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Need help with AMP/DAC!

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 

Hopefully I will be purchasing the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 250 ohms and was wondering what I need to drive this. Right now all I have in an Astro Mixamp :P

 

I live in Canada so that may restrict me from getting some amps/dacs first of all.

 

I am looking for a desktop/portable (wont be moving much) amp and/or dac.

Like I said I have an Astro Mixamp and an onboard sound card (M5A97 EVO motherboard). I know very little about amps and dacs and what I need to drive these for a low cost.

 

My maximum would be around $140.

I was looking at the E17 although i'm not sure if I need an amp as I dont listen to my music very loud and my motherboard had SPDIF and the astro mixamp has dolby digital.

post #2 of 41
Thread Starter 
Bump. .
post #3 of 41
Then I would try the Mixamp first and if it doesn't give you what you need, grab some more money and seek out a nice combo like the Schiit M/M stack.
post #4 of 41
Thread Starter 
What would be the symptoms that I look for on my headphones so I know to get a dac/amp (e.g. crackling in music, not enough volume?)
post #5 of 41

First thing is the specs for the output power of the Astro Mixamp aren't that impressive, I have a feeling it won't be so good at driving 250 Ohm cans. I'll guess that the resulting tone from lack of driving ability is not good at all. If it can take digital input maybe it has a DAC, if so who knows how good it is, they don't say much about anything, Have you searched the web for user feedback? Personally, I'd go for something geared towards users that listen to music.

Most motherboard onboard sound hardware stinks. I'd look for a DAC/Amp.

FiiO specs the E17 for "Drive ability: 16-150 Ω. So they may not drive your HP's adequately as 250 Ohms require more voltage. If you can spend some more you can pair it with an E12 amp or go for an E07K + E12. if you want to spend less. I have an E12 which can drive my 300 Ohm HD600's more than well enough, actually sounds great.

They have an E18 coming out soon so you can check the threads on Head-Fi about that. It is easy to overspend on this stuff and get into the law of diminishing returns so keep an eye on your wallet.

post #6 of 41
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply!

I was thinking about getting the schiit m/m combo but it's over 30 dollars shipping to canada and it's already more expensive than the headphones itself. I'm better off buying something fiio from Canadacomputers.com
post #7 of 41
Well then I have a FiiO E09K / E17 combo that drives my 250 Ohm DT880's very well. I use it whenever I don't have the tubes fired up. The E09K has the most input / output options in its price range and will drive the DT880's to ear bleed levels.

I picked up mine from B&H online in NYC they ship to Canada for cheap and the total price is what it is, no hidden duty or taxes.

I didn't mention the FiiO combo at first since there is a lot of snobbery around here towards FiiO gear. If you do decide on the FiiO then in my Sig is a way to remove the sloppy docking fit.
beerchug.gif
post #8 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by TrollDragon View Post

Well then I have a FiiO E09K / E17 combo that drives my 250 Ohm DT880's very well. I use it whenever I don't have the tubes fired up. The E09K has the most input / output options in its price range and will drive the DT880's to ear bleed levels.

I picked up mine from B&H online in NYC they ship to Canada for cheap and the total price is what it is, no hidden duty or taxes.

I didn't mention the FiiO combo at first since there is a lot of snobbery around here towards FiiO gear. If you do decide on the FiiO then in my Sig is a way to remove the sloppy docking fit.
beerchug.gif

I used to work a few blocks from B&H. The store is amazing, stocked with everything imaginable, great sales staff and if you know what you want you can be in and out of the place in a blink, even when it's busy as all hell. Until last week my office was across the street from J&R. I got my HD600 cans there. I spent around 45 minutes A/B'ing them with the HD650 using my E12 to drive them from my cellphone. I was eyeing an HD800 but that'll have to wait for another day.

post #9 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TrollDragon View Post

Well then I have a FiiO E09K / E17 combo that drives my 250 Ohm DT880's very well. I use it whenever I don't have the tubes fired up. The E09K has the most input / output options in its price range and will drive the DT880's to ear bleed levels.

I picked up mine from B&H online in NYC they ship to Canada for cheap and the total price is what it is, no hidden duty or taxes.

I didn't mention the FiiO combo at first since there is a lot of snobbery around here towards FiiO gear. If you do decide on the FiiO then in my Sig is a way to remove the sloppy docking fit.
beerchug.gif

What would you recommend for something with a max of about $150 considering the e09k/e17 combo will cost over $300 when including tax :S

post #10 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by tehsprayer View Post
 

What would you recommend for something with a max of about $150 considering the e09k/e17 combo will cost over $300 when including tax :S

Most if not all of the reasonably priced DAC/Amp combos cannot satisfactorily drive high impedance cans as they cannot deliver sufficient peak to peak voltage. Both the E09k and E12 Amps can reach 15.5 V p-p which is nice. The E17 can only hit what they call > 7.3 Vp-p. I doubt that means much more than 7.3 V. So that's about 2 x voltage gain or 6 dB in favor of these two amps over the DAC output.

So if your Astro Mixamp sounds ok enough with more efficient cans or IEMs and you can't spend too much for now, get an amp to chain off the Mixamp. Fiio has an E18 DAC coming out soon, which will play nice, even with Android cellphones wihc will be another viable choice of DAC. So if the Mixamp sounds good, you can buy the DAC later if that will bring up the sounds some more. If you feel that you'd need a portable amp in the future you can get the E12. If you like the various connections of the E09k and portable is not in your cards, that's a good way to go.

post #11 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by StanD View Post
 

Most if not all of the reasonably priced DAC/Amp combos cannot satisfactorily drive high impedance cans as they cannot deliver sufficient peak to peak voltage. Both the E09k and E12 Amps can reach 15.5 V p-p which is nice. The E17 can only hit what they call > 7.3 Vp-p. I doubt that means much more than 7.3 V. So that's about 2 x voltage gain or 6 dB in favor of these two amps over the DAC output.

So if your Astro Mixamp sounds ok enough with more efficient cans or IEMs and you can't spend too much for now, get an amp to chain off the Mixamp. Fiio has an E18 DAC coming out soon, which will play nice, even with Android cellphones wihc will be another viable choice of DAC. So if the Mixamp sounds good, you can buy the DAC later if that will bring up the sounds some more. If you feel that you'd need a portable amp in the future you can get the E12. If you like the various connections of the E09k and portable is not in your cards, that's a good way to go.

Should I be looking at getting an amp and dac for the future or just an amp or just a dac? I dont listen to music very loudly. It would be nice to get a dac/amp combo to save money such as the e17 but I want the best bang for my buck and is able to drive DT 990s without breaking the bank.

post #12 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by StanD View Post
 

I used to work a few blocks from B&H. The store is amazing, stocked with everything imaginable, great sales staff and if you know what you want you can be in and out of the place in a blink, even when it's busy as all hell. Until last week my office was across the street from J&R. I got my HD600 cans there. I spent around 45 minutes A/B'ing them with the HD650 using my E12 to drive them from my cellphone. I was eyeing an HD800 but that'll have to wait for another day.

Wow, nirvana for sure!

I would love to have a pilgrimage to the Mecca's of B&H and J&R one day... Wallet be damned it would just be amazing!

:beerchug:

post #13 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by TrollDragon View Post
 

Wow, nirvana for sure!

I would love to have a pilgrimage to the Mecca's of B&H and J&R one day... Wallet be damned it would just be amazing!

:beerchug:

Working across the street from J&R is good and bad. Obviously bad for the wallet, but good for my ears. You can try a lot of cans on the spot, although I have to stay away from the HD800's for now. They also have a great return policy, which is very good for IEMs which you can't try in the store, So recently when I was looking to get a set of IEMs I bought a pair of Shure SE215's, took them to the office to try, didn't like them, brought them right back and went a bit upscale. I tried the Sony MDR-1R in the store and they seemed good. Took them home and discovered that the very low extended bass rolled off too much, I brought them back in a few days and got a pair of Momentums, which to me sound much better and lucky for me, my ears fit in, just barely.

At this point they know me well, in fact recently when I got my HD600's the saleslady asked how I liked my Sony XBA-3 IEMs. I had bought those about two years ago - lol..

post #14 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by tehsprayer View Post
 

Should I be looking at getting an amp and dac for the future or just an amp or just a dac? I dont listen to music very loudly. It would be nice to get a dac/amp combo to save money such as the e17 but I want the best bang for my buck and is able to drive DT 990s without breaking the bank.


 

Quote: StanD
Most if not all of the reasonably priced DAC/Amp combos cannot satisfactorily drive high impedance cans as they cannot deliver sufficient peak to peak voltage.

Words of truth right there...

 

Best bang for the buck is a hard choice sometimes... If you need portability the the E12 will work nicely for you or wait for the E18 down the road, if you just want a desktop unit then the E09K or the Schiit Modi will drive the 250 Ohm cans well.

 

I had the Audioengine D1 DAC/Amp as my first choice. ($159 from CanadaComputers)

 

I even emailed Audioengine and asked them specifically if the D1 would drive 250 Ohm headphones, they replied with "Many of our users have reported satisfactory results with high impedance headphones". Well when it arrived I connected up the DT880's and had to turn the volume control to 90% to get a decent level of sound, which was NOT loud by any means. Within 15 minutes it was packed up and back in the box with an RMA to B&H to be exchanged for the E09K.

 

I always use a motorbike analogy to explain amps... You can get around fine on a 250cc bike, here there and everywhere around town nicely. Then you take it up on the highway, the bike will reach highway speeds with the throttle almost maxed out and little to spare. (This is the E17 driving 250 Ohm headphones). Now lets switch the bike over to a 650cc you still get great performance around town and when you take it up on the highway you can get up to speed with still half the throttle left in reserve. (This is the E12 / E09K / Modi with 250 Ohm headphones).

 

The issue is if all your music is well mastered to decent levels then the E17 will provide all you need, but the first poorly mastered track that has low levels there will not be any reserve left in the E17 to allow you to turn up the volume. If you have not heard the DT990's they are an open can, in a quiet environment they are great but if you have to drown out the tv, talking, or any other noises you will want to turn them up some and that might just not be available.

 

If I was getting gear again for the first time with 250 Ohm headphones, I would look into the Audio-gd NFB-15.32 which gets great reviews around here, has a 32bit 384k DAC and all the inputs. A decent amplifier that will drive most headphones and you can use it as a standalone DAC only if you get a better amp down the road. $235 from China with a little shipping and duty will probably land it for less than $300 on your door.

 

These are the choices that I would recommend.

:beerchug: 

post #15 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by StanD View Post
 

Working across the street from J&R is good and bad. Obviously bad for the wallet, but good for my ears. You can try a lot of cans on the spot, although I have to stay away from the HD800's for now. They also have a great return policy, which is very good for IEMs which you can't try in the store, So recently when I was looking to get a set of IEMs I bought a pair of Shure SE215's, took them to the office to try, didn't like them, brought them right back and went a bit upscale. I tried the Sony MDR-1R in the store and they seemed good. Took them home and discovered that the very low extended bass rolled off too much, I brought them back in a few days and got a pair of Momentums, which to me sound much better and lucky for me, my ears fit in, just barely.

At this point they know me well, in fact recently when I got my HD600's the saleslady asked how I liked my Sony XBA-3 IEMs. I had bought those about two years ago - lol..


Nice!

Down here in Nova Scotia there is nothing but an overpriced "Boutique" stereo shop. Take the US retail and add  $75-100 and that is their price, "we have a special on today" he said when I inquired about some Grado SR225i's "Yes $279 today!" Thanks Click...

 

Tried the Momentums in FutureShop and didn't care much for them, but their locked display source was way too loud, and I didn't have my portable with me at the time. So I would need to give then a fair trial with my stuff.

 

Sorry tehsprayer, don't mean to hijack your thread...

:beerchug:

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