DAC or no?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by LessThanNickel, Feb 21, 2009.

  1. LessThanNickel macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    #1
    I'm currently using Grado RS 1 headphones through a HeadRoom Ultra Micro Amp w/ an Astrodyne power supply; what I'm wondering is if adding the HeadRoom Ultra Micro DAC will really improve the sound (the sound I'm getting now blows me away)? :confused:
     
  2. Teej guy macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2007
    #2
    You're feeding your headphone amp with the line output from the integrated sound on your iMac?

    A seperate high-end DAC should blow that away.

    Nice gear too! I'd love to have a pair of RS 1s...
     
  3. LessThanNickel thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    #3
    Yeah, the amp is plugged into the headphone jack. My first Grados were the SR 60s and even un-amped, they blew me away ... but the amped RS 1s (especially w/ the Astrodyne power supply) listening to AIFF or Apple Lossless files is breath-taking. I can't imagine what a DAC would do, but from what I've been reading, may be worth it.
     
  4. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
    Location:
    One Nation Under Gordon
    #4
    Personally I'd stop at 'blown away more', although it'll certainly clean up the output - since I consider the RA1 one of the most mediocre amps I've ever purchased, while the RS-1 delivers mostly in terms of dynamics with the driver closer to the ear canal than many other phones, but doesn't really have the finesse of some (cheaper) other midrange phones - so it may struggle to really deliver the back-end improvement. Your call.
     
  5. LessThanNickel thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    #5
    Rather than the RA1 amp, I'm using the HeadRoom Ultra Micro amp, and I noticed a definite improvement (along with the Astrodyne power supply); just wonder if there's a qualitative improvement in sound via DAC.
     
  6. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
    Location:
    One Nation Under Gordon
    #6
    Sorry about that - I thought I saw RA-1 in your OP, I was mistaken. The issue with the RS-1 remains the same. You will likely notice a difference since the signal is cleaned up quite a lot in absolute terms: How much of a difference - due to the entertaining, yet qualitatively compromised front-end - is the point I can't really tell you.

    Personally, before I moved up to the likes of the Omegas and Orpheus I much preferred the HD650 and some of the AKG's as a genuine listening phone - and with these, changes with the back-end as your proposed example would be noticeable. As ever (especially in audio) YMMV. To recap it will be definitely an improvement, but the level to which you will notice it is debatable.
     
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #7
    In theory yes. I'm pretty sure you Mac has SPDIF output. Get a DAC that has SPDIF in. I think you can get something like that for $700 or $800.

    Something along the line of this gadget, I think.
    http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MiniDAC/

    Then it would be fun to have a friend flip a coin and swap it for the line out (or not) And see if you can tell which is which more than 50% of the time (Remember that a deaf person will "win" and A/B test 50% of the time.)

    The problem, why I doubt it will matter much and why I wrote "in theory" is the source material. Is it comercially made CDs? Then they are all 44.1 samples per second at 16-bits. Most sources are not good enough to stress the system you have now.

    It's funny now that I have a decent playback system (not as good as yours) I can hear all the faults in thos old 1960's jazz recordings including tape hiss the airconditioning system in the recording room and so on. You current setup is far better then any 40 year old studio tape machine
     
  8. LessThanNickel thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    #8
    Thank you all for your responses, and for tolerating an old man :D ... I remember when my family acquired its first "hi-fi", my dad playing his Glenn Miller albums; I remember the exuberant immediacy in the voice of a young Elvis ... it's always been about sound.
     
  9. iJeremy macrumors member

    iJeremy

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #9
    I used to listen to my RS-1s directly out of the headphone jack on my MacBook Pro. A year ago I purchased the Apogee Duet (DAC with built-in headphone amp, among other things) and the improvement is substantial to my ears. It is even more noticeable with my Sennheiser HD650s. I say go for it. The built-in amp on the Duet works great with the Grados, but I do need to use my headphone amp when listening with my HD650s since they are such high-impedance phones.
     

Share This Page