I'm looking for recommendations for DACs that sound neutral and would synergize well with the K702s.
Neutral and detailed DAC <$1500 to go with my K702's?
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Hi, I just wanted to ask if you had considered upgrading your headphones before you spend such a large amount of money on a dac, as you will see a much larger improvement in sound quality with a new pair of headphones and a cheaper dac.
Edited by jackmccabe - 3/10/11 at 11:24am
I haven't heard any of the other suggestions, but I have heard Audio-GD NFB7 and was very very impressed. Features the Sabre ES9018 chip, very detailed and neutral. Edit - by the way this was with a balanced K701's (amongst other headphones) and an Audio-GD Phoenix amplifier.
Edited by Wulvy - 3/12/11 at 7:53pm
I disagree, have you heard music on a good source?
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I have heard several good sources , yet I think the k702's would bottleneck the dac.
I believe you will see a much larger difference upgrading headphones over upgrading a dac and a $700 dac will be fairly close to a $1500 dac and a $200 pair of headphones won't compare very well to a pair of $700 headphones.
The improved source would definitely be noticeable on the K70x's but a higher end headphone would be money better spent. Unless the K701's have the ultimate sound signature for PinkFlag. I would hope PinkFlag is running his K702's balanced and with a decent amp.
Edited by Wulvy - 3/12/11 at 4:17pm
˄ I used to think along those same lines and it's common among those with cheap and/or integrated DAC amps to succumb to the idea that source doesn't make much of a difference. The difference between a good DAC (like the one PinkFlagis searching for) and something integrated into an amp is like trying to decide if you like a particular headphone in mono. The music opens up, instruments start to sound more like instruments; vibrations and thuds are turned into kick drums and bass guitars. I would much prefer to have a good source AND THEN decide what headphone I want to listen to this source with, not the other way around.
I see what you saying . Your method of ascending in audio gear is different. I'm definitely not trying to say or imply your wrong, it just not what I'd personally recommend to others. I'd say the headphones are of highest priority because detail is secondary to sound signature to me.
I just think pairing $200 headphones with a DAC up to 7.5 times the price is out of scale - the headphones are a bottleneck as jackmmcabe put it. To put it into an alternate and iPod-based perspective, we could say you don't see people with high end DAC's being satisfied with iPod earbuds. I think if the OP has only $1500 to spend, he could sell the K70x and spend roughly a third on amplifier, DAC and headphones and have a better solution. Likely in the long run when he has more $ he would likely want to upgrade his DAC and other components.
Where did your reference to integrated DAC/Amps come from? If it was aimed at my setup, are you trying to diss the NFB10ES because its integrated? Or are you saying I probably don't think the source is important because I have an integrated unit? I've compared it against a NFB7 and Reference 7 + Phoenix combo (reference Audio-GD gear if you're unfamiliar with their products), with LCD-2s, HD800s and K70x (all balanced) and it held its own pretty well. For me (and everyone who has written impressions in the NFB10 thread) it is excellent value. A big reason I went with NFB10ES is because the ES chip is acclaimed for its ability to resolve detail, which is a reputation I've found to be true.
Graphicism, I completely agree with you about dac's making a large difference yet all I was saying is that to get the best out of such a good dac you are going to need an equally good pair of headphones.
So I personally think that a $1500 dac matched with a $200pair of headphones will be a waste of the dac, also I think that headphones do make a larger difference.
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Doing backwards, I think.
The phones are the sound. Second is the source, then the amp, but the difference they make is small compared to the difference headphones make.