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DAC/Amp for AKG K702

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Just ordered myself a pair of AKG K702. I have had these for a short while in the past and know that I like them a fair bit, so I'd like to get the most out of them.

 

I'm looking for a DAC and solid state amp (not necessarily a combo) that will do this thing justice. As for budget? I'd rather keep it below $1000, seeing as how that's already quite a few steps above the K702 in terms of cost. Also, I may be interested in the HD800 in the future, so something that can perform well with them is a big plus.

 

The Burson HA-160 amp is looking very tempting. It's simple and does what I'd want it to do, and I hear a lot of users say it goes well with the K702. If there are other options I'm all ears.

 

As for the DAC, I could just get the HA-160 DAC/amp combo, but something tells me I'm better off keeping things discreet, especially since DACs are evolving fairly rapidly at this point. Are there any decent asynchronous USB DACs out there under $500? I could also go with something like the Xonar STX, but the DAC may not be up to par, and its analog out might be noisy since it's so close to the PC.

 

Any input is appreciated.

post #2 of 5

If you want to be able to play games as well as use it for music, get the Xonar ST PCI.  It's like the STX, but it has jitter control.  The DAC is a rather high-end burr brown and the entire card is EMI-shielded.  Plus, the op-amps are swappable 

 

As for an amp, the Matrix M-Stage has glorious synergy with the k702 and, as a bonus, pairs excellently with the HD800  That's $450 all in all.


Edited by PelPix - 12/8/11 at 7:26pm
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

I'm not worried about the gaming/movies aspect. I'm content with the Realtek 889 onboard with my Sennheiser PC360, to be honest.

 

This is purely for a music setup. Since I'd just be using it as a DAC and not an amp, I fear it might be wasted money.

 

That being said, it does have nice features, and if the DAC is worthwhile, then I'd be willing to get it. How would it do in comparison with something like the Dacmagic?


Edited by ex0du5 - 12/8/11 at 8:20pm
post #4 of 5

Don't be afraid of wasting money on the ST's amp.  I looked up the part price.  It's $1.75.

HIFI videogaming is just like HIFI music listening.  You're content until you hear something better and realize it's possible to play with your eyes closed just from the sound.  I do, sometimes!

 

The DAC chip in the DacMagic isn't as good as the Burr Brown in the Xonar if we're talking pure specs, but the DacMagic probably has better engineering (which is more important) and balanced outputs if you want to upgrade to a balanced rig later later.

 

On the flipside, the ST has support for gaming sound protocols so you don't have to switch back to your onboard to play games.  On top of that, it has really solid analog s/pdif out for upgrade to a desktop amp later.  It's also worth noting that the USB interface on the DACmagic isn't that good (So I hear.  I've never heard it myself, so don't take it to heart), so if you're going USB on the DACmagic, the ST may beat it even out of the box.  The ST also has swappable opamps, so you can go to town modifying the sound however you like.  I hear it can be quite something with replaced caps, too, but I've never done it.  

 

In case you're wondering, the STX sounds kind of jumbled and incoherent compared to the ST because its clock is awful.  Always check if a reviewer is basing their opinion on the STX.

 

In summary (In my opinion, anyway!  Always remember that nobody is right!):

Purely sound quality:

DacMagic USB<DacMagic S/PDIF(Less than, equal to, or much greater than depending on taste and modification)Xonar ST


Edited by PelPix - 12/9/11 at 3:08pm
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

Ended up going with a Schiit Bifrost and Burson HA-160. Tee hee.

 

Anyways, like I said, I'm not really interested in improving my sound quality with regards to gaming. I need to use my Sennheiser PC360 headphones due to their comfort and the quality of the mic. I'm on the PC often for 10+ hours a day and constantly talking to friends on Ventrilo, so utility usurps quality in this case. The PC 360 are not terribly great sounding, nor are they revealing.

 

To be honest, most sound recordings for games are so bad that good headphones just make things sound worse. I'm sure I'll enjoy toying around in Battlefield 3 with my new setup because it's a fantastic sounding game, but beyond that, I won't be bothering. The Realtek 889 produces no audible noises and treats audio with relative respect compared to other onboard setups, so I'm more than happy with it.


Edited by ex0du5 - 12/9/11 at 7:36pm
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