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External DAC recommendations for ATH M50X under 100USD available right now?

TLDR my laptop's 3.5mm jack doesnt give the best quality ever, i got the bluetooth version of these headphones and i can tell right away the sound quality is so much better and cleaner on bluetooth, so you can get an idea of how bad my laptop's DAC is, all my music is stored locally and is in .flac format (a bit overkill for these i know but hey i gotta use that terabyte of storage), i enjoy these headphones a lot and want to take a good chunk out of them without spending too much money, any help here? im not the biggest audiophile ever so i dont know whats good and what isnt. thx

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So dac's and amp's are not the same thing.  A dac simply translates digital to analogue at a line level, no chance of powering a headphone.  Even phones have dac/amp's built into them, never just a dac.  So I'd say that you are looking for a budget dac/amp.  I will say that several month's ago the main dac provider had their factory burn down so I'd imagine that by now there is a sharp increase in prices of anything with a dac built in.  I'm a little unclear as to what headphones you have, you said that you have a Bluetooth version so do you have two of the same headphone but one is wireless and the other is wired?

 

If that's the case then I would just stick with the Bluetooth version for now, assuming that dac's are expensive rn and that your budget is only $100usd.  Even before covid and a dac chip supplier factory burning down, I would say just stick with the BT cans because they are hopefully optimized to run off the amp built in.  A dac and amp is typically for headphones that have more on the table to be found.  My best guess is that if the same headphone exists in wireless and wired they have optimized the wireless to produce everything the wired can.  At the same time any headphone that is available wired and wireless it probably isn't going to benefit from an improvement in the chain.

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I have a single set of Audio Techinca's ATH M50XBT, sorry if I didn't explain myself better...

I just want something that gives me better audio quality (because I know for sure I can get better quality through a DAC than by Bluetooth, these are just regular ATH M50Xs but with BT afaik) without paying a kidney, and use Bluetooth in my phone.

I am aware of the differences between DACs and Amps, I don't think I need an Amp because it's just 38ohms and my Laptop delivers more than enough power to my headphones through that 3.5mm jack, though again, not in the best quality.

If the difference is big enough on more expensive DACs, I could save for a 100$-200$ DAC.

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2 hours ago, aleck said:

I have a single set of Audio Techinca's ATH M50XBT, sorry if I didn't explain myself better...

I just want something that gives me better audio quality (because I know for sure I can get better quality through a DAC than by Bluetooth, these are just regular ATH M50Xs but with BT afaik) without paying a kidney, and use Bluetooth in my phone.

I am aware of the differences between DACs and Amps, I don't think I need an Amp because it's just 38ohms and my Laptop delivers more than enough power to my headphones through that 3.5mm jack, though again, not in the best quality.

If the difference is big enough on more expensive DACs, I could save for a 100$-200$ DAC.

Honestly save your money on a better set of of cans the m50 is not really gonna benefit much from a better source. 

Feel free to send me a DM for further or general questions.

Lyrics I vibe with or just funny right now:

"Aw, you look malnourished (Malnourished)
Let’s get some bread, fry the egg yolk and drown it in syrup (Drown it in syrup)"

-Tyler the creator
 

"This is food for thought, better take the whole plate

Don't lie, some of y'all thought food for thought meant taking these hoes on a date"-Injury Reserve

 

"Some of em just need to eat a whole thing of Crest"-MF DOOM


 

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On 5/28/2021 at 12:08 AM, Psittac said:

So dac's and amp's are not the same thing.  A dac simply translates digital to analogue at a line level, no chance of powering a headphone.  Even phones have dac/amp's built into them, never just a dac.  So I'd say that you are looking for a budget dac/amp.  I will say that several month's ago the main dac provider had their factory burn down so I'd imagine that by now there is a sharp increase in prices of anything with a dac built in.  I'm a little unclear as to what headphones you have, you said that you have a Bluetooth version so do you have two of the same headphone but one is wireless and the other is wired?

 

If that's the case then I would just stick with the Bluetooth version for now, assuming that dac's are expensive rn and that your budget is only $100usd.  Even before covid and a dac chip supplier factory burning down, I would say just stick with the BT cans because they are hopefully optimized to run off the amp built in.  A dac and amp is typically for headphones that have more on the table to be found.  My best guess is that if the same headphone exists in wireless and wired they have optimized the wireless to produce everything the wired can.  At the same time any headphone that is available wired and wireless it probably isn't going to benefit from an improvement in the chain.

 

Prices have not gone up significantly on DACs, since chips aren't interchangeable. Lots of things based around unobtainable chips are unavailable, but stuff designed around ESS/TI/Cirrus Logic/Analog Devices chips has been largely unaffected.

 

The AKM fire was (and continues to be) a huge nightmare for manufacturers, as a lot of companies have been forced to redesign around alternative DAC / ADC / Interface chips from TI, Cirrus Logic, ESS or Analog Devices. This seems to have been a bigger problem for high-end stuff, since a lot of those used the AK4499 and / or the AK5397 chips. QuantAsylum, for example, got bit hard since their main product was designed around the AK5397, and were in the process of developing a new flagship product around AKM chips.


If anyone is in trouble though, it's AKM, since a lot of companies have started designing around competitor's products and many will have little reason to go back to AKM. 

 

As I mentioned, prices haven't really gone up. Schiit, JDS Labs, FiiO, Topping, SMSL and a bunch of other companies make competant DAC / amp units for reasonable price. I am partial to Schiit and JDS labs, only because they're smaller US-based companies with good engineering teams.

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