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DAC with MQA, balanced outputs and headphone amp

pinkish

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I am trying to find a DAC to suit my needs. I was about to purchase the DacMagic 200M for my birthday until I saw it had A LOT of problems.

I want a DAC that has:
- MQA decoding
- balanced XLR outputs (for powered speakers - Adam T7Vs)
- headphone amp (for my Sony MDR-7506)
- 32bit/768kHz PCM, DSD, DXD
- USB (I will feed the audio from my computer)
- ground powered, not by battery

I've looked around for ages. The Schiits don't have MQA decoding, the 200M has issues, others are battery-powered and so on.

Maybe you guys can help me out, since I'm really a newbie. I'd very much appreciate it!
 

Jimbob54

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I am trying to find a DAC to suit my needs. I was about to purchase the DacMagic 200M for my birthday until I saw it had A LOT of problems.

I want a DAC that has:
- MQA decoding
- balanced XLR outputs (for powered speakers - Adam T7Vs)
- headphone amp (for my Sony MDR-7506)
- 32bit/768kHz PCM, DSD, DXD
- USB (I will feed the audio from my computer)
- ground powered, not by battery

I've looked around for ages. The Schiits don't have MQA decoding, the 200M has issues, others are battery-powered and so on.

Maybe you guys can help me out, since I'm really a newbie. I'd very much appreciate it!
If you could be happy using the mqa decoder in your tidal pc app (and I would suggest you should be, assuming you are a tidal user for mqa) your world opens up considerably. Budget?
 

Racheski

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Jimbob54

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M500 will be your cheapest all in one option. It's actually on sale right now at Shenzhenaudio for $378
https://shenzhenaudio.com/collectio...z-dsd512-hi-res-audio-dac-headphone-amplifier

Here is Amir's review
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/smsl-m500-dac-and-hp-amp-review.9606/

As mentioned, if you drop the MQA requirement you have many more options that are more affordable.

Despite owning this I forget it is MQA capable. Yes, a very good option that ticks all the boxes.
 

Racheski

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Despite owning this I forget it is MQA capable. Yes, a very good option that ticks all the boxes.
Lol;) Don’t you want that fancy MQA logo to appear?
 
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pinkish

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@Jimbob54 I've read some more about MQA and I am open to lose that spec. I hope it opens my world considerably :) My budget would be up to 500 USD/Euro, but anything less is welcome.

I've received the following suggestions:
- SMSL M500
- Topping D70S

I was wondering if there's anything good other than Chinese brands. Thanks!
 

Jimbob54

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@Jimbob54 I've read some more about MQA and I am open to lose that spec. I hope it opens my world considerably :) My budget would be up to 500 USD/Euro, but anything less is welcome.

I've received the following suggestions:
- SMSL M500
- Topping D70S

I was wondering if there's anything good other than Chinese brands. Thanks!

Dont think the D70 has a headphone out? The Topping DX7 (or pro) does but take care with lower impedance cans.

At that price I think you are mainly in the asian brand world tbh. SMSL/Topping/Sabaj/ Loxje.

Save your pennies and get an RME ADI 2 DAC for the best Europe has to offer. If you could handle a stack, a Schiit Modius DAC plus headamp/ preamp of choice would see you well for the americans. But the XLR pre out plus headamp means you are unlikely to be in ultra budget land for an all in one.
 

Racheski

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@Jimbob54 I've read some more about MQA and I am open to lose that spec. I hope it opens my world considerably :) My budget would be up to 500 USD/Euro, but anything less is welcome.

I've received the following suggestions:
- SMSL M500
- Topping D70S

I was wondering if there's anything good other than Chinese brands. Thanks!
Topping D70s MQA is ~$600

This iFi bundle is a very good deal for a stack that supports MQA, and iFi is a British company.
iFi Zen Dac Bundle

They also have "signature" editions that were at one point Drop exclusives that use upgraded parts and a different color scheme. I have the Amp (I bought it because it looked pretty and it has a special bass boost designed for the HD6XX) and enjoy it.
iFi Signature Stack

If you have to have MQA, I would buy the iFi Zen DAC for $130, and spend the rest of the budget on the best amp I can afford.

Edit: Hold On, I might be getting the DAC and Amp confused...nope I'm right. Although it is named Zen DAC, it has headphone jacks. It only supports PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz - but I don't know why you would ever need more.
 
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pinkish

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@Jimbob54 The RME ADI 2 DAC looks exceptional, but it's "only" 970 euros :)

@Racheski I had NO idea iFI is a British company. The iFi Signature Stack seems great and is within my budget. The only thing I noticed is that the DAC lacks XLR outputs to connect the Adam T7Vs to it. Is there a way to connect them to the balanced output of the iFi?
 

Jimbob54

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@Jimbob54 The RME ADI 2 DAC looks exceptional, but it's "only" 970 euros :)

@Racheski I had NO idea iFI is a British company. The iFi Signature Stack seems great and is within my budget. The only thing I noticed is that the DAC lacks XLR outputs to connect the Adam T7Vs to it. Is there a way to connect them to the balanced output of the iFi?
4.4 balanced to 2x xlr 3 pin cable. They will exist, don't pay a fortune but its probably going to be 50 euro minimum. EBay /amazon /Aliexpress will sort you
 
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pinkish

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4.4 balanced to 2x xlr 3 pin cable.
Looking at the Signature Stack, I see the balanced output of the DAC si connected through an iFi cable to the balanced input of the headphone amp (CAN), so it means you need to disconnect the headphone amp to plug in the speakers.
 

Racheski

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@Jimbob54 The RME ADI 2 DAC looks exceptional, but it's "only" 970 euros :)

@Racheski I had NO idea iFI is a British company. The iFi Signature Stack seems great and is within my budget. The only thing I noticed is that the DAC lacks XLR outputs to connect the Adam T7Vs to it. Is there a way to connect them to the balanced output of the iFi?
Yeah iFi slips under the radar here because they use Burr-Brown chips in their DACs which do not measure as well as the ESS/AKM D/S, but the difference is not audible.

Here is the cable you need for $25
https://pt.aliexpress.com/item/4000975750944.html
 

Racheski

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Looking at the Signature Stack, I see the balanced output of the DAC si connected through an iFi cable to the balanced input of the headphone amp (CAN), so it means you need to disconnect the headphone amp to plug in the speakers.
No, there is balanced output in addition to the balanced input on the amp :cool:
1617135649169.png
 

Jimbob54

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Looking at the Signature Stack, I see the balanced output of the DAC si connected through an iFi cable to the balanced input of the headphone amp (CAN), so it means you need to disconnect the headphone amp to plug in the speakers.
Forget the signature stack and look at the Zen DAC which has a (pretty weak but maybe enough) headamp, rca for a future separate headamp and use the 4.4 to your speakers.
 
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