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Dilema - Driving HD600 and Speakers

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I'm still pretty new to this scene and I just upgraded from a pair of HD555's to a pair of HD600's.  My 555's ran pretty well off my soundcard being that they don't require much to make them work properly....now that my 600's are on the way, I'm starting to think of other ways to get the most out of them.  I know this current soundcard will not be enough to get the most out of them and was thinking of upgrading to a new card, or going the Amp/DAC setup. 


I listen through both my headphones and speakers so I would really like ONE thing that will properly power both.  Since I've always been a fan of good soundcards...and do all of my critical listening at the PC....I was thinking about getting an Xonar Essence....some might say that's not enough to properly power the HD600's, Asus of course disagrees (stating that 600ohms is more than enough), but as I venture into individual Amps and DACs I'm having a hard time knowing whats best for both headphones and my speakers.


I'll be soon upgrading to some Audioengine A5's, or Emotiva's so those will be powered if that makes any difference......


Can anyone suggest either going the card route or a good Amp/DAC (in one unit) around $200-$300 that can accommodate both speakers and headphones such as the HD600's?   I know thats not a ton of cash to work with.....but any help would be appreciated.



Thanks again!

Edited by StringBoi - 2/25/12 at 7:41pm
post #2 of 6


 Dac/amp - I would look into the Audio-gd NFb 12.1 (the new revision with selectable DAC filters) - $220 odd but

 you will need to order it directly from China. Otherwise the Nuforce HDP is a very reasonable DAC/headamp/preamp

 good for 20W speakers.


 On the speaker front - Have you seen these? They're pretty sensational and will come in at $399 US.

 They use the same tweeter from the entry level floor standing Focal range.


 Focal XS Book


 Focal XS Book-2.jpg


Focal XS Book.jpg




post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

Wow...those speakers are pretty sexy!  Thank you for your recommendations.....will look into all of em =)


Any thoughts on sticking with a soundcard setup....like either of the two mentioned above?

Edited by StringBoi - 2/25/12 at 9:36pm
post #4 of 6

One thing to keep in mind: Just because the manufacturer says an amp supports up to 600 ohms does NOT mean that it can drive a 600 ohm headphone, or even some low impedance headphones. Volume is just as or more dependent on headphone sensitivity than it is on impedance.


That said, the Essence STX has plenty of power for the HD600, more than anyone would ever reasonably need (up to about 120 dB peaks). It also performs very well with high impedances, with very low distortion and a low enough output impedance to not color the sound. The line out (RCA) that you'd use with speakers is also very clean. It would be a good option for you.

post #5 of 6


I used to have the ASUS Essence and in my mind it's more DAC than amp - not that the amp section is bad by

any means but with the clear sight and budget for a HD600 - it makes sense to get something better in the

first place like the Audio gd 12.1 - you could even step up a notch and shoot for Audio-gd NFB-5.


That's a very nice unit.


Here's a review score for the Focal XS Book speakers



Macworld Rating

4.0 out of 5 Mice, Dec 6, 2011

0 User Reviews Be the first to review »


  • Good sounding speakers
  • Loud enough for mid-sized room
  • Balanced sound in near-field environment


  • No remote control
  • No support for USB

Price when rated: $399

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Ugh...decisions decisions.....wouldnt it be nice to hit the lottery, order a room full of stuff and go crazy for a few years picking your fav!


Thanks for your input guys.....appreciated!

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