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Best amp under 700 - Page 2

post #16 of 32
Thread Starter 
I'm trying to stree away from schiit for now, and the vioelectric is way out of my budget
post #17 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dgiant View Post
Hi guys, i have recently set my mind on the audeze lcd 2.2, However with my current set up i may not be experiencing it to its potential. Im using the Fiio E9 with the Schiit Modi. I would like a amp under 400 that would best compliment my Audeze and my denon d5000. I will not be upgrading the DAC at this time. The Modi is sufficient. Thanks!

 

If you're not going to upgrade the DAC, I don't see why you should upgrade the amp either. You're better off leaving your setup as-is, until you have enough money to upgrade the amp and DAC at the same time. All a better amp will do is reveal the limitations of the Modi. No offense but I also find it more than a little hilarious that you want to use $1K headphones on a $100 amp and $100 DAC, and you want to upgrade only the amp? If you upgrade anything first, it should be the DAC. "Garbage in garbage out" starts at the source. And if you don't own the LCD-2 r2 yet, I'm not sure why you want to spend $1K on headphones when your amp budget is "under $400". The range of <$500 headphones aren't exactly chopped liver you know. wink.gif Heck, you could get something like a HiFiMan HE-400 which provides more bang for buck IMO.

post #18 of 32
Thread Starter 
Shoot, I didn't update that, my description is up posed to be under 700 dollars now. Also my DAC doesn't need a upgrade cause my music is only 96/24 not 192/24
post #19 of 32

You could make your amp budget $7K and I'd still recommend upgrading your DAC first. You'd be amazed at the difference that AC power can make over direct USB power when it comes to DACs in particular.

 

I don't understand what you're expecting to get out of an amp upgrade when you won't upgrade a $100 USB-powered DAC. Sticking a more expensive amp on a DAC like that really won't make anything sound that much better.

 

Btw, the Burson HA-160 is discontinued, and most owners have said it underpowers the Audeze headphones too. If you want to get anything from Burson, I'd be more inclined to suggest the new Soloist SL (which I haven't heard, but the specs indicate it has enough power for Audeze headphones).


Edited by Asr - 2/20/13 at 1:04pm
post #20 of 32
Thread Starter 
Would a better DAC make the sound better? How will it make 96/24 better than the one tht. I currently have? I was told tht I didn't need a better DAC because my music was only 96/24
post #21 of 32

24/96 is just an audio resolution that your files are in. Almost every DAC made today supports 24/96, from the cheap ones like the Modi to all sorts of ultra-expensive ones. The improvements that a better DAC can offer will include lower noise (i.e., higher SNR) and generally various subjective sonic improvements ranging from bass & treble extension/quality to soundstage to clarity to impulse response, et al, mostly due to better parts, primarily a better-spec'd D/A converter (chip, not the unit).

 

There are various drawbacks with running direct from USB power only. Any DAC that runs solely on USB power is not going to sound very good compared to a proper AC-powered one - i.e., one that has an IEC input, so you can plug a standard power cord into it. DACs with DC inputs aren't ideal either, like the inexpensive transportable ones from Cambridge Audio, Arcam, etc.

 

And if you have 24/96 files, then I'd really recommend a DAC upgrade, even more than before. Seriously, you'd be way better off upgrading the DAC before the amp. The extra 24/96 resolution of your files would definitely benefit from it. You're practically shooting yourself in the foot by using a cheap DAC for hi-res music.

 

You could get both the Schiit Bifrost (w/ USB) and Asgard 2 for less than your budget btw, which would be a nice upgrade over what you currently have. Power-off thump is normal with the Schiit Lyr btw and is nothing to be worried about (I went back to re-read page 1).


Edited by Asr - 2/20/13 at 11:40pm
post #22 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dgiant View Post

Would a better DAC make the sound better? How will it make 96/24 better than the one tht. I currently have? I was told tht I didn't need a better DAC because my music was only 96/24


Sure you can spend a lot on the DAC, but in terms of telling them apart, DAC < Amp < Headphone.

Don't go about spending on the DAC blindly. You can get the Schiit Magni or the ODAC if you want to test them out, they're not very expensive.

post #23 of 32

Hi,
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dgiant View Post

Would a better DAC make the sound better? How will it make 96/24 better than the one tht. I currently have? I was told tht I didn't need a better DAC because my music was only 96/24


There are kind of three philosophies in this. 

The Source First position states that no matter what you have after the source, if the source does not deliver enough sound quality the system will be rubbish. This is a very British take and I must say my own big system is build like this, though not intentionally. The Naim CDS that fronts my system cost more than the rest of my system together, but in the 90's when I put it together we had smashing british made speakers that didn't get the bank manager mad at you and  valve amplifiers you could afford, but good sources (especially digital) were very rare and expensive. So my Speakers are the cheapest part of me system and the Tube Amp is a bit more dear, but nothing like the CD-Player.

The Speakers first position suggests that speakers are the worst part of the chain and needs the most expense and almost any source will do. The argument is that no matter how good your source and amplification is, if the speakers are not capable of reproducing this quality there is no point having it. This take seems to be often seen over the pond... And arguably over there is the land of speakers that are priced way past "mad as a bag of ferrets" and are considered "entry level". 

It does not take an Alan Turning to figure that both approaches are a bit wonky and unbalanced and a little influenced by local conditions.

Then of course there is the "balanced" approach that aims to have all items in an audio chain of about equal quality. I actually did apply this myself in my big system, it just happened that me speakers were really cheap for their quality and the valve amp's fairly affordable but stonking good. The idea is that any chain is only as strong as the weakest link.

I know some believe that all sources are the same and all amplifiers are almost or completely the same for sound as well. My experience has shown me that this is not so. I have found the same for headphones. Expensive headphones and cheap electronics are not always the road to bliss, neither is the other way around.

Now all this 96/24 and 192/24 talk seems a bit bogus to me, as there is very little music in either format that you can buy. I would buy a DAC for the sound quality with the music I own, it's nice of course to future proof, but tell that to people who paid through the nose for an HD-DVD player to be "future proof". 

Cheerio Rich

PS, It seems your DAC has not been out long at all, why do you feel like upgrading? If the sound is not right, then by all means get rid of it... Here is a review that compares your current DAC to some others at much higher price (including my own iDAC) and seem not find much difference (or I'm reading it wrong):

http://www.audiostream.com/content/schiit-audio-modi-usb-dac


Edited by bedlam inside - 3/17/13 at 9:06am
post #24 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asr View Post

No offense but I also find it more than a little hilarious that you want to use $1K headphones on a $100 amp and $100 DAC, and you want to upgrade only the amp? If you upgrade anything first, it should be the DAC. "Garbage in garbage out" starts at the source. And if you don't own the LCD-2 r2 yet, I'm not sure why you want to spend $1K on headphones when your amp budget is "under $400". 

 

Hey, I'm a newbee at this head-fi game and I want to get this straight. If I spring for a $1k HP I must pair it with a $1k dac/amp combo also?
I can't mix and match and maybe discover that the cheap ODAC+CMoy or the ODAC+Magni will give me the synergy that would maybe render
the $1k budget moot? 
 
You have 7k+ posts, so I am very interested in what you will advice. Thanks in advance
post #25 of 32
The difference between dac to dac can be a lot, but the difference between amp to amp can be HUGE.

Think DAC is the driver behind the steer and the amp is the engine itself that realy move those (wheels) membranes.
For the same engine, better driver makes better moves and turns, but you can't expect Louis Hamilton driving bycicle to beat me driving an Merc SLK, IMO.

So, my opinion is, amp first, then you make it even better with a better DAC.
Edited by RedBull - 3/18/13 at 8:13pm
post #26 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedBull View Post

The difference between dac to dac can be a lot, but the difference between amp to amp can be HUGE.

Think DAC is the driver behind the steer and the amp is the engine itself that realy move those (wheels) membranes.
For the same engine, better driver makes better moves and turns, but you can't expect Louis Hamilton driving bycicle to beat me driving an Merc SLK, IMO.

So, my opinion is, amp first, then you make it even better with a better DAC.

 

 
Nice analogies. 
 
At what price point/range, then, can one start expecting a decent amp? A decent DAC?
post #27 of 32
I'm on the same boat at the moment. Looking for a sub 1k amp for the LCD 2 $700-900 is pretty much my budget. Anything out there that fits the bill?
post #28 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by rexirius View Post

 

 
Nice analogies. 
 
At what price point/range, then, can one start expecting a decent amp? A decent DAC?

 

That probably won't be the answer your expecting but you could see it coming: it depends biggrin.gif

 

- I depends on whether you could actually hear a difference in the best listening condition ("quality" of your ear/music/focus)

- It depends on how you're used to listen to music. To me, this is the most critical point. I read many people say they can't hear the difference between DAC A and DAC B or any DAC > $xxx.

If you listen at your computer doing something else at the same time, well, yeah you probably won't hear a major difference between two well built DAC, regardless of their respective cost. In this case, a Fostex HP-A3 or an entry level schiit stack might fit the bill (that's not to say they're bad, I'd never say that of the Fostex!).

If you turn off the light, lay down, close your eyes and unplug all the cheap AC/DC transformers in your room - because you can hear them while listening to music with your open headphones -, then you could probably consider yourself serious and, in that case, you might hear a big difference between any two gears.

 

If you could stretch up your budget, I would recommend the all-in-one NFB-27 (DAC/Amp/Preamp). Simply stupendous! It would pair well with the lush and dark LCD-2.

 

In your choice of a DAC or AMP, I think voicing is the most critical aspect you should decide.

 

I don't have many experience in the >$700 amp category but, given that Audio-GD are (generally? Always?) cheaper than their direct contenders, the SA-31 is truely an excellent AMP for someone who likes analog-like sound reproduction.

Even though the NFB-27's internal amp is technically supperior, I always come back to the SA-31 with it's musical sound signature!

 

I don't know how it would pair with the LCD-2 though. The Violetric V200 (~$1k) is the most recommended amp for them and is a warm amp as well.

post #29 of 32

I don't know if this helps, but I was "stuck" (happily) with a Xonar Essence ST -> M-Stage -> D5000 combination for a while, and couldn't figure out which part to upgrade. All components were recommended here at  head-fi and worked very well together. In the end I changed everything to Concero -> SA-31 -> HE-500, and I'm very happy with this. Looking back, though, I think in my case the thing to upgrade first would have been the DAC, then probably the headphones, and last the amp. I wouldn't have expected this, since the amp was so cheap, but it was a very good amp - and I don't listen at very high volume levels either.

 

In your case, perhaps the answer is a combined DAC/amp? With  the Audio GD NFB-10.32, for instance, you'd get both low impedance output for your Denons, and powerful balanced drive for your Audeze, and a nice DAC. 

post #30 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Utopia View Post

I don't know if this helps, but I was "stuck" (happily) with a Xonar Essence ST -> M-Stage -> D5000 combination for a while, and couldn't figure out which part to upgrade. All components were recommended here at  head-fi and worked very well together. In the end I changed everything to Concero -> SA-31 -> HE-500, and I'm very happy with this. Looking back, though, I think in my case the thing to upgrade first would have been the DAC, then probably the headphones, and last the amp. I wouldn't have expected this, since the amp was so cheap, but it was a very good amp - and I don't listen at very high volume levels either.

 

In your case, perhaps the answer is a combined DAC/amp? With  the Audio GD NFB-10.32, for instance, you'd get both low impedance output for your Denons, and powerful balanced drive for your Audeze, and a nice DAC. 

 

Excellent rig, very homogeneous!

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