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Please recommend me a USB DAC (and related questions)

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#1
I have been a long time lurker on his forum and but now posting for the first time.

I currently have a Teac UD301 USB DAC/Headphone which powers my headphones and also feeds a pair of powered bookshelf speakers.

I have a Massdrop THX AAA 789 Amp on order and now looking for a separate DAC to pair it with or a combo DAC/AMP that can provide a similar performance for a similar combined price.

I need DAC with at least 2 pairs of outputs and one that can feed both at the same time. I also prefer black colored chassis.

I have shortlisted
- SMSL SU-8 - $200 - AFAIK, it comes only in silver
- Topping D70 -$425
- Monolith by Monoprice Liquid Platinum Balanced DAC by Alex Cavalli (AKM4499) - $500 - Not released yet so don't now how good it will be but I can wait if its expected to offer significant improvement.


1. Is Topping D70 worth twice the price of SMSL SU-8?
2. Can I control the volume of powered speakers from DAC or only from the speakers?
3. Is there a combo DAC/Amp that can offer similar performance for < $1K? I am open to reselling the Massdrop THX AAA 789 amp if I can find a good combo solution.

I returned the Monolith THX DAC/Amp because of usability issues. It required me to go to menu every time I wanted to switch outputs between speakers and headphones which my Teac does automatically depending upon whether headphones are plugged in or not.

Thanks in advance
 

Ron Texas

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#2
You can control the volume of powered speakers from your player program like Foobar or Jriver. Topping DAC's usually follow the windows volume control, even if WASAPI is used. It's usually not hard to find out if a DAC has a volume control built in, but you will want it to have a remote so you don't need to get up. The player method is the easiest and avoids overloading the DAC.
 
OP
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Thread Starter #3
1. Is Topping D70 worth twice the price of SMSL SU-8?
3. Is there a combo DAC/Amp that can offer similar performance for < $1K? I am open to reselling the Massdrop THX AAA 789 amp if I can find a good combo solution.
Any other recommendations?
 

VintageFlanker

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#4
1. Is Topping D70 worth twice the price of SMSL SU-8?
If you need variable output straight from the DAC (acting as" Digital preamp"), probably. Regarding only audible performance, I don't think so.
2. Can I control the volume of powered speakers from DAC or only from the speakers?
Yes.
3. Is there a combo DAC/Amp that can offer similar performance for < $1K? I am open to reselling the Massdrop THX AAA 789 amp if I can find a good combo solution.
If you don't need balanced output for your headphones, then the RME ADI-2 DAC will do the trick. If you don't need that much power, the new DX7 PRO or M500... But there are many alternatives to consider.
 

Berwhale

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#5
The Topping D50s + JDS Atom setup that I have will work as you require. The Atom has pre-outs, with volume control, that are only engaged when the headphones are disconnected. I have the pre-outs on my Atom connected to a pair of Altec Lansing desktop speakers. In my case I have the ability to control volume from my PC, the D50s front panel and IR remote, the Atom or my speakers.
 
OP
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Thread Starter #8
The Topping D50s + JDS Atom setup that I have will work as you require. The Atom has pre-outs, with volume control, that are only engaged when the headphones are disconnected. I have the pre-outs on my Atom connected to a pair of Altec Lansing desktop speakers. In my case I have the ability to control volume from my PC, the D50s front panel and IR remote, the Atom or my speakers.
I already have Massdrop THX AAA 789 on order which AFAIK doesn't have a preamp function only RCA pass through. Hence I am looking for DAC with dual output.

The cheapest dac with balanced outputs is the Ifi Zen Dac, just 130 bucks. You will only need a 4.4mm to 2-xlr cable.
Thanks. I'll check it out.
 
OP
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Thread Starter #9
If you don't need balanced output for your headphones, then the RME ADI-2 DAC will do the trick. If you don't need that much power, the new DX7 PRO or M500... But there are many alternatives to consider.
RME ADI-2 seems to be very well reviewed. Ignoring the simplicity of a combo unit, do you think RME ADI-2 will be better than THX AAA 789 + Topping D70 combo? I am hoping I wont have to upgrade again short of them dying on me.
 
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