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Old 14th July 2013, 04:45 PM   #1
R00KIE is offline R00KIE  Portugal
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Default Advice on USB Soundcard / USB DAC + Amplifier

Like the title says, I'm looking for a USB soundcard or USB dac + amplifier and I was wondering if you guys could give some advice on what to buy. The reason I'm searching is because I'm fed up with the quality provided by the analog output of my laptop.

I've searched the forum and I didn't find anything that comes close to what I would like to buy. Most search results are for do/assemble it yourself, work in progress, too expensive or no longer available. I've seen some pcm2704 based boards on ebay, but according to some threads here there are better boards (but harder to find/more expensive).

My budget for what I would like to find is 50 with shipping included (might allow slightly more if it makes a big difference even for untrained ears).
Desired features include:
- work well with linux (I'd say that if it works with the generic usb audio driver on windows it will also work just fine on linux)
- capable of 16bit/48KHz playback (although the source material probably will not exceed that, more would be a nice bonus)
- capable of easily driving 32ohm headphones
- good frequency response (at most -3dB attenuation at 20Hz, I suppose this excludes anything with 100uF or lower caps in series with the output)
- no need for a digital output although it would be a bonus
- assembled board with no need for mods to get good quality (small mods are acceptable if not too hard and expensive to do)

Thanks in advance for any suggestions or pointers of where I might find something that fits the requirements.
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Old 14th July 2013, 10:15 PM   #2
dfy is offline dfy
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Does it really have to be an assembled board? You would still have to find a decent case and do the casework. If you don't want to DIY, I'd personally go for a complete&cased alternative like the Fiio E10.
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Old 14th July 2013, 11:25 PM   #3
R00KIE is offline R00KIE  Portugal
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Thanks for the suggestion. It is a bit above my target price but it does look nice and has a case

Complete&cased is preferable but I guess I can live with just an assembled board, after knowing more options I'll decide what to buy (after researching about what's inside each option and weighting any opinions I can find about each one, I'll probably also try asking around if anyone owns one and if there are any catches about linux support).

I'd rather not go the DIY route unless things are easy to solder, as in mostly through hole components, as I don't have experience soldering smd components or any specialized equipment that might be required.
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Old 15th July 2013, 04:49 PM   #4
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Location: Cambridge, England
One of the little DACs from hifimediy will fit you budget, and exceed your expectations. Do a search on this forum for more details.

The DAC is available from

Hifimediy Store

I believe is much better than the Filo E10.

To my knowledge, the best DAC for its small price.
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Old 15th July 2013, 05:31 PM   #5
R00KIE is offline R00KIE  Portugal
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The dac from hifimediy does look good and the price with shipping (from the eu) does fall neatly inside my budget, if no other dacs are suggested I will most probably settle for one of these.

Thanks for pointing this one out.
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Old 28th August 2013, 02:00 PM   #6
R00KIE is offline R00KIE  Portugal
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I finally got around to buying one of the DACs from the Hifimediy Store[1] and I have to say I am pleasantly surprised with the little thing. I have opened the box and I found a board with TE7022L+ES9023P.

It is what I was looking for, I can't tell any difference between the DAC and my big stereo (a Technics EH60 component system if anyone is wondering).

I have to report that it works flawlessly on linux, didn't bother to try it on windows yet If anyone happens to stumble upon this post via google, the one I got is identified as:
"1852:7022 GYROCOM C&C Co., LTD", it uses the usb sound driver that comes with the kernel so no need to install anything it should just work (as of the time of writing I'm using 3.10.9).

Thanks again for pointing out the existence of these nice boards

[1] HifiMeDiy Sabre USB DAC. Digital to Audio Converter 96khz/24bit (incl USB to optical converter feature)
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