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Old 9th January 2012, 01:43 PM   #1
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Default DAC xlr output to headphones?

Hi all.

I just bought a ADDA converter over the weekend for my home studio. Hooking up the active monitors is no simple task. It seems I need an attenuator from the DAC XLR outputs to the monitors. goldpoint level control could suit this need, but what about headphones? What can I do? What am I searching for? I would do google but not clear on the terminology.

In simple terms, from the DAC I want to go to a headphones. Preferably thru a tube DIY project.

Any help will be appreciated.

Mytek 8x192 AD/DA
From the datasheet it says
Quote:
The outputs are balanced +4dB and have a set gain of +4dB=-15dBFS. They have 75 Ohm output impedance and can drive single ended (including -10dBV consumer) outputs.
Thanks

Peter
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Old 10th January 2012, 03:27 PM   #2
qusp is offline qusp  Australia
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use the dacs volume control, you will only degrade the performance going passive and its a particularly bad idea to just put the attenuator inline with the XLR outs; as this will vary the dacs output impedance with level.

also.... using a diy tube project for monitoring recording mixes? really? there is all manner of headphone amps in this forum that will provide an accurate representation of the quite high quality dac output you have, i'm biassed, however i wouldnt touch tubes for this roll. it would help however if we knew what headphones specifically you are talking about.
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Old 10th January 2012, 04:52 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply.

By the amount of replies, obviously it is something people don't normally do.
The problem with the Rack mount DAC is that it sits way over there, in the rack. Not something I want to do every time I want to change the volume. Purchasing a monitor control was never in my plan and I hate the idea, but it looks to be the only solution. Every single one of them has issues. Looking into the Kush Gain Gate Function Junction. This way I have headphone options.

I did find my answer to the tube amp. You can send the XLR cable to the rca headphone amp. But you are right, that would be one awkward set up. When I have more time on my hands I might tackle it.
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Old 11th January 2012, 02:44 AM   #4
qusp is offline qusp  Australia
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yes, people would not normally take a quality unit that has an integrated stepped volume control and integrated headphone amp and then add an inaccurate diy tube amp and a passive volume control to 'improve things' for their mixes

my objection to the tube amp is that its a rare one that is transparent and those that are are not usually found in a kit; its possible, but its neither cheap or easy. using a less than transparent amplifier to monitor recordings/channel strips/mixes because it sounds more pleasant to you, is a very bad idea and you will produce mixes that need to be corrected, what sounds right through the headphones will not be right in the mix.

• move the rack closer
• get a long headphone cable
• use the volume in the audio device driver/mixer on your computer, it probably even accesses the integrated volume directly.
• use a midi controller like 'bigknob' to control the level if you want hands on

Last edited by qusp; 11th January 2012 at 02:51 AM.
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Old 11th January 2012, 04:40 AM   #5
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I came to the conclusion the Tube amp is a bad idea. The way you described it becomes a really really bad idea.


The headphone out has a step ladder attenuator. Step 0 being off, step 1 audible, then step 3 LOUD. This thing is really hot. Also, the mute is a tiny push button, not easy to find or see. The solution has to be a monitor controller to bring some sanity to this madness. Right now, I am looking to build my own. An enclosure with ins/outs, and attenuators in between. This unit will sit closer to me and hopefully have more control over the volume.
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Old 11th January 2012, 07:05 AM   #6
qusp is offline qusp  Australia
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fair enough, its true that many otherwise well designed units pay little attention to the headphone out and/or are designed for the high impedance headphones that were common many eons ago for monitoring. its unfortunate that you missed 'the wire' headphone amp GB thread here. i actually do have a spare PCB that i could sell you, but you would have to source the parts yourself (there arent that many) and supply a power supply capable of about +/-15vdc @ 400ma.

i expect that the channels/levels are able to be adjusted in the mytek control panel/plugin on your computer? these will be the highest quality volume controls you can use in your setup if you can do this, because they will access the volume control registers in the dac chip itself; thus no external circuitry to degrade it. then you dont need a volume control on the headamp, just plug the XLRs straight in, as it has balanced input and single ended output. i believe there are already a number of people from the group buy using it for studio monitoring purposes who seem very pleased with the results; as i would expect its a stunning little amplifier!!

there were single ended in and out and a balanced in and out version in the latest generation too, but they have all sold out and i believe the BAL-SE is what you want anyway as you have balanced output and possibly dont want to recable your headphones with a balanced cable.

check out the measurements on the first page of that thread, it doesnt really get any better than this; its accurate and grabs every headphone i have plugged intro it by the balls. so the numbers and subjective sound quality are superb!!

there may even be some of the balanced in single ended out PCBs left still direct from opc, but definitely no kits and if there isnt, as i said i have a spare one you can have for 15usd plus shipping.

any external volume control will be a compromise, if you can adjust it on the computer, not only are the levels then known and easily repeatable, but i'm yet to find an analogue control at any cost that betters the result. ive tried some massive steppers with custom resistors worth nearly 400 and i prefer to use the internal 40bit control in my dac.

anyone who says that digital volume controls degrade the sound either hasnt used a decent one, or has fallen prey to superstition. true they used to be pretty dodgy, but the last few years has seen them become the best option. your dac/interface being a pro studio grade rack unit, i cant see that it wouldnt have individual level/trim controls.

Last edited by qusp; 11th January 2012 at 07:12 AM.
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Old 11th January 2012, 12:48 PM   #7
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Thanks qusp, I am definitely interested in the PCB. I took a glace of the thread last week, decided not to read it. Too long. There isn't enough hours in the day to read something like that.

Mytek does not provide any special monitoring software other than the control panel Windows provides. The specs say "Stereo monitor XLR outputs ...When driving unbalanced loads
pin 3 should be lifted (not shorted to gnd). There is no internal gain adjustment on this output other than the volume knob. Head phone jack present on the front panel features the same signal as XLR outs (
+4dB 75Ohm output impedance) but it
is always routed through knob. Mute switch mutes XLR outs only
".

What I can gather from the specs is you can send to the monitor XLR outs
to unbalanced inputs. And there isn't any software other than the OS to reduce volume levels. I would like to know how others are using it.

I hear you on the attenuators. Expensive! .
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Old 11th January 2012, 05:33 PM   #8
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After a little more research. Most of these DACs don't have internal software for monitoring. Which is fine, my issue looks to be more of a learning issue. Pro-audio tools are used differently, and I just need to learn the best way to operate them.

Thanks for replying to this thread. I would not have thought it completely through and might have bought something expensive I should not have.

Update: Owen has a few up for sale in a couple of weeks.
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Old 13th January 2012, 01:31 PM   #9
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If you're going to use headphones for mixes, get them analyzed and get a quality EQ to level them out. I've been looking at the Behringer DEQ2496 for just such a thing.
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Old 13th January 2012, 01:59 PM   #10
qusp is offline qusp  Australia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SonicSonar View Post
After a little more research. Most of these DACs don't have internal software for monitoring. Which is fine, my issue looks to be more of a learning issue. Pro-audio tools are used differently, and I just need to learn the best way to operate them.

Thanks for replying to this thread. I would not have thought it completely through and might have bought something expensive I should not have.

Update: Owen has a few up for sale in a couple of weeks.
hmm actually my experience of multichannel pro-audio tools is that they are MORE likely to have the channel strips accessible in the control panel than your average dac. I own an RME fireface 400, an RME HDSP9632 and did own an M-Audio Delta 1010LT and they all have/had software control and internal routing of the channels in the patchbay. the protools/digidesign, metric halo, motu, echo, EMU, presonus, focusrite, lynx, apogee and tc electronic also do to name just a few

yes Owen will likely have some spare BAL-SE when things settle down some

Last edited by qusp; 13th January 2012 at 02:10 PM.
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