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Balanced Headphone Amp/DAC

Discussion in 'Sound City' started by neil_g, Jun 7, 2018.

  1. neil_g

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Dec 9, 2007

    Posts: 9,652

    Location: South Hampshire

    At the moment I am set up as follows:

    [​IMG]

    I've made the move to balanced headphones, which is easy for mobile use as I've got the Fiio Q1 mk2. However I'm looking to swap the
    desktop SD793 for something that has a balanced headphone out while retaining the inputs and preout/monitor drive requirement.

    The only devices I've seen that don't completely nuke my budget are:

    Topping DX7s - http://en.tpdz.net/products_detail/productId=32.html
    This ticks the boxes on the input front and the balanced headphone out. However I'm reading this has line out rather than pre-out, I can't work out if that is going to be an issue with the powered HS5 monitors? If it works then the XLR output is a bonus as can run that to the HS5.

    SMSL M9 - http://www.smsl-audio.com/productshow.asp?id=108
    Less inputs, will have to move the PC to USB rather than optical. But does have a pre-out mode. It's definitely an ugly duckling though.

    Is there anything else I should be considering? The M9 comes in at £375 (Amazon pricing), the DX7s is trickier to locate and probably imported via AliExpress for roughly the same price.

    Cheers chaps :)
     
  2. rids57

    Soldato

    Joined: Jul 25, 2012

    Posts: 5,886

    Location: Ankh Morpork

    You're almost up in Schiit Jotunheim territory with the price of those two. The Jot definitely has pre-outs (RCA and balanced) and weighs in at £420 plus DAC module, which is £90 for the AKM4490 module or £150 for the Multibit. It also outputs 5W (into 32ohm) per channel balanced compared with 1W from the Topping and has an output impedance of less than 0.1ohms compared with 20ohms on the topping so far less likelihood of headphone damping issues.

    I gave up on trying to make sense of the Chinglish on the SMSL site but it does use the same headphone amp chip (x2) as the Asus STX sound card, so again, the output impedance is likely to be quite high.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2018
  3. neil_g

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Dec 9, 2007

    Posts: 9,652

    Location: South Hampshire

    Yeah I looked at that, but the multibit DAC is an extra £150 and it's not clear what inputs you get on that?
     
  4. rids57

    Soldato

    Joined: Jul 25, 2012

    Posts: 5,886

    Location: Ankh Morpork

    ah, it's USB only I believe due to space constraints (on the module) so feel free to totally ignore my post :D
     
  5. neil_g

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Dec 9, 2007

    Posts: 9,652

    Location: South Hampshire

    no worries.

    second hand is okay too, not sure if that helps my options?
     
  6. Marsman

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 18, 2009

    Posts: 10,245

    Line out from the headphone amp would mean that the volume of the speakers would not alter when adjusting the pot. Pre out will.
     
  7. rids57

    Soldato

    Joined: Jul 25, 2012

    Posts: 5,886

    Location: Ankh Morpork

    Looks like the Aune S6 will do what you want, with USB, COAX and Optical inputs, balanced and SE 6.5mm headphone outputs and switchable pre out / line out RCA and balanced outputs.

    You can even buy it from Europe (from here) although the warranty looks a little odd but par for the course with Chinese goods.
     
  8. neil_g

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Dec 9, 2007

    Posts: 9,652

    Location: South Hampshire

    so volume would be set by the source? i.e. the PC or device streaming to crhomecast?

    thanks, I think I looked at that. not sure why I didn't consider it.
     
  9. Marsman

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 18, 2009

    Posts: 10,245

    Yes, or with the volume on the speakers. With pre out, the volume knob on the amp adjusts the speaker volume.
     
  10. neil_g

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Dec 9, 2007

    Posts: 9,652

    Location: South Hampshire

    okay so not a huge issue then, the HS5 dont have volume control so would be done on the client end
     
  11. rids57

    Soldato

    Joined: Jul 25, 2012

    Posts: 5,886

    Location: Ankh Morpork

    it's usually better, sound quality wise, to adjust the volume after the DAC as the signal is then in the analogue domain and is lossless - if you adjust the volume at the PC it's in the digital domain and can adversely affect the sound quality as you are reducing the information presented to the DAC.