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Desktop Amp/DAC for HD650

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone,

 

I'm planning to buy a pair of HD650 headphones. At the moment I have a good 2.1 speaker setup, but I can't use it at night as the neighbours are not entirely appreciative of loud music in the middle of the night. All my music is digitized, so I play from my computer, then use a HDMI cable to my Yamaha HTR-6240 receiver. I'm open to spend somewhere around $200+, max $350. The way I see it I have three options:

 

1. Use the preamp output of the HTR-6240 and buy a dedicated headphone amplifier that works well with the HD650 (I looked at some of the Schiit amplifiers, either the Valhalla or the Asgard, or maybe the Maverick Tubemagic A1, but I'm open for suggestions). This would mean basically using the HTR-6240 as a DAC, and spending the money on an amplifier. 

 

2. Buy a great sound card with a headphone amplifier - I was thinking Asus Xonar Essence STX. I would expect that the DAC in the HTR-6240 is better than this (despite having worse specs) because it is on an external unit. 

 

3. Buy a DAC+Amp combination. I am not convinced that this is a good option - since it would basically waste the DAC I already own in the HTR-6240. For this, I was looking at the Maverick Tubemagic D1 (http://www.mav-audio.com/base/product/tube_magic_d1)

 

The headphone output of the HTR-6240 didn't seem great, since it has pretty high output impedance, so I didn't really consider it an option to not buy an amp at all. At the moment I'm leaning towards option 1, but I was wondering if anyone had any input on what amplifier is a good fit with these headphones and in general whether it's a poor idea. 

 

Thanks a lot for any help!

post #2 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by NilsJohan View Post

I'm planning to buy a pair of HD650 headphones. At the moment I have a good 2.1 speaker setup, but I can't use it at night as the neighbours are not entirely appreciative of loud music in the middle of the night. All my music is digitized, so I play from my computer, then use a HDMI cable to my Yamaha HTR-6240 receiver. I'm open to spend somewhere around $200+, max $350. The way I see it I have three options:

1. Use the preamp output of the HTR-6240 and buy a dedicated headphone amplifier that works well with the HD650 (I looked at some of the Schiit amplifiers, either the Valhalla or the Asgard, or maybe the Maverick Tubemagic A1, but I'm open for suggestions). This would mean basically using the HTR-6240 as a DAC, and spending the money on an amplifier. 

2. Buy a great sound card with a headphone amplifier - I was thinking Asus Xonar Essence STX. I would expect that the DAC in the HTR-6240 is better than this (despite having worse specs) because it is on an external unit. 

3. Buy a DAC+Amp combination. I am not convinced that this is a good option - since it would basically waste the DAC I already own in the HTR-6240. For this, I was looking at the Maverick Tubemagic D1 (http://www.mav-audio.com/base/product/tube_magic_d1)

The headphone output of the HTR-6240 didn't seem great, since it has pretty high output impedance, so I didn't really consider it an option to not buy an amp at all. At the moment I'm leaning towards option 1, but I was wondering if anyone had any input on what amplifier is a good fit with these headphones and in general whether it's a poor idea. 

I'm going to guess the DACs in the HTR-6240 are not as good as the DAC in something like the STX.

The HTR-6240 only uses binding posts for the front speakers and uses clips for the center& rear channels, so this is a receiver where they do cut a few corners.

As the HD650s are 300-Ohm, i would think they would would do ok with the HTR-6120 high impedance headphone jack.

So if your only doing music with the headphones, maybe a external DAC, connected from a digital out on the PC to the analog RCA input jacks on the HTR-6120.

If you went with an external DAC/Amp. you would spend more, but you know you would get good sound.

Is this only for music, or will you be doing movies and gaming?

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

I'm going to guess the DACs in the HTR-6240 are not as good as the DAC in something like the STX.

The HTR-6240 only uses binding posts for the front speakers and uses clips for the center& rear channels, so this is a receiver where they do cut a few corners.

As the HD650s are 300-Ohm, i would think they would would do ok with the HTR-6120 high impedance headphone jack.

So if your only doing music with the headphones, maybe a external DAC, connected from a digital out on the PC to the analog RCA input jacks on the HTR-6120.

If you went with an external DAC/Amp. you would spend more, but you know you would get good sound.

Is this only for music, or will you be doing movies and gaming?

Thank you for your help and quick reply. I guess the DAC is not as good - but will that be the limiting factor? I have been fairly satisfied so far, in regard to my speakers. It is a cheap receiver. The specs for the headphone amplifier was 100 mV/470 ohms. Your suggestion with the external DAC would presumably improve my 2.1 system as well. I guess if I went with the STX I could do that anyway - just connect my headphones directly to the sound card and use another output to output to the receiver for my 2.1 system. 

 

My main interest is that it would work well for music - that's the most important thing. I will be watching movies and gaming using the computer as well. 

post #4 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by NilsJohan View Post

Thank you for your help and quick reply. I guess the DAC is not as good - but will that be the limiting factor? I have been fairly satisfied so far, in regard to my speakers. It is a cheap receiver. The specs for the headphone amplifier was 100 mV/470 ohms. Your suggestion with the external DAC would presumably improve my 2.1 system as well. I guess if I went with the STX I could do that anyway - just connect my headphones directly to the sound card and use another output to output to the receiver for my 2.1 system. 

 

My main interest is that it would work well for music - that's the most important thing. I will be watching movies and gaming using the computer as well. 

I vote to get the Essence STX and leave the headphones plugged into the STX for music, movies and gaming.

Only use the HTR-6240 for the speakers and sub.

What speakers and sub are they?

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

I vote to get the Essence STX and leave the headphones plugged into the STX for music, movies and gaming.

Only use the HTR-6240 for the speakers and sub.

What speakers and sub are they?

I have a pair of NHT Classic Twos and an Elemental Design A3S-250 subwoofer. That does sound like a good idea, since it would also be an upgrade of the sound card in my computer, plus the fact that it would probably work better in games/movies right?

post #6 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by NilsJohan View Post

I have a pair of NHT Classic Twos and an Elemental Design A3S-250 subwoofer. That does sound like a good idea, since it would also be an upgrade of the sound card in my computer, plus the fact that it would probably work better in games/movies right?

About equal movie wise, but the STX should offer better game support.

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

About equal movie wise, but the STX should offer better game support.


Alright, so I just ordered the STX along with the headphones - should be arriving Monday =) I think the STX should be a fairly good buy anyway - it has a great DAC and a decent amp.

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