• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Looking to choose a reliable/ easy to use desktop DAC.

Jet-noise.

New Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2019
Messages
4
Likes
0
#1
First let me say thank you to all who have posted some amazing technical and insightful post related to measured performance of Dac/Amps on this forum. I am here because I trust and enjoy these discussions.

I am new to the hobby and purchased some 4xx’s and Tim Audio T2’s. I wish to buy a Dac that is reliable and easy to use.... I am not a PC master and all the talk of Dac drivers not working and troubleshooting sound issues related to Windows 10/Computer/USB have my head spinning.

Toppings products were on my short list but oh my the problems I read. I like the SmSl SU-8 v2 but I see issues with drivers as well. My budget is 260. I have a Atom amp on order and bought a Loxjie- P20. Your advice is much appreciated on what to buy. Thank you.
 

jasonq997

Member
Patreon Donor
Joined
Nov 4, 2018
Messages
81
Likes
102
#2
The Topping D30 has always worked out of the box for me on Windows 10 systems just running PCM. I have never installed any of the drivers needed to run DSD because I don't care about that functionality. Good pairing with the Atom. The EL DAC from JDS Labs is well regarded and within your budget if you just want to stick with them.
 

Jet-noise.

New Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2019
Messages
4
Likes
0
#3
I been looking at the D30 and stopped before i pulled the trigger because of comments about the age of its Dac chip but like it’s simplicity. Streaming let’s say Tidal using my PC to play Apple/ cd library do you think I will have a need or for Dsd?
 

jasonq997

Member
Patreon Donor
Joined
Nov 4, 2018
Messages
81
Likes
102
#4
No, I don't think you will need DSD for any of that. The DAC chip is older, but the implementation is solid. The measurements on the this site prove this. If you want a cutting edge DAC chip there is the Topping D50. Probably no perceptual difference in sound quality.
 
Joined
Dec 9, 2018
Messages
50
Likes
18
#5
I am in the same situation as I continue to wade through reviews here and there deciding what to choose to put on my desktop. I also do not believe I will go with a Topping product when there are a lot of better options without the negativity attached. The El Dac seems like a solid choice.
 

Ron Texas

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Jun 10, 2018
Messages
802
Likes
386
Location
Equidistant From Everywhere
#6
I am getting good results with my D30. That old DAC chip is used in the Focusrite Scarlet series and in a pricey Marantz DAC/Headphone amp. It just works. If you want something more contemporary in the same price range look at the Topping D10. It's not as well behaved as the D30. See the review thread.
 

Jet-noise.

New Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2019
Messages
4
Likes
0
#7
Thank you for responding, yes I have been looking at JDS that and D30 seem great choices. If I decide to play with fire and go for D10/Dx3pro and take chances with units reliability can I use USB input and not use drivers to operate in only PCM biterate conversation. Will I need to install a driver for my HP PC or unlike the D30 I will still need to install a driver for windows 10. Forgive my lack knowledge with 0-1’s
 
Joined
Feb 5, 2019
Messages
7
Likes
5
Location
Seattle
#8
I have a JDS OL DAC in my computer setup that just... works. I tried a couple of other solutions with varying degrees of success, but always came back to the OL DAC. Can't recommend this thing highly enough for ease of use and SQ if you're looking only for USB. Of course, the D30 measured better so YMMV :)
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2019
Messages
1
Likes
0
#9
Hello...

same question. Aune X1S or Topping D50? This seems to be the question for an affordable DAC.
In my case, wish to use with USB with a Raspberry Pi 3. (Although yes, one could also use something like HifeBerry DAc + Pro XLR.)
 
Joined
Aug 30, 2018
Messages
80
Likes
142
Location
NorCal
#10
Thank you for responding, yes I have been looking at JDS that and D30 seem great choices. If I decide to play with fire and go for D10/Dx3pro and take chances with units reliability can I use USB input and not use drivers to operate in only PCM biterate conversation. Will I need to install a driver for my HP PC or unlike the D30 I will still need to install a driver for windows 10. Forgive my lack knowledge with 0-1’s
When I had a problem with my D30 topping's documents said to first try the place I bought it from to see if they would cover it and if not then I would have to ship it to China for warranty (unfortunately, the USPS will deliver small things from China at no extra charge to them but they won't go the other way). Thankfully the place I bought it from covered it and sent me a replacement. Long story short: Check with the place you are buying to see if they will warranty it if there are issues.
 
Joined
Feb 6, 2019
Messages
4
Likes
0
#11
Having just received my JDS labs Atom and Eq. I will pull the DAC trigger soon. I’m so greatful to all the advice given here. My heart says Topping D30/Dx3pro head says stick to with JDS. More changes to come I’m sure as I read more. I know excited to have everything in place and start sonic heaven.
 

Veri

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 6, 2018
Messages
1,099
Likes
898
#12
I have a JDS OL DAC in my computer setup that just... works. I tried a couple of other solutions with varying degrees of success, but always came back to the OL DAC. Can't recommend this thing highly enough for ease of use and SQ if you're looking only for USB. Of course, the D30 measured better so YMMV :)
I think the grace SDAC is still a solid contender among these :) basically a massdrop odac/oldac without any glaring faults
 
Joined
Jan 11, 2019
Messages
33
Likes
34
#13
I bought a Sound Blaster X7, and it's pretty great. It just works. DAC and a 1W, 2 ohm impedance headphone amp in a single box. High gain and low gain for noise reduction. On my Hifiman 560s, it's dead quiet. Big volume knob. SBX HRTF processing which I personally like quite a bit. Purists may cringe, but it does a decent job of getting the music outside of your head without screwing it up. Software based solutions aren't nearly as good. Something like HeSuVi works, but seems to add a lot more distortion and noise over Creative's DSP. It has both headphone jack sizes, meaning no adapters, ever. Built in beamforming mics and a microphone input. And (because why not), a 30W amplifier if you want to hook up speakers, a USB host, line inputs for recording, and Bluetooth with NFC. And if we want to get nitpicky, I shouldn't forget the Dolby Digital decoding, or the digital inputs and outputs. There are other products that measure better, I assume, but nothing else gives you all of this in a single box.

Since you already have the amp, it might make sense to pick up a SoundBlaster G6 for $150, which probably has a better DAC but not as much power. No display, but the measurements are fantastic, and the software, drivers, and features are wildly superior to anything you will get anywhere else in the price range, particularly from some Chinese boutique brand. I really can't recommend these Creative products highly enough, compared to the random Chinese stuff of questionable quality and support. A lot of people here are tripping over that stuff for some imaginary benefits they think they can hear because it can be measured. I guarantee you the DSP will do more for you than any .002% reduction in THD.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Feb 4, 2019
Messages
29
Likes
9
Location
Sweden
#14
Since you already have the amp, it might make sense to pick up a SoundBlaster G6 for $150, which probably has a better DAC but not as much power.
I would not recommend sound blaster in any way or form, but that's just me. Any DAC that requires drivers makes me shiver. If you want HTRF surround get the Dolby Atmos app from windows store. The OP just want a dac that works.
 
Joined
Feb 4, 2019
Messages
29
Likes
9
Location
Sweden
#15
Having just received my JDS labs Atom and Eq. I will pull the DAC trigger soon. I’m so greatful to all the advice given here. My heart says Topping D30/Dx3pro head says stick to with JDS. More changes to come I’m sure as I read more. I know excited to have everything in place and start sonic heaven.
Get one that doesn't requires drivers. Also choose the one that have the features you like (USB/Optical/RCA)
 
Joined
Jan 11, 2019
Messages
33
Likes
34
#16
I would not recommend sound blaster in any way or form, but that's just me. Any DAC that requires drivers makes me shiver. If you want HTRF surround get the Dolby Atmos app from windows store. The OP just want a dac that works.
Why is it that people have a gripe about Creative? When you want something easy that works, major manufacturers like Creative Labs or Asus are the way to go. I don't consider it easy having to dig through some Chinese website in order to find the latest driver for whatever USB receiver chip they used in their latest hastily assembled, barely engineered product. Creative Labs has been around for 30 years. They know their stuff. They have invested untold millions into engineering, and recovered it in $200 chunks. Next on my list of stuff to get is their Super X-Fi dac/amp. With how great SBX is, I'm betting Super X-Fi is unbelievably good.

I was listening to some some rather random stuff the other day, and a song I would normally never listen to came on: Footloose, by Kenny Loggins. This is sort of an "effects track" with a bunch of hard panned stuff. The hard pans were downright spooky. The drum kit, jangling guitars and Kenny's voice were going all over the place, NOT in my headphones. And that's what the track is supposed to do. That has a lot more value to me than, well, just about any sort of inaudibly low measurement that might give me .01% more detail if I listen just right. And I can adjust all of the stuff the DAC does in rock solid drivers. That, to me, is a reliable and easy to use product.
 
Joined
Feb 4, 2019
Messages
29
Likes
9
Location
Sweden
#17
When you want something easy that works, major manufacturers like Creative Labs or Asus are the way to go. I don't consider it easy having to dig through some Chinese website in order to find the latest driver for whatever USB receiver chip they used in their latest hastily assembled, barely engineered product.
That's where your experience and mine differ. I had lot's of problem thru the years (old PC builder, OEM system) with both Asus and Creative.
If it works for you, I'm happy for you. I didn't make myself clear, if I'm connecting a DAC to my Windows 10 system I want the drivers to be included in the OS. Not some bloatware from Asus or Creative. We have enough trouble with USB as it is. That's also why I recommend using the Dolby or the DTS software that is accessible thru the windows store if you want surround sound. The Super X-fi is not the answer to everything. Test so far has shown that the effect is good in some cases and horrible in others. Seems to be a good amp/dac for stereo.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Feb 4, 2019
Messages
29
Likes
9
Location
Sweden
#18
if I'm connecting a DAC to my Windows 10 system I want the drivers to be included in the OS.
There is only one thing I would allow on my system if I can choose, and that's ASIO drivers. I use ASIO drivers for my synth (MX49, a pretty good dac but with low power. ) , it's to bulky to use a permanent DAC and lack the inputs/output my HAD-1 has.
 
Joined
Oct 15, 2018
Messages
10
Likes
2
#19
Scarlett 2i2 Is great with my FLC8n IEMs and my speakers system. Separate volume knobs for headphone and monitor is very handy. It's pretty cheap to, and it's not cheap because you get a worse sounding DAC. It's because of the way the market is segmented, music producers vs HIFI nerds who are willing to pay alot more, alot of HIFI peeps don't dable with audio interfaces because they assume it can't be as good as their HIFI DAC or don't know audio interfaces exist.

I would suggest you buy both Scarlett 2i2 and this first:
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...ds/budget-dac-review-behringer-umc204hd.1658/
I would not recommend these for hard to drive headphones. 32ohm or below is good.

These two are pretty easy to find in national stores so you can return them if you don't like them easily. Topping are pretty much always from China, so you lose out on return shipping costs and shorter warranty usually.
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom