Looking for DAC solution

Hey guys!

New here, looking for a dac amp to pair with my THX AAA 789 from Drop that’s on its way, and I use some Fostex closed headphones (I also use the HyperX Cloud Orbits) but am looking to upgrade to the DT1990s in the future.

I was looking at the Grace Design Balanced SDAC from Drop also, but I want microphone functionality for gaming, so I was also considering a Focusrite Solo or 2i2 interface perhaps.

I currently have a Syba Sonic DAC, would it be possible to use the THX AAA + Grace Design SDAC for headphones, and just split off and use the Syba Sonic just for the microphone or will that create interference?

Hopefully this made sense and wasn’t to all over the place, thanks for your time :slight_smile:

I would personally go the interface route imo, will allow you to take advantage of nice mics and have a better sound for them too. Most interfaces have 1/4 inch trs balanced monitor outputs so you could get some adapter cables and run them balanced. What mic are you thinking about?

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Hey M0N,

That’s what I was thinking to, will a focus rite solo affect the audio noticeably when compared to that Grace SDAC? (I’m a bit of an audio bogan so I doubt I’d notice)

As for mics, I am thinking a rode procaster or podmic, but currently I’m just running those Cloud Orbits with the inbuilt mic. I’ll double check the focusrite solo or 2i2 has functionality for the balanced setup you mentioned, otherwise I’ll keep researching.

Thanks for your reply M0N.

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It does.

Get two cables like this and you are off to the races:

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So I think the dac would be pretty similar with the slight edge to the sdac but imo pretty small difference

Nice, you should be pretty set then

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Thanks MazeFrame, That’s saved my little head a lot of labor :rofl:

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That was quick and easy! Thanks again M0N, if I can pester you with last thing, how would the RODE AI-1 XLR interface compare against the focusrite? :slight_smile:

One difference with the AI-1 compared to the 2i2 is that the AI-1 turns off the outputs in the back when you plug in a headphone.

It’s pretty solid, a good alternative that should be pretty nice. It is a tad pricey imo but it would get the job done no problem. They are relatively in the same performance class (the rode vs focusrite) so they would be more similar than not in sound, but I think the focusrite has more mature drivers

Ah got it! The RODE is just around $50-70 AUD (read $2.50-3.00USD) than the focusrite here in Australia.

This is probably a daft question but when you say turns off the outputs to the back, does that mean when headphones are in the interface, the amp is off?

So when you plug in headphones to the interface it will mute the monitor/speaker outs of the interface. In your case that will not matter as you are going to be using your thx, so nothing to really worry about

How would a Mackie Big Knob Studio(+) match up to the Focusrite soundquality-wise? Could be another option…


I think that would also be a solid choice, similar sound quality wise to the focusrite but a fair bit more features

@ekul So Ive got a similar setup to what youre looking to get, PC > SU-8 > Mackie Big Knob Studio+ > Speakers/Headphones. I’m using a Rode Procaster > Fethead > Big Knob > PC through USB. With the DT1990’s as my go-to’s for general use.

Could instead of a DAC just use the Big Knob in your case.

Very happy with how this all works, features on the Big Knob are very nice imo. I’m no M0N, but I would recommend :slight_smile:


I don’t think he could go wrong with the big knob (unless it’s ludicrously expensive in Australia for some reason lol) :+1:

That throws a spanner in the works! Both the Mackie Big Knob and the Plus might be a touch out of the budget at the moment, I’m not really a power user so I doubt I’d be able to fully utilize all the extra features the Big Knob offers, unless I’m missing something which is possible :stuck_out_tongue:

I think if the sound quality is on par with the focusrite, and basic functionality is similar (microphone, balanced etc.) Then I think I’d be better off going with the cheaper focusrite for now.

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Definitely! Do what best fits your situation, I personally really wanted to be able to switch between outputs and prices were fairly close since I had found some nice B-stock deals on the Big Knob.

Hope you’ll enjoy whatever you end up getting :slight_smile:


I might keep an eye out for a bargain, trying to find the main differences between the normal big knob and the plus, I could probably get away with just the normal one to be honest that’d be above and beyond anything I could need in the future feature wise.

Thank you all for your help, really appreciate it :slight_smile: