Niche DAC Recommendation

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Hey all, I posted this question in an individual product board, but didn’t get a whole lot of input, so I figure I’ll take it to the big board.

I usually have zero problems finding ways to spend my money on audio kit, but I’m having trouble finding just the right match for my current use case. Here is what I am looking for:

A decent quality Bluetooth and USB DAC only, with no headphone or speaker amp. Additional inputs (optical, coax, etc.) are OK, but really no desire to spend on them. Small form factor, ideally with an understated design (i.e., doesn’t light up like a Christmas tree). It will be for ambient music from in-wall speakers, so need not be hifi. It will be feeding an Appj mini 2013. And all of this for (hopefully substantially) under $100.

Discontinued models I can find on ebay, or matches that come in slightly above budget but reliably go on sale are valid, as I have some time before I put it together.

Let me know if you have any candidates. So far I’ve come up empty, but I know this is a knowledgeable group.
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phoenixsong
1050
Aug 16, 2018
GunsOfBrixton
906
Aug 16, 2018
Very cool kit that I didn't know about! However, it looks like both have amplified outputs, rather than just line level (and/or a bit rich for the use case).
I'm always hesitant to amp an amped source based on some bad experiences when I was a newbie.
May ultimately not be an issue because of the low wattage of the amp I'm feeding, but I would still rather go with line-level if I can find my unicorn.
ohsigmachi
232
Aug 16, 2018
maybe try this on amazon Earstudio es100
GunsOfBrixton
906
Aug 17, 2018
That first one was my big worry, but I think I'm over it. I have definitely introduced noise and distortion problems in the past, but I was much less experienced then. I agree, the scaling of the power here will be fine.
I have a reflexive "no double amping" response because of something dumb I did once on that front. I won't go into detail because... well, it makes me look bad.
I'll just say that the maximum power handling spec is there because of "adventurous" people like me ;)
Nothing wrong with making mistakes, as human beings the mistakes are often the best teachers. I've been into PC based audio so long that my first configuration was the analog 3.5mm output from my SoundBlaster 16 sound card into a Sony Mini-disc recorder. I had to play the .mp3's and record in real time to the MD (USB did not yet exist in consumer PC's). My first digital transfer was to mini-disc as well, Sony later provided an application to transfer to mini-discs digitally. Flash memory was still insanely expensive at the time.
ohsigmachi
232
Aug 16, 2018
What do you mean when you say "bluetooth DAC"?
GunsOfBrixton
906
Aug 16, 2018
Based on your recommendation in your other post, you're pretty much understanding what I mean - essentially a device that decodes a Bluetooth stream. What I'm trying to do by emphasizing the DAC, is highlight that I'm looking for an unamplified line-level output, rather than a speaker or headphone amplified output.
ohsigmachi
232
Aug 16, 2018
I would imagine that the practical difference between a small HP amp output and thr line level of a full on preamp (like my Schiit Freya) is rather small. I wouldn't sweat it. Set the HP out off of these devices at or below the 50% mark and enjoy.
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