DAC and amp to go with active monitors

Discussion in 'Advice Threads' started by henrik i, Jul 9, 2017.

  1. henrik i

    henrik i Rando

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    Hi,

    Decided to take the plunge and ask for some advice. My current setup is old, and consists of a Rotel RA-02 amplifier connected to a pair of Gale 3010S speakers. Occasionally I also use a pair of Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 80 Ohm headphones. First of all, the speakers are very cheap. To replace them has been my highest priority and I will go with a pair of Genelec 8020Ds. I use only my computer as a source and small speakers suit me fine. Not enough space on the desk for somehing bigger either. I mostly listen to electronica, if it matters.

    The next step is to invest in a DAC with an usb input. However, I also really want to have a good quality volume control for my active monitors and to connect my headphones. Currently my Rotel does the job decently. The attenuation is fine on low volume levels which I often listen to. I know it can be used as a pre-amp, so I am considering to keep it in the setup for the time being and just go with a DAC only.

    If I throw it away, it gets more complicated. Most DACs have a fixed line level output, but I really want a nice knob beside my computer to control the volume and not being restriced to do it on the computer. Some DAC/amp combos have variable line levels, but I think those are far between. I was considering a Schiit Modi 2, which can also be used driverless in windows, and that feature would be really nice. Just plug an play. But then again, an amp with a volume control will be required.

    My budget: $500 for a dac/amp/whatever works. Maybe $600 max if I will need an additional volume control of sorts.
     
  2. uncola

    uncola Friend

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    $500 for a dac with volume control is kind of a no-man's land.. maybe an Emotiva Stealth DC-1 would be good for you, but I think emotiva might be hard to get/taxed high in europe
     
  3. Dr. Higgs

    Dr. Higgs Boson - Member

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    Schiit Jotunheim w/ DAC could be an option. Works quite well as a pre for my active monitors.
     
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  4. elguapo

    elguapo Gringos falling from the skys

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    Schiit Modi MB with SYS would work for the monitors at $300, but won't drive headphones.
     
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  5. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    True, with the usual caveats about noisy USB, that is probably a really good suggestion. Hell, a better DAC can always be used later, if the bug bites- but it'd be a decent start with solid output options. It's a solid bang for buck choice. It also has a nice big volume knob and a smooth pot!

    (Also, mea culpa, I asked for the OP to be moved to the advice thread, didn't notice it was in this subforum- my bad, mods!)
     
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  6. Garns

    Garns Friend

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    Personally I would not particularly recommend the Jotunheim as a preamp to active speakers. I found the flat soundstage and aggressive upper-mids more annoying with speakers than with headphones. So if speakers are your priority I would go with your first plan and keep the Rotel around to use as a preamp and for headphones. I owned that same Rotel about 10 years ago (used with a pair of PMC TB2's) and quite liked it. You will need some RCA-to-XLR cables to connect to the Genelecs. There is a wiring guide on the Genelec website.

    For a DAC one possibility would be Schiit Bifrost, non-multibit, for $400. Then you could upgrade to the multibit later on if you felt like it. There have been rumours of a new upgrade board for the Bifrost, so you could wait around and see if that eventuates. Or maybe find you are totally happy with the non-multibit Bifrost as is.

    Without having heard either, let me also note that the 8020D are Class D amplification, and the 8020C, which seems to be still available, are Class AB. Some people have strong opinions about this.
     
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  7. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    This. Or whatever you currently have. I wouldn't worry too much about DAC or amp quality into power monitors. Powered monitors are very good for a self contained solution, but they don't scale past decent / good gear upstream gear.
     
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  8. Vansen

    Vansen Gear Master (retiring)

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    The Schiit Fulla 2 has a preout and may be worth considering, too.
     
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  9. henrik i

    henrik i Rando

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    Thanks for all the good advice so far. I might do it simple and either get a Modi 2 or maybe even a Schiit Fulla 2 for the time being, then get a proper upgrade later on.

    Oh, this is interesting. What kind of rumours, a new multibit board?

    Btw, is it possible to use the newer dacs from Schiit without installing drivers in windows? I do not need any advanced features. The Modi 2 supports "USB Class 1" operation, I think. How about Fulla/Bifrost/Jotunheim etc?
     
  10. bigfatpaulie

    bigfatpaulie Tried to screw other friends while playing victim

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    I will probably get flamed for this, but whatever... Check out Audio-GD. A NFB-11.28 would fit the bill. I use a similar NFB12.1 the same way as you are using it and have for years.
     
  11. Garns

    Garns Friend

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    Basically this. So, sounds like yes, eventually...
    Yggdrasil and Gungnir Multibit, I never got them working without USB drivers. Dunno about those others.
     
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    Last edited: Jul 10, 2017
  12. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    Windows 10 now supports USB Class 2 natively as of Anniversary Update.
     
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  13. jhaider

    jhaider Acquaintance

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    I would look at pro audio USB interfaces. Focusrite makes solid performers, and their 2i2 is well under your stated budget.

    https://us.focusrite.com/usb-audio-interfaces/scarlett-2i2

    The only issue is that you need 1/4" TRS to XLR adapters or cables for speakers with balanced inputs. The pro audio USB interfaces generally use 1/4" TRS plugs for their analog outputs.
     
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  14. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Chop off and solder. Even I have successfully soldered TRS connectors. Wait, TRRS, isn't it*, for balanced? Anyway, I did it and it worked fine, and my electrical soldering sucks.
    I think the real pro stuff would be all XLR, but I never got that far --- at either end of the cable.

    *EDIT: no it isn't. Thanks for the correction, @Grahad2
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2017
  15. Grahad2

    Grahad2 Red eyes from too much anime

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    They'd have 2 TRS cables to carry balanced, like with the LSR305 (that has both XLR and TRS balanced inputs). Still 3 contacts, just different connector.

    Edit: Like so (for the 2i2)
    IMG_20170711_180559.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2017
  16. Robert777

    Robert777 Acquaintance

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    Would the NAD D 1050 work?
     
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  17. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Oh, of course... three connectors instead of unbalanced's two.

    Me talking rubbish. Brain fart!
     
  18. henrik i

    henrik i Rando

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    Good point about the NAD D 1050, maybe that's an option too with balanced output. It is easily available too, I should probably check it out. But so is a Modi 2 (and keeping the Rotel). Currently leaning towards that option.
     
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  19. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf Prohibited from acting as an MOT until year 2050

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