Headphone amp questions

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by GoodWatch, Oct 3, 2010.

  1. GoodWatch macrumors 6502a

    GoodWatch

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2007
    Location:
    Rotterdam, The Netherlands
    #1
    I hope I have arrived at the right forum! Because I like listen to music during the evening/night I want to play that music through a quality headphone/amp combo. Fubar Mk. IV springs to mind. Do any of you have experience with this? I know the headphone connection on my iMac doubles as an optical output and the Fubar has an optical in and its own DAC but is this the right way to go? Any advice on this is very welcome!
     
  2. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Location:
    Green and pleasant land
    #2
    Does Fubar do a range of models? The one I found using Google has a USB input, not optical digital.

    USB input should be the best choice for a device such as this. It's much easier and more reliable to clock and receive the digital audio over USB than over optical. The converter also needs a power supply, and USB is a convenient way of supplying this.

    The problem with 'audiophile' type interfaces like this is that:
    - They're manufactured in low volume
    - They're often over-marketed

    Overall, they're often sold for a higher price than they're really worth.

    If I was you, I'd also take a look at audio interfaces aimed at musicians. Musicians are no less demanding - but they're often poorer than audiophiles and the market for these is more intense and better value.

    Check out the Mackie Blackjack
    http://www.mackie.com/products/onyxblackjack/

    and Apogee One
    http://www.apogeedigital.com/products/one.php

    Both of which are cheaper and probably have similar or better sound quality to the Fubar.
     
  3. GoodWatch thread starter macrumors 6502a

    GoodWatch

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2007
    Location:
    Rotterdam, The Netherlands
    #3
    Fubar IV backplate:

    [​IMG]

    The Fubar is actually less expensive than the Apogee. Thanks for the advise BTW! I'll do some more research.
     
  4. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Location:
    Green and pleasant land
    #4
    Having seen that, I think the Fubar looks pretty good value. Certainly a nice selection of connections - build quality looks good too. 200 bucks isn't unreasonable.

    I'd still choose the USB over optical. Without going into too much detail, the way the data gets clocked on SPDIF or optical gives a D to A more work to do to 'lock on' to the signal - and theoretically this can cause 'jitter' which degrades the audio. That's not a problem with a USB connection. USB may be prone to noise from the electronics in the computer though - while optical is isolated from that. You really need to experiment!

    It looks like the Fubar isn't powered over USB either - since it has a 24v power supply. 24v is good news as it means the audio signal should have plenty of headroom. Looks good.
     
  5. GoodWatch thread starter macrumors 6502a

    GoodWatch

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2007
    Location:
    Rotterdam, The Netherlands
    #5
    My reason to go for optical is the following: with my limited knowledge of digital signal processing I thought I'd bypass the whole analogue signal route and only do the DAC conversion just before the amp's analogue stage. And plug-in a set of Grado headphones. Some high-end sets like those from Stax are way beyond my budget and as for as I know completely analogue and I use an iMac as a source.
     
  6. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Location:
    Green and pleasant land
    #6
    Apart from the jitter thing it doesn't really make any practical difference how the digital signal gets to the DAC whether it be optical or USB.
     

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