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Old 9th April 2012, 02:08 PM   #1
Drweird is offline Drweird  India
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Bangalore
Default A sub-$100 Dac for Airmotiv 4's

I recently ordered a pair of the Emotiva Airmotiv 4's. Its gonna take a while for it to get here. Meanwhile i would like some advice on a cheap DAC to pair up with them. A DIY kit would be fine too. I was thinking - motherboard S/pdif out > DAC > airmotivs. My intended uses are mostly music and a sometimes for some basic mix editing.

So far i've looked at:
The Fiio e10 (USB In)
HFIDIY Mini PCM1793 DAC
Lampucera DIY Kit

Also, as an aside, i was wondering how important the Op-Amp stage of the two DIY Kits (mentioned above) are when feeding active speakers. As i understand it, the Op-Amps are an addition made for driving headphones and it would be beneficial (sonically) to just bypass them in this case.
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Old 9th April 2012, 03:21 PM   #2
wwenze is offline wwenze  Singapore
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Quote:
As i understand it, the Op-Amps are an addition made for driving headphones and it would be beneficial (sonically) to just bypass them in this case.
No, the op-amps are an addition made to drive 10k-100k loads (typical input impedance of amplifier) connected via a cable. Bypassing them will most likely result in more distortion and noise.
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Old 23rd April 2012, 05:12 AM   #3
orpheus is offline orpheus  United States
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: NYC
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drweird View Post
I recently ordered a pair of the Emotiva Airmotiv 4's. Its gonna take a while for it to get here. Meanwhile i would like some advice on a cheap DAC to pair up with them. A DIY kit would be fine too. I was thinking - motherboard S/pdif out > DAC > airmotivs. My intended uses are mostly music and a sometimes for some basic mix editing.

So far i've looked at:
The Fiio e10 (USB In)
HFIDIY Mini PCM1793 DAC
Lampucera DIY Kit

Also, as an aside, i was wondering how important the Op-Amp stage of the two DIY Kits (mentioned above) are when feeding active speakers. As i understand it, the Op-Amps are an addition made for driving headphones and it would be beneficial (sonically) to just bypass them in this case.

Check out the ODAC, Objective DAC. Although it hasn't been released, based on measurements and the past accomplishments of the designer, it is likely the best you can do for $100. The designers blog is here.

Good luck in your search.
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Old 26th April 2012, 04:00 AM   #4
dangus is offline dangus  Canada
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: Vancouver Island
There's under-$20 DACs on eBay. It may be adequate as-is, or a basis for modifications, like adding an outboard op-amp buffer or line driver, cleaner power supply, whatever.

WTF; I just ordered one (plus the matching slightly-more-expensive ADC). When they arrive, I will open 'em up and reveal what's inside.

FWIW, there's a nice DAC (and ADC) at ELV in Germany (much higher res and sample rates), but their shipping charges for overseas customers are ridiculous.
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