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AMP and DAC for AKG K701

post #1 of 55
Thread Starter 

Hey guys, new here


I recently got a pair of AKG K701 from a headfier here. I have not received it yet but I have a few questions.


1. I will be using these with my computer mainly. My computer does not have a sound card. Do I need a DAC to drive these?


2. There are many DAC/AMP all in one units out there like the audio-gd sparrow, but are those good enough to drive the k701?


My budget for now is around $200. But I am willing to go higher if you guys really think spending those extra $$ will really make a big difference on the sound quality.


So give me recommendations of DAC, AMP or DAC/AMP around $200. Or if you think I really should spend more $$ to get the better DAC and AMP, I'm all ears.

post #2 of 55

With AKG K701, you are going to want to spend a LOT more than just $200. More like $2000  If you bought the K701 thinking they are just another headphone, you are very wrong  You are going to want to get something like the Burson HA-160 amplifier and a DAC like Matrix Mini-i.  

BTW, I don't understand what people mean by "My budget is XXX but I am willing to go higher if it will be worth it." You should be spending all the money that you have saved up, not budgeting  If you have money, spend it 

post #3 of 55
Thread Starter 

Well I hear there are diminish returns as you put more money into this stuff. I'm not willing to spend that much more money to get a slight improvement that I might not even hear, I'm quite new to this.

post #4 of 55

There are diminish returns with everything in life lol. With the K701, you are almost guaranteed to hear the differences between every equipment upgrade, as they are very detailed and revealing, which is the reason why you should buy a good DAC and AMP right away 

post #5 of 55
Thread Starter 

Unfortunately, I don't have $2000 to spend on AMP and DAC. Any recommendations at $200? or are you saying that the k701 will sound like crap with $200 dac/amp?

post #6 of 55

you can try music hall ph 25.5 or a hybrid hifiman man. 




here's my thread.  it's probably too expensive for you but it shows the importance of proper amping

post #7 of 55
Originally Posted by rinthe View Post

Unfortunately, I don't have $2000 to spend on AMP and DAC. Any recommendations at $200? or are you saying that the k701 will sound like crap with $200 dac/amp?

They will still sound good, but nothing like they can. You will be severely holding them back unfortunately. For $200, try Audio-GD. 

post #8 of 55

You can build a CKKIII and an alien DAC for less than $300. If you have a sturdy chassis, maybe you can salvage it?


There's always the FS forum.

post #9 of 55

Well for 205 bones your only choice is the "A" version Audio-gd Sparrow (if you require a half decent DAC and equally half decent amp) that will do a fairly good job of driving the K701's. That amp is able to provide quite a bit of juice/current (which the AKG's require) for a supposed entry level combo. It's better than the Compass (thanks to the addition of the  ACSS gain stages) by all accounts and gives a good slice of the performance that the FUN delivers SQ wise. That comparison means both sections of the Sparrow (Amp and DAC).


As for other combo's in the 200 dollar range you will either get a lousy amp with a mediocre/halfway decent DAC section or a decent amp with a lousy or mediocre (barely acceptable) DAC section.


Hlly Audio has Matrix Mini on sale for 308USD ( http://hllyaudio.com/dac/matrix-dac/matrix-mini-i-24192-balanced-dac-headphone-amp.html?zenid=temmj4qf1n6f4ps4o0dgknq1n1 ) which includes free shipping (to N America/West Europe) and is by all accounts pretty darn good as well. How the Sparrow and Mini compare is an unknown but if I had to guess I'd say they are likely very close to each other. It depends what sound signature you like (for example, warm and smooth, neutral detailed extended, bright/dark etc).


Maybe if you answered that question (sound sig preference) the advice on which way to go could be specifically tailored to your needs ? What do you like and what music do you listen to most of the time ?



Edited by Pricklely Peete - 7/10/10 at 9:25pm
post #10 of 55
Thread Starter 

I don't know how to do the DIY stuff.


I was just looking at the audio-gd sparrow, anyone has experience with sparrow/k701?


after doing some more reading... I might end up getting separate DAC and AMP. But I won't be able to get both at the same time. So I'll get either the DAC first or the AMP first, then when i have enough money, I'll get the other one. Which one do you guys think I should get first? my budget for each unit would be around $200-$300. note that I do want solid state, no tubes please.


from what I've been reading, for amps there are audio-gd c2, heed, canamp, matrix m-stage. any other recommendations under my budget? I do plan on buying used.


I'm not too sure about DAC. the Matrix Mini-i mentioned above is a DAC/AMP in one isn't it?

Edited by rinthe - 7/11/10 at 2:36am
post #11 of 55
Thread Starter 

shameless bump :)

post #12 of 55

I see you wanted to buy the Matrix m-stage from Sam-fi. Go for it! You can pick up a DAC later on.

post #13 of 55
Thread Starter 

I do, but he has the new version.. and all the reviews I've read are from the old version. do you guys know if the newer version is as good as the old one?


which DAC would you guys recommend?

post #14 of 55

I have the basic USB version of the Sparrow, the K702s, and the M-Stage. I agree with HeadFi Fanatic. If you want to go the other way around I would get a HUD-MX1 now and a M-Stage later.

Edited by dsissitka - 7/11/10 at 1:05pm
post #15 of 55

You really should get a good amp first.  The amp I would choose is a tube hybrid but since you don't want tubes, here is a well known solid state amp within your budget. http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/501597/fs-gilmore-lite-v1-250

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