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$300 budget for my AKG 702s need an AMP and DAC

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I just got a decent deal on some AKG 702s. I will be using them at work, running the music off a computer with only onboard sound. ATM the music is mostly MP3's but I am thinking about starting to replace my digital music library to a higher quality format, probably Flac.


I was wondering what would be the best bang for my buck to get the most out of my phones. From what I hear these headphones take more power then some and certain amps will mess up the clean sound they produce.


A sample of music I listen to


The Ramones

Paul Simon

Simple Minds

Soldat Louis

Hugh Masakela

Bob Marley

The Spoons

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

50's and 60's Doo Wop

The Beach Boys

Buddy Holly

Neil Diamond


As far as bass goes when I bought the headphones the guy selling them had a little pa2v2 amp and I am perfectly happy with the amount of bass. What I would mostly be shooting for is a overall richer and cleaner sound throughout the frequencies and the phones getting ample power so that I do not need to have the volume maxxed out.


So, my questions, is a DAC worth getting or is the extra money better spent on a better amp?


Can anyone suggest where best can I put $300 and get the most improvement? And is it possible to spend more like $100 or $150 and get 90% of the improvement that the $300 would net?

post #2 of 12
Thread Starter 

I should probably add, I don't need it to be tiny or have battery power. I will use it plugged into an outlet at all times. Less then 5 pounds and smaller then a shoebox works.

post #3 of 12

Im still kinda noob at this forum tongue.gif, but i just bought the E7 + E9 combination, and I am loving them smily_headphones1.gif. They fit within your budget too. VERY good bang for your buck.


As for power, the E9 delivers loads of it. Normally my E9's volume knob is just at the nine o'clock mark, any more and it's too loud for me :P.

Edited by Keepvogel - 6/10/11 at 9:54pm
post #4 of 12
Originally Posted by Keepvogel View Post

Im still kinda noob at this forum tongue.gif, but i just bought the E7 + E9 combination, and I am loving them smily_headphones1.gif. They fit within your budget too. VERY good bang for your buck.


You really can't go wrong with that combo.  Both are highly regarded in their class (and sometimes above it).  With all of the varying opinions around here, you'll never find anything that has 100% (or even 50%?) consensus.  But that combo is about as close as you will come.


post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

How much of a difference is one going to see from that combo compared to going for a Schiit Lyr and forgoing a DAC for the time being (while still switching over to FLAC)?


From what I have read on a few posts the K702 are a headphone that really match well with the tubed amps.


Would the sound difference from a tubed amp like the Lyr and e9 be quite distinct? Or are we talking really small differences in the step from the e9 to the Lyr?

post #6 of 12

I haven't compared many headphone amps / dacs in this price range, but I was in your shoes recently and did a bit of research - settling on the Audio-GD NFB12. It's an excellent integrated DAC + headphone amp featuring USB (perfect for you), coaxial and optical inputs plus headphone output and RCA DAC output (this allows me to use it as a preamp to feed into my speakers when I'm not headphone listening). It is higher spec'd than the E7 + E9 combo and all in a single unit.

I'm very happy with how good my K701's sound through it.

I'm sure you would get a much better sound right now getting an integrated DAC/amp unit like this, rather than just getting a $300 headphone amp.


If you are running a bad source its really not going to matter if you are running FLAC's or high quality mp3's. You'd be surprised how hard it is to tell the difference on good gear, but I'd only expect you to believe that once you've tested it yourself (easily do-able with foobar and the abx plug in). I thought I easily could differentiate but in double blind ABX testing I could very rarely tell the difference between 320 and FLAC with LCD-2 headphones and an Audio-GD NFB10ES (integrated DAC and headphone amplifier) both considered high end gear around here.


Here's the huge head-fi thread on this unit: http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/524263/audio-gd-nfb-12 you might want to search the thread for impressions, k701, k702 to see what others say about it.

Audio-GD product page: http://audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB12/NFB12EN.htm


It costs $237 from Pacific Valve (the US supplier).


Just something to keep in mind. Good luck!


Edited by Wulvy - 6/10/11 at 11:48pm
post #7 of 12

+1 for the NFB-12

post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 

I will take a look at that NFB-12, I like the fact the AMP and DAC are integrated instead of 2 seperate units and the price seems right in the ballpark I am after.


How does the USB thing work? You hook up the USB to a USB port and that is what the source comes through to the amp? Instead of attaching the amp to the headphone jack on an audio-in and having a place to plug the headphones into as an audio out? The USB is just the Audio-In instead?

post #9 of 12

Yes you plug it into the USB port on your laptop or whatever and change your sound settings to output to it (in Control Panel -> Sound on Windows for example).


Then you select the output on the NFB12 to either headphones (in which case it goes through the inbuilt headphone amp to the headphone jack) or DAC output (then the signal doesn't go through the inbuilt headphone amp, it just comes out the RCA output on the back).

post #10 of 12

If you have $300 to play with, I'd actually go for the NFB-11 over the NFB-12.  Unless, of course, you're using low-quality source material, or you prefer a warmer smoother sound.  The Sabre32 ES9018 chip in the NFB-11 is very highly-resolving, so if your source sucks, it's going to let you know.

post #11 of 12

The maverick D1 is also a nice low-cost option that plays nice with the K701/2 and has a ton of features like multiple inputs and outputs, just make sure you get the upgraded NOS tube if you go that way. The Lyr is the superior amp though, and you could get a decent dac later on.

Edited by grokit - 6/12/11 at 12:19pm
post #12 of 12

K701/2 are known for it's demand for source and amp that easily costs 5 times more than AKG-701 to do it justice. It's very analytical and lite on bass,If your amp it's not up for the job you might not even getting any bass.not sure if it's a good choice for beginner, sure it's has the good price, but the cost of getting it running is a lot. If you have a desktop you might consider ditch the K701 and get a Sennheiser 598/650 and use the rest of the money on a nice sound card. I never used E9 but I have a E7, and as a DAC the E7 won't make much difference. and the improvement as an amp is very limited out of E7. or NFB stuff looks very promising. g 

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