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Thread: USB DAC (Hotaudio vs hifihippo, etc) Straight vs Pre-amped Output?

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    USB DAC (Hotaudio vs hifihippo, etc) Straight vs Pre-amped Output?

    I am fed up with the lack of quality low-profile sound cards I have tried so far, and hesitate to pay another ~$130 for the Auzen Forte or any of the other ones.

    (for reference, I have had an Audiotrak Prodigy 7.1lt which I loved, but couldn’t get to work with hibernate, as well as a few creative cards which were obviously garbage, and then most recently an Asus Xonar D1 which was mediocre as well.)

    I can live with 2 channel audio feeding my 4 channel and my subwoofer amp, and the current DACs I see available look appealing.

    A few questions for those who are familiar with them…

    #1 Which is preferred to use in the car environment, the DAC straight, or one of the DACs with a preamp? I ask because the car environment is unique, and the low voltage signals are susceptible to noise very easily.

    I noticed a few people really liked the hifihippo bloat, which has a pre-amp, and another user purchased the hotaudio DAC straight, which does not have the pre-amp. I am curious which is the better route to go?

    #2 Do these DACs solve some of the start up/shut down and resume pops/cracks and static that even the highest end PCI cards have?


    Thanks for the help!

  2. #2
    FLAC
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    I have the 2 channel hifihippo usb dac, and i absolutely love it. It requires no driver, high quality parts, hibernate without issue, no alternator noise or amplifier pop, which previously existed in the creative sound card. Definitely got my vote.

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    Cool, good to hear.

    I just put in an order for a Hotaudio Supreme, which seems to be comprable to the Bloat, only significantly cheaper. The seller reccomended this one as it has the highest pre-amp output voltage (at 4.4 volts)

    I told him a lot of us in the car-pc world would love an even higher voltage output to eliminate any possible chance of noise, and he said he would look into developing a car specific one. I imagine it would need to have a clean 12v feed to up the output voltage though.

    For reference, this is the one I am purchasing: http://hotaudio.com/zen-cart/index.p...roducts_id=197

    I will update this post when I recieve it.

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    I had the hippohifi and didn't like it. Controlling the volume was messed up under XP and Centrafuse. It seemed like the master control didnt work, only the wave out (or was it vice versa). I dont quite remember the details, maybe someone else can chime in on how the volume works with these DACs?

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobb View Post
    I had the hippohifi and didn't like it. Controlling the volume was messed up under XP and Centrafuse. It seemed like the master control didnt work, only the wave out (or was it vice versa). I dont quite remember the details, maybe someone else can chime in on how the volume works with these DACs?
    I have heard similar problems, but I am hoping I can use one of the many volume slider programs that exist to make it work (I know of one specifically that ties the master and wave controls together). I also primarily use a powermate, so I imagine I can get that to work correctly as well.

    We will see soon enough.


    How was the sound quality though?

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    Personally I couldnt tell a significant amount of difference between the hippohifi and my Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Micro, or my usb x-fi. Tested it on my home theatre system too, which is much better than my car speakers. Dont think it was worth the price premium to be honest, especially not with the volume control issue. Seems overrated to me, I cant understand the hype with the hippohifi.

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    The volume control depends on the DAC chip used. I've used 2 Hotaudio's & they use the Master Volume control. Same too for Creative X-Mod.

    I've 2 other DAC that uses Wave out. Personally, I would prefer Master Volume Control as it can be controlled with ASIO. Wave Out won't work in ASIO mode.

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    Any more opinions on the HotAudio DACs and if anyone has issues with ground loops, alternator whine, etc? What exactly is the difference between the different models? Im doubting the difference will be audible in a car environment. Im considering just the cheapest HOTUSB1 with free ship:
    http://hotaudio.com/zen-cart/index.p...roducts_id=182

    Hopefully the HotAudio wont have the same volume control flaw as the Hippohifi.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobb View Post
    Any more opinions on the HotAudio DACs and if anyone has issues with ground loops, alternator whine, etc? What exactly is the difference between the different models? Im doubting the difference will be audible in a car environment. Im considering just the cheapest HOTUSB1 with free ship:
    http://hotaudio.com/zen-cart/index.p...roducts_id=182

    Hopefully the HotAudio wont have the same volume control flaw as the Hippohifi.

    I've the HOTUSB1 & STRAIGHT, both works well with master vol control even in Hibernate mode. No ground loop issues at all & it works well with ASIO4ALL. Main difference is in the DAC chip & circuit design. I find the Straight SQ better & if you can spare some extra $, then go for the Straight.

    I've another PCI Asus Xonar D2 which I'll try out to compare the SQ difference btw DAC & Soundcard. I have no prior experience with pci card & will see how it performs. DAC wise is very easy & straight forward. But with DAC, you've only Stereo outputs to play with.

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    Ive been looking around, and another product to throw in the mix...the Alien DAC (you build this one yourself). Roughly the same price as the HotAudio DAC Destroyer, but apparently uses a better pcm2702 chip (vs the 2705 in the HotAudio).

    http://www.myexposition.com/diy/usbdac/overview.html

    Any comments on this?

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