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AMP / DAC under $300

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

Source: USB

Headphone: HD650

Budget: $300

 

With the release of the Schiit Modi, is the Magni + Modi the best AMP / DAC combo under 300?

The Atune T1 seems to be less popular than the MnM, but it has a tube, so could it be better than the MnM?

 

Some other choices I've gathered from around the forums:

 

I'm not a huge fan of huge logo engravings and a bunch of scribbling around the ports, or knobs and buttons mucking up the front plate,

so I've excluded choices like the O2 + ODAC and other similar amp dac combos, that are otherwise very good.

 

Price - Amp/Dac

 

330 - Matrix mini i
 
190 - Aune T1 Tube Amp
 
230 - Yulong U100
 
200 - Magni Modi
 
250 - Maverick D2
 
170 - Hifiman Ef2

Edited by TittySambo - 4/4/13 at 12:19pm
post #2 of 28

The Magni/Modi is hard to beat at its current price. You would be hard pressed to find a equal performing AIO or dedicated units that match their performance. When I had the Magni, I found it to be pretty neutral sounding, with a slight brightness to it. That should go well with your HD650s. Now, if you plan on using this setup for other headphones such as, DT770-990, then you might want to consider something else. The shrill highs on top of a slightly bright amp might be uninviting, but like you may not have very sensitive ears, in that case you would be just fine. I would say go for the Magni/Modi, and see how you like them. If you decide that they aren't for you return them. The great thing is Schiit offers a MBG, on their products with great customer service. 

post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply, my eyes are set on the M&Ms.

 

Most of my songs are in 320kbps mp3 format, will I benefit too much from a DAC? Should I possibly consider investing more on an amp?

 

On the flip side, should I consider investing more on a DAC b/c of my source?


Edited by TittySambo - 4/5/13 at 12:29pm
post #4 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by TittySambo View Post

Thanks for the reply, my eyes are set on the M&Ms.

 

Most of my songs are in 320kbps mp3 format, will I benefit too much from a DAC? Should I possibly consider investing more on an amp?

 

On the flip side, should I consider investing more on a DAC b/c of my source?

 

You will always benefit from having a dedicated DAC, vs your on-board dac from a motherboard, or internal dac with any mobile device. Only exception is if you have a high quality DAP such as an AK100, DX100, etc. But in your case a DAC will help you out a lot. If your budget is tight, you can't really get much better than the M&M for the price. You would need to bump your budget up to about 500 to get something clearly better. Personally, a good DAC is more important to the chain than an amp. Especially if you are dealing with poorly master music, or low quality music files. In your case, 320 is fine, actually it is great. But, a dac will still clean up your signal and improve upon the technical aspects of music such as soundstage, imaging, detail retrieval etc. 

 

The Modi dac is hard to beat. I'm sure there are plenty of DACs that beat it, but for the price of $100, no. If you aren't willing to bump your budget, I wouldn't worry about it much.

post #5 of 28
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the input.

 

Say I bump my budget to $500, what amp / dac combo would you recommend, or would the increase in price compared to the increase in performance from the M&M be non-ideal?

 

EDIT: Looking back this is kind of a pointless question, of course there will be an increase in performance, and the price of that increase will always be subjective...

 

But still, which $500 amp / dac combo would you recommend?


Edited by TittySambo - 4/5/13 at 3:42pm
post #6 of 28

Are you looking for dedicated units or an AIO unit for a smaller footprint?

post #7 of 28
Thread Starter 

I don't really mind big or small. I don't plan on moving it a lot after I purchase it; so I also don't mind if its a multi-part solution.

post #8 of 28

if you budget is 500 now id say a modi (100)+ a tube amp(400) would be very nice expecially for the 650 which ive allways found needs a proper amp to really sound amazing.

post #9 of 28

Yea, a tube amp brings out the best in the HD650. The only problem I see with a tube amp, unless hybrid, is that they usually don't play nice with lower impedance headphones. So if you ever decided to pick up another pair of headphones, such as Denons etc. It won't sound very good through a tube amp. Now, if you are content with your HD650s, with possible sights on the HD800 or any of the Beyerdynamic series of headphons, a tube amplifier will be a great investment. For 500, I would consider: Woo Audio WA3, Bottlehead Crack+Speedball, or possibly a WA6 if you can find one for a good price used. If I were to choose between the 3, it would definitely have to be the Bottlehead Crack. An amazing amp, especially if you upgrade the tubes. Now, if the extra cost of tubes is a problem, you might want to consider a SS solution. In that case, look into the Burson HA-160, Matrix M-Stage, Yulong D100 MK II (AMP/DAC), or Schiit Asgard 2. 

 

Now, depending on if are DIY friendly, building a Bottlehead Crack is rather inexpensive, and the kit is at a ridiculously low price for what you get. Also, if you are looking for a AIO unit, one of the best I've heard is the Yulong D100 MK II. Excellent value and punches way above its weight. It really depends on your plans for the future. If you plan on getting any low impedance headphones, don't get a tube amp. If you don't, get a tube amp. 

post #10 of 28

aune t1 is pretty nice and the option of tube rolling is a major plus

it's definitely on par with the magni and modi combo

post #11 of 28

I was in your shoes not too long ago. I went to a head-fi meet and met another head-fier who is looking at starting his own amp business. I ended up getting a different dac since the schiit modi was still on back order, but I commissioned him to make an amp and I am so glad I did. 

 

Since I was his first customer with a lower budget than yours at the time, I agreed to getting a prototype to keep my cost low so the amp is not pretty but I thought I would share some pics. 

 

 

 

 

The nice thing about having a ugly amp is that pretty much all the money went into high quality parts and it did pay off. This thing sounds better than the schiit lyr (no joke either) and only cost me about 250. I can only imagine what he could do with more money. 

 

I thought that after doing a great job, I would give his start up business a recommendation. 

 

If you are curious, you can PM him ( Spriggs ) 

 

Edit: Same amp prettier box : ) 

 


Edited by Tjj226 Angel - 4/5/13 at 5:38pm
post #12 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greed View Post

Yea, a tube amp brings out the best in the HD650. The only problem I see with a tube amp, unless hybrid, is that they usually don't play nice with lower impedance headphones. So if you ever decided to pick up another pair of headphones, such as Denons etc. It won't sound very good through a tube amp. Now, if you are content with your HD650s, with possible sights on the HD800 or any of the Beyerdynamic series of headphons, a tube amplifier will be a great investment. For 500, I would consider: Woo Audio WA3, Bottlehead Crack+Speedball, or possibly a WA6 if you can find one for a good price used. If I were to choose between the 3, it would definitely have to be the Bottlehead Crack. An amazing amp, especially if you upgrade the tubes. Now, if the extra cost of tubes is a problem, you might want to consider a SS solution. In that case, look into the Burson HA-160, Matrix M-Stage, Yulong D100 MK II (AMP/DAC), or Schiit Asgard 2. 

 

Now, depending on if are DIY friendly, building a Bottlehead Crack is rather inexpensive, and the kit is at a ridiculously low price for what you get. Also, if you are looking for a AIO unit, one of the best I've heard is the Yulong D100 MK II. Excellent value and punches way above its weight. It really depends on your plans for the future. If you plan on getting any low impedance headphones, don't get a tube amp. If you don't, get a tube amp. 

 

Not true. Look at the pic I just posted. (Spriggs work). If you look at the headphone jacks, there are two. 1 is for high impedance headphones, the other is for low impedance. It works just fine with Q701s, or some dinky logitech ones with really low impedance.  

post #13 of 28

If you can find a used HA-160 for around your price or less it would be awesome. It have 2 headphone jacks for low and high impedance headphones. 

Some people say that it have a tube-like sound.  

 

The Objective combo also comes to mind. 

post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greed View Post

Yea, a tube amp brings out the best in the HD650. The only problem I see with a tube amp, unless hybrid, is that they usually don't play nice with lower impedance headphones. So if you ever decided to pick up another pair of headphones, such as Denons etc. It won't sound very good through a tube amp. Now, if you are content with your HD650s, with possible sights on the HD800 or any of the Beyerdynamic series of headphons, a tube amplifier will be a great investment. For 500, I would consider: Woo Audio WA3, Bottlehead Crack+Speedball, or possibly a WA6 if you can find one for a good price used. If I were to choose between the 3, it would definitely have to be the Bottlehead Crack. An amazing amp, especially if you upgrade the tubes. Now, if the extra cost of tubes is a problem, you might want to consider a SS solution. In that case, look into the Burson HA-160, Matrix M-Stage, Yulong D100 MK II (AMP/DAC), or Schiit Asgard 2. 

 

Now, depending on if are DIY friendly, building a Bottlehead Crack is rather inexpensive, and the kit is at a ridiculously low price for what you get. Also, if you are looking for a AIO unit, one of the best I've heard is the Yulong D100 MK II. Excellent value and punches way above its weight. It really depends on your plans for the future. If you plan on getting any low impedance headphones, don't get a tube amp. If you don't, get a tube amp. 

Id have to agree and disagree at the same time, some tube amps mainly otl tube amps dont play nicely with low impedance headphones, ive found some still work well, a hybrid amp is ok but a real tube amp ive found is the best, now there are transformer coupled tube amps (otl stands for "output transformerless") that work well with both low impedance headphones like grado and high impednace headphones like your 650. id say those are the best bet as they will work with pretty much any headphone you throw at it even some of the more powerfull ones will run the ortho headphones very nicely

post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tjj226 Angel View Post

 

Not true. Look at the pic I just posted. (Spriggs work). If you look at the headphone jacks, there are two. 1 is for high impedance headphones, the other is for low impedance. It works just fine with Q701s, or some dinky logitech ones with really low impedance.  

 

Most OTL amps do not play nice with lower impedance headphones. Just because an amp has a "low impedance" output doesn't mean it will sound good with lower impedance headphones. Without getting into the technical jargon, typically if you are looking for a tube amp that plays nice with lower impedance headphones you want a transformer coupled amp, not an OTL amp. Now with that said, that doesn't mean that it an OTL amp won't sound decent with a low impedance headphone, it just won't sound good. Especially after you have heard it from a good SS amp. 

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