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Eugene
2010-07-03, 10:39
The onboard sound on my Mac mini has given out so I've been researching USB-based DACs as a possible replacement. I'm leaning toward the NuForce ╬╝DAC since it's fairly inexpensive, but it's also the least flexible. Also on the radar is the iBasso D4 which can be used as a portable iPod amplifier because it has a battery and aux/line-in.

Not under consideration: HeadAmp Pico or anything else in that $300+ price range. Anything from Creative.

Majost
2010-07-03, 11:26
What about the Griffin iMic? I haven't heard much about it recently (although apparently there's a new revision out now), but it used to be the external sound option for Macs. Never used the thing... and I don't know how it compares with stuff nowadays, but at the least it's another option.

remlemasi
2010-07-03, 13:59
If you want an audiophile-grade DAC with a decent headphone amp built-in look no further than a Zero DAC (eBay is the only source). It goes for about $150, which is pretty good considering the quality of sound it produces.

http://cgi.ebay.com/09-NEW-VERSION-ZERO-24-192KHZ-DAC-HEAD-AMP-USB-OPA2604-/110401107776?cmd=ViewItem&pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item19b46b3740#ht_7258wt_887

I have one and it's really good. Definitely holding me off until I can justify this: http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/system1/digital-analog-converter/dac1-hdr

Those headphone forums will have boatloads of info on it (almost too much to sift through).

Eugene
2010-07-03, 14:43
That looks interesting...do you know if it comes with a NEMA power cord or am I going to have to use an adapter?

EDIT: Nevermind, looks like it does.

Maciej
2010-07-03, 17:51
If you're willing to stretch your budget to $200, I'd be willing to recommend the TubeMagic D1 from Maverick Audio. I hear good things.

Brad
2010-07-03, 17:57
I hear good things.

I see what you did there.

Maciej
2010-07-03, 18:27
I see what you did there.

Haha, funny. I should make it clear that I don't actually own one of these, that was a coincidence. I have heard from owners that it sounds above it's price point, and you can always roll tubes.

Eugene
2010-07-03, 19:52
Hmm, reading further into the Zero DAC/amp, it looks like the Head-Fi types either love it because it's cheap, or hate it because they tend to blow up...

remlemasi
2010-07-05, 16:36
Hmm, reading further into the Zero DAC/amp, it looks like the Head-Fi types either love it because it's cheap, or hate it because they tend to blow up...

Yeahhhhh... I decided to go for it and it's been working flawlessly for a good few months now. Maybe the 09 edition fixed some issues. I did see that TubeMagic D1 awhile ago and it looks very promising. I would definitely check that one out too.

I'm currently using the Zero DAC with a Hafler 2-channel power amp and some Polk Audio LSi15s. Amazing speakers and I found them for $500 on craigslist!!! An Airport Express is feeding it Apple Lossless from my iTunes and it's a great setup. Partner that with my iPhone as my remote and it's simply amazing.