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Old 11th January 2012, 02:14 PM   #1
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Default USB DAC recommendation

I currently have an iBasso D4 Mamba (2x WM8740) with upgraded opamps & buffers (a 'topkit' from user 'hiflight' on head-fi forums) which I use at home as a DAC & take to work with me every day to use as a DAC+headphone amp.

I want to build a new DAC to use at home so I can stop carrying the Mamba to & from work every day. I want to build it into a 1U 19" rack enclosure as I am planning on upgrading some other components in my system & want to consolidate everything into a single form factor, so I'm looking for DACs in kit/PCB form rather than complete cased units.

Obviously I want it to sound as good as the Mamba or better. I also want it to have a master volume control, as the amplifiers I am going to feed from it aren't going to have potentiometers on their inputs & I would rather control the volume via 'hardware' than on the computer.

Balanced outputs would be a bonus, as the output will probably go into an active crossover that will have balanced inputs.

I remember seeing something on ebay a few months back that consisted of a DAC PCB with a volume control (a rotary encoder rather than a potentiometer) with a small LCD, which would've been perfect, but I can't seem to find anything like it anymore.

In case it's important, the computer runs Linux, though I have yet to come across a USB DAC that doesn't work in Linux. Most of what I listen to is 44.1KHz CD rips, but I have started building up a collection of 24-bit/96KHz vinyl rips which it would be nice to be able to playback without downsampling (the Mamba won't play above 48KHz).

Any recommendations? I haven't really decided on budget yet, but <250/US$400 for the entire build sounds realistic.
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