Audiophile Products Fubar III - Black USB DAC / Headphone Amplifier
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- Volume control internal switch for Series or Shunt (adjust to suit your taste)
- Headphone Amp OpAmp is changeable! You can tune the tone to suit your taste
- 100 - 240Vac 50/60 Hz external power supply included
- External gain switch make it easy to match low or high impedance headphones
- Short circuit and thermal protection
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The Fubar III USB DAC / Headphone Amp lets you connect your computer to your Amplifier and stream your entire music library with remarkable fidelity! Enjoying “High End” sound from your computer has never been easier! With the Fubar III you simply plug and play without having to install additional software or drivers. The Fubar III takes the digital signal from your computer and coverts it to a high quality analog output that connects to any amp or preamp or use the built in headphone amp and listen with your favorite headphones. The full size USB connection is fully compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux.
Top customer reviews
I currently use a pair of Sennheiser HD 595's and got this Fubar III DAC/Headphone amplifier. I also got the dedicated power supply unit since the combined price of the two is great for an audiophile, entry level solution.
I've been using the Fubar III for several weeks now and I'm pleased to say that the sound is far better than what I was getting from my 20" iMac's bundled sound card. The Fubar III's sound is much cleaner, clearer and with a better dynamic range. I say 'much' because it's so easily appreciated. I haven't used the Fubar III without the power supply, but I'm sure that without the power supply it will still easily outperform a computers soundcard DAC and headphone output. The power supply is supposed to provide better support for sound at the extreme ends of the sound dynamics making for an even fuller and punchier sound quality.
As to setting it up, it was dead easy. I simply plugged in the power supply unit which comes with a short connector for the Fubar III. I stacked them together to make a neat and tight combo, taking up pleasingly little desktop real estate. I then connected the Fubar III via USB to the iMac and that's it. No drivers to install and it's supposed to be similarly easy for Windows XP/Vista driven machines.
The Fubar III is sturdily and cutely built. It sports a aluminium casing and a large, smooth volume control knob. It's weakness, though depending on one's perspective, this could be considered a strength, is it's focused design with not too many options for use. For one, the only input is via USB, so you can only use it on a computer that will provide a digital feed via USB. For instance, you can't connect your iPod to it to take advantage of the headphone amp.
Additionally, it has only one RCA line out that could be used for desktop self powered speakers or a stereo system. But then again, for my intended purpose, it provided just what I needed and nothing more and this likely has a lot to do with its reasonable price tag when considering the quality DAC and headphone amplification you get from it.
Now that I've discovered the potential in an external DAC and headphone amp, I'll be soon upgrading, but just to give an idea, a decent upgrade to the Fubar III will easily exceed US$1500. For this reason, I heartily give this unit a solid 5 stars. I highly recommend it for those looking at significantly boosting the quality of their computer's sound at reasonable cost. I also highly recommend the separate power supply unit for it Audiophile Products Supplier Power Supply Unit. May as well go the full distance and get the most out of it.
When I opened the box, I loved everything about it:
- Beautiful design, catchy name (yes, I do like the name, it is very cool!).
- Pretty LED light.
- Nice, big volume control knob.
I plugged it in, and was completely blown away by the sound. It does sound great and plenty loud with Beyerdynamics DT 770 headphones (250 Ohm impedance). It sounds even better with my NAD integrated amp. The unit's DAC sounds as good as anything I had experienced (NAD CD player, DENON 24-bit DAC).
So what's not to like about it? Few things, actually.
- The power switch is located in the back and surrounded by (1) power cable, (2) two output cables, (3) USB cable. I do not have fat fingers, yet I find it impossible to get to without picking the unit up, and then yet the switch is not that easy to operate. It is so ill-positioned, that this alone would probably make me return it.
- I assume one should be able to plug the headphones in/out of the unit without first switching it off. Well, when you try this with Fubar 3, there is a HUGE spike in the headphones output when you plug in the jack. It's huge, I tell you, it's like something screeching and popping and tearing and breaking, very, very loud. It is actually painful to the ears. But the problem does not end there. It seems the spike produced by inserting the headphones affects the state of the unit's DAC chip, so that it either (1) has a lot of white noise in the output, or (2) nothing but white noise in the output. Power cycling the unit returns it to normal operation, but should it really behave this way? I tried it several times, and this problem is perfectly reproducible.
- The nice and big volume knob is not that nice after all: it is made of metal, and apparently it is not grounded. So when I touch it (and it is supposed to be touched all the time, of course), this produces distinct hum both in the headphone output and in the line output. The louder the volume, the louder the hum. This is especially noticeable when there is no music streaming, very annoying.
- When Fubar 3 is switched off, there is a loud pop going through the output. Not a hugely loud bang, but plenty unpleasant. I don't have much exposure to low-end audio devices, but those I do have experience with, power off gracefully.
To summarize, I was expecting Fubar 3 to be a cleverly designed, simplistic, budget hi-fi component. Alas, upon test drive, the impression is different: they did get the DAC right (which is what, one chip?), but the rest of the circuitry is just slapped together with no regard for end user. What ever happened to their testing process, didn't anyone notice the unit goes haywire upon insertion of a headphone jack?
Personally, I find any one of the above issues unacceptable. What's really disturbing though, is that reviewers at 6moons did not point out any single one of these problems!
No Fubar for me!
I compare the sound between the laptop output vs. from this Fubar with the same headphone. Must I buy new Opamp and power supply to hear better sound? If this is the case, why don't they just make this thing with those components to begin with?