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Powerful Dongle DAC with Mic In

Thiuda

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Hello,

In Home office times I want to drive my Full Size Headphones (For example ZMF Eikon, HD650, Audioquest Nighthawk…) as well as my office Headphones (Koss KPH 30i and Grado sr325x with Mic Mod) from my office Notebook.

With efficient Headphones like the Nighthawks (I know a lot of people hate them, I love them for comfort and relaxed enjoyment) noise is very audible and with headphones like the ZMF Eikon I need some power to drive them.

I don’t use Balanced outputs, because my desktop Amplifier and all my headphones terminate in single ended.
Therefore the DAC needs to have 3.5mm and MIC input.

My Budget is < 200$ and i don’t mind if the ideal solution is only 100$ ;)


The only one coming to my mind would be the THX Onyx, any suggestions?


(My first post disappeared after editing, I think I deleted it somehow, sorry…)
 
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Madeintooting

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Even cheaper-
 
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Thiuda

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Thanks for the suggestion,

I don’t know how good the soundblaster is from a technical standpoint, but it is not very powerful with 1.145V rms @ 300Ω and it doesn’t get better with 0.41V rms @ 32Ω.

This will not be sufficient.
 
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Thiuda

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Is this use case too specific?
Are there no good and powerful Dongles with mic in available, other than the Onyx?
 

Jimbob54

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I might be wrong but I think the Qudelix 5k has.
 
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Thiuda

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Thanks, it seems to have mic in.

SINAD seems quite low compared to the usual suspects like Onyx or Hidizs.

I am also not sure if it will harm the internal battery it the device is always plugged into the notebook…
 

Jimbob54

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Thanks, it seems to have mic in.

SINAD seems quite low compared to the usual suspects like Onyx or Hidizs.

I am also not sure if it will harm the internal battery it the device is always plugged into the notebook…

You lose a bit of SINAD but you get the bonus of built in EQ functionlity.

The accompanying app allows you to set a battery saving (tops out at 80% charge) mode so shouldnt matter is constantly connected.
 
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Thiuda

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Ok, I will think about it.

I don’t need the EQ though, I am using ROON and I don’t like to EQ my Headphones to hard.

Headphones loose all their charm I bought them for in the first place, if they all got matched to Harman… it’s kind of pointless

Why should I want everything to sound the same, if I don’t like the Housesound, I don’t buy the Headphone.
But that’s a different discussion… :rolleyes:
 
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192kbps

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Thiuda

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While browsing the reviews here I was stumbling across the Creative X-FI Amp.

It seems to check all boxes, quite powerful, very clean output and mic in.
On top it is sold for only 60€ ~ 66$ now.

I can use it for music and phonecalls at work. With X-FI also for Movies and Games on my personal computer.
 

MarcosCh

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I own the x-fi amp and have recomended it here zillions of times. Has 10 band eq and decent physical volume buttons. I have never used it with a mic though (i didn't even know it is possible).
Often can be bought bundled with some creative earbuds for 70 eur in eu and i think 60usd in us.
 

threni

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Ok, I will think about it.

I don’t need the EQ though, I am using ROON and I don’t like to EQ my Headphones to hard.

Headphones loose all their charm I bought them for in the first place, if they all got matched to Harman… it’s kind of pointless

Why should I want everything to sound the same, if I don’t like the Housesound, I don’t buy the Headphone.
But that’s a different discussion… :rolleyes:
Well, that's one way if looking at it but another is: this headphones got insufficient bass; this one is sibilant to the point of inducing headaches; this one's only good for vinyl. Wouldn't you want them all to sound good, somewhat closet to how the people who produced the CD wanted it to sound? It's up to you how much salt and vinegar you put on your chips, but you're not going to eat them cold, right?
 
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Thiuda

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I like all my headphones for different reasons, I don’t want to match them all against the same target. As I don’t want to blend every whisky or wine to the same taste, that is absolutely pointless in my opinion.

I am with you for small blemishes, reduce some sibilance or raise some Bass response, but a PEQ is overkill for most of these scenarios.
A headache inducing Headphone I wouldn’t have bought in the first place.

With ROON I have access to a full fledged PEQ, played around with it and hated it to compensate headphones to match Harman.
 
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Thiuda

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I own the x-fi amp and have recomended it here zillions of times. Has 10 band eq and decent physical volume buttons. I have never used it with a mic though (i didn't even know it is possible).
Often can be bought bundled with some creative earbuds for 70 eur in eu and i think 60usd in us.
Thanks for the feedback, completely missed this DAC for some reason. For now I see no benefit in the Onyx over the X-Fi
 

Grooved

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I like all my headphones for different reasons, I don’t want to match them all against the same target. As I don’t want to blend every whisky or wine to the same taste, that is absolutely pointless in my opinion.

I am with you for small blemishes, reduce some sibilance or raise some Bass response, but a PEQ is overkill for most of these scenarios.
A headache inducing Headphone I wouldn’t have bought in the first place.

With ROON I have access to a full fledged PEQ, played around with it and hated it to compensate headphones to match Harman.
It's up to your choice, but I think your metaphor is incorrect and should be more like this:
- headphones are your glass
- songs are your wine or whisky

But I understand more someone that appreciate having different headphones to pick the ones wanted depending on the mood or any other parameters, than someone that doesn't want to EQ to "respect" the sound of the creators, which is completely at the opposite of reality since the product was created in almost neutral condition, and that even when we see artists live, the system is calibrated to be as close as possible to every place, even in lowest level like some jazz concerts.
The only thing with no calibrated system is fully acoustic concert, but better do it in a good performance hall ;)
 
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Thiuda

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It wasn’t the best metaphor i give you that, but you got the point.
I have several Headphones, each with specific strength and weaknesses. I like each of them for what they are and often I pick a headphone by mood or genre I want to listen to.

I don’t see the point in collecting a lot of Headphones if I am going to tune them all to the same target. They loose all their personality I liked them for in the first place.

If I want to have the most neutral representation on the other hand, then I can use my HD600 with PEQ or something similar. But a lot of times I don’t care that much about neutrality.

I have 1 set of good Speakers but I have a lot of Headphones for some variety. I enjoy and collect both, the Musik and my Headphones for what they are.

Even with strange tuned Headphones like the Nighthawk you adopt quite fast to the signature and then I can really enjoy the warm representation if I am in the mood.

As I said at the beginning this is a completely different discussion for another topic, but no one is wrong, it is just a different point of view.
 
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threni

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It's up to your choice, but I think your metaphor is incorrect and should be more like this:
- headphones are your glass
- songs are your wine or whisky

But I understand more someone that appreciate having different headphones to pick the ones wanted depending on the mood or any other parameters, than someone that doesn't want to EQ to "respect" the sound of the creators, which is completely at the opposite of reality since the product was created in almost neutral condition, and that even when we see artists live, the system is calibrated to be as close as possible to every place, even in lowest level like some jazz concerts.
The only thing with no calibrated system is fully acoustic concert, but better do it in a good performance hall ;)
It wasn’t the best metaphor i give you that, but you got the point.
I have several Headphones, each with specific strength and weaknesses. I like each of them for what they are and often I pick a headphone by mood or genre I want to listen to.

I don’t see the point in collecting a lot of Headphones if I am going to tune them all to the same target. They loose all their personality I liked them for in the first place.

If I want to have the most neutral representation on the other hand, then I can use my HD600 with PEQ or something similar. But a lot of times I don’t care that much about neutrality.

I have 1 set of good Speakers but I have a lot of Headphones for some variety. I enjoy and collect both, the Musik and my Headphones for what they are.

Even with strange tuned Headphones like the Nighthawk you adopt quite fast to the signature and then I can really enjoy the warm representation if I am in the mood.

As I said at the beginning this is a completely different discussion for another topic, but no one is wrong, it is just a different standpoint.

It's a different topic but.... you know...you keep replying to it! And it's sort of interesting.

I wouldn't say PEQ is overkill. It's the only EQ worth doing - at least, without PEQ you probably don't have the flexibility to perform the correct modifications. I've tried to get my headphones the sound the same and I can't, and I don't really have the patience. But they all have aspects which need taming/boosting. I'm not really a collector and I guess if I was and I had, say, 10 or 20 pairs I'd be buying them for certain reasons. Instead I have my main pair, an old pair for my portable and a wireless/ANC pair for outside/work/phone calls etc. I'd rather they were all perfectly flat out of the box and then I could season to taste.

Here's a good question for you - what if all headphones WERE perfect/flat/ideal out of the box. Would you only have one or two pairs at that point? Are you collecting just for the sound, or also the appearance/materials etc?
 

Grooved

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I don’t see the point in collecting a lot of Headphones if I am going to tune them all to the same target. They loose all their personality I liked them for in the first place.
Even with EQ, they would be closer but still not the same. And I consider other points than their sound alone :
I use sometimes MDR-ZX110 just because it's light and small enough to allow the branch of eyeglasses to be just above and almost like I'm not wearing the headphones.
I prefer the sound of my K371 but wear eyeglasses at the same time.
I can go on another example with my old MDR-7509 that is not my preferred sound, but is more confortable than K371 so I can pick these ones for longer listening.
If I want even longer listening or in a quieter environment, I will pick open back headphones, etc.
 
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Thiuda

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Here's a good question for you - what if all headphones WERE perfect/flat/ideal out of the box. Would you only have one or two pairs at that point? Are you collecting just for the sound, or also the appearance/materials etc?

This would be a boring place to live, but even then I would have at least 4 Headphones:
  1. Stax electrostatic (L700 and upwards) I just love their transient response
  2. Open Back
  3. Closed Back with good isolation
  4. A Headphone i can leave in the office without worries

Are you collecting just for the sound, or also the appearance/materials etc?
First of all Sound, but also comfort, craftsmanship and a little bit materials.
I don´t care about appearance that much. Some of my Headphones are humongous or plain ugly...



Even with EQ, they would be closer but still not the same. And I consider other points than their sound alone :
I use sometimes MDR-ZX110 just because it's light and small enough to allow the branch of eyeglasses to be just above and almost like I'm not wearing the headphones.
I prefer the sound of my K371 but wear eyeglasses at the same time.
I can go on another example with my old MDR-7509 that is not my preferred sound, but is more confortable than K371 so I can pick these ones for longer listening.
If I want even longer listening or in a quieter environment, I will pick open back headphones, etc.

You are absolutely right some Headphones have technicalities you can´t EQ and others don´t have the capabilities to compensate without distortion.
On top of that there are aspects like comfort or the joy of beautiful wooden cups.
I did not say i never EQ some aspects to my liking, but i have no joy in matching a target curve.
 
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