I recently got the $350 AAA 789 headphone amp, recommended by a very demanding friend. Didn’t really need it but wanted to experiment. Impressed me when fed by the Hugo 2 or Meridian 818 but those DACs are engaged, and the price point didn’t match. I decided to set up a headphone zone, and needed a price-appropriate DAC. (The cans are Audeze LCD-4z, not price-appropriate, but I use them elsewhere.j
Just at that time Darko talked about the $99 Shiitt Modi. But I wanted something smaller and more invisible.
I got the $80 SDAC by Grace, also at Massdrop. Comes with a USB cable — not much room in that budget for a fancy cable.
I use the iPad as the network endpoint. Haven’t even gone upstairs to fetch the Jitterbug.
Overall, the endpoint is excellent. Gives me as much happiness as the Hugo 2, and much more than the Dragonfly and Geek Out and Geed Pulse.
I may suggest one lesson from my experience: we tend to obsess over the digital parts, oversampling or not, DAC chip, jitter, digital cables, cables, decrapifiers. But the amp, the analog component, really matters. In this case, I wouldn’t claim that the $80 SDAC is as good as the Chord or Meridian. Maybe, maybe not, not relevant. But it is good enough to hold its own, letting the 789 strut its stuff.
At $430 a very satisfying experiment.