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Amp and DAC recommendations for ATH-AD2000X / ATH-AD900

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hey guys,

 

I'm currently running Spotify Premium --> Asus Xonar STX's s/pdif out (96k/24) --> Nuforce Icon HDP --> ATH-AD900's with W5000 pads. I love the setup, been rocking them for two years (and 700's for 3 years before that) but from the reviews I read and how I like to listen to music, I know the ATH-AD2000X's are the next step for me.

 

Question, though: What are my options for a DAC/Amplifier that would do these headphones justice? Should I upgrade the Icon HDP's amplifier/DAC first for the 900's or put that money toward the 2000X's first? I'm looking into the Gilmore Lite but my budget for this winter is anything under $1000 for an amp and the same if the DAC in the Icon is a bottleneck.

 

That said, if I can get away with using the Icon HDP as a preamp (using its DAC) running into, say, a Gilmore Lite or GS-1, I'm okay with that, too. Though I'm pretty confident that the weak point in the setup are the headphones.

 

Because my ADHD got the best of me:

 

1. Is the Icon HDP DAC and/or amp a great pair for the 2000X's?

2. Should I upgrade the amplifier or headphones first?

3. Would the DAC in the Icon be sufficient for amplifiers I plan on running?

 

Thanks in advance! (And Happy Halloween!)


Edited by Xovaan - 10/31/13 at 10:33pm
post #2 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xovaan View Post
 

I'm currently running Spotify Premium --> Asus Xonar STX's s/pdif out (96k/24) --> Nuforce Icon HDP --> ATH-AD900's with W5000 pads. I love the setup, been rocking them for two years (and 700's for 3 years before that) but from the reviews I read and how I like to listen to music, I know the ATH-AD2000's are the next step for me.

Question, though: What are my options for a DAC/Amplifier that would do these headphones justice? Should I upgrade the Icon HDP's amplifier/DAC first for the 900's or put that money toward the 2000's first? I'm looking into the Gilmore Lite but my budget for this winter is anything under $1000 for an amp and the same if the DAC in the Icon is a bottleneck.

That said, if I can get away with using the Icon HDP as a preamp (using its DAC) running into, say, a Gilmore Lite or GS-1, I'm okay with that, too. Though I'm pretty confident that the weak point in the setup are the headphones.

Because my ADHD got the best of me:

1. Is the Icon HDP DAC and/or amp a great pair for the 2000's?

2. Should I upgrade the amplifier or headphones first?

3. Would the DAC in the Icon be sufficient for amplifiers I plan on running?

Thanks in advance! (And Happy Halloween!)

The 25-Ohm AH-D2000 would be better when used with a headphone amplifier with an output impedance of 3-Ohms or less.

The Icon HDP has a 10-Ohm output impedance.

 

A O2 (Objective 2) or Schiit Magni headphone amplifier comes with an output impedance of less then 1-Ohm

and could easily be plugged into the Essence STX RCA outputs (and use the Essence STX PCM1792A DAC chip).

post #3 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
The 25-Ohm AH-D2000 would be better when used with a headphone amplifier with an output impedance of 3-Ohms or less.

The Icon HDP has a 10-Ohm output impedance.

 

OP was referring to an Audio-Technica headphone, not the Denon D2000.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xovaan View Post
Hey guys,

 

I'm currently running Spotify Premium --> Asus Xonar STX's s/pdif out (96k/24) --> Nuforce Icon HDP --> ATH-AD900's with W5000 pads. I love the setup, been rocking them for two years (and 700's for 3 years before that) but from the reviews I read and how I like to listen to music, I know the ATH-AD2000's are the next step for me.

 

Question, though: What are my options for a DAC/Amplifier that would do these headphones justice? Should I upgrade the Icon HDP's amplifier/DAC first for the 900's or put that money toward the 2000's first? I'm looking into the Gilmore Lite but my budget for this winter is anything under $1000 for an amp and the same if the DAC in the Icon is a bottleneck.

 

That said, if I can get away with using the Icon HDP as a preamp (using its DAC) running into, say, a Gilmore Lite or GS-1, I'm okay with that, too. Though I'm pretty confident that the weak point in the setup are the headphones.

 

Because my ADHD got the best of me:

 

1. Is the Icon HDP DAC and/or amp a great pair for the 2000's?

2. Should I upgrade the amplifier or headphones first?

3. Would the DAC in the Icon be sufficient for amplifiers I plan on running?

 

It's unclear if you want to get the original AD2K or the newer AD2KX. In either case, as already stated the Icon HDP amp does not have good specs for very low-impedance/highly-sensitive headphones, so it'd make sense to upgrade to a better amp. I know nothing about the DAC though, so you might as well just keep it.

 

You should upgrade the headphones and amp at the same time, if possible.

 

I also don't recommend the Gilmore Lite for the AD2KX - the sonic pairing isn't that great. Not sure of a better inexpensive amp though, as I don't know of many current amps and have heard even fewer of them. (I've also heard the Schiit Asgard 2 with the AD2KX, don't recommend it either.) You might want to look into the Garage1217 DIY/kit amps though - not that I'm "recommending" any of them per se, but they certainly look interesting, and the Project Ember has the right specs to drive headphones like the AD2KX.


Edited by Asr - 10/31/13 at 5:09pm
post #4 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asr View Post
 

OP was referring to an Audio-Technica headphone, not the Denon D2000.

Oops, guess I should be using my reading glass when reading posts on Head-Fi.

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info, guys. I guess I can hold out with using the DAC in the HDP and drop the cash for headphones and an amp. My budget for the amp is still under a grand, maybe a bit over if the improvement is significant. I'm looking specifically at the ATH-AD2000X, for reference. Would something like the GS-1 be sufficient, or are you saying any dynalo won't be a good match for them?

post #6 of 12

Audio-GD NFB-15.32 DAC/amp, $255 plus shipping

http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB1532/NFB15.32EN.htm

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

Audio-GD NFB-15.32 DAC/amp, $255 plus shipping

http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB1532/NFB15.32EN.htm

Never heard of the brand. I'm definitely open to all ideas though. Care to elaborate more?

 

Asr, would the AD2KX's run into the same problem of sonic pairing if I replace the stock earpads with the W5000 leather ones, or should I keep the felt pads? Would it be worth sourcing an old pair of 2000's over the X's, or are the improvements in design mostly positive? Thanks for the replies so far, by the way!

 

edit: that Project Ember looks pretty rad, actually. I've wanted a DIY kit for a while and it would be interesting seeing how well it works with my 900's (and eventually the 2000/x's)


Edited by Xovaan - 10/31/13 at 11:29pm
post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xovaan View Post
 

Never heard of the brand. I'm definitely open to all ideas though. Care to elaborate more?

My Audio-GD NFB-15.32 arrived a week ago (Thursday), shipped from Hong Kong.

Works fine with my DT990 Premium 600-Ohm headphones and my 32-Ohm AKG K550.

Audio-GD recommends using the USB connection for music audio.

Part I like is that it also has S/PDIF (optical & coaxial) inputs, so I can hook it up directly to a sound card and be able to use the sound card's Headphone Surround Sound feature (which USB can't do).

 

For around $400, you can get the 11.32 model, which is considered to offer a more "detailed" audio sound,

where as the 15.32 is considered more musical and smooth.

 

Here is a thread on the 15.32

http://www.head-fi.org/t/648386/audio-gd-nfb-15-32-delivery-impression-thread

post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xovaan View Post
I'm looking specifically at the ATH-AD2000X, for reference. Would something like the GS-1 be sufficient, or are you saying any dynalo won't be a good match for them?

 

The GS-1 would be a better sonic pairing with the AD2KX, as it doesn't sound the same as the Gilmore Lite and would improve on it, but I'm not sure the Dynalo is ideal for the AD2KX. I can't help but think that there's probably a great inexpensive amp for the AD2KX to be found somewhere, just haven't found it yet.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xovaan View Post
Asr, would the AD2KX's run into the same problem of sonic pairing if I replace the stock earpads with the W5000 leather ones, or should I keep the felt pads? Would it be worth sourcing an old pair of 2000's over the X's, or are the improvements in design mostly positive? Thanks for the replies so far, by the way!

 

edit: that Project Ember looks pretty rad, actually. I've wanted a DIY kit for a while and it would be interesting seeing how well it works with my 900's (and eventually the 2000/x's)

 

No idea about how alternate earpads would affect the AD2KX, so I can't say. I have some impressions of the AD2K vs X here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/631998/audio-technica-updates-their-open-headphones-ad-series-ad2000x-ad1000x-ad900x-ad700x-and-ad500x/1290#post_9663275

 

The nice thing about the Project Ember is that it can also drive planar magnetic headphones like the ones from Audeze, HiFiMan, and Fostex (including mods like MrSpeakers'), if you ever decide to get a pair down the road.

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

My Audio-GD NFB-15.32 arrived a week ago (Thursday), shipped from Hong Kong.

Works fine with my DT990 Premium 600-Ohm headphones and my 32-Ohm AKG K550.

Audio-GD recommends using the USB connection for music audio.

Part I like is that it also has S/PDIF (optical & coaxial) inputs, so I can hook it up directly to a sound card and be able to use the sound card's Headphone Surround Sound feature (which USB can't do).

 

For around $400, you can get the 11.32 model, which is considered to offer a more "detailed" audio sound,

where as the 15.32 is considered more musical and smooth.

 

Here is a thread on the 15.32

http://www.head-fi.org/t/648386/audio-gd-nfb-15-32-delivery-impression-thread

Cool stuff! I'll have to research more into these. What exactly is "detailed' versus "musical" though? Clarity vs. warmth? Although at this price point the Ember looks super sweet, as I've never experienced a tube amp and it would be a pretty sweet addition.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asr View Post
 

 

The GS-1 would be a better sonic pairing with the AD2KX, as it doesn't sound the same as the Gilmore Lite and would improve on it, but I'm not sure the Dynalo is ideal for the AD2KX. I can't help but think that there's probably a great inexpensive amp for the AD2KX to be found somewhere, just haven't found it yet.

 

 

No idea about how alternate earpads would affect the AD2KX, so I can't say. I have some impressions of the AD2K vs X here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/631998/audio-technica-updates-their-open-headphones-ad-series-ad2000x-ad1000x-ad900x-ad700x-and-ad500x/1290#post_9663275

 

The nice thing about the Project Ember is that it can also drive planar magnetic headphones like the ones from Audeze, HiFiMan, and Fostex (including mods like MrSpeakers'), if you ever decide to get a pair down the road.

 

 

How would you speculate that the AD2K (non-X) work with the Project Ember, based on reviews? I don't mind picking up an AD2K based on what you've said in your comparison; half of the reason I wanted the AD2K's was due to most of its older reviews and I knew nothing of the X's, really. Haha.

 

edit: As far as DIY goes, my skill levels for electronics stems from a high school electronics class and recapping various speakers. I also converted my car from K-Jet to EFI, which required extensive wiring and multimeter use. I can follow a guide if put in front of me and have successfully used a multimeter to diagnose electrical issues in components, cars, etc. Is the b22 and s22 combination far off in price and skill level if built over a period of time? It's about 2,000 in parts for both, correct?


Edited by Xovaan - 11/1/13 at 11:24am
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xovaan View Post
How would you speculate that the AD2K (non-X) work with the Project Ember, based on reviews? I don't mind picking up an AD2K based on what you've said in your comparison; half of the reason I wanted the AD2K's was due to most of its older reviews and I knew nothing of the X's, really. Haha.

 

edit: As far as DIY goes, my skill levels for electronics stems from a high school electronics class and recapping various speakers. I also converted my car from K-Jet to EFI, which required extensive wiring and multimeter use. I can follow a guide if put in front of me and have successfully used a multimeter to diagnose electrical issues in components, cars, etc. Is the b22 and s22 combination far off in price and skill level if built over a period of time? It's about 2,000 in parts for both, correct?

 

I haven't read any reviews of the Project Ember, so I can't even speculate. I only know that the amp has the right specs to drive the AD2K/X (with its 0.1 Ohm output impedance setting).

 

I don't know anything about building a B22, you should ask any questions about it in the DIY forum.

 

I'm not a DIY-er btw....


Edited by Asr - 11/2/13 at 2:00am
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 

I'll head over to AMB and see what they have to say as well. I'm wary to get the Ember simply because the only person who seems to have written a review for it is some eccentric sperglord with speakers and nobody's done any real comparisons. :[

 

Thanks for the info thus far!


Edited by Xovaan - 11/2/13 at 5:49pm
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