I’m looking to buy a DAC for my setup. Currently, I have the MT-602 hybrid tube AMP, DT770 and DT880 (both 250Ω). I am currently running the setup directly from my Lenovo Legion 5 Pro laptop.
My budget is around 150€. Please, mind that I’m located in Europe. I can easily order from Amazon Germany.
What I already found:
Topping D10s - 110€
Topping E30 - 130€
JDS Labs Atom DAC+ - 150€
iFi Zen DAC - 160€
Couple of questions:
Do I even need a DAC in the first place?
(I don’t experience any static, noise or similar while using my current setup. I am thinking that the DAC could improve the quality, clarity, resolution, but I am not sure as I don’t have any experience with standalone DACs.) EDIT: I think that the sounds may be distorting a bit with the volume maxed out in Windows, but I solve this by running it around 80 percent volume and turning the AMP up a notch.
Which would you guys recommend out of the ones I listed? (or even any other which I could easily get my hands on without having to ship it from the US).
running windows at below 100% volume (supposedly) reduces how much data it sends so theoretically it’s not ideal to do that, some DAC’s have their own volume controls for such situations
a DAC can help reduce noise depending on what’s causing it (my old pc had really bad USB noise which made feeding my DAC’s through USB unusable)
YMMV whether you hear a difference or not
I’ve heard good things about the Zen DAC and it also has a built in amp
Yeah, that might be a possibility in the future, but I bought the MT-602 pretty recently, so don’t want to buy a replacement for it just yet.
Anyway, will there be an improvement in definition and clarity when using an standalone DAC or is it just less noise? I mean, I don’t want to spend 100+ euros on something which I would not even notice is there, because I rarely have any issues regarding noise/static.
depending on your source and your hearing
(I’m assuming you are doing a 3.5mm to RCA from your laptop to amp currently)
Youtube - probably won’t notice a difference
Spotify, Tidal, etc - in the middle
FLAC files - should be a noticeable difference
I’d buy the E30. Has a remote and output level control. That MT-602 has a ton of gain, I could see headphones where it could be useful to have the ability to decrease the input signal. I think of the bunch only that DAC has that function?
The iFi Zen DAC gives a warmer sound by comparison (already getting that via amp) and provides its own solid state output option, though slight via SE output. I’m unsure that the DAC output level is controllable via the knob on this device, assuming not. Some people really champion the bass control here.
Suggesting that with some headphones, the gain of the xDuoo MT-602 is strong enough to barely get you off the bottom of the volume pot, and that reduced input signal would aid. You probably do not notice this on your BD 250ohm models. You do mention reducing your windows output level in original post — my method would be a better solution to your problem.
For the price difference, I’d sooner have the E30’s greater flexibility of remote and SPDIF/Coax inputs, and AKM chip.
Someone else already addressed your “please convince me to spend euros on a DAC” request for affirmation. It’s been asked many times on here before. I’d guess if you’ve come to HFG and read the forum and are in deep enough to buy hybrid headphone tube amplifiers — you’re going to buy a DAC.
Ensure you’re listening to good source material.
I do believe you’ll notice a good bit of difference here.
Well, if you’re admitting that, then I suppose you’re confirming “DACs matter”.
Lots of history of folks using this unit, not something I hear a lot. Keep in mind, you’re running it through a hybrid tube amp.
I don’t recall saying or thinking E30 was a bad product. It’s actually one of Topping’s better products, IMO, and an excellent DAC for the money. You might be conflating this with my view of Topping amps, which is less-than-favorable.
Checked out your review on the topic. Nice read. You compared the E30 with some other DACs, notably the Zen. However, how would you compare it to the D10s? I feel like I won’t be going with the Zen, if only for the fact that it’s 30 euros more expensive. It seems that I will be choosing between the E30 and D10s, if I don’t get any other suggestions.
EDIT: Should note that most probably, I will be using the DAC in USB mode only, since I don’t have other options playing from my laptop.
I have not heard D10s but have used the D10. The D10 was reference-caliber for its price when it was first released. Sonically there won’t be a ton of difference between D10s and E30, which is not to say no difference, just not a very big difference. If the E30 sounds too dry, or not bassy enough, or some other aspect you don’t like, it has those digital filters to change the sound a bit. If the D10s isn’t to your liking, you’re stuck with what it does. Ergonomically, the E30 includes a remote. So if USB input is all you need, those are the only other factors to consider, that I can think of.
I will probably go with the D10s then. I don’t really need the remote as the only usecase for it would be playing the speakers, but I do already have a remote for the speakers themselves. And I will save 30 euros.