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Using Apple usb-c dongle as DAC for Zen CAN?

domijack281

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Thinking of getting amp to get more power to my Sundara headphones than what my portable hip-dac can provide but skip on buying another DAC to save some money since I don't use often streaming source higher than 24/48khz (Mac Mini 2014 with Apple Music and Spotify). For cable I use NewFantasia 4.4mm cable that brings more clarity than stock cable when paired with hip-DAC.

Apple dac supposedly very transparent and better than most dongle DAC/ Amps under $100 but output max 1V (NA version) and amps need minimum 2V input? But wont Zec CAN with Apple dongle still run circles around hip-DAC?

To try out high-res and MQA source (i,e Tidal HiFi), will using hip-dac without pre-amp output as DAC give me accurate distortion free source to feed the amp?

I set eyes on CAN because I find XBass feature very useful and more robust than software EQ to bring up bass in my headphones.
 

Jimbob54

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Thinking of getting amp to get more power to my Sundara headphones than what my portable hip-dac can provide but skip on buying another DAC to save some money since I don't use often streaming source higher than 24/48khz (Mac Mini 2014 with Apple Music and Spotify). For cable I use NewFantasia 4.4mm cable that brings more clarity than stock cable when paired with hip-DAC.

Apple dac supposedly very transparent and better than most dongle DAC/ Amps under $100 but output max 1V (NA version) and amps need minimum 2V input? But wont Zec CAN with Apple dongle still run circles around hip-DAC?

To try out high-res and MQA source (i,e Tidal HiFi), will using hip-dac without pre-amp output as DAC give me accurate distortion free source to feed the amp?

I set eyes on CAN because I find XBass feature very useful and more robust than software EQ to bring up bass in my headphones.
Read the review from this weekend on the x can. The last thing you want to be doing is giving it less than 2v input. Why don't you just get a JDS Atom and feed it the line out from your Mac?
 
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domijack281

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Read the review from this weekend on the x can. The last thing you want to be doing is giving it less than 2v input. Why don't you just get a JDS Atom and feed it the line out from your Mac?
Not many reviews combine using it Apple-DAC as cheap solution that some advocate especially on r/headphoneadvice but now I know why based on your advice about 1V. So built-in one in Mac has proper 2VRMS out?

The CAN has more features than JDS Atom or Schiit Hersey. I like it for headphone balance out 4.4mm that would not require me to switch headphone cable between portable and desktop setup. I also have experience with xbass on hip-dac which CAN offers and IMO it really helps bring out weight without mudding midrange on hip-dac.
 

Jimbob54

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Not many reviews combine using it Apple-DAC as cheap solution that some advocate especially on r/headphoneadvice but now I know why based on your advice about 1V. So built-in one in Mac has proper 2VRMS out?

The CAN has more features than JDS Atom or Schiit Hersey. I like it for headphone balance out 4.4mm that would not require me to switch headphone cable between portable and desktop setup. I also have experience with xbass on hip-dac which CAN offers and IMO it really helps bring out weight without mudding midrange on hip-dac.

Dont know what the standard output voltage on a Mac is to be honest
 
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domijack281

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Dont know what the standard output voltage on a Mac is to be honest

I found it, its about 1.4V RMS (https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201814).

The Mac mini's audio output has the following characteristics:

  • Output level: 1.4V RMS
  • Source impedance: 10 ohms (Ω)
  • Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR): >90 dB unweighted, >94 dB (A)
  • Total harmonic distortion (THD): 0.005 percent (%) or less
I found this weekends's CAN review. Aside from some minor distortion issue for low impedance headphones, its performance seems to be acceptable for the price however with conditional recommendation for high impedance headphones. . Since Sundara is fairly normal impedance (37Ω), not sure if distortion would be audible, especially using balanced output that performs better than unbalanced.
 

Jimbob54

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I found it, its about 1.4V RMS (https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201814).

The Mac mini's audio output has the following characteristics:

  • Output level: 1.4V RMS
  • Source impedance: 10 ohms (Ω)
  • Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR): >90 dB unweighted, >94 dB (A)
  • Total harmonic distortion (THD): 0.005 percent (%) or less
I found this weekends's CAN review. Aside from some minor distortion issue for low impedance headphones, its performance seems to be acceptable for the price however with conditional recommendation for high impedance headphones. . Since Sundara is fairly normal impedance (37Ω), not sure if distortion would be audible, especially using balanced output that performs better than unbalanced.

Personally, I would bite the bullet on the difference and get a Tempotec Sonata HD Pro dongle (full 2v output) for around $30 from Aliexpress or similar (Tempotec mini store on there) and the THX 789 from Drop which I believe is now available for $250. No need to worry about noise / distortion or lack of power for pretty much anything.
 
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domijack281

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Personally, I would bite the bullet on the difference and get a Tempotec Sonata HD Pro dongle (full 2v output) for around $30 from Aliexpress or similar (Tempotec mini store on there) and the THX 789 from Drop which I believe is now available for $250. No need to worry about noise / distortion or lack of power for pretty much anything.
Thanks, what do you think about using Modi for DAC and Magnius for amp?
And for headphones cables, should I opt end to end new xlr cable or just xlr to 4.4mm female is good enough?
 

Foulchet

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Before I bought a desktop DAC, I used the Lightning (EU !) Dongle with an amplifier and it was fine. Iphone at 70% => amp at 50%.
 
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domijack281

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Personally, I would bite the bullet on the difference and get a Tempotec Sonata HD Pro dongle (full 2v output) for around $30 from Aliexpress or similar (Tempotec mini store on there) and the THX 789 from Drop which I believe is now available for $250. No need to worry about noise / distortion or lack of power for pretty much anything.
I think for amp I am gonna go with Topping A50s as it seems most closely aligned with my use case of using SE input and balanced output using 4.4mm. It is shame that Zen Can is considered no-go because of distortion because it packs awesome features. Is it really noticeable or faint? Isn't that distortion what it makes it giving headphones more warmth? (rolling off treble and boosting low end)? As far as background noise, it seems to handle pretty well according to review and its really not noticeable with sensitive headphones until gain 2 at 5pm o clock.
 

Veri

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Isn't that distortion what it makes it giving headphones more warmth? (rolling off treble and boosting low end)?
No, not really. There isn't anything particularly nice about a spray of distortion. If anything it sounds fatigueing to me.
 
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