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Any reason to buy a DAC if you have an Apple USB-C dongle?

Cyphrus

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Hi all,
Just wondering if there’s any need to buy a DAC when I already have an Apple USB-C dongle? Connected to Schiit IEMagni and DT 1990s.
I’m very happy with my 1990s I got this week and just wondering if I can improve anything.

Thanks
 

AnalogSteph

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The humble Apple dongle is not exactly brimming with features - 44.1 or 48 kHz, 16 or 24 bit, max output 1 Vrms, that's it - but basically seems to be doing its job just fine, going by Amir's measurements. You may have to use the high gain setting on the IEMagni but that's about it.

I mean, if you've got the money for a DAC (like the Modi 3+) burning a hole in your pocket, why not. But it's not exactly an "OMG you must upgrade yesterday!!!1" kind of scenario, unless you're like the guy insisting on 20 dB of headroom for EQ or insisting on hi-res audio playback.
 

JJB70

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If you just want to listen to music and neither want or need any of the features that come with some of the alternatives then it probably depends on what headphones you use. With IEMs the Apple dongle is fine for any IEM I have tried and gets more than loud enough. If you use headphones it depends how easy to drive they are. If your headphones are low impedance and easy to drive then the Apple dongle is probably fine. I use the Austrian Audio Hi-X55 a lot and they go more than loud enough if driven by dongles. If you have hard to drive headphones then you probably want something with more power. For example, although my Beyerdynamic DT1990 works with dongles it is pretty volume limited (however it is still usable and if it is loud enough for you then that's all that matters). The DAC bit of the Apple dongle is excellent and there is no reason to worry about it being a limiting factor.
That said, I think the current headphone amplifier arms race on power output is getting silly.
 
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Cyphrus

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Thanks guys. I didn’t realise the DAC could affect sound level. Wish I knew when I had the DT 880 600 ohm since I was listening to that at full volume on the IEMagni, so that definitely needs a DAC.
With the 1990s I have to have the IEMagni on high gain to get to adequate dB. Is high gain on the IEMagni worse sound quality than low gain? Because with a Modi, low gain would probably have enough power to drive them
edit: ^Nevermind, just realised the high gain distortion I read about in amirm’s review is regarding low impedance headphones
 
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Bernard23

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Thanks guys. I didn’t realise the DAC could affect sound level. Wish I knew when I had the DT 880 600 ohm since I was listening to that at full volume on the IEMagni, so that definitely needs a DAC.
With the 1990s I have to have the IEMagni on high gain to get to adequate dB. Is high gain on the IEMagni worse sound quality than low gain? Because with a Modi, low gain would probably have enough power to drive them
edit: ^Nevermind, just realised the high gain distortion I read about in amirm’s review is regarding low impedance headphones
Where is Amir's review, I can't find it.
 

Somafunk

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Saidera

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Apple dongle is fine.

Was really impressed by the mic quality of Apple dongle

2 years after I bought it! I have been using it non stop and it still works!


When used with an apple included headset mic

The same headset mic connected to TT SHD II sounded like plain garbage again (flat, compressed dull sound that’s fuzzy and not real sounding) despite there being an ES9270 in there. Recognition of the mic required the dac and headset to be plugged into the pc together. From memory the Meizu Hifi had a similar fuzzy and dull sound – and that had Cirrus’ CS46L42 USB bridge. How could Apple’s lower spec USB bridge record better sound?! These dongles can only record up to 2448 or only 1648.

Not sure about ASUS ESS Dac but it also is limited to 1648 recording. It’s like mic recording was just an afterthought. Tried ASUS ESS Dac and found that it must have some AI noise cancelling because my voice simply does not get recorded at all! It comes out like a robot. Tried Realtek stuff and Meizu Hifi and found them lacking in the clarity that Apple’s lower spec USB bridge manages to achieve. This is definitely what happens when mic recording hasn’t been thoroughly tested to achieve a good standard. They think so long as output is good there is no need to care about input quality.
 

Theodore8

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The Apple dongle can lead to lower quality sound in my experience.

Let me share my experience: Nearly 10 years ago, when iPhones still had an analog 2.5mm headphone output, I used Phonak Audéo 232 IEMs, which, subjectively I was very happy with (and they did cost more than $500 back then -- and more than $800 now if you find them on eBay).

When I later upgraded to a new iPhone without the 2.5mm output, I had to buy an Apple dongle. Without understanding what it meant. I honestly thought it was just a matter of form factor. Back then, I understood nothing about audio technology.

Well, I noticed a remarkable decline in sound quality using the Apple Dongle. I did not understand why, and attributed it my IEMs just getting old. Years later, as I educated myself, I understood that the DAC dongle had something to do with it.

Call me a subjectivist if you will.

But I wanted to share my experience.
 

Saidera

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Well, I love Apple Dongle.
 
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