissions, it would be very much appreciated :).
 

DIB

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A few weeks ago I was toying with the idea of an Aune mini USB DAC X1.

These are going for £159.99 on Ebay, offer 24BIT/192K via Coax/Optical and 16Bit via USB. You can buy them cheaper direct from the Far East but then you have to factor in transport, duties and taxes etc.

I read up quite a bit on them and they have had very favourable reviews, look pretty good and seem to tick all the right boxes.

The only reason I didn't buy one was that the seller did not have any in stock in the UK at that time, and was awaiting a fresh delivery in from China or somewhere.

.
 

eggontoast

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Good job Quadpatch.

With regards to your country of origin are you referring to where they are manufactured or designed ?

The Musical Fidelity and Audiolab are both built overseas in Taiwan and China respectively, this may give people a better idea of value if a company is building its products in the cheapest place on the planet then charging top dollar for them.
 
A

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Hi Quadpatch, great effort thanks though I do bring you work to do!

Firestone have a range of 5 USB DAC/headphone amps from the Fireye2 at about £65 to the Libby at £500.

http://www.firestone-audio.eu/shop/products/headphoneampdac/index.php

Then there is iBasso, with a whole range of protable USB DAC/amps

http://www.ibasso.com/en/products/
 

quadpatch

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Thanks very much for the feedback guys! I shall look in to adding all of your recommendations soon. Please shout if there are any others I am missing.

It's really odd about the Benchmark DAC1, I swear I looked on their own site and they listed USB under outputs but not inputs. I will put it back on there then as it was nice having that model at the top at just over £1000. Is it pretentious to call themselves 'benchmark'... you sold yours right? what was it like?

As for the country tab, it was intended for the one where they are designed. I don't think there are many western companies that don't outsource the construction. The only one I can think of is CEntrance, at least that's what they say anyway.
 

quadpatch

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Wow that Arcam rPAC looks amazing for the price! Now added to the list with a bunch of others...

DAC%2520list.JPG


**Click HERE for latest USB - DAC / amp list**

I haven't added quite all the IBasso's or Firestones but at least the most interesting ones for now. If anyone can think of any more models or info for the chart let me know.
 

DIB

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I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Bersford Caiman yet. I believe there is a new Beresford DAC coming out in a couple of months time or so, which is supposed to be an improvment on the Caiman.

.
 

quadpatch

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Looking up info on the Beresford DAC it seemed to get mixed reviews but a 5 star from WHF will cement it a place on the list...

DAC%2520list.JPG


***Click HERE for full size view***
 

quadpatch

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Thanks Deliriumbassist! and for the info update about the TEAC. I didn't want to put another column on there for upsampling because most of them seem to do it and there doesn't seem to be any correlation between that and quality. I know that could be argued for any sample rates above 16/44 too but unless a slew of people tell me how important upsampling is I will leave that one out for now.

dacs.JPG


**Click here for this latest chart in full size**

This includes the update for the TEAC and...

Updated IO columns so they are easier to read

All DAC chips listed accept Nuforce & Leema (who don't seem to publish)

Bel Canto DAC added (now most expensive for this list)
 

quadpatch

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I made a few corrections and added a new collumn: Portability - in which 'semi' means that it's small enough to be transportable (<500g) but needs external power (not USB). This would be annoying if using a laptop away from a socket for example.

I should probably point out that portable for a USB DAC is almost always intended for laptop use. The only DACs here that will accept a digital audio signal from a portable DAP are the 'Fostex HP-P1' or the 'GoVibe Porta Tube +' and then only with the iPod/iPhone.

Also added 5 new collumns for controls like gain, bass, treble etc. This was because of the 'Practical Devices XM6' which looks very interesting! Although some others have some of these controls but not many.

Here is a list of DAC / amps I have added to the chart since the last post:

● DACMagic Plus

● IBasso D6

● IBasso D10

● IBasso D12

● Fubar 3 mkII

● Fiio D5 (new cheapest DAC / amp)

● GoVibe Porta Tube + (portable tube amp that takes digital audio from the iPod/iPhone)

● Fostex PC-100USB

● Fostex HP-A3

● Centrance DACMini

● Practical Devices XM6 [/b](play/pause/track skip + bass/treble/gain/impedance/crossfeed control - wow!)

● Wavelength Crimson HS [/b](Tube amp / new most expensive - so far)

● Lindy USB DAC [/b](cheapest device with 24/96 USB, 24/192 SPDIF/coax)

dacs.JPG


**Click HERE to see full size (New Window)**

That's 58 combined USB DAC / amps in the list now, it gives a pretty good covering from £20-4800 so hopefully will be a good place for people to start looking if they are interested in one. Am considering taking review scores for these. Do you own one and would like to rate it? Give a score out of 10 if you own one of these please.
 

Deliriumbassist

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Took the plunge and ordered the rPac- should have it on Tuesday morning from Superfi. Will do a small review, as I have next week off work to play around with it.

Now I just need to perform the arudous task of ripping all my CDs onto the Mac Mini I got through on Thursday...
 

quadpatch

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Oh that's awesome!! I am very interested in the rPac too so yes please on doing a review! Have you had any other DAC / amps? Just wondering what you will be comparing it to or will it be your first?

Sounds like you are building a great system there, is it for headphones or speakers mostly?

I remember not looking forward to ripping all my CDs to lossless but they will be done before you know it and once the back catalogue is done keeping it up to date it pretty easy. I assume you will just use iTunes with the Mac.
 

DIB

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I've just bought myself an Aune X1 mini DAC, based on what I'd read on various forums, price etc.

I've got my PC hooked up to it via Toslink, and I've also hooked up the Squeezebox via Coax for comparison.

First impressions are very favourable, a definite improvement on using the onboard PC soundcard. So far I can't tell any real difference between playback of the SBT direct to my amp and through the Aune, both sound superb. BTW this SBT is such a great piece of kit, I've not stopped listening to internet radio all week!

The headphone output is again excellent, had a short listening session and at my optimum volume level the dial is set no further than "quarter to".

Very early days but I would say this DAC ticks all my boxes, at a not too restrictive price (£160).

Here's a pic..

SAM_0448.jpg


.

SAM_0448.jpg
[/img]
 

Deliriumbassist

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quadpatch said:
Oh that's awesome!! I am very interested in the rPac too so yes please on doing a review! Have you had any other DAC / amps? Just wondering what you will be comparing it to or will it be your first?

Sounds like you are building a great system there, is it for headphones or speakers mostly?

I remember not looking forward to ripping all my CDs to lossless but they will be done before you know it and once the back catalogue is done keeping it up to date it pretty easy. I assume you will just use iTunes with the Mac.

I'm currently running a Roksan Kandy K2 through Kef Q500 speakers. The rPac will be an inbetween until I pick up an Audiolab 8200CDQ. Then the rPac will be gifted to the younger brother, or if I love it, used with my laptop on train journeys. I'll be using Grado RS2i's at home, and B&W P5 or C5 on the move, dependant on which set is handiest at the time.
 

quadpatch

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Deliriumbassist said:
I'm currently running a Roksan Kandy K2 through Kef Q500 speakers. The rPac will be an inbetween until I pick up an Audiolab 8200CDQ. Then the rPac will be gifted to the younger brother, or if I love it, used with my laptop on train journeys. I'll be using Grado RS2i's at home, and B&W P5 or C5 on the move, dependant on which set is handiest at the time.

Oh wow that sounds like a sweet setup! I heard the Audiolab 8200CDQ in a hi-fi store. It was only a pretty quick test because I really wanted to play with the M-DAC but it seemed pretty awesome! I am tempted by the M-DAC because I will always be running CDs ripped from a PC. For me it'll be a fight between the M-DAC, the Firestone Libby and the Burson HA-160DS but by the time I can afford one of them things might have changed.

I guess if you don't love the rPac enough to keep it you will think of something else for the train, or will you not bother?
 

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