I was in the market for an USB DAC to use with my computer and headphones. Initially, I thought that I would use my existing headphone amp, but if the USB DAC had a quality headphone amp, then all the better.
I did my usual research, but then I contacted Ethan Winer to ask if he had any suggestions. He recommended M-Audio products. I thought that those were geared for recordings. He said they are, but they're very good for playback as well.
I looked into it and I decided to get the M-Audio Fast track pro (I wanted a 24/96 capable DAC). I figured that if I didn't like it, I would return it. I picked one up for $200. I hooked it up to my computer. The installation went very smoothly. No problems at all. I didn't expect much when I turned it on...
I played my Pink Floyd reference track - Shine on you crazy diamond. My jaw hit the floor. This couldn't be a $200 piece of gear. The clarity and resolution not just rivaled, but surpassed my main rig (Rega 2000 CD player and Cary SLP-88 preamp which I use a headphone amp). I did not expect this level of performance from a $200 piece of pro-audio gear. I played Sinead O'Connor's various tracks and the result was the same. The best result came when I put on the Buena Vista Social Club. It was recorded on a budget, so when you hear it on a really good headphone rig, you can hear the room. You can almost sense the dimensions of the room. This is something that always bothered me about my home rig. As good and as musical as it is, it lacked a certain sense of air. This thing reproduced it perfectly. I've been sitting here with a shit eating grin on my face listening to my music.
I haven't heard anything that touches this thing for anywhere even close to this price. Jayzuzzz!!!
Thanks Ethan. I'll have to be your bitch now.