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DAC preamp with XLR output? Schiit, Topping, etc. or should I DIY?

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  • DAC preamp with XLR output? Schiit, Topping, etc. or should I DIY?

    Hi everyone, I'm assembling a new 2.1 system for my office, and I plan to use a custom amp I'm building with Hypex UcD180ST modules. They have balanced input, and I've noticed quite a few new DAC preamps/headphone amps have XLR output. Trying to stay below $500, used is fine. My requirements are:

    DAC (doesn't need to be crazy high resolution, but decent DAC like ESS 9018 would be great)
    Volume control (this will be my preamp)
    Balanced output

    True balanced design
    Subwoofer output

    So far I've found the following:

    Motu 8456
    Schiit Jotunheim (everyone seems to LOVE these as a headphone amp, but I can't find anyone using it as a balanced preamp. Digital inputs limited to only USB).
    Emotiva Stealth DC-1
    Teac UD-301
    Cambridge DACMagic Plus
    Topping DX7S (whenever it is released)
    Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

    Iíve also read about some DIY kits that use nice DACs like the 9018. Anyone built one of these before? I like the idea of DIYing as much as possible to get exactly what I want, so curious to hear your thoughts. Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    If you're willing to try a different class D, I use this in office 2.1:

    It sounds great.

    Also have an Ncore with this pre,

    Haven't heard a UCD but my 9018 based pre+ncore is less forgiving if more detailed that the IDA-8 which i find perfect for the office


    • #3
      I used the DC-1 till recently, and its a great preamp/DAC. The headphone output is so-so, but otherwise, its a mighty fine unit. You can get it for ~$300 used, and they should serve you for a long long time.


      • #4
        Altho not a fan of ESS chips, a s/h Sonica wd be a good bet. Or a Bluesound Node 2 perhaps? Both can be used as pre amps Sent from my SM-G950F using Tapatalk


        • #5
          Thanks everyone, I think I've decided on the Topping DX7s when it is released. Picked up another (3rd) TEAC AG-H550 to hold me over while I wait for the Topping and rewire my Hypex amp.


          • #6
            Do you want a remote control? That narrows the field but is handy. I run Emotiva DC-1 and an older Emotiva XDA-1 balanced into my Hypex amps. Both are true differential designs and sound quite good. The Teacs are supposed to be decent. Look for a used NuPrime DAC 9 on eBay, might get for less than $500. Cambridge Audio DAC Magic plus is a good little unit, but no remote. Essence DAC good and very affordable, with older model now on sale at $100 off, so $399.