- 121 Posts. Joined 6/2012
- Location: EU
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- productASUS Xonar Essence ST Headphone 7.1-Channel Audio Card for Audiophilestagged by System, 7/4/12
- productAudio-gd C-2.2tagged by System, 6/28/12
- productAudio-gd NFB-10tagged by System, 6/28/12
- productBottlehead Smacktagged by System, 7/4/12
- productDenon AH-D5000 Reference Headphonestagged by System, 6/28/12
- productDenon AH-D7000 - Headphonestagged by System, 7/4/12
- categoryDesktop Ampstagged by System, 6/28/12
- categoryHeadphone Amplifierstagged by System, 6/28/12
- productMatrix M-Stagetagged by System, 7/4/12
- productSchiit Audio Bifrost DACtagged by System, 7/4/12More
- productSMSL SD-1955tagged by System, 7/4/12
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Head-Fi Buying Guide (Desktop Amps & DACs)
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Amp upgrade for AH-D5000post #1 of 116/28/12 at 6:44amThread StarterLong time lurker and very recent member here. My current rig consists of theXonar Essence ST, Matrix M-Stage, and Denon AH-D5000, a combination I got after extensive head-fi reading and have been very happy with.Still I've got the feeling that the D5000 could use both a better amp and source. I've been looking mostly at amps for now, specifically Audio-GD and various tube amps, but since the Denons have such low impedance it seems most tube amps are out of the question.Audio-GD gear seems to fit the bill. I've been looking at the NFB-10SE, but I'm not sure sure it's the best option. Some people have described it as a little harsh, and I don't want to risk that. It also seems to have very high gain for the Denons. Another option is the C2.2, which seems just about perfect, but then I'd be missing out on the DAC section and the balanced operation that the NFB-10SE offers for very little extra money.I'm leaning towards the C2.2, and in the future one of the Audio-GD DACs to use with ACSS connection, but should I be looking at different amps altogether? I'm looking for something in the $400-500 range that would help me get everything I can from the Denons.
Gear mentioned in this thread:post #2 of 116/28/12 at 7:05am
I've owned the d5k with an Audio gd compass. It was good. I rolled some opamps and suited the sound to my taste. I've used several mid-tier amps with the Denon's and they were all pretty good. The truth is the diminutive e17 makes a good pairing with the d5k. It's nice to have the hardware EQ to tailor the sound to what I want on that day with that material.
But honestly the combo that you've got is pretty darn good. Be careful about chasing that last 5%. It will cost you a small fortune and will only sound...well, 5% better .
My current setup with the d5k is the best that I've had so far. Looks like this:
I have a nice set of IC RCA connecting the amp and dac. And a good optical cable going to the optical out on my pc. Both of these cables are made by Bluejeans. And yes the cables do make a nice improvement here...please don't throw cabbages at me . I think that both sets of cables were $40 shipped. I bought both amp and dac used here and so I'm not in too deep on the money. I have not heard or owned a better setup for low impedance hp's like the d5k. I am no longer chasing another 5%...
gL!!!post #3 of 116/28/12 at 8:35am
I'll add that C2.2 would be nice but I don't that you'd see much improvement. I also looked seriously at the nfb-10se. I ended up not buying it as it was just too pricey at the time. I like Audio GD and believe in the quality of their products.
Best of luck...
Mattpost #4 of 116/28/12 at 10:08amThread Starter
Thanks for your input!
I'm thinking now that perhaps the NFB-10SE would be the best alternative. Even if the increase in quality over the Essence ST + M-Stage wouldn't be huge, it would still give me some new options, with balanced operation, and also that it would be possible to use it as a DAC if I get other equipment in the future, such as a tube amp.post #5 of 116/28/12 at 10:13am
I have no issue with the investment in the nfb-10. It's a great product with great features as you've noted. It would be something that you could plan to keep for many years to come. Just don't expect huge improvements in SQ at this point.
If you end up buying it, then pm me and let me know what you think of it with the d5k .
thanks...post #6 of 116/28/12 at 10:37pmQuote:
Long time lurker and very recent member here. My current rig consists of theXonar Essence ST, Matrix M-Stage, and Denon AH-D5000, a combination I got after extensive head-fi reading and have been very happy with.Still I've got the feeling that the D5000 could use both a better amp and source. I've been looking mostly at amps for now, specifically Audio-GD and various tube amps, but since the Denons have such low impedance it seems most tube amps are out of the question.Audio-GD gear seems to fit the bill. I've been looking at the NFB-10SE, but I'm not sure sure it's the best option. Some people have described it as a little harsh, and I don't want to risk that. It also seems to have very high gain for the Denons. Another option is the C2.2, which seems just about perfect, but then I'd be missing out on the DAC section and the balanced operation that the NFB-10SE offers for very little extra money.I'm leaning towards the C2.2, and in the future one of the Audio-GD DACs to use with ACSS connection, but should I be looking at different amps altogether? I'm looking for something in the $400-500 range that would help me get everything I can from the Denons.
Do you use the Essence ST's headphone jack or RCA outputs to connect to the Matrix M-Stage?
Do you use Foobar to play your audio files?
Sell off the Essence ST and get the Schiit Bifrost.post #7 of 116/29/12 at 10:07amThread Starter
Thanks for your reply, PurpleAngel. I do use the RCA output and Foobar. Also, I only use the system to listen to music, no gaming or movies, so I guess I don't actually use or need most of the soundcard's fuctionality.post #8 of 116/29/12 at 10:11ampost #9 of 116/29/12 at 12:12pmQuote:
Have you tried the third party drivers, the "Xonar Unified Drivers" at Brainbit?
One possible reason for keeping the Essence ST is the coaxial digital output.
Which I guess is considered the best way of taking a digital audio signal from a computer.
Otherwise you can just used optical or USB digital output from your computer.
On eBay, they sell the SMSL SD-1955 DAC for $105 shipped.
My brain keeps trying to figure out how one gets a better amp. then the Matrix M-stage for 25-Ohm headphone (AH-D5000).
Anyone know what the headphone jack impedance is on the Matrix M-stage?post #10 of 116/29/12 at 11:49pmThread Starter
Thanks. It would be an easy upgrade to keep the Essence ST for its coaxial output, and also keep the M-Stage, and add a better DAC in between. Then I should probably get one that I could keep for a few years, if I one day upgrade beyond the M-Stage and the AH-D5000.post #11 of 117/2/12 at 4:45amQuote:
Just curious, have you heard both the ST and Bifrost? Do the Bifrost sound better to you?
- Amp upgrade for AH-D5000
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