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Old 28-12-17, 08:56 AM
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Which Headphone Dac

Hey Guys n gals. im looking to buy an affordable usb headphone DAC, sub £70. The headphones i use are the AKG K550, Impedance 32 Ohm. ive been looking at the FiiO - E10K Olympus USB DAC and the Fiio Q1 DAC and Headphone Amplifier . any thoughts on these models or any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 28-12-17, 09:21 AM
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I've just run over the data, and few reviews. It looks solid. It should drive your phones much better than integrated audio. Solid choice.

I would suggest you to check out Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi HD. It has few connections more, software features. It should be around £70-£80.
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Old 28-12-17, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Avet View Post
I've just run over the data, and few reviews. It looks solid. It should drive your phones much better than integrated audio. Solid choice.

I would suggest you to check out Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi HD. It has few connections more, software features. It should be around £70-£80.
Thanks Avet..ill go check that model now.
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Old 28-12-17, 11:08 AM
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Fiio E10K!! Love mine, such a difference between a DAC, on board and sound cards.
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Old 28-12-17, 11:15 AM
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At 32 Ohm, do you even need one?
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Old 28-12-17, 11:52 AM
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Fiio E10K!! Love mine, such a difference between a DAC, on board and sound cards.
This is what I'm using. It's really good.
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Old 28-12-17, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by looz View Post
At 32 Ohm, do you even need one?
You don't use DAC to drive the headphones primarily. Yes it is necessary for higher end ones, but the main reason is to remove DAC from your PC case which is very noisy. Do you know that whooshy sound that you get when you turn volume up on your speakers, or headphones that are connected to in case sound card? That is computer noise. External DAC gives you clear sound no matter how high is your volume, because analog signal is away from the computer. Digital signals aren't affected. You get better sound if you plug your headphones at the back of the PC instead of front, just because that long audio cable absorbs all the noise.
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Old 28-12-17, 12:25 PM
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I don't have the energy to go into it in too much detail today.. Firstly, check the spec of your onboard sound chip. It may already have a DAC. In which case you can get some amazing amps for £70. The DAC is not the amp. It is a digital to analogue converter, which you may or may not like. It is popular with any one over the age of about 30, because they were raised on analogue sound.

The important part is the amp. Now with home audio speakers you ideally want an amp that can output, in RMS, (so continual) around twice to 2/3 more than your speakers are rated at. This may sound crazy, but it is the only true way to avoid any clipping. Clipping = pops, farts, distortion etc. These can all blow up a speaker, even if it is rated for 1000w and the amp can only push 250 for example.

And for me when I made the transition into headphones and Head-fi I like to use the same principle. That way the amp doesn't even get warm, nor distort or clip. It's always better to have too much power on tap, that way you can extract every last bit of performance from your headphones. It only takes around 9 O'clock on my Beyer clone for example to get my Grados singing to their full capacity. Meaning everything runs cool with no distortion and so on.

So yeah, first see if you need a DAC. Then read about it and decide if you even want a DAC, then make your choice.
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Old 28-12-17, 12:42 PM
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Every sound card has a DAC. Otherwise it couldn't create signal for headphones/speakers. Quality of it is another story. Point is that from the location of DAC chip on sound card to the external output analog signal is still affected by the electrical noise from PC. Yes they have some sort of insulation but it isn't perfect. That is why professional PCIE sound cards have only digital I/O, and you have separate ADDA converters that are away from PC. Having any type of external DAC is way better than having one in PC case.

AMPs on the other hand are needed or not needed depending on what are you driving. If you have 400 Ω headphones yes you need better AMP. In case of OLYMPUS 2-E10K it can drive headphones up to 150 Ω so it already has some AMP in it.

Edit: Correction - Every sound card or device (mobile phone) that has analog output (headphones, speakers) has DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) chip. Every device that has analog input (mic, line in) has ADC (Analog to Digital Converter) chip. ADDA from the text above means Analog to Digital and Digital to Analog Converter. You also have DDC (Digital to Digital Converter) which converts SPDIF to AES or some other standard.
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Old 28-12-17, 12:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avet View Post
Every sound card has a DAC. Otherwise it couldn't create signal for headphones/speakers. Quality of it is another story. Point is that from the location of DAC chip on sound card to the external output analog signal is still affected by the electrical noise from PC. Yes they have some sort of insulation but it isn't perfect. That is why professional PCIE sound cards have only digital I/O, and you have separate ADDA converters that are away from PC. Having any type of external DAC is way better than having one in PC case.

AMPs on the other hand are needed or not needed depending on what are you driving. If you have 400 Ω headphones yes you need better AMP. In case of OLYMPUS 2-E10K it can drive headphones up to 150 Ω so it already has some AMP in it.
Thanks Avet. . I am on the same wavelength as you and agree totally with your above post. an external DAC is the way to go. and from what i can gather the OLYMPUS 2-E10K is a bit of a bargain.
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