Christmas will happen in some time and I want to step up my computer audio a bit (Creative Soundblaster Z). I went through the basic decision stuff allready. I want optical to 6.3mm for headphones (Sennheiser HD600, AudioTechnica ATH-AD500X and HiFiMan HE-440). I do not want the DAC to run over USB. Had some bad experience with USB audio in the past... ("Gaming headset" anyone?)
I need help deciding, not more options. Well, options are okay as long as you can give some good reasons why the options listed are worse than your suggestion. Suggestions should be priced in € (<- Euro) between 200 and 800. If you own any of the listed components, how do you like them? What gave you problems? What was better/worse than expected?
I just gotta say that USB is the way to go, less interference and as long as you get something that doesn't require drivers you will be fine. My Modi+Magni doesn't need any so I assume the new ones don't either.
I can tell you the DAC in the Modi 2 Uber has better THD+N, Dynamic Range, and channel isolation with everything else being pretty much on par, than the DAC chip itself in the Marantz PM6006 and HD-DAC 1.
The AK4490 DAC in the Modi 2 Uber also has the same story with the PCM5102 in the Oehlbach XXL DAC Ultra, with the Modi 2 Uber having better THD+N, Dynamic Range, channel isolation, and signal to noise ratio.
Purely from the DAC chip standpoint, Modi 2 Uber > Marantz > Oehlbach
In short, the DAC in the Modi 2 Uber is amazeballs.
As long as the DAC only uses the USB port for data and not as powersource you should be good. I used the HiFiMan HM-101 Portable USB for some time and there was so much noise (with 35-50ohm headphones) until i put a small powered USB hub in between.
Nowadays i use a Aqvox USB 2 D/A MKII, that I got used and cheap. So I cant really tell you anything about your listed selection. My brother on the other hand uses the Schiit stack and is happy with it, small package, great price/perf.
eh... my Jot sounds amazing. I don't regret it. Why you say it's actually "shit" ?
..... it's audio reviews.... even as an audiophile I know it's all subjective. I enjoy his reviews cause they are untainted by some of the more "inbred" reviewers out there that just consume and regurgitate other reviews to you in high-brow terms who's descriptions are all circumstantial and subjective.
His stance on DAC's is a very le man's approach and I appreciate it.... He will say that up till about $200 range it gets better and better, beyond that you just pay for features or something unique.
If you want to know if a DAC is generally a "good" dac, Z reviews is a good way to get that affirmation. If you want to know all about the minutia details in it's response / color / etc, you will have to look at other more high-brow reviewers. (but at that point I say just f-it and buy one to try it with your own ears.)
Between the ones you put as contestants I would go for the Oehlbach. It's a DAC Amp combo and that's always better in my opinion. Less mess with cables, takes up less space on your desk. It's also nicer to have an all in one solution.
I also don't know if you can get it where ever you live but I also recommend the PS Audio Sprout. http://www.psaudio.com/products/sprout/ The only thing I don't think you'll like is that it doesn't have optical.
Treble is pretty sharp. Sounds a bit thin but not as bad as other schiit products.
The dac on the joutenhiem is actually pretty bad. IDK why people are gushing over it. It sounds pretty flat.
I promise you, the ONLY reason schiit products are so popular is because they market well. All the better equally priced boutique options are no where to be seen or found.
Anyone ever head of the jolida glass dac 3? Sounds better than the stupid bifrost. Looks better. It even has tube for extra hipster credit. Does anyone buy them? No. Why? No marketing. People don't know the brand and as a result they dont trust them.
No I do not mean a flat frequency curve, I mean everything sounds flat. No depth.
Also fun fact, a flat frequency curve is also not the best sound. A flat frequency curve to a machine is not going to mean that you get a flat frequency curve in your ear.
No schiit does a lot of marketing. Keep poking around. You will find it.
The tube thing was a half joke. Tubes actually do generally sound better. Yes they add distortion, but they avoid the use of negative feedback loops and add only even order distortion. Even order distortion is what makes things sound more warm and bassy.