Low budget DAC/Amp

Hey guys and girls,

First of all "Happy New Year" to all of you. I've been a subscriber to the Tek Syndicate YouTube channel for quite a while now and read through the forums a few times - now I have a question to you regarding a new audio setup for my desktop.

Since I'm a student my budget is rather small but I hope I can gat something decent out of it.

After I watched Logan's videos on building your own gaming headset, I thought about upgrading my current setup, which is just a Razer Carcharias hooked up to my onboard soundcard. I'm considering getting a pair of used Sennheiser HD558 or something in that price range and a Mod Mic for all the teamspeak and skype stuff.

But since my onboard soundcard seems to be dying slowly (rear output is just mono, front output picks up way too much noise) I consider buying a DAC/Amp-combo along with the headphones. I've already watched some videos and read some tests and I favor either the FiiO e10 (not the K version) or the SMSL SD 793II.

Can you guys give me any advice regarding those two units or do you have any other recommendation in the 70 ‚ā¨ (~86 $) price range?

Thanks a lot in advance :)

I just picked up the SMSL SD-793II and it's awesome. It drives my pair of 50 ohm headphones easily. By the time I get to half volume it's already passed comfortable listening levels

So I guess the sound quality does improve compared to a onboard solution?

Yes definitely, I hear stuff now that I never knew was there before. Less white noise as well due to the DAC

The SMSL stuff is a fine budget solution for fairly low impedance headphones (from what I've heard, I've not listened to it myself), assuming you have an optical out.  High impedance cans may not benefit as much from the SMSL though, as it looks to be fairly low power.  For reference, it seems to put out similar power to the $25 Fiio e6.  Of course, I'm basing that off what little I could find on it's power output, so ymmv.

I've also heard reports of them going out on some people...  but it's just hearsay.  I've not seen any professional reviews mentioning any problems (though, to be fair, there aren't many professional reviews out there at this point lol).  For 65 bucks, it seems to be a good performer.  Though, I'd be more comfortable with something like the Fiio e07k for $20 more...  but that's me.


Per SMSL, they recommend usage with headphones up to 250 ohm

This guy has tested it with several headphones with success > http://youtu.be/N-47_1TU9HY?t=5m24s

From what I read on reviews, it's in the middle of the pack as far as build and performance is concerned. 

Hey guy, thanks a lot for your advice. I knew this forum was right for such questions.

I think I'll stick with the SMSL and I'll let you know what i think of that little guy.

I'm buying this too :)

I wouldn't doubt it, I'm not complaining though for $60 bucks lol

Just a follow up, got this thing today and I am loving it. IT kicks serious ass. Well worth it. Had to buy an 3.5mm adapter but other than that no issues!

I personally use the FiiO E10, and it's definitely worth the price. If you can find it between $50-75 then you're on the right track. The K version is odd to me, because it isn't rated for 250 ohm headphones whereas the original E10 is. I'm pretty sure FiiO stopped making the regular E10 in favor of the E10k. 

The only gripe I have with my E10 is the blue LED on it died after the first week of ownership. It's not a big deal, but I liked the way the blue led looked with the black aluminum. It was sleek. Oh well. 

I use a pair of DT880 Pros (250 ohm) and they sound fantastic with the E10. But I intend to upgrade to an O2 ODAC/Amp.

Nice! What kind of headphones are you running with it?

So as a little late follow up:

I finally  got my SMSL SD-793 II today shipped to me from Hong Kong. Right now I'm testing it with my new Sennheiser 598s which I got really cheap on eBay.

So what can I say, it's awesome... I expected a lot of difference but still not that much.

Everything sounds clearer, more natural and overall better.


Thanks a lot to you folks for helping me on that topic - great community! :)

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