Edited from first draft 12/28 as a continuation of first impressions listening to headphones...and...speakers thru a separate amp.
So, about 10 days ago FedEx delivered this ifI DAC NANO to me (at 9:21PM no less) and I've been sitting on it since...not setting it up for many personal reasons. But, last nite, 12/28, I downloaded the Window's drivers for it on my high value Asus laptop ($229)...the only one I have with USB 3.0...which this DAC/headphone amp is built for. All worked after reboot...at least Windows 8.1 sees it and I listened to my Grado SR-125's through it with Winamp supplying the streaming radio and by the color of the led on the top of the unit, it provided 24/96 resolution.
Later on I will be re-applying and experimenting with Foobar 2000 with Wasapi output and maybe I can even figure out how to get some DSD sound out this here little marvel. I'm chuckling to myself as I attempt to leap into the 21st Century hi-res music environment....since I know not what I am doing...yet!
I am liking very much the sound I'm getting into and out of these Grado's. It is a very revealing headphone amp. And, since I am editing this comment on this, the second day....and have an amp hooked up to it with speakers now, I am finding this DAC to be a real smooth interface. More later.
I'll be trying to add to this thread as I get deeper into hi-res...AND...if y'all got any suggestions, please shoot. j
"Have you tested your headphones with a good source, like a turntable playing a 180gram LP?"
Hi...yes, I have. Although there are many great sounding LP's I have, originals from the mid 60's on up that, while not being 180gr., are more than up to the chore of presenting as believable a musical event as good as the partnering equipment will allow. Neil Young and Crazy Horse's "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere", being one. I have a Sonneteer Sedley phono stage that I hook up my modified Musical Fidelity X-Cans v.1 to...directly off the phono stage.
My headphone collection includes the Grado SR-125's, Audio Technica ATH-W-5000's, AKG-702's, etc. I do not own headphones costing U.S. $2K...beyond me. The Grado's mentioned were the easiest to drive and were closest to me when I powered up the Nano DAC. I don't think there's a ton of power to output from the Nano, so easy to drive is it.
I grew up listening to mono vinyl recordings, even when the record companies tried, unsuccessfully, to create a stereo version of an original mono recording. Then when digital vinyl LP's came along, another unsuccessful try at making the monaural excellence better...was not better. Isn't that a funny thing? Digitizing music and then putting it on a vinyl LP? Quah?
So, if I may guess at your question's genesis...Can digital really make a musical event constructed with electronics and played in a less than optimal listening environment, a living room....make it as believable as a good to great analog source heard thru headphones?
'Been running this amp/dac continuously and today am listening to AT W-5000 headphones thru it....and it is a sweet headphone amp. Still listening to 24/96 streaming radio and bit perfect recreations of personal cd's. Will move to get Foobar loaded again w/Wasapi and get to the higher res sources....soon.
Running Winamp with this very excellent DAC/Headphone Amp...the ifi DAC Nano. Listening to streaming internet radio...free stations/donate-able stations that play mainly Chill, Dub, Downtempo, (my preferences) etc., etc. "Frisky Chill", "Chromanova", "Soma Chill", "Chilkyway", "Hirschmilch" are some of the great ones. The ifi Dac Nano's color led is showing (by dint of color) that it is delivering a 24 bit signal at 192khz to the amplifier used.
File-Hippo Offers the latest, er, last/latest Winamp software download. Winamp is a very complete music software player that can play Internet radio as well as any hard-drive or flash drive containing music files. Visit the internet site "Shoutcast" to preview many, many internet radio stations from all over the world and sample them on Winamp or Win Media Player, or a Mac thing. Winamp allows favorite sites to be listed as bookmarks and can then access them whenever connected to the internet.
Ifi Dac Nano is wired into, via DNM/Bullet plug interconnects, a late 90's computer gaming music system called "Midiland S-2. This is a big, heavy, well built dual ported subwoofer box with a dual voice coil 8 inch paper cone subwoofer driver. Included in this subwoofer box is a 3 channel amplifier mounted on the back panel....a 50 watt subwoofer amp and a 25 watt by 2 stereo speaker amp. Midiland S-2 also has a preamp module that hooks up to the amp via a VGA type connector and actually can be set up, via side panel clips, to fit in an open DVD drive bay in a desktop computer box! Neat! Speakers hooked up to the stereo amp are a pair of Mordaunt-Short Alumni-2 sealed box speakers on 18 inch wooden stands that flank a "salvaged at the dumpster" wooden end table upon which sits the Asus high value laptop feeding a 20 inch HD monitor. The speaker amp has a speaker cutoff of 100hz (6db roll-off) and the paper cone subwoofer driver is very nice-sounding in the upper bass region of 80hz or so....so a very nice match-up twixt speakers and sub. Winamp has a built in switchable EQ for adjusting for best sound quality.
So, that's as far as I've gotten with the hi-res ifi Dac Nano. No DSD decoded hi-res downloads as of yet. I am still in the throes of exceptional admiration for the quality of sound with the ifi Dac Nano in situ here. As well as finding the "right" combo of equipment choices by adding that and removing this (fun part of this hobby!), I just seem to spend my time listening to how good music sounds here. Quite the find, the ifi Dac Nano is....and selling here in the States for a tad under $200! Whew! j