AudioLab M-DAC+ is interesting, great reviews and seems to be fairly small.
About Gustard: if you don’t need the headphone amp (which I won’t), isnt the DAC-X20 Pro a better choice for the same money, or?
I might buy a new headphone, but for convenience I will buy a Bluetooth one so I won’t need the DAC for the headphone.
Btw, if I buy Bluetooth headphones, will I get better sound if I use the Bluetouth output from a DAC like the Matrix Mini-I Pro 2S than from computer? My digital brain thinks not, but I might be wrong here. Or is that Bluetooth on the Matrix for input? Seems wasteful if so.
Read this re: Bluetooth before settling on a device:
Glad (and envious) to read you’ve gone the Dynaudio route.
Teac DACs seem to have the features and reputation you’re looking for. They have great models for well under your budget range. Otherwise I’d be looking at the new Oppo Sonica DAC.
You might consider a DAC with a good headphone amp even though you don’t plan on using one right now. This would eliminate the Sonica DAC from consideration. Yours is a desktop setup and having a headphone plug available might be a future convenience - and could help the resale value when you upgrade down the road.
You are correct, and also most (all) high-end Bluetooth headphones comes with a cable for using it passively, to gain higher SQ and to be able to use it when batteries are down. So a DAC with headphone amp is a plus (I might get the Sennheiser 550 pcx later on, both for home use and when “on the road”).
And the Dynaudio x14a speakers sounds awesome, so quick and nimble it feels like they play everything so effortless. And the high-pass filter on them made connection to a sub easy and also enables them to focus on higher frequencies (they play surprisingly good bass though, i would not bother with a sub unless I already had one).
Teak DACs hasn’t got that good reviews (especially on WhatHiFi), but maybe I shouldn’t listen to much to reviews.
I regularly read Archimago’s blogs so I’m familiar with his opinions on the Teac DACs. (It’s one reason why I thought the OP should consider one.)
I think the Oppo Sonica is just about ready. Seems to me all DACs go through a number of firmware updates the first few years. I really like Oppo gear. It performs well at its price point and I think it holds its value.
Anyone listened to the iFi Audio Micro iDSD BL? It does not have all I want, but I am somewhat attracted to the NOS thingie, letting Roon upsample and then have the DAC play with as few conversions as possible.
Paragraph two of same article actually lend credence to the superiority of balanced output between audio boxes which is what the OP actually wants; DAC XLR to speaker XLR:
“Please understand that Benchmark strongly encourages the use of balanced line-level interfaces between audio products. All of our products are equipped with fully-balanced XLR analog inputs and outputs. In these box-to-box line-level connections, a balanced interface can provide substantial performance improvements. Balanced line-level interfaces reject hum and noise while providing a higher voltage level. The higher signal levels can improve the SNR (signal to noise ratio) of the audio system.”
The 3rd to the last paragraph talks about possible better harmonics in balanced headphone line:
“Please note that distortion is not always a bad thing (see Two Distinct Types of Audio Products). Many audio products are designed to add some harmonic distortion in an effort to add warmth to the audio reproduction. This is an artistic choice that will change the way a recording sounds. If the goal is to add distortion, a balanced headphone amplifier may produce more harmonics than a single-ended design.”
I’m not obstinate about balanced headphone line, I hardly find much of a difference from the SE. Yet every time I see a manufacturer claiming the moral high ground on a particular subject, I wonder. So Sony, Pioneer, AK, Schiit, Woo Audio and many more who makes balanced HP are in on a conspiracy to milk money from the consumers or worse they don’t even understand science (only this particular manufacturer is scientifically sound). Sounds like Schiit’s refusal to make a DAC capable of DSD decoding. The audio world is crazy, no doubt, too many myths and snake oil sellers. For me, I will worry more about people selling HP cables for $800 than weather a balanced hp makes a difference or not.
I have thought about it and that makes a lot of sense, I decided to wait with a new DAC. The DragonFly Red I have now seems to be a good DAC for a pair of active speakers like X14A. And it does sound good, so now I will focus on listening to music
Next upgrade I will do will probably be to sell all I have, and get passive speakers with either a DAC + analog amp, or a fully digital amplifier (or for that matter, just a wireless LS50). Or if I get rich, a Lyngdorf TDAI 2170 with Bowers & Wilkins 805 D3 (which they have in a local store close by)
Thanks for the suggestions and help, I appreciate it!
I actually find the Mojo volume control works better than expected!
Basically, i am from the era when volume controls were heavy, round and you turned them clockwise to increase sound level, but i have no issues with the Mojos buttons.
Each to his own i suppose, but the user experience with the Mojo is better to me than i first expected.
Besides, it performs and sounds bloody well!