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Author Topic: Laptop>USB DAC>Nikko amp?  (Read 1833 times)

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Offline MakersMarc

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Laptop>USB DAC>Nikko amp?
« on: March 05, 2019, 01:49:41 PM »
So I'm thinking of picking up another refurbished Lenovo for $300 and a great sounding DAC, so I have a cheap interface to plug externals in. My sense is I might get the most bang out of pc>DAC, as opposed to plunking down $700 for an Astell Kern sr15. My other two daps are straight up mid fi, and the SR15 would be an upgrade, but still not hifi.

Any suggestions for a true hifi USB DAC with rca or mini output, in the 400-500 price range or below? Looking for transparency and a bit of warmth. Also suggestions on a DAC that also is an all in one streamer, including an interface?

Thanks!
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Offline kindms

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Re: Laptop>USB DAC>Nikko amp?
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2019, 03:10:28 PM »
well as a blackbox no frills i like my Grace SDAC. Usb in RCA out. Bus powered and 24/96. I think it was 90 bucks
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Re: Laptop>USB DAC>Nikko amp?
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2019, 03:28:11 PM »
I bought an AudioEngine D1 a few years ago, to use as a headphone amp, and to pair with an external amp (B&K ST-140) whenever I got around to buying a set of bookshelf speakers...

Works great, but I'm not sure its "hi-fi"... 

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Re: Laptop>USB DAC>Nikko amp?
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2019, 03:31:47 PM »
Teac UD-501 is $550 with free shipping here: https://hifiheaven.net/shop/TEAC-UD-501-Dual-Monaural-D-A-Converter-with-USB-Streaming-in-Black?language=en&currency=USD&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIopCM9urr4AIV1Rx9Ch0WOgrbEAYYASABEgLIX_D_BwE

I have no idea about whether or not it has "warmth," but it uses excellent DAC chips (BurrBrown) in a dual mono design. 

This is as good a DAC as anyone is likely to ever need.
Recordings on LMA: https://archive.org/search.php?query=taper%3A%22Lucas+Lorenz%22
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Re: Laptop>USB DAC>Nikko amp?
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2019, 04:04:32 PM »
Teac UD-501 is $550 with free shipping here: https://hifiheaven.net/shop/TEAC-UD-501-Dual-Monaural-D-A-Converter-with-USB-Streaming-in-Black?language=en&currency=USD&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIopCM9urr4AIV1Rx9Ch0WOgrbEAYYASABEgLIX_D_BwE

I have no idea about whether or not it has "warmth," but it uses excellent DAC chips (BurrBrown) in a dual mono design. 

This is as good a DAC as anyone is likely to ever need.

That looks fantastic!

So I'm thinking one of these and a cheap pc so I can play windows files, and stream MQA from Tidal.  :headphones: :headphones:
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Re: Laptop>USB DAC>Nikko amp?
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2019, 04:21:24 PM »
Teac UD-501 is $550 with free shipping here: https://hifiheaven.net/shop/TEAC-UD-501-Dual-Monaural-D-A-Converter-with-USB-Streaming-in-Black?language=en&currency=USD&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIopCM9urr4AIV1Rx9Ch0WOgrbEAYYASABEgLIX_D_BwE

I have no idea about whether or not it has "warmth," but it uses excellent DAC chips (BurrBrown) in a dual mono design. 

This is as good a DAC as anyone is likely to ever need.

That looks fantastic!

So I'm thinking one of these and a cheap pc so I can play windows files, and stream MQA from Tidal.  :headphones: :headphones:

You might be able to do that with a Raspberry Pi.  I haven't used Tidal though so I'm not 100% sure.  If it does work, though, the Pi makes a very cheap and efficient PC substitute.
Recordings on LMA: https://archive.org/search.php?query=taper%3A%22Lucas+Lorenz%22
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Re: Laptop>USB DAC>Nikko amp?
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2019, 04:49:14 PM »
Teac UD-501 is $550 with free shipping here: https://hifiheaven.net/shop/TEAC-UD-501-Dual-Monaural-D-A-Converter-with-USB-Streaming-in-Black?language=en&currency=USD&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIopCM9urr4AIV1Rx9Ch0WOgrbEAYYASABEgLIX_D_BwE

I have no idea about whether or not it has "warmth," but it uses excellent DAC chips (BurrBrown) in a dual mono design. 

This is as good a DAC as anyone is likely to ever need.

That looks fantastic!

So I'm thinking one of these and a cheap pc so I can play windows files, and stream MQA from Tidal.  :headphones: :headphones:

Something like that would allow you to switch b/w a disc player, a PC, and perhaps your TV.  We still watch DVDs every once in a while, and my cable box has an optical output...

I might have to look into something like that...  Dang you Heathen!   ;D

Terry
***Do you have PHISH, VIDA BLUE, JAZZ MANDOLIN PROJECT or any other Phish related DATs/Tapes/MDs that need to be transferred???  I can do them for you!!!***

I will return your DATs/Tapes/MDs.  I'll also provide Master FLAC files via DropBox.  PM me for details.

Sony PCM R500 > SPDIF > Tascam HD-P2
Nakamichi DR-3 > (Oade Advanced Concert Mod) Tascam HD-P2
Sony MDS-JE510 > Hosa ODL-276 > Tascam HD-P2

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Re: Laptop>USB DAC>Nikko amp?
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2019, 04:54:07 PM »
Gotta keep shopping the 501 isn’t MQA capable. Cue Heathen rant....😃
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Re: Laptop>USB DAC>Nikko amp?
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2019, 05:11:59 PM »
Seems like I have to either spend a couple of hundred or 2k. This is my preliminary choice, any comments would be most helpful!

https://www.whathifi.com/audioquest/dragonfly-red/review

Hard to get a five star review from what HiFi
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Re: Laptop>USB DAC>Nikko amp?
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2019, 05:12:44 PM »
Gotta keep shopping the 501 isn’t MQA capable. Cue Heathen rant....😃

My fault...I didn't look that closely at that aspect of it. 

And I'm not casting any judgment here, but the practical reality is that MQA compatibility comes with a cost so that the manufacturer can license the technology from Meridian (I think that's who holds the patent, etc).  What I don't know is whether that pushes any MQA-compatible DACs out of your price range.  Are you open to the used market?  Obviously that gets you more bang for the buck.
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Re: Laptop>USB DAC>Nikko amp?
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2019, 05:17:16 PM »
Seems like I have to either spend a couple of hundred or 2k. This is my preliminary choice, any comments would be most helpful!

https://www.whathifi.com/audioquest/dragonfly-red/review

Hard to get a five star review from what HiFi

I have no experience with the Dragonfly Red, but here are some measurements: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/review-and-measurements-of-dacport-hd-and-dragonfly-red.5977/
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Re: Laptop>USB DAC>Nikko amp?
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2019, 05:30:28 PM »
This might have more features than you're looking for, but it does have a dual mono ESS Sabre DAC that's MQA-compatible: https://www.crutchfield.com/S-52uTmBbieCA/p_252PBS2DB/Pro-Ject-Pre-Box-S2-Digital-Black.html?XVINQ=GLX&awkw=426935457728&awat=pla&awnw=g&awcr=258704679247&awdv=c&awug=9028804&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI7pHakIbs4AIVCbjACh23LwlzEAQYAiABEgJyxPD_BwE

Crutchfield has a good return policy too, so you could give it a spin for a while and then return it if you don't like it.
Recordings on LMA: https://archive.org/search.php?query=taper%3A%22Lucas+Lorenz%22
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Re: Laptop>USB DAC>Nikko amp?
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2019, 07:41:51 PM »
Seems like I have to either spend a couple of hundred or 2k. This is my preliminary choice, any comments would be most helpful!

https://www.whathifi.com/audioquest/dragonfly-red/review

Hard to get a five star review from what HiFi

I'll check again, but I think I have the black version of this DAC.  Mainly to playback 24bit FLACs in my truck, with headphones ( rarely ) or with my stereo.  It does what it's supposed to do.
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Re: Laptop>USB DAC>Nikko amp?
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2019, 07:56:51 PM »
Dug a little deeper, how is the Chord Mojo? Seems best reviewed for $500 or under.
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Re: Laptop>USB DAC>Nikko amp?
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2019, 09:20:58 PM »
« Last Edit: March 05, 2019, 09:25:53 PM by 108Ω »
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Offline MakersMarc

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Re: Laptop>USB DAC>Nikko amp?
« Reply #15 on: March 06, 2019, 12:27:11 AM »
Teac UD-501 is $550 with free shipping here: https://hifiheaven.net/shop/TEAC-UD-501-Dual-Monaural-D-A-Converter-with-USB-Streaming-in-Black?language=en&currency=USD&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIopCM9urr4AIV1Rx9Ch0WOgrbEAYYASABEgLIX_D_BwE

I have no idea about whether or not it has "warmth," but it uses excellent DAC chips (BurrBrown) in a dual mono design. 

This is as good a DAC as anyone is likely to ever need.

That looks fantastic!

So I'm thinking one of these and a cheap pc so I can play windows files, and stream MQA from Tidal.  :headphones: :headphones:

You might be able to do that with a Raspberry Pi.  I haven't used Tidal though so I'm not 100% sure.  If it does work, though, the Pi makes a very cheap and efficient PC substitute.

For the dummies like me, how is the pi a pc substitute? Can I just plug an external drive  into the pi? Or does it have its own storage?

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Open: 4v/41v>nbobs>Naiant PFA>Oade warm mod 661.

Home: the Stereo Hospital budget refurb rig: Lappie>DragonFly Red with Jitterbug>Nikko NR520 amp>B&W V202 speakers. Hi Fi Goodwill style.

Offline kindms

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Re: Laptop>USB DAC>Nikko amp?
« Reply #16 on: March 06, 2019, 07:47:41 AM »
Teac UD-501 is $550 with free shipping here: https://hifiheaven.net/shop/TEAC-UD-501-Dual-Monaural-D-A-Converter-with-USB-Streaming-in-Black?language=en&currency=USD&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIopCM9urr4AIV1Rx9Ch0WOgrbEAYYASABEgLIX_D_BwE

I have no idea about whether or not it has "warmth," but it uses excellent DAC chips (BurrBrown) in a dual mono design. 

This is as good a DAC as anyone is likely to ever need.

That looks fantastic!

So I'm thinking one of these and a cheap pc so I can play windows files, and stream MQA from Tidal.  :headphones: :headphones:

You might be able to do that with a Raspberry Pi.  I haven't used Tidal though so I'm not 100% sure.  If it does work, though, the Pi makes a very cheap and efficient PC substitute.

For the dummies like me, how is the pi a pc substitute? Can I just plug an external drive  into the pi? Or does it have its own storage?

its a mini computer all its own, you can configure it in many ways but what is pretty common is to have an SD card on the Pi that is used for its boot drive. Basically you download whatever audio OS you gonna want to use, copy it to the sd card and then boot the Pi. the Pi has ethernet and wifi, USB etc. From there you can attach an external HDD to play music off of or if you have a computer or NAS in the house you can map to that collection.

you can control the pi using your phone or any browser as the entire thing is browser / GUI based for the setup / config. If you so chose you can add a touch panel to your Pi to control it directly and there are many tutorials online and kits etc on how to go about doing that. It also has HDMI out so you could attach it to your TV and / or a monitor if you wanted to use a mouse / keyboard. but its headless in the sense that it will just be a black box with no monitor or keyboard needed unless you want them.
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Re: Laptop>USB DAC>Nikko amp?
« Reply #17 on: March 06, 2019, 08:30:51 AM »
Great description by kindms.  I'll just add that you can get operating systems for the Pi (for free) that are dedicated media players from the ground up.  Of course you can also use a more "conventional" OS too.
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Re: Laptop>USB DAC>Nikko amp?
« Reply #18 on: March 06, 2019, 10:42:00 AM »
Thanks for that kindms and heathen, really appreciate it.

 So how do I browse files on the HDD, and an even dumber question, applicable to usb DAC too, where do I hit “play”.
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Re: Laptop>USB DAC>Nikko amp?
« Reply #19 on: March 06, 2019, 11:31:00 AM »
Thanks for that kindms and heathen, really appreciate it.

 So how do I browse files on the HDD, and an even dumber question, applicable to usb DAC too, where do I hit “play”.

You'd navigate files/playlists/etc, press play, fast forward, etc on whatever interface you use with the Pi (phone, tablet, keyboard/mouse, etc).  Here's some info about one of the many OS choices that shows a bit of the interface: http://www.runeaudio.com/about/

Edit: That OS is just an example.  I don't know if it will fit your particular needs for Tidal...it might or might not, I just have no idea.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2019, 11:32:57 AM by heathen »
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Re: Laptop>USB DAC>Nikko amp?
« Reply #20 on: March 06, 2019, 05:12:45 PM »
So I’m going the pc>dac route. How do I get the windows pc to output audio from usb>DAC?

Thanks!
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Re: Laptop>USB DAC>Nikko amp?
« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2019, 05:22:35 PM »
So I’m going the pc>dac route. How do I get the windows pc to output audio from usb>DAC?

With a lot of DACs it will be as simple as plugging in the USB cable and Windows auto-detecting it.  Note that you may want to set up WASAPI output (that's how I have foobar2000 set up on my PCs) if you want to be sure you're getting bit-perfect audio output from the PC.
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Re: Laptop>USB DAC>Nikko amp?
« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2019, 08:56:23 PM »
Thanks!
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