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Newb Q: Headphone amp or DAC?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone.  This is my first post.  And I am mostly new to this hifi audio world. So be gentle, please.

 

I have $200-300 to spend on new audioequipment. Looking to upgrade my computer->headphone set up. 

 

Here's my set up so far: Macbook Pro, playing music with Amarra, out of the audio out to Grado 325is.

 

I listen to all kinds of music. 

 

 

The main question is: Should I get an amp or a DAC?  Which would improve the sound more?  And, if one or the other, which would be best with my set up, given my budget?  

 
By the way, if this is in the wrong forum, please notify me and I'll try to move it to a more appropriate one.
 
Thanks.  
post #2 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hmmm.  Is there anyone in here?

 

post #3 of 9

Both are equally important to achieve good music. I'll try to get an all in one unit (i.e. DAC + Amp) with your budget (I think for $300 you should only look at Audio-Gd gear [NFB12 or NFB5] which are fantastic for the price). Otherwise, I'll recommend waiting till you have more budget to get a proper DAC and amp set up.


Edited by DarknightDK - 12/14/11 at 3:43pm
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

Can you say anything about the differences between the NFB12 and the NFB5.  I would try researching more kyself, but I do not find the Audio-dg website very helpful and The posts on these are voluminous.  

post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by sightsome View Post

Can you say anything about the differences between the NFB12 and the NFB5.  I would try researching more kyself, but I do not find the Audio-dg website very helpful and The posts on these are voluminous.  



I can't comment on the sound of these 2 units as I only own the NFB10SE. However, the NFB5 seems to be the better unit, with a stronger power supply and better parts used overall. So I think it will outperform the NFB12. The NFB12 is a decent combo if you are on a really tight budget.

post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by sightsome View Post

Hi everyone.  This is my first post.  And I am mostly new to this hifi audio world. So be gentle, please.

 

I have $200-300 to spend on new audioequipment. Looking to upgrade my computer->headphone set up. 

 

Here's my set up so far: Macbook Pro, playing music with Amarra, out of the audio out to Grado 325is.

 

I listen to all kinds of music. 

 

 

The main question is: Should I get an amp or a DAC?  Which would improve the sound more?  And, if one or the other, which would be best with my set up, given my budget?  

 
By the way, if this is in the wrong forum, please notify me and I'll try to move it to a more appropriate one.
 
Thanks.  

As DarknightDK said, both are important but I think you would hear a noticeable difference if you get yourself a decent headphone amp. Just know that "more expensive" doesn't necessarily mean better sound quality. I had a Woo audio 6 w/ the sophia princess tube and I couldn't notice a difference between the asus STX and it.

 

The STX cost me $200

The WA6 cost me $800

 

You might want to check out the Matrix M stage or the Asgard by Schiit. Schiit has a 15 day money back guarantee, so if you don't like it, it'll only cost you shipping (from them and to them)

 

 

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

If I spend out on an amp, I'll probably get a tube driven amp and a cheap DAC..  I've had my eye on the Maverick tubemagic A1 or the Valhalla.  

 

Any othe suggestions are welcome.  Broader and deeper the soundstage, the better.  I dont really want syrupy warmth. Amarra makes the mids warm enough as is.

 

Any other suggestions in the price range would be nice.


Edited by sightsome - 12/16/11 at 2:21pm
post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by sightsome View Post

Hi everyone.  This is my first post.  And I am mostly new to this hifi audio world. So be gentle, please.

 

I have $200-300 to spend on new audioequipment. Looking to upgrade my computer->headphone set up. 

 

Here's my set up so far: Macbook Pro, playing music with Amarra, out of the audio out to Grado 325is.

 

I listen to all kinds of music. 

 

 

The main question is: Should I get an amp or a DAC?  Which would improve the sound more?  And, if one or the other, which would be best with my set up, given my budget?  

 
By the way, if this is in the wrong forum, please notify me and I'll try to move it to a more appropriate one.
 
Thanks.  


Another vote for an amp.

 

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

After further investigation, I think it would be best to just get an amp and invest in a nice DAC later.  Given that, which of the following would complement the Grado 325is headphones?  (Keep in mind that I use Amarra as a source player, which already considerably warms and smooths out the sound of my audio files.)

 

1.  Schiit Asgard

2.  Maverick tubemagic A1

Or something else.

 

I want something that is clear, but rounds out and defines the lows of the Grados.

 

Thanks again for your input.

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