In a pinch...Need a dac/amp for meeting room

Hello All,

I work for a the local city and need help finding a solution for our audio. I have it all working but with some personal gear. They would like to purchase their own gear to replace mine, but I’m not sure where to point them.

Basically, I need a USB amp/dac with 2 1/8th inch or headphone out simultaneously. MUST be those because I’m working with their setup. Currently they are using my personal Fiio E18 Kunlun because it’s what I had on hand, and it plays out of both headphone jacks at the same time. Reason for this is one output goes to the room audio and second goes to some wireless hearing aid devices. We can’t use the 2 headphone jacks on the PC because when using a Zoom meeting, Zoom adapts the room speakers so it is not picked up by the room mics. Using a USB dac seems to get around that.

The other option would maybe just use a Y splitter with any USB dac? Not really going to audiophile quality here. Just looking for the best/budget option. They’re fine purchasing the same thing I have, I just think there’s probably a better option. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

If you aren’t looking for an audiophile thing, the ART HeadAMP4 would do exactly what you would want for cheap, and give a good enough sound quality out with the least amount of hassle imo. You could grab a cheap dac and be on your way. A dongle dac like a Meizu HiFi Pro would work well if you have a type c out on the pc, and if that won’t work, a dac like the Dayton DAC01 would do the trick (with a rca to 3.5mm cable)

If you want something you can “just tug in the back”, the ESI Gigaport HD+ may be an option. There you can just mirror one of the channels to all the others.

Yes, Thank you for your quick response. This gets me in the right direction.

Unfortunately this wouldn’t work for my setup. Normally it probably would, but the PC that I’m working with is a “thin client” managed by our 3rd party IT company and is “locked down”. Can’t install any extra software. Didn’t think about that until just now. Thanks for your reply though!

Yay upper management…

Thin client also rules out optical/SPDIF I assume?

Maybe look into fully passive splitters/mixers and run onboard audio through that?

That would work for routing but not for powering headphones

Have I overlooked the requirements to run headphones?
Then again, you could run 3/8 to the HeadAmp and then from the 1/4 further to equipment or the SplitMix and then branch out.

This gives you the option to run 8 headphones (using four 1/4 to 3/8 adapters) and 4 individually volume controlled devices.
Edit 2: Ignore the labels on the SplitMix4. I used it that way before, it just works

I think I need to stay away from using the PC audio out and go with USB. Would these be a good option?

I’m secretly hoping they’ll let me keep these once they’re done using them :wink:

So the k3 pro would work just fine as a dac, if you wanted a higher quality dac for a similar price, look into the smsl m100 or topping d10 imo (but no headphone out only rca out, but you would be connecting it to the mixer instead)

So be careful with the mackie, it’s a mono amp, so no stereo, that would stuck for music listening in the future lol

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Just to be sure I understand you correctly, do you need to feed headphones or other devices?

So I’m going from PC through USB (wanting to bypass the audio out as they seem to give us issues), to an 1/8 to RCA into the assisted listening device transmitter. ( wireless transmitting device so it’s providing it’s own amplification.) The other 1/8 is going to the system amplifier (hardwired so I can’t change it other than adapting the 1/8 side), out to the room speakers.

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So then in this case you aren’t directly powering a wired headphone? For what you are after, a dac and then what @MazeFrame suggested with the splitmix4 (and you wouldn’t need the headamp). Or just a y split as you mentioned would do the job off of the dac

No, but having the ability to provide separate power or adjust volume per channel would be ideal. Currently it is nice to be able to pump the volume with the E18, but it does both outputs together. It would be nice to adjust the volume to each output independently which is why I considering that Mackie Mixer or the ART headAMP4.

Then that SplitMix4 would be the more suitable thing, it’s meant for dealing with line level signals, whereas with the headphone amp you would be double amping the signal which could cause distortion

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Ah, OK. Thanks so much for your help. I know just enough to get myself into trouble. :smiley:

Just so I’m thinking straight… I don’t need the headAMP4 because the Fiio is an amp/dac…I would need it if I went with a straight DAC right?

If you wanted to plug headphones into the device for listening for music getting the fiio would allow you to do that without the amp4. If you got the topping or smsl would also require a separate headphone amp.

So I wouldn’t recommend the amp4 for listening at home, I think spending a bit more would give you a much better amp. And the k3 is a decent dac but the amp is only ok imo. What headphones are you thinking to run?

For your work setup, you want to grab a dac and that splitmix. For home listening you want to grab a dac and a headphone amp

So for work, the audio (mostly speaking via Zoom or MS Teams) is split to listening devices, room audio, and a person recording to her laptop for taking minutes. So it actually needs to go to at least 3 sources. Each probably should be able to adjust their own volume.

As for home audio, I’m a noob and haven’t added anything of decent quality in a long time. Last thing I bought was that E18 when it was new and used my still current pair of Sony MDR-V6. I preferred a flat sound signature vs a more colored one.

Cool, then the splitmix would do the job just fine. You just would grab a solid dac and be good then. And some 1/4 inch stereo to rca and 1/4 inch stereo to 1/8 inch stereo adapters

Gotcha. In that case, something like a magni 3+ would be fairly neutral yet very enjoyable, real solid stuff with power to spare for later on headphones. You could use the dac that would be used for work if you get it back

Sweet, thanks for the great info. Sorry if I took to much of your time. I’m being paid to “research” at the moment.:wink: