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Which budget USB DAC under 200USD
Which budget USB DAC under 200USD
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Old 3rd October 2017, 07:35 PM   #1
Insanoff is offline Insanoff  Azerbaijan
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Default Which budget USB DAC under 200USD

Hi!

I need your advice choosing a budget USB DAC. Please help!

Here are some initial selections:
1. Fostex HP-A3
2. DacMagic 100
3. Shiiit Modi 2 Uber
4. Audioengine D1
5. Dragonfly v1.5


P.S. I am going to use it with speakers, not headphones.
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Old 3rd October 2017, 08:05 PM   #2
CharlieLaub is offline CharlieLaub  United States
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Which budget USB DAC under 200USD
Get a ES9023 DAC that can run at 24/96. Expect to pay around $50.
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Old 4th October 2017, 07:11 AM   #3
Insanoff is offline Insanoff  Azerbaijan
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Originally Posted by CharlieLaub View Post
Get a ES9023 DAC that can run at 24/96. Expect to pay around $50.
That is pretty budget one. Maybe something more serious?
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Old 4th October 2017, 07:36 AM   #4
abraxalito is offline abraxalito  United Kingdom
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For something even more budget, how about this one ? L1543DAC 四片并联TDA1543 发烧USB解码器,(套件+成品)-淘宝网全球站
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Old 4th October 2017, 07:56 AM   #5
Insanoff is offline Insanoff  Azerbaijan
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Originally Posted by abraxalito View Post
Guys, may be something from my list? My budget is $200. I would not to buy anything sounds same as internal DAC of my laptop.
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Old 4th October 2017, 08:06 AM   #6
abraxalito is offline abraxalito  United Kingdom
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I took a look at the first two you suggest - the first one uses AK4390 and the second a Wolfson DAC chip (didn't search for its number, most likely WM874x). Note both those are sigma-delta types with on-chip opamps. When we get to Schiit (your third choice) there's a $249 option using a multibit DAC chip. The cheaper two are using sigma-delta.

The internal DAC of your laptop is also going to be sigma-delta. Given that my suggestions are multibit and Schiit charges a premium for that tech, do you reckon my suggestions will sound like your laptop?

If you'd like to spend more, there's this one - L1543DAC 16X并联TDA1543HiFi发烧解码器 再现TDA1541模拟味道-淘宝网全球站
Note for this it doesn't come standard with USB you need to add that as an option.
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Last edited by abraxalito; 4th October 2017 at 08:14 AM.
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Old 4th October 2017, 09:14 AM   #7
twocents is offline twocents  South Africa
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Any of the HiFime products are very good, and excellent value for money. I would suggest this one:
HiFime 9018i i2S DAC
or this:
HiFime UH1 384kHz USB DAC, headphone amplifier and I2S/DSD interface

PS: You pay for excellent sound here, not 'n brand name

Last edited by twocents; 4th October 2017 at 09:16 AM.
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Old 4th October 2017, 01:45 PM   #8
Insanoff is offline Insanoff  Azerbaijan
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I am sorry. I just was advised not to buy any chinese DAC. A saw on a russian website a guy telling than any brand DAC will be better than chinese DAC with fancy chips inside, because of better overall circuit design and fine tuning. Hrmm. OK.

I take my time and do a little research.
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Old 4th October 2017, 01:58 PM   #9
abraxalito is offline abraxalito  United Kingdom
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Bear in mind you're asking on a DIY audio forum, not on an audiophile one. I would agree that Chinese DACs in general have their flaws, but they can be fixed up without too much effort. Take for example a DAC from the same designer as the ones I've just recommended - we take it apart (not just metaphorically) and reassemble it here : TDA1387 x8 DAC: let's check its design, mod it -or not-, play music -or not! -

You're getting a cheap product - for that money you don't get top-notch design. But you do get something that can teach you a fair amount about how to get good sound - that is if you're prepared to mod it and share your findings here.

I would agree not to be seduced by headlines of the latest fashion chip - TDA1543 is the antithesis of the 'latest and greatest' in DACs, given its a) old and out of production and b) only 16bits. There's general agreement though that its capable of a highly relaxing, enjoyable, non-digital style of sound.
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Last edited by abraxalito; 4th October 2017 at 02:00 PM.
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Old 4th October 2017, 01:59 PM   #10
twocents is offline twocents  South Africa
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Hi Insanoff, the HiFimeDIY products are not just any Chinese products. The origins are very experienced American DIY enthusiasts that started designing good sounding gear for the diy community. Like I said - you pay for quality sound, not a brand name. Sure - manufacturing is done in China, but you will be dealing with very friendly and efficient American staff. They have a warehouse in the UK too, which is where I got my DACs from.

But, yes - do a lot of research first.
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