Good, inexpensive USB DAC?

mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,046
edited April 7 in Going Digital
Long story short: I am starting to window shop for a respectable quality but not too expensive DAC with USB input. Strictly for fun/experimentation -- but I don't want be disillusioned by inadvertently (or even advertently) buying junk.

I know zero about these things; I am the Sgt. Schultz of digital audio.

I can't even suggest a budget because, again, I have no idea of the cost of decent entry level equipment! $50? $100? $200? Not much more than that, I hope.

Thanks for any suggestions and feedback/input!


  • DaveHoDaveHo Posts: 1,967
    edited April 7
    I have a pair of SMSL M8 DACs, one for the work headphone rig & one in the bedroom system. Massdrop frequently runs the updated M8A for around $180. Great DAC for the money IMHO. I recently picked up a Schiit Modi 2 Uber to check out. The SMSL slays it.

    The Topping D30 also gets lots of positive press, but I have no personal experience with it.
  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 14,882

    Speakers: Harbeth: 30.2, SHL5+; Usher: Be-10, T-515; Rosso Fiorentino: Elba, Pienza, Certaldo, Fiesole, Volterra; Polk: T50, Signature S15, RTA 15tl, RTi12; Sonner Audio Allegro Unum, Legato Unum, Legato Semis, Legato Duo; Emerald Physics CS-2.8; Klipsch KLF-20
    Preamps: Shuguang S200MK, Dayens Ampino, Parasound P5
    Amps: Shuguang S845MK, Dayens Ampino Monoblocks, Parasound A23
    Integrateds: Triode Corporation TRV-88SER, MastersounD: BoX, Dueventi, Compact 845, Evolution 845; North Star Design Blue Diamond
    Sources: AURALiC Aries, Denon HEOS Link, North Star Design: Magnifico, Supremo, Incanto, Intenso, Venti
    Cabling: Wireworld
    TV: Sony XBR-75X940C
  • afterburntafterburnt Posts: 4,476
    What Skip said. I got one of them thar doohickeys from him and ended up buying two versions of it's big brother.
    Parlor: ifi iDSD Micro*Yamaha RX-A2030*Parasound Halo P5*Parasound Halo A-31*Parasound 2250v2*Emotiva XPA-200 Gen1*LSiM707 Fronts*LSiM706c Center*LSiM702f/x Surrounds*Monitor70 Series II Rears*Monitor40 Series II Presence*SVS PB2000 Sub X2*OPPO BDP-103D*Sony PS3*Samsung-55" LED 1080p Smart 3D HDTV UN55H7150AFXZA*TEAC TN-300*Wireworld Solstice cables* Wireworld Stratus power cables*Blue Jeans Cable LC-1's IC's*BJC Silver-Plated IC's* Bens Silver IC's

    Dungeon: Dancer Mini-Two Diamond*Auralic Aries Mini*Dayens Ampino Preamp*Dayens Ampino Monoblocks*North Star Intenso DAC*Wireworld Oasis cables*Wireworld Oasis IC's*Wireworld Aurora power cables*IFI nano IDSD bl*Pangea Silver USB*Cambridge CXU*

    Panamax MR5100*Panamax M8-AV-PRO*Furman PST-2+6

    Headgear: Sennheiser HD 558*Audio-Technica ATH-M40x*Sennheiser HD 598 Cs*Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7*Philips SHP9500S* Sennheiser 6xx

    Hello Kitty boombox

    Spare sortta: Usher N-6361* ifi iDsd nano*Marantz 1504* RX-A1040*Emotiva XPA-1L Gen2 X2*Emotiva XPA-3 Gen2*CSiA6 Center*Monitor40 Series II*SVS PB1000 Sub*Sony BDPS6500 Blu-ray player*POS 37" LCD*Douglas Connection Furez 12 AWG 2 Conductor*Blue Jeans Cable LC-1's IC's*Samsung BD-H5900 3D Blu-Ray*Usher N-6361

    Self Control is over rated.
    Mr. Sharpe wrote: »
    Meh these were extra $70 as an open box item so it didn’t much to me either way:)

  • bikerboybikerboy Posts: 1,137
    I'm in the process of reboxing a TPA Buffalo III if you want a DIY approach. I upgraded to the 9028 and love it. Pm if interested
    D:Sonore UltraRendu usb w/LPS-1->Amanero I2S converter ->I2S->TPA Buffalo 9028 w Mercury output dac w Salas ps->BAT VK-51SE w/BP Preamp via XLR to BAT VK-200-> Polk LSiM 703
    A:Dynavector DV-10x5-> Nothingham Spacedeck-> TPA Retro via XLR to Relaixed2;
    V:Vinyl rips-> ESI [email protected]/192
    SACD: Denon 3910
  • rooftop59rooftop59 Posts: 4,603
    edited April 7
    I have an arcam rdac that I have loved. I have two; need to let one go. Let me know if you are interested.
    HT Rig:
    Denon AVR-X4200w; Peachtree Audio Nova Integrated; Bryson BPD-1; Mains: Dynaudio Emit 10 + MartinLogan Dynamo (original) sub; Center - Polk cs400i; Heights, Center Surround - Klipsch KHC - 6 In-Ceiling; Surrounds - Monoprice in-ceiling; Sub - SVS PB10-ISD; LG UP870 4K BDP

    Master Bedroom
    Marantz SR-5007; Peachtree Audio NovaPre; Audiosource Amp Two, PSB Imagine B, Boston VR-10 center, NHT Super One CI surrounds, ACI Titan subwoofer, Squeezebox Touch
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,046
    edited April 7
    an embarrassment of riches! Thank you, folks.
    I cogitate (or is that iCogitate?)


  • msgmsg Posts: 4,270
    Good recommendations here.

    Also to consider, a shielded, short USB cable, and consider the population of your USB bus. These two things can contribute to a crummy USB audio/DAC experience.

    Currently using an AudioQuest Forest and enjoying a little AudioEngine D1 headphone "amp", similar in design to that iFi linked above.
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 4,719
    Audioquest Dragonfly Red
    Got Dayens?
  • K_MK_M Posts: 1,030
    edited April 20
    Lsi15, Lsi9, LsiC,Rta11t,M5jr+,M4,SDA 3.1TL, SDA SRS 2.3TL, Rti6....Still listing stuff, a work in progress.

  • K_MK_M Posts: 1,030
    nbrowser wrote: »
    Under a hundred US, delivers the decent stuff...primarily made in the US to boot! Worth a check out.
    Lsi15, Lsi9, LsiC,Rta11t,M5jr+,M4,SDA 3.1TL, SDA SRS 2.3TL, Rti6....Still listing stuff, a work in progress.

  • mlistens03mlistens03 Posts: 2,141
    I literally was about to start a thread about this. lol
    Not Tom, or Trey, or Jim
    NAD C352
    Monitor Audio Radius R90’s/Mission Freedom 770 IV
    BJC speaker cables, generic RCA’s, one homemade power cable, because that’s going to do any good with the rest of the generic ones.
    Technics SL3200 turntable and a Shure M97xE phono cartridge
    Velodyne VA-907 subwoofer
    Lafayette LR-1100 acting as a tuner and phono.
    I've always thought the goal of high end audio was not to have your neighbors bang on the wall and say, 'Turn that darn music down' but to have your neighbors bang on the wall and say, 'Tell your friends to go home and you can practice later this week'.
  • marvda1marvda1 Posts: 3,184
    the micromega mydac is a nice sounding dac, you can get it from underwood hifi for $249 (list $400)
    Amplifiers: MasterSound Compact 845, Ayre v6xe, Consonance Cyber 800, Usher R1.5
    Preamp: deHavilland Ultraverve 3
    Transport/Dac: Cayin Venus cd-100i, Musical Paradise mp-d2 mkI
    Speakers: Rosso Fiorentino Volterra
    Speaker Cables: Analysis Plus Black Mesh Oval 9, Cerious Technologies Graphene Extreme
    Interconnects: Analysis Plus Copper Oval-In Micro, MG Audio Design Planus Cu2,
    Cerious Technologies Graphene Extreme
    Power Cables by: Cullen Cables, 6sons Audio, Swiss Cables
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 4,719
    @mhardy6647 What did you end up with?
    Got Dayens?
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,046
    You clearly think that I move much faster than actually I do! :/


  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 4,719
    Haha, well any leading contenders at least?
    Got Dayens?
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