DAC Amp Suggestions

If you’re open to buying used, I like the old Topping NX4 (non-DSD). The DAC and op amps are all TI parts and it’s got that nice kind of smoothness I associate with Burr Brown from my Hifiberry DACs. It’s got plenty of power, a nice form factor and feels well made. Also, it works with iOS devices without the Camera Connection Kit and just a small USB to Lightning cable that’s included with the unit.

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I see it for $159 new on Amazon, $98 used on eBay. I already have 2 camera cards, but would not mind ditching them. The iDSD will connect with AAC and Bluetooth, or via the Camera card.

< distracted squirrel mode >
Ya should na hae told me you was a developer. I have a completely different Raspberry Pi thought in me haid. Not a thing to do with audio. </ distracted squirrel mode >

It’s something I might want to try. And possibly buy too. But the Amazon description says it runs on a Sabre 9038Q2, and isn’t talking Burr Brown, or TI. (BTW, I tend to follow TI, they are a huge player in analog/digital conversions generally).

I could always buy another DFB or a DFR. I’m looking for more function. Note that either my DFB or whatever I get will probably spend most of it’s time sitting between a Mac Mini and the amp for the Stax headphones, but will occasionally travel.

It may be fed by music stored on the Mac, on network storage, from Tidal or Apple Music. That can always change. If I get ambitious and clear up some more space in the rats’ nest of my main stereo, then the Stax amp will be fed from a phono preamp and (probably) my Teac DAC in that system.

So, cheap, cheap, what is the experience with the Fiio D3?

I just pulled the trigger on the iFi xDSD DAC. Maybe I will figure out how to do some sort of reasonable review on it and earn my reviewer’s wings.


Happy to help with proofing, editing, review, feedback, input etc. via PM if you want (though I doubt you’ll need that).

If you want to try something feature-level (maybe for the headphone.com main page) give me a holler, also.

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I don’t have analytic measurement tools, other than a decent multimeter. So I don’t think I can do a legit feature-level review. I will have to own up to 64 year-old auditory input hardware, and a similarly aging set of wetware processors when doing any evaluation.

But thanks, and I will take you up on proof/edit certainly.

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Measurements are not required for feature-level reviews, just in case that’s not obvious.

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I appreciate that. My personal standards apply.

Yeah, the NX4 is on its 2nd generation, the NX4 DSD. The one I have is the older non-DSD model that uses a TI DAC. New ones are no longer available, and I’m not seeing any used ones on eBay at the moment.

Ever since you pointed this out it has been a debate to get it over the nano…

Yeap to second that I also like the sound of the old Burr Brown or TI PCM Dacs. It seems there not as popular these days [which is a shame]

If you can find it, a second hand Behringer UCA 202 from 2013 or earlier is an excellent $30 dac. The older models still use the TI PCM Dacs and have quite a nice open and fairly smooth presentation.

Be warned though!!! The newer models [and I don’t know what year it started with] swap out the TI chip for an in house design that’s noticeably noisy an kinda just crunchy, soft and distorted sounding

So If your willing to dive into the second hand market for $30 a think the old UCA 202s are an excellent value!

From there you’ve got $150ish to play with for an amp. So depending on what headphones you plan to use, you have a few options.

Besides the Schiit products, would the FiiO Q1 Mk II be a good choice?

The Q1 Mk2 sounds pretty good for balanced output and a portable amp. It wont compete with a normal desktop amp, even a small one though.

I also dig the ES100 as a small portable balanced amp.

Haven’t heard the Q1 MKII but honestly I like my old gen 1 Fiio E17. I take it with me on planes and rubber band it to my cell it with either my Porta Pro or my HD 25-1 ii make a nice little portable combo! The built in EQ is handy to, but portables are of course good in portable situations. If you don’t need or think you’ll use your Dac on the go then no need for a portable!

I have a FiiO E12a Mont Blanc portable Amp and though it doesn’t get much usage it is a great piece of kit. Sounds nice and had plenty of power for iem’s and low impedance cans. Though I wouldn’t use it for something like my HD650. It powers it but the sound lacks body and feels a little underpowered. Good portable Amp though.

Thanks, @prfallon69.

I was thinking of the FiiO strictly as a DAC to connect to a more robust headphone amp for desktop use at home and as a portable DAC/AMP when at work.

The alternative would be to stick with Schiit for both pieces and just use my Dragonfly Black at work. I’m driving HD58x at home and Sennheiser PC100 at work.

And I’m searching for a good closed back or semi-open set for home that doesn’t require the sale of a kidney.


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My current favorite mobile DAC/amp…$200

Hooked up to the Element at work.

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This is not a headphone amp, but a DAC, Streamer, integrated amp combo I just picked up for my desktop setup. It feeds my Amps and Sound Kenzie Encore. Polaris by Auralic. Very impressive sound…using primarily through Roon, although Auralic has an app for controlling the device. Very pleased thus far…definitely an upgrade over my Meridian Prime Headphone amp/DAC I was using.



UPDATE: The amp section suffered some type of failure and won’t boot up. It got very hot and quit. Had not used it much in the first week due to other commitments. Sat down yesterday for a couple of hours of listening when it failed. Back it goes. Hopefully, the return process goes smoothly.

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Sorry to hear this that must have been very annoying. I hope that it gets sorted soon.