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Amp/Dac + Beyer DT990 (250 Ohm) pairing

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Trying my best to be concise.

I’m on  the market for a pair of open/semi-open headphones which I’ll mainly use for gaming (I’ll pair them with a mic, that’s the reason I’d like to have them open) and for listening to some music (very diverse genres: electronic, pop/rock, classical…) at late hours.

By taking a look at Mad Lust Envy’s guide to gaming headphones I think Beyer’s DT990 (250 ohms) are about  the right kind of cans for me.
Judging by comments of users on this very forum I think I should pair them with a simple Amp, hence I’m here looking for recommendations.

 

My PC isn’t equipped (at least not yet) with a dedicated good quality soundcard. Thus a DAC could come in handy. I would (and will) upgrade the soundcard, but I’d rather be able to use the headphones with other  computers/sources (Macbook Air for instance)  for the time being.

I don’t care much for portability (size/weight and batteries) per se: I won’t use the Amp on the go. I’d rather be able to carry it around to use it with other sources I have in-house.

An USB-sourced device seems the most suitable Amp in my case.
In case of future upgrades (of my PC sound card for instance) a device that could be used just as an Amp (bypassing the DAC portion) would be a plus.
An optical-in (for Xbox) would be a plus too.

 

While looking at the sub-200$ market I think I have a few easy options to fulfill all my requirements:

 

  • Fiio E17
  • Audioengine D1


Can anyone comment on the pairing of any of these two with the Beyer DT990?
 

But, probably most important: do you have any other suggestion?
Maybe a good combination of other products?

Maybe a different approach. A future-proof one?  

post #2 of 12

A less expensive and equally impressive setup would be to go with a pair of AKG Q701 headphones and a Total Bithead.  The net cost to you would be $300 for the headphones and $120 for the Bithead which is a DAC and a headphone amp in one.

 

The DT990 is a headphone that does sound pretty good at first, but if you compare it to other more neutral headphones you can really hear how colored the sound signature is.  I had mine for a while until I compared it to some other headphones like the AKG Q701, Denon AH-D2000, or even Sennheiser HD-25-1-ii.  The AKG Q701 has a very similar sound signature without the dip in the mid range.

 

As far as the impedance goes unless you have a terrible amp the 32 Ohm version will be easier to drive with a portable device if that is a concern.

post #3 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by mechchimp View Post


I’m on  the market for a pair of open/semi-open headphones which I’ll mainly use for gaming (I’ll pair them with a mic, that’s the reason I’d like to have them open) and for listening to some music (very diverse genres: electronic, pop/rock, classical…) at late hours.
By taking a look at Mad Lust Envy’s guide to gaming headphones I think Beyer’s DT990 (250 ohms) are about  the right kind of cans for me.
Judging by comments of users on this very forum I think I should pair them with a simple Amp, hence I’m here looking for recommendations.

My PC isn’t equipped (at least not yet) with a dedicated good quality soundcard. Thus a DAC could come in handy. I would (and will) upgrade the soundcard, but I’d rather be able to use the headphones with other  computers/sources (Macbook Air for instance)  for the time being.

I don’t care much for portability (size/weight and batteries) per se: I won’t use the Amp on the go. I’d rather be able to carry it around to use it with other sources I have in-house.

An USB-sourced device seems the most suitable Amp in my case.
In case of future upgrades (of my PC sound card for instance) a device that could be used just as an Amp (bypassing the DAC portion) would be a plus.
An optical-in (for Xbox) would be a plus too.

While looking at the sub-200$ market I think I have a few easy options to fulfill all my requirements:

 

Fiio E17

Audioengine D1


Can anyone comment on the pairing of any of these two with the Beyer DT990?
But, probably most important: do you have any other suggestion?
Maybe a good combination of other products?

Maybe a different approach. A future-proof one?  

I do like the sound of the DT990s

At least add the Asus xonar DG sound card ($25) to the PC, comes with a halfway decent headphone amplifier and Dolby Headphone 5.1 surround sound.

Chances are the DAC chip in the Xonar DG is better then the one built into the motherboard.

USB bypasses sound card's (and motherboard's) built in audio features, but USB is fine if all you care about is 2-channel audio and zero surround sound features.

 

For optical output from an xbox to an external DAC/Amp, to have any surround sound, the external DAC/amp need to be able to uncompress the DDL (Dolby Digital live) signal from the xBox.

Usually only "gaming" external DAC/amps come with DDL, and these "gaming" DAC/Amps are not known for having high end sound (DAC) quality.

The E17 is a great portable DAC/amplifier, but is 2-channel only, so offers zero surround sound features.

But the E17 can be connected to a sound card's (or motherboard's) optical outputs and take advantage of the sound card (or motherboard's) surround sound features.

post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 

@Na Blur

DT990 (250Ω) are much much cheaper (about €150). While I do not doubt that the AKG Q701 will sound better, they cost about twice as much, in the €300 range.

For the records the DT990 (32Ω) are about €250... Not sure why.

I'm well aware of the V-shaped sound signature of th DT990, and that's why I was looking for an advice about the pairing.

On this very forum I read about the need to put some "warmth" in the DT990. How's the Total Bithead on this regard?

 

 

@PurpleAngel
At that price is quite difficult to overlook your advice on the Asus Xonar. It's DAC is for sure better than the one in my old motherboard. 

 

On the Xbox side I'd buy an the Amp just to be able to use the headphones: I'm not interested in a DDL device at the moment. I think I could switch the console settings to plain old stereo and still feed the Amp through the Optical out-in. Am I missing anything? Being a novice I might had missed a few steps.

The same would apply to the PC I reckon. With the considerable difference that I'd feed the Amp a surround-processed input from the soundcard.

 

Is the E17 Amp side enough to drive the DT990 (250Ω)?

 

 

Thanks for your replies! smile.gif

post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by mechchimp View Post

@Na Blur

DT990 (250Ω) are much much cheaper (about €150). While I do not doubt that the AKG Q701 will sound better, they cost about twice as much, in the €300 range.

For the records the DT990 (32Ω) are about €250... Not sure why.

I'm well aware of the V-shaped sound signature of th DT990, and that's why I was looking for an advice about the pairing.

On this very forum I read about the need to put some "warmth" in the DT990. How's the Total Bithead on this regard?

 

 

@PurpleAngel
At that price is quite difficult to overlook your advice on the Asus Xonar. It's DAC is for sure better than the one in my old motherboard. 

 

On the Xbox side I'd buy an the Amp just to be able to use the headphones: I'm not interested in a DDL device at the moment. I think I could switch the console settings to plain old stereo and still feed the Amp through the Optical out-in. Am I missing anything? Being a novice I might had missed a few steps.

The same would apply to the PC I reckon. With the considerable difference that I'd feed the Amp a surround-processed input from the sound card.

 

Is the E17 Amp side enough to drive the DT990 (250Ω)?

If all you care about is using 2-channel (stereo) thru optical, then the E17 is fine with the xBox.

My Fiio E11 can drive my 250-Ohm headphones with the volume control set at 50% and it a slightly more powerful amp then the E17's, so you should be fine.

Technically the Xonar DG can drive 250-ohm headphone, but the Xonar's volume control is about maxed out, best to use the E17.

post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by mechchimp View Post

@Na Blur

DT990 (250Ω) are much much cheaper (about €150). While I do not doubt that the AKG Q701 will sound better, they cost about twice as much, in the €300 range.

For the records the DT990 (32Ω) are about €250... Not sure why.

 

The higher impedance DT990 is probably cheaper because it is the "Pro" version, which typically costs around 149 € in Europe. Compared to the more expensive "Premium" or "Edition" model, it has a more clamping headband (but easily replaceable headband padding), resulting in slightly more bass, it is not packaged with a carrying case, it has a coiled cord, a somewhat old style "retro" looking design, and normally only available with 250 Ω drivers.

post #7 of 12

That is great that the DT990 is less expensive.  I think for your needs it will sound pretty good and it is always awesome to save a few bucks.  With the right music the DT990 is a lot of fun.

post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 

The DT990 Pro are on their way (hopefully before Christmas).


Luckily I found a local reseller with both the D1 and the E17; I'll try them both.

Since I'll be also buying a dedicated sound card (either the Xonar DG or the non-HD X-Fi Titanium), I might also consider an Amp-Only solution... So many different choices: I'm overwhelmed!

post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by mechchimp View Post

The DT990 Pro are on their way (hopefully before Christmas).


Luckily I found a local reseller with both the D1 and the E17; I'll try them both.

Since I'll be also buying a dedicated sound card (either the Xonar DG or the non-HD X-Fi Titanium), I might also consider an Amp-Only solution... So many different choices: I'm overwhelmed!

Technically, the Creative Titanium (non-HD) comes with an audio processor what has more features for gaming (like FPS) then the Xonar DG audio processor.

(older games designed for Creative's EAX 5.0 would be a good match with the Titanium (Both non-HD and HD version).

As your using the E17 hooked up to a sound card's S/PDIF (optical or coaxial) output, the headphone/E17 combo will have the same over all sound quality no matter what sound card you choose.


Edited by PurpleAngel - 12/17/12 at 5:42pm
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 

Now I'm a bit confused:

Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

As your using the E17 hooked up to a sound card's S/PDIF (optical or coaxial) output, the headphone/E17 combo will have the same over all sound quality no match what sound card you choose.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post


The E17 is a great portable DAC/amplifier, but is 2-channel only, so offers zero surround sound features.

But the E17 can be connected to a sound card's (or motherboard's) optical outputs and take advantage of the sound card (or motherboard's) surround sound features.

 

Does this still hold true?

I'd hook the Soundcard to the E17 through the Optical in.  Why no difference in sound quality then?

post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by mechchimp View Post

Does this still hold true?

I'd hook the Sound card to the E17 through the Optical in.  Why no difference in sound quality then?

There may not be that much difference in sound quality between the Xonar DG and E17, both their DACs can easily handle 24-bit/44.1Khz audio for music.

But I was assuming you needed to get the E17 anyway for use with the gaming console.

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 

Many thanks for the clarification PurpleAngel. Now it makes (all) more sense.


I have too many requirements for a single device. Next time I'll ask if anybody knows of an Amp that doubles as a vacuum cleaner... wink.gif

 

I think I'll take my first step in the DAC/Amp world with a simple, all-around and cheap device as the E17.

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