Apogee Mini DAC: Connection questions

I have recently purchased an Apogee Mini DAC. It sounds incredible. I bought the non-USB version and am connecting it to my computer via a U24 Waveterminal card. I have a couple of questions:

1. Would I get a better sound if I purchased the USB card unit for the Mini-DAC? Or is the sound better going from a quality external card like the U24.

2. I am currently using a glass toslink to connect the mini dac to my waveterminal. I have heard people say coax is better, but others have said toslink is better when computers are involved. Any insights?


hi dshea,
for some reason my mini dac sounds better with usb and optical (typical portable cd player) than spdif (dell laptop out, foobar resample to 48000Hz, vh audio pulsar with wbt nextgen copper). spdif gives a less focused sound. not night and day, but noticeable. usb and optical sound the same (identical song used).
Hi Tiberian,
I was hoping you were looking at these boards because you inspired me to get this amazing unit. Thanks for the tips on sound. Let me throw out a couple of other questions for you or anybody else.

I notice the sound out of the line out and heaphone jack are a bit different. The headphone jack has a little more highs and "reverberation" feel, where as the line out seems to be a little smoother and tighter. Do you notice any difference? I think I prefer the line out sound. My Zu mobius is getting refitted for balanced output so that will be my setup.

Also, I notice the sound is a little better with batteries than the cord, although there is nothing wrong with the cord sound at all. Does anybody use a specific power cord/conditioner, or are batteries the best for sound?

I love this unit. It is really amazing.


i just did a quick test with my headphones, i think the line out had a less next-to-your-ears feel plus a slightly clearer sound across the board than the headphones out (can be inaccurate, take it with a grain of salt). the line out can drive the sennheisers to louder-than-normal volume level as well.

i am using an aftermarket elpac medical power supply plus a running springs haley power conditioner with my mini dac (power cords are DIY vh audio flavor 4 with wattgate/furutech gold plugs). the elpac power supply gives a more holographic sound with better transparency than the stock.

i can be usually found around a'gon and a'asylum these days. never miss headfi, its fascist administration and site sponsored shilling one bit.

Hey Hugo,

Do you think it would be worth the upgrade to add the USB card connection. If there wouldn't be any major upgrade in sound quality, $195 may be a bit much to eliminate my Waveterminal U24 from the chain. It is connected to the DAC with a glass toslink.

Are you using an amp with your unit? or are you still using a balanced Zu connected directly to the XLR jacks?

I continue to be intrigued by the different sounds coming from the headphone out and line out. Some things sound a little better to me with the more "wet" sounding trebles from the headphone out, but most things seem to sound a bit better from the fuller and more detailed bass and mids from the line out. It is like having two different setups, both sound excellent.

When I get my Zu back I suspect that is what I will settle on.

i am using a dynahi with my mini-dac, a properly built dynahi sounds way better than driving the 650s with the balanced out.

skip the usb option if you don't really need to use it with your computer.
Great about USB. Maybe I will save some money for a Dynahi or a tube amp.

Sorry one more question. Did you ever mess with the inner unit adjustments for the XLR output, or did you use the factory default?

Try a 12V lead acid battery on the Mini-DAC. I put one on mine and the difference is HUGE versus the stock wall wart.
Bought two last week. You are right, the difference is significant! Thanks for the advice, I remembered reading your earlier posts.

I am getting one of these too. Is there anyone who makes an audiophile grade USB cord? I have seen that Belkin offers a gold plated USB....am I being silly?
Yes, you're being silly, but the difference in price is trivial, so go for it.
Hey guys, I have been really loving my Mini DAC driving balanced HD650s from the XLR outputs. I keep thinking I need an amp, not because I am missing anything in the sound (it sounds incredible for classical music which is what I listen to), but because I guess I have upgraditus.

Any recommendations? What are all of you using? What price point am I looking to notice any improvement?

Onhwy61: HA! That made me laugh....of course i'm being silly....but at $30, the gold plated Belkin USB would be the least I ever spend on an interconnect. Thanks for the laugh.
Crown Studio Reference II
Apmaher: what is a Crown Studio Ref II......i'll Google it.
Studio Amp.


USB is ok, but I suggest purchasing a studio grade card for the pc. PC cards have different digital output settings for consumer and pro grade equipment. In one of my applications I use the Digital Audio Labs CardDeluxe with the Mini-Dac. The rca connection on the card is very good, but the balanced option is much better (excellent option if you have a tight budget). This type of set up is the right way to go if you add DSP sampling to output 24/96/192KHz. If you do not plan to upsample, then I highly recommend using the USB option. I have not found any sonic difference from using the USB port on the rear of my pc vs a soundcard usb option. What you might want to consider is using a firewire output off the pc and reclocking with something like the Apogee Big Ben. This option has worked very well for me in my home studio.