Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › K702 / K701 Amp / DAC Suggestions Budget: $300-$400 total
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

K702 / K701 Amp / DAC Suggestions Budget: $300-$400 total

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 

I wanted to start out by thanking all those here on the forums.  Its amazing how much information is on here - I've spent a VERY LONG TIME reading through it.  You guys are great and I just haven't been a part of the discussion so here goes...

 

First off a couple bullets to keep in mind for suggestons:
Budget: preference for between $300 - $400 for this purchase but want to be future proof hardware.
 
Upgrades: I have an interest in messing with rolling tubes and opamps, I think that would be fun and make it cheaper to try out different sounds without having to buy 100% different full products.
 
Future: I have a decent budget for years to come (no kids and low bills).  But I'd like to stay under $1000 for my final setup (source/dac/amp/headphone).  I'm looking to have a final setup and not a bunch of various sets that I switch between.  So I'm ok with buying something and then selling it to upgrade.  Which is why I started with the nuforce icon mobile wink.gif
 
Musical interest: Classical (old school / final fantasy sound tracks / movie soundtracks), prog rock (Dream Theater / Ayreon / Neal Morse), 90's rock (smashing pumpkins, sound garden), scottish folk, bluegrass, acoustic - pretty much everything except R&B + Rap...
 
Sound preference: I like bass but not drowning out everything, I like the idea of a wide sound stage (why I got K702's), I like the sound of tube amps for guitar - smoothness?  Not sure what channeling all the music (not just the guitar) through a tube amp would sound like yet.
 
Source: I am a programmer and sitting at my comptuer all day.  I've ripped my music lossless wma but I'm willing to switch to any software codec (flac etc) if need be.  I usually buy my cd's on ebay / half / amazon and then rip them myself since itunes / markets are always low bitrate and it lets me re-rip to my hearts content into whatever I need to.
 
Location: Charlotte NC USA.  I wish there was a meet somewhere close to home - someday maybe someone will have one in Raleigh for instance.
 
I'm ready to make my next purchase, I'm planning on upgrading the DAC (nuforce)  I'm willing to upgrade in the future again as well (maybe another $300 purchase?)
 
Tiny bit of background about me and my preferences:
I used to be a Bose lover - I have gone through 3 Bose Triport Cups (not the in ear variation) and I used to pair it with everything I owned from my Roland Concert V-Drum Set to my guitar amp and obviously my laptop listening to music.  I've liked the idea of tube amps for guitar (like the sound) and thought I might like tube amps for headphones as well (although I've never had an oppurtunity to listen first hand to anything)
 
My Deeper History (for those who love to really dive deep otherwise just skim):
When I was younger I enjoyed playing guitar, and I was lucky that my uncle had been playing for many many years prior.  He had so much hardware to play with.  I found that I loved the sound of the tube amps he had (mostly marshal).  solid state to me just didn't have that smooth sound that I enjoyed.  I've since stopped playing and have kind of ignored my old love of music but recently got back into it with a much more thorough musical interest (classical, prog rock, movie sound tracks etc).  
 
I bought a pair of AKG K702's after reading a ton of reviews on how much they open up after a ton of burn in and for me $250 for perfection is well worth it.  I also basically wanted to start out with something (amp/dac) cheap and versatile to introduce me into hi-end audio.  So I bought a nuForce Icon Mobile ($79 ebay) - specifically because it had a built in amp/dac/ and even a battery not to mention aux inputs!  My laptops had the crappiest sound card (lots of hissing) and I needed a cheap Dac to start me off and it had the ability to be portable (home to work or just outside).  So after a couple months I just didn't feel that the bass was apparent in the music proper so I decided to stay the route of portable but get something that had some bass to go along.  So I picked up a cMoyBB (about $60 ebay) that had a bass boost switch.  So now I'm still in the same boat where stuff just doesn't sound like its where it should be - I need more immersion!!
 
Here are my selections sorted by my preference from reading peoples reviews and recommendations on here but I'm torn:
 
$169 - HiFiMAN EF2 + DAC
PURCHASED
Read that it will not power the K702's proper but headphoneaddict gave it great reviews for a lot of other cans and he seems to be a good reviewer - said he'd recommend it if it was in the 300-$400 range (wow).  Thought it could also replace the nuforce that I could resell and move up a bit in the process.  I like the idea that it is a tube amp and has a built in Dac and obviously like the price.  Maybe use it as a preamp for say the Matrix and get the best of both worlds (can it work this way using the ef2 tube/dac as a preamp to the matrix m-stage that is powerful enough to power my K701's?)  It would cost me about $369 total if I did this though (I did do it - trying it out anyway).
 
$200 used - Matrix m-stage:
PURCHASED
Read that it is an affordable great copy of the German Lehmann Black Cube Linear and that it pairs very well with the K701/K702's.  I'm not sure if it meets my "I like bass and smoothness of tubes" preference though.
 
[Edited]:
I think all three of these have the same insides:
$225 - Grant Fidelity Tube DAC-09 (lots of options)
$234 - Maverick/Xheng Sheng (possibly Maverick A1 Tube Hybrid Power Amp?):
$158 - Xiang Pheng Dac-01A (seems to be the same exact internals (except I haven't found the power section image yet):
PURCHASED
Also recommended by Boom3555 - I like the idea of multiple options such as with this one.  The insides look interesting but I don't really know whats going on under the hood so to speak.  I'm also very confused of the various uses.  Like I would like to use it as a dac/tube and amp but seems to say you pick one or the other (not very helpful).  It does say on ebay for the Xiang Pheng that you can pre-amp with tube so I imagine you can Dac to tube preamp, then pop say the Matrix between the headphones.  (total $420)  However I'm not sure how grand this thing is - also I'm confused that boom3555 recommended this as an alternative to the EF2 (hybrid tube) since the tube portion of the dac-01 is only a preamp (I'm assuming the opamp isn't in the same path?) I wish I understood more...
 
$51 - MUSE mini Tube Amp:
PURCHASED
MODDED Similar Bravo:
Read a review on the Bravo unit and for $50 I figured I could use this as my first tube amp soldering project upgrading components without much worry for destroying something expensive.  Everything about it is just begging to be upgraded - including the casing or lack thereof.
 
 
$250 - Schiit asgard ss
 
$350 - Schiit valhalla tube:
GOING TO BUY
Have not read reviews for this one but liked the idea of tube and read that the asgard is nice but have not read anything specific to the K702 combo.  I also like it cosmetically (not that important) and like that it is made in the USA.
 
$250 - HiFiMan EF5 tube / no dac
Someone has it listed for $250 on the forums and it looks like a good combo (seperate power / tube etc)  But I have not read to much about K702/K701 with it.
 
$160 - Qinpu A3
HeadphoneAddict recommended here:
Budget friendly recommended here: 
Quote from stang: Get the Little Dot MKIII, or the Qinpu A-3. You already have a DAC, so no point bying the EF2 really, as it has a built in DAC as well as a hp amp. The Qinpu A-3 is preferred over the LD MKIII by headphone addict and a few more, forgot their names though. It's $169 right now and the tubes can be upgraded easily and they are cheap
 
$150 Zero Dac
Recommended by boomy3555 specifically for the K702 and against the EF2:
Quote: I tried out the 702's with the EF1 and EF 2 and although the EF1 is more pwoerful that it's little brother, I found them both lacking the power the 702's were crying for. The AKG's are a sort of a pickle. Although they are not a high impedence can they really need to be amped. There are two amps in this range that seem to have enough power for the AKG's. The Maverick/Xheng Sheng,Grant Fidelity which has a tube pre-amp section. ( Headphone out is Solid state only) and the Zero DacAmp which is all solid state although my Zero with the "earth" HDAM comes pretty close to the EF2's "Flavour". They can be upgraded in many ways and configured differently including OPamps and HDAM's. I have not had experiences with the Little Dots or Darkvoices so someone else would have to chime in with opinions of those as a tube aternative.
 
After reading about the Zero Dac - it has a bunch of options going on with this unit dac/toslink, amp.  He mentioned a 'earth' hdam coming close to EF2's flavor (making me think its smooth tubey.  I don't know what 'earth' hdam is but I like that idea.  I'm assuming it could go into anything that you can roll the hdam's though so that would be something I'd be interested in knowing which it is.  Also I like the idea of having the option of a toslink source but not sure 100% what that can do for me (believe its optical binary data at that point but so is DAC right?  I haven't researched this enough to understand the what the use is.  
 
$250 Darkvoices 336SE:
Someone mentioned that they liked these paired with the K702 / K701 in another thread where they listened to them at a meet - I can't seem to find the thread though.
 
$240 - Little Dot MKIII
Since Headphoneaddict apparently prefers the Qinpu A-3 over the MK III I figured why bother paying the extra $100. for it but including it in the list anyway.
Quote from stang: Get the Little Dot MKIII, or the Qinpu A-3. You already have a DAC, so no point bying the EF2 really, as it has a built in DAC as well as a hp amp. The Qinpu A-3 is preferred over the LD MKIII by headphone addict and a few more, forgot their names though. 
 
$400 - Woo Audio 3:
Recommended on here at various threads for the K70X 's.  Its a wee bit over my price range for being only an amp.  Would prefer DAC included.  But it does have 3 tubes rather than 2 or four like most of the cheaper modeled units that are low budget.
 
$60 Bravo Hybrid Tube Amp:
I can't find this for cheap ($60) anymore so I went with a lower quality one up top (MUSE)
Could I use this as a cheap tube preamp for the matrix m-stage? (Total $320)  Or am I crazy?
 
$150-350 - Audio GD Sparrow / Fun:
I really like the idea of the modular components.  Also built in DAC, I like the idea of their discrete opamps such as the tube sounding opa-moon (starting a new thread about this)
 
 
$350 - Audio-GD C-2:
Per suggestion in this thread from volume who mentioned he uses it with K701's:

 

 

$??? - Heed CanAmp:

Can't believe I forgot this guy.

 

Quote by Volume:

I use it in my setup with K701,very nice and neutral with ample power, therefore doesn't emphasise any single department.There is enough bass for anyone's liking,future upgradable with the audio-gd line of DACs benefit to use their ACSS connection.

 

The internal opamps can be rolled, could also upgrade to their discrete opamps Earth,Moon or the Sun.Much to play with.

 

 
 
Whoa that was a long post but I need to stop researching and start buying something so my OCD can reside...
 
Thanks all!!
 
Edit: forgot to include Darkvoices

Edited by timwillhack - 10/4/10 at 6:28pm
post #2 of 51

Subscribed!  Nice show of doing your homework.  

 

I'm interested in the Schiit vs. MKIII vs. m-stage shakedown.

 

Reply
post #3 of 51
Thread Starter 

I'm pretty close to buying a couple to try them out and find one I really like, HiFiMan EF2 and the Matrix m-stage specifically to have a little comparison.  Then selling all but the one I like.

 

I'm thinking:

 

$189 - hifiman ef2

$260 - matrix m-stage

$250 - darkvoices 336SE

$150 - zero dac

$90 -  Bravo Hybrid Tube Amp

 

maybe mix the zero and bravo or zero + bravo and matrix.  But I'm not sure if that is ok to do?

 

I really hope I can just get away with liking the ef2 though because I like what I've read about it.

 

I'm so torn!!  I'm also very interested in the matrix m-stage with a 'earth' opamp (something to make it warmer perhaps).


Edited by timwillhack - 10/2/10 at 4:05pm
post #4 of 51

iTunes Bad

EAC (Exact Aduio Copy) ripper Good and use LAME encoder, lots of tutorials on web for both

Use something like Foobar for PC player for FLACs

 

Lots of good deals on MPs on the For Sale Forum just seen a nice X-Cam? for sale yesterday..

 

Also I own a pair of K-702s and they needed to have the highs EQed down in Foobar before I was in love on my Darkvoice 337 really nice $400-$500 amp used with three sets of tubes but SS (Solid State) is what K-702s would work best with for Tubes ou really want a hign ohm set of headphones I am now saving up for some Byer DT990 or DT880 600ohm cans for the DV337   EQed down the I like them better than my H600s on the DV now..

post #5 of 51

I would recommend including the audio-gd C-2 to your list.

 

I use it in my setup with K701,very nice and neutral with ample power, therefore doesn't emphasise any single department.There is enough bass for anyone's liking,future upgradable with the audio-gd line of DACs benefit to use their ACSS connection.

 

The internal opamps can be rolled, could also upgrade to their discrete opamps Earth,Moon or the Sun.Much to play with.

post #6 of 51

Check out the review in SoundStage!Xperience of the Schiit Asgard. http://www.soundstagex.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=38&Itemid=2 

 

I thought the Schiit Valhalla is a better match for K701s; it has more extended highs, excellent lows, and beautiful midrange tonality. A set of replacement tubes is only $40.

 

Vade Forrester

post #7 of 51
Thread Starter 

I was afraid someone would recommend the Valhalla - I really like the idea of it - style - tube, usa - good review of the asgard, but it doesn't have a dac and its $350, thats cutting it real close to a dac-01 (dac + tube preamp) with the matrix ($418 together).  Thanks for the recommendation - maybe someone has it a bit cheaper on the forums up for sale...

post #8 of 51

I recommend M^3 with STEPS or σ11 PSU (the latter is better). You can roll different opamps with it, but see AMB's website before you do so you know what opamps to use. It also has bass boost you can play around with for different music. You can also roll different bass boost caps to adjust the bass frequency (see bass boost calculator on AMB's website). You can either buy it used on the FS forum, commission a build, or build one yourself if you have experience.

post #9 of 51

There is a review on the front page of the amplifier (full size) section for the glow audio one. He pretty much cannot praise the glow one enough with the 701 and it sounds like a great combo. Check it out. I think there's also a Glow Audio One for sale in the for sale section right now if you're quick! I personally have no experience with the 701/2 so I cannot give my opinion.

post #10 of 51
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys, I just saw the Glow One, not sure where the review is but the review I found offsite was very advert-ish.  I like its looks, has built in DAC, big tube boy and the asking price on the forum is very decent (it is the 1st gen though)  With shipping it may end up slightly over budget though...  Also at the price point I'm probably more interested in the Valhalla (350 retail).  Maybe someone will have one on here for $300 and I can make a move!

 

As for the M3, I like the idea (I have a cmoy) but I think this time around I want a production unit that isn't a DIY.   I'm not sure on price for a pre-built M3 maybe from someone here on the forums but if it is good and can handle the K702's let me know and I'll add it to the list.

post #11 of 51

If you want Audio-GD try a Fun or a Sparrow as well as the C2, comes with a built-in DAC, you can swap opamps for fun, and so on. I've only heard the Compass, that was so-so, but I hear the Fun and Sparrow are better.

post #12 of 51
Thread Starter 

Hmmm, they look nice, will have to research them tomorrow (its almost 4 am !)

 

I think my lean so far tonight is to buy a Xiang Shang DAC-01 ($158 shipped), try out just the ss amp, then try the dac->tube preamp->cmoybb... If I don't like either configuration I'll probably end up buying a Matrix M-stage, although the asgard is on the forums FS for $190 - which is also tempting.  The fact that the m-stage is a very good copy of that other amp really got me interested in it - and people seem to be recommending it as the value amp for the K702's on here.  But then again, I'm not sold on anything yet just thinking through the options.

 

One thing about the Schiit's is they are apparently pretty new products - the Valhalla thread for unboxing was less than 2 months ago.  I would be more likely to for now go with a product that has withstood the test of time.  Although I'm sure they have a warranty.  They do run hot though...

 

Keep the suggestions coming - I'm not buying anything until at least tomorrow - and I'm supposed to be shopping for my wedding dang it

post #13 of 51
Thread Starter 

Hey Guys,

 

Since I'm new to high-end audio and I've never been to a meet, I'm going to go a bit crazy here and spend some cash on a bunch of lower costing units.  

 

I just bought the Xiang Sheng Dac-01 on ebay for $158 shipped.  

 

I also bought a HiFiMan EF2 for $169 shipped from amazon despite everything I've read that its not powerful enough for the K702's - I know stupid me - headphoneaddicts review really pulled me in and I'm not 100% sure the K702's are going to be my favorite sounding headphone.  I suspect that when I hear them properly powered I will really love them.

 

I'm trying to procure a Matrix M-stage for about $200 (any takers?)

 

I'm going to wait for a Valhalla to be on here for around $300 shipped.

 

I might as well buy a bunch of stuff and just have them all on hand to find the perfect combination for me.  It will be more fun that way too.  Then I'll just resell the ones that don't fit my style.  I suppose I should pickup an HD555 and some other cans as well.  I'm very curious about the grados but boy are they expensive for any woods.  I'm also curious about the Beyer Dynamics DT880, and the Denon AHD2000.  Any suggetions for a closed ear design?  My music taste does not match my soon to be wifes. (pity)  I always end up with a poke on the shoulder and a 'Can you turn that down?'  I suppose these are questions for another thread.

 

I'd like to buy a MKIII and possibly a glow audio one - but I don't like the idea of the glowing button and it is relatively new no?  I do like the idea of the Point to point design and it looks pretty gutsy.  Also seems to pair with the K702's well (at least per the advert-ish review).

 

Crap looks like I'll be out some cash for a while....

 

Keep the recommendations coming!

 

[Edit]:

Wow just really looked at the Fun and Sparrow - I really like how module they are.  Look to be very future proof as well.  Seem to have good power output too.  Are they only available from the manufacturer direct?


Edited by timwillhack - 10/3/10 at 11:16am
post #14 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by timwillhack View Post

Hey Guys,

 

Since I'm new to high-end audio and I've never been to a meet, I'm going to go a bit crazy here and spend some cash on a bunch of lower costing units.  

 

I just bought the Xiang Sheng Dac-01 on ebay for $158 shipped.  

 

I also bought a HiFiMan EF2 for $169 shipped from amazon despite everything I've read that its not powerful enough for the K702's - I know stupid me - headphoneaddicts review really pulled me in and I'm not 100% sure the K702's are going to be my favorite sounding headphone.  I suspect that when I hear them properly powered I will really love them.

 

I'm trying to procure a Matrix M-stage for about $200 (any takers?)

 

I'm going to wait for a Valhalla to be on here for around $300 shipped.

 

I might as well buy a bunch of stuff and just have them all on hand to find the perfect combination for me.  It will be more fun that way too.  Then I'll just resell the ones that don't fit my style.  I suppose I should pickup an HD555 and some other cans as well.  I'm very curious about the grados but boy are they expensive for any woods.  I'm also curious about the Beyer Dynamics DT880, and the Denon AHD2000.  Any suggetions for a closed ear design?  My music taste does not match my soon to be wifes. (pity)  I always end up with a poke on the shoulder and a 'Can you turn that down?'  I suppose these are questions for another thread.

 

I'd like to buy a MKIII and possibly a glow audio one - but I don't like the idea of the glowing button and it is relatively new no?  I do like the idea of the Point to point design and it looks pretty gutsy.  Also seems to pair with the K702's well (at least per the advert-ish review).

 

Crap looks like I'll be out some cash for a while....

 

Keep the recommendations coming!

 

[Edit]:

Wow just really looked at the Fun and Sparrow - I really like how module they are.  Look to be very future proof as well.  Seem to have good power output too.  Are they only available from the manufacturer direct?


if you decide to get stuff like the 555s, they won't benefit much from amps; if you do however go for the 702s, I can't stress how good the M-Stage is for it as a pair. That said, I am considering letting them go if I ever decide to plunge into full custom IEMs or HD650 to match with my HDP. the 702s are however, a very fussy pair of headphones and can be quite difficult to match. Unless you are certain you want the 702s, then go for whatever you want; but if you decide you want the 702s, you will likely have to plan an amp around the 702. I still think the HD650s don't pair well with the M-Stage IMHO, though the HD800s are great with it.

 

A couple of other things you could throw into the mix, Matrix Mini-i (dac/amp), Matrix Cube DAC (dac/amp), Yulong D100 (dac/amp), NuForce HDP (dac/amp); the Matrix does tend to fall into your price range however smily_headphones1.gif Alright, not being very coherent at this time of the night, I'm going to try and force myself to get some sleep. Hopefully the options help a little.

post #15 of 51
Thread Starter 

cravenz, thanks for the suggestions - I already have the 702's for about 4 months now - previous headphones were Bose Triport's which I enjoyed the bass on.  End result, I'll probably learn a lesson buying a couple various combo items like the ef2's.  I'll probably be better off getting dedicated units like a dac then say the matrix m-stage.  Part of the reason I got the Xiang Sheng Dac-01is because it has a lot of output power and will most likely end result be better than my current setup (which I should get pretty close to what I paid for the Xiang Sheng Dac-01 when I resell the nuforce and cmoybb).  

 

I'm very curious how the K702's will sound when properly powered.  The 555's from what I read are the same as the 595's or at least the driver is the same - the 555's have some foam between the driver and the plastic housing.  So I figured for about $88 I could try out the 595's, maybe have a pair of cans for home, and for work.  Thought they would be less picky as well - would be fun to have a couple cans next to each other to compare first hand.  However I do not like the idea of used headphones - used amps and so forth are fine and dandy and why I'm ok with the reselling aspect but reselling used headphones I'm guessing would lose significant value.

 

 

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphone Amps (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › K702 / K701 Amp / DAC Suggestions Budget: $300-$400 total