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Please help me find the right headphone DAC/AMP or motherboard with such

Hlssss

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Hello friends, please excuse the long post.

This is my first foray into the world of AMP/DACs and I have very particular requirements, which I can't seem to find met in any devices.

Context: My cans are beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 80 Ohm and I own a TEAC AI-101DA, which is working well as both a speaker and headphone AMP. However, after a certain volume level, I get a hiss/bg noise in my headphones. I know this comes with the territory with all AMPs and I also know that I can avoid that by setting the Windows master volume and app volumes to 100% and only using the TEACs master volume knob, but, considering the myriad of sources with all levels on PC, I end up using the Win master volume for control. Since I'll be doing a platform upgrade, I first considered going with a motherboard with competent heaphone AMP, and the only ones available are ASUS' ROG SupremeFX with Realtek S1220A and Savitech SV3H712 AMP, which, I presume, support both rear and front amplificated audio(Question A: am I correct in assuming this?). My current Gigabyte cca 2012 motherboard with VIA VT2021 sounds 100% clean to me, but definitely lacks volume, so I'm not worried about internal sound integrity. The problem is that I need a microATX M/B, and that would force me to go with Intel, which is not ideal these days. There just aren't any AMD uATX M/Bs with headphone AMP. Question B: When using Windows volume control on a M/B with headphone AMP, does that control the analog power output of the AMP, or is it digital control and the AMP is always at 100%?

Beacause of the above, I'm considering an AMP/DAC that would have to meet the following, in order of importance:

1. (most important) Windows volume control should control the master volume of the AMP/DAC, and that volume should be analog, not digital, so as to avoid any hiss/bg noise.

2. It should be as good or better than something like the aforementioned ROG SupremeFX with Realtek S1220A and Savitech SV3H712 AMP

3. It should be able to drive better headphones than my current beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 80 Ohm, because I plan to upgrade them wiht some that will be able to output higher volume without distorting

4. 100 euro or below if possible, but I could stretch it to 150 if really worthwhile

5. No drivers needed, if that doesn't conflict with no. 1(do UAC1/2 support volume control?)

6. Toslink input aswell, since I'll also be using this to watch movies and I already have the optical cable setup from my TV

7. Have a remote for no. 6

8. No lights whatsoever. I'm a freak about this, to the point where I will open the AMP/DAC up and kill all the LEDs if need be. Though, I'd rather not have to do that.

Thank you for bearing with me!
 

Tks

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#2
I'm confused. Are you asking for a DAC+AMP all-in-one box? Or are you looking for a DAC and an AMP each being separately housed? (I had a whole post written out that I deleted because the questioning in the first portion ran into some conflicts I had in the requirements list you listed out. (You also didn't provide the motherboard you're talking about so we don't know what the actual hardware is, Realtek S1220A isn't helpful, as it seems an Asus exclusive or something based off the ALC1150 design that's quite a few years old now).

Really quickly though, you should ignore this notion of "I want analogue control because it means I don't have to worry about clipping distortion". Most modern devices can output a ton of power to your headphones, and if you're thinking you're going anywhere near maxing out the volume on some of them, you should consider visiting the doctor to get your hearing checked. Also modern devices don't all clip at max volume, even if all you are given is digital volume control within an DAC+AMP combo box. Other little confusing bits is when you talk about controlling motherboard analogue output levels within Windows (you're not given access to the DAC nor the AMP within a motherboard) so you can forget about that, even with front-panel I/O, you're mostly working with digitally controlled interfaces. So this notion that "digital causes hiss" can be dismissed with any modern device.
 
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Hlssss

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Thread Starter #3
Thank you for your reply!

I'm looking for a DAC/AMP combo box.

The M/B I have my eyes on is the upcoming ASUS ROG STRIX B560-G GAMING WIFI, which, presumably, has the same implementation as the current ROG STRIX B460-G GAMING WIFI. Did I understand correctly that the AMP on such motherboard is always at 100% power and Windows volume only affects the digital sound going ionto the DAC?

As for "digital causes hiss", that's not what I mean. With my current config, I end up keeping the TEAC AI-101DA at suffiecintly high volume so that I get background hiss(it's not pronounced, but i am very sensitive to that) and with Windows volume ~15-25% while on Youtube, ~90-100% while listening to music etc. I would like somehting that could have it's main volume controlled by Windows volume, so I don't need to reduce the volume digitally and then amplify more at the end.
 

Tks

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I just dont understand that last bit. Let me ask you this. Why is your Windows system volume not 100% all the time? And let your volume control be either handled by the separate amplifier (the TEAC, and not the current way you use it by leaving it maxed out to where its causing distortion). Or let it be handled by the software application (in this case that would be Youtube volume control).

At any rate, a DACAMP combo box almost always will not allow you to control the headphone amp section (so like in a PC, that will be running at its maximum output as rated by the manufacturer producing the device). Im just a bit confused why you wouldn't just control volume by the application thats running while for some reason having Windows system volume at 20% or something. Or you do can what I do instead and leave all software applications and windows system volume both at 100% and simply change volume on the DACAMP (which of course with a remote at the price youre looking for, will most certainly only be digital volume control as most DACAMPs, like even the $1000+ RME ADI 2 that I have, doesnt allow access to the headphone amp section for volume vontrol).

Or how about this question (since there seems to be confusion over digital volume control). Is the TEAC unit capable of being set at a volume level where this distortion isnt audible, yet Windows system volume can be high enough to satisfy your volume needs? If so, why not do this?

I'm sorry for asking for so much clarification, and ill make the choice simple for you as to not leave you hanging. At the price point you're wanting, the only thing that comes close is a Topping DX3 Pro, finding a remote in an all in one DACAMP with good performance at that price may not really exist. Also, DAC AMPs have been somewhat less frequent of a release in budget segments due to the complexity and generally lesser profit margins (and are usually reserved these days for devices above the $250 mark if you want good performance and certainly if you want things like remote controls).

The reason I'm trying to get clarification on your situation is I was hoping to save you from purchasing anything of it could be possible.
 
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Hlssss

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Thread Starter #5
I would actually like to thank you for taking the time to ask for clarifications. If I wanted a quickfire answer, I would have searched on YouTube, lol.

Speaking of clarification, now I feel stupid for both not testing properly before asking and for not specifying something very important: the background noise I'm talking about is not discernable when there is actually something playing. It's when I take a break from listening and keep my heaphones on(I'm a programmer, I keep my cans on most of the time, but sometimes I need to concentrate so I turn the music off). And I've now just realised that there are two layers of noise: there's one that's there even with the volume turned to 0 on the TEAC. It's slight, but it's there and it's annoying. That only goes away if i turn to a digital source that's disconnected, like the second S/PDIF(I'm on the first) or bluetooth. It's the same on both the disconnected analog line-in and the optical I'm on with nothing playing.

Then theres the secodn layer of noise comming from having the volume above 2/3, and that gets reduced significantly a few seconds after cutting off all source audio.

You are correct that I could keep everything in Win @ 100% and only use the knob/remote, but after years and years of using the Win master sound control(and only that, I don't also use individual app control unless mixing a game with Discord or somethign like that), I was hoping to get something that would allow controlling the analog power though a driver and Win volume.

If there's nothing of the sort in my price range and M/B integrated headphone AMPs also don't allow AMP power control like that, do they at least turn off power to said AMP when theres nothing going in?

Also, from what you've said, am I right in concluding that anything below $200 would be a downgrade or the same as that integrated Asus solution I asked about?
 
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