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Overwhelmed. Please, help me pick my first AMP / DAC combo.

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

This will be my first real AMP / DAC purchase.  Up until now, my headphones have been pretty easy to drive, mainly an ATH-M50 and a DT 770 32 ohm.  I've just been using a Fiio E6.

 

But, I just picked up  a Denon AH-D2000 today and have an HD600 on the way.  The D2000 is another easy to drive but with the HD600 coming, I'll finally need something a little more substantial to power the HD600 and bring out some nicer sound out of all my headphones.

 

I only use my headphones at home on a laptop PC and a Cowon iAudio x5 media player.  So I need something that I can use with both.  I live in Korea and use a power adapter for my electronics from the U.S.  I often have two headphones going at the same time as my girlfriend and I like to listen together, and I also like comparing headphones.  Up until now, I have just been using a splitter.  I know some amps have two headphone jacks.  If there is one with two jacks with separate volume controls, that would be awesome if it exists.

 

My budget is $150-$300.  I've been considering the following:

 

  • Fiio E9K + E17
  • Schiit Magni + Modi
  • Maverick Audio TubeMagic D1
  • HRT HeadStreamer USB DAC/AMP
  • NuForce Icon HD
  • Matrix Cube

 

With so many options, I'm a bit overwhelmed.  Please help me arrive at a final decision.  Given the background, what do you think will be the best choice for me?

 

Thanks for your help!


Edited by Audionaut - 1/8/13 at 8:02am
post #2 of 13

I think your best option is to keep what you have and see if it works with the HD600.  If you get satisfactory sound out of the E6 / HD600 combo then you should be set for quite a while.  I think the HD600/HD650 and other headphones like it tend to sound a little smoother using a tube amp, so perhaps saving up for a while for a really good sounding tube amp might be best.

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your response NA Blur.  I'll definitely try out my Fiio e6 myself with the HD600, but from most everything I've read (including NwAvGuy's write up), they are not going to be a good match at all with the HD600.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to buy something.  I'll be in the U.S. for a couple weeks soon and want to buy any new gear while I'm there as electronics tend to be way pricier in Korea.  

 

I don't mind spending a couple hundred now and getting something better later on.  Perhaps getting a DAC/AMP combo where the DAC is good enough to add a better amp to later on.

post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audionaut View Post

Thanks for your response NA Blur.  I'll definitely try out my Fiio e6 myself with the HD600, but from most everything I've read (including NwAvGuy's write up), they are not going to be a good match at all with the HD600.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to buy something.  I'll be in the U.S. for a couple weeks soon and want to buy any new gear while I'm there as electronics tend to be way pricier in Korea.  

 

I don't mind spending a couple hundred now and getting something better later on.  Perhaps getting a DAC/AMP combo where the DAC is good enough to add a better amp to later on.


Then you should look for a separate DAC and amp.

The most cost effective is the Schiit and ODAC.

Regarding the amps, the Schiit has a fixed gain, while the O2 has a fixed and selectable option, and can run on batteries.

 

Not sure if you're into DIY, if yes, that'll save you some cash wrt the O2. 

Or you can also try the crack OTL if interested in trying a tube amp.

post #5 of 13
Under your choice , I would say schiit is the best
But the way are you looking for a new or second-hand?
post #6 of 13

If it helps, I've just ordered an Objective2 amp and an ODAC from Epiphany Acoustics. It seems a good equipment to start with.

 

I took the two unit separated instead of the combo so that I can eventually change one without changing the other.

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks, I hear very good things from the Objective2 amp and ODAC.  The reason I didn't mention them is because of the note on the specs from JDS Labs:

 

Quote:
The default gain levels of the Objective2 are intended to work well with > 95% of headphones on the market. We use the stock O2 with headphones as low as 16 ohms @ 108 dB/mW, and as high as 250 ohms @ 96dB/mW (very high and very low efficiency, respectively).

 

Since the HD600 is 300ohm, I figured it would not be an ideal amp.  Don't know if customizations are possible for that. I don't have a lot of technical knowledge about this stuff.  Might consider the ODAC though as I've heard better things from it.  Just figured I'd get matching gear instead.

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by timtoo View Post

Under your choice , I would say schiit is the best
But the way are you looking for a new or second-hand?


I was thinking new for the most part.

post #9 of 13

I recently got the Magni And Modi, for my m50 and it is a seriously good sound. I found it flattened out the response a little, mids are more forward and the highs aren't to sharp either. I only have my iphone4 and stereo output to compare but it is a huge step up from both of those. Also i think the schiit combo is fairly neutral so it should work with an array of headphones, haven't tried it though.

post #10 of 13

HRT II & O2 amp, each is very good and work together extremely well. You can use them separately if you decide to, and use the O2 a a portable amp in a pinch.

 

The O2 drives the 600 ohm T1's without any problem. Actually, it drives them very well.

 

KP

post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audionaut View Post

Thanks, I hear very good things from the Objective2 amp and ODAC.  The reason I didn't mention them is because of the note on the specs from JDS Labs:

 

 

Since the HD600 is 300ohm, I figured it would not be an ideal amp.  Don't know if customizations are possible for that. I don't have a lot of technical knowledge about this stuff.  Might consider the ODAC though as I've heard better things from it.  Just figured I'd get matching gear instead.

 

The designer of O2/ODAC owns both D2000 and HD650... I would order O2 + ODAC, or Magni + Modi.

 

Magni + Modi for people who prefers good look and have no problem with 5x gain, O2 + ODAC for people who wants to have tons of options to customize their unit to perfection (inputs, outputs, desktop/portable, gain and a lot more). It is worth considering that the technical abilities of Objective combo have been confirmed several times. Not sure if anyone measured Schiit's stuff so far.

 

Do not recommend HDP or E9+E17, too high output impedance for D2000 and worse quality than O2.


Edited by RustA - 1/8/13 at 12:49pm
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 

I want to thank everyone who contributed to the thread.  I ended up going with a new NuForce Icon HD for $249.  I exchanged emails with Schiit, Little Dot, JDS Labs.  I was considering those first but they all needed a step up / step down power converter since I split time between the US and Korea, and Little Dot and Schiit could not guarantee that I'd receive an order within 10 days (my limited time in the US this trip).

 

The NuForce Icon HD has a worldwide power supply so I don't need a power converter, and offered free 3 to 5 day shipping.  In the end, it was the most convenient option for me.  Owners pairing the Icon HD and the HD600 and HD650 seem pretty happy so I'm sure it'll be a fine choice.  It's supposedly a pretty decent DAC so I can upgrade to a nicer amp in the future and still use it.

post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audionaut View Post

but they all needed a step up / step down power converter since I split time between the US and Korea, and Little Dot and Schiit could not guarantee that I'd receive an order within 10 days (my limited time in the US this trip).

 

I guess some companies need to work on this, considering that they have customers on different parts of the world. 

 

Good luck with your new amp. 

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