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New DAC and Headphone AMP required.

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Hey All.

So I am wanting to get a DAC and Headphone AMP, either as one unit or a stack is fine.

$500 budget.

No real preference for sound, just clean, natural, no excess bass or treble boost.

Will be plugged into PC of cause, so USB, Toslink and so on will be handy.


Also got about $300 for a closed set of headphones with similar sounding characteristics.


Suggestions will be very helpful thanks, must be able to buy online from a decent seller, no dodgy over sea's stuff please.

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Not sure what or whom you might consider to be "dodgy overseas" sellers.

I recently purchased a Topping DX3Pro direct from these folk for an acquaintance and found them to be prompt and responsive.

It sounded more than acceptable to me and I do own much more upmarket gear.

Shure SRH 940 from StoreDJ will pair well with it, although I preferred my open back ATH-AD1000X which worked really well with it.  I am partial to AT cans generally though.  The Shure are very even handed if a little more prosaic.

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Posted (edited)

I didn't really mean dodgy, I just don't like buying from over seas.

I currently use a Creative X7, which I thinks sounds quite good, but looking at reviews most Said it is average, so even a Schiit stack will be a fair upgrade. Was just checking if there are other options.

Edited by Eastley83

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Posted (edited)

I looked at that Creative DAC when i first started my audio journey lol.


Thought it looked fairly versatile till I read reviews of it.


For the money it's not that great at all.


I'd look at Topping or SMSL for your budget.


I'm looking at the SMSL SU-8 or the Topping D50 for my 2.1 setup.


I think using my OPPO 205 is a lil overkill;)


Hope this helps.


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20 minutes ago, BIG DWIFTER said:

I looked at that Creative DAC when i first started my audio journey lol.


Thought it looked fairly versatile till I read reviews of it.



It's quality is easily the same, if not a tad better if you use USB > DAC than any Creative Internal card they have released, like a Zx series and so on, but you get higher sampling over USB, and a slight noise reduction. The Headphone AMP in it is great, it is clean and drives most things I will ever buy. The AMP fucntions I use sometimes, I had no issues driving a set of Polk RTi A7's,


The issue with the X7 is not really what it does, it that the market shifted as it got released. The X7 is a great all rounder, can do it all, sound slightly better than any ZxR Internal card with a few extra handy functions. But the Market shifted towards proper DAC's and Headphone AMPS at it's release, and these separate components, if made by a well known company, sounded a bit better again.


A Schiit Stack can be had for just over $400 at the moment, and is probably my better option, it is an upgrade in audio quality from the X7.


Like the look of the Topping D50, only Amazon seem to have it.


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The DX3Pro is also available through Amazon if that is your preference.

A good headamp section with plenty of drive and a DAC that did not embarass itself when compared to an iFi iDSD Micro Black Label.

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I agree with the topping.
They make the best budget dacs as far as I am concerned

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Parasound Zdac v2 are pretty good :)

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Grace M900 Dac/Amp, super clean headphone section with tonnes of headroom,  im biased as i own/use one :) I prefer it to my previous parasound and chord mojo dacs,  which while sound amazing impart their own sound signature to some extent, the grace is very neutral. 

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Posted (edited)

Audio gd r2r 11 is a another option

Edited by barbz127

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Posted (edited)

Another vote for the little Pro-Ject Pre Box. Had one for a week driving my main system when the DAC of choice was out of action. Really very good for its price - I was hardly aware of any deficits in the sound at all.

edit: was not using the headphone out - so unsure of about good its amplifier is

Edited by n0bleINtP

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