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Beyerdynamc DT-990 amp suggestions

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hey guys,


I recently purchased the Beyerdynamic DT-990 (250 ohm) and am wondering if I need an amp to power them through my PC.  I currently am using the Asus Xonar Essence STX soundcard linked here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829132010 .  A friend of mine recommended something like this: http://www.mav-audio.com/base/product/tube_magic_a1 to power them. 


My question is.. what benefit will I get besides volume increase (maybe?) by buying an additional amp.  This sound card already has a built in amp and DAC if I'm not mistaken.  I'm just not sure how good it is compared to stand alone amps on the market and/or DACs.  I'd like some suggestions for amps at least.  I never listen to these headphones outside of my house, so I don't need anything portable.  I'll also be powering my AD700 and M50 headphones through this setup.  My main use is gaming and I'm just dipping my toes into listening to high end audio stuff as it's available to me.  thanks in advance!

Edited by echopapa - 2/3/14 at 7:03am
post #2 of 14

I'm looking into a similar question.  I have the Schiit Magni Amp ($99) with an HRT musicstreamer ii dac coming out of my laptop, and I've ordered the dt990 pros after trying them extensively, but not on my equipment yet. 


I think your soundcard has a built in amp, so it might be fine to start with.  The main thing is with these phones, even  though they're 250 ohm, the low and mid-bass range has closer to 400 ohm impedance, according to data on headphone.com.  So you're going to get much better sounding bass with a good headphone amp that suits headphones up to and over 600 ohms, and in addition, with most tube amps you should get smoother highs and meatier mids with this HP.  I don't really know about the quality of the Asus as a DAC/AMP, but it seems good on paper.  


If you want something to add (and you'd be double-amping which is dangerous)***, perhaps the Schiit Vali ($119) tube amp would be a good start.  Otherwise, you may consider the Audio-GD line direct from China, as they seem to go for a warm analogue sound with their dacs and amps from what I've read, which might balance the Beyers' sometimes overly analytic feel.  I don't know much about the Maverick, so you may want to search the forum a bit to see how it's rated and reviewed, and what headphones people tend to use with it.


Lastly, and most importantly, make sure you're feeding these phones super high-quality recordings, because they don't forgive low bit rates and bad/old recordings.  I found that I much prefer to listen to old acoustic blues and folk on my Grados for that reason.  


***double amping can mess up your second amp, so make sure you have a line out jack going into your external amp if you get one.

post #3 of 14

Nice choice, I have the DT-880 pro set and I love them. I would ask you this questions (not trying to be facetious). The sound card you have supports up to 600ohm, so it should have adequate power for the 990s. If you are only going to use it with the sound card, and the sound/volume is pleasing, I wouldn't buy a thing. However, if you wish to use them with your phone or other device that is not made for higher impedance headphones, then I would consider an amp. I have an FiiO E-17 Dac/Amp, but as I think I may have been hasty in my decision. It works well, but I think there may be better ones in the same price range. My preference is to keep things as simple as I can. Not sure I directly answered your question, but maybe I helped in your decision.

post #4 of 14

The STX it's a very capable soundcard with headphone amp, are you satisfied by it's performance with the DT990's? technically speaking it is able to drive them, but some users don't like the match.  

post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies guys.  So far I am pleased with the DT990 headphones.  They do sound really nice, but I feel like they could sound better.  I'm not sure if this has somethign to do with EQ settings on my Xonar soundboard and I don't know how to configure them properly, but I just feel like they could sound better.  The Xonar Audio Center seems pretty basic though.. so I don't see what I could be missing.


Additionally, I think part of my problem may be the quality of files I'm listening to.  I have no clue where to find high quality music files to listen to.  This highest I have is 320 kpbs.  When playing games or just listening to music, I can tell a difference in the soundstages for sure between the 990s and my AD700s.  I'm not going to hear THAT much difference between amps/headphone sounds from games that just support stereo sound, right?  Just because the source sound itself is the bottleneck? 


I really wouldn't want to listen to these headphones at more than 60% volume with this current Xonar Essence STX amp so I feel like the amp is sufficiently driving them.  I kind of wish I went for the 600 ohm set now just to see what the difference would be.  I've been debating with the idea of just bypassing this headphone amp (and still using the DAC if that's even possible) to try to improve quality.  The issue is, I'm not sure what level/caliber of amp I'm working with in this soundcard to compare it to anything.  I've linked it here for reference: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829132010


*Edit* - I also JUST bought these DT990s (250 ohm) and am considering sending them back for the 600 ohm version.  Especially if I do upgrade past this xonar amp.

Edited by echopapa - 2/5/14 at 6:58am
post #6 of 14

I have the 990 pros, and am really loving them paired with the Schitt Vali. The Vali is also nice because it allows more headroom to upgrade you cans before getting a new amp.

post #7 of 14

A1 is a good choice

post #8 of 14

I wouldn't go out and get the 600ohms yet.  You probably won't notice an improvement in sound, really.  The bass might be a bit softer and the treble a tiny bit less harsh, but unless you're going to get a serious amp, you'd be better off with the 250 ohms, I think.  That's because for most of these phones, the ohm requirements are not even across the sound spectrum, thus you would need an amp that can do significantly higher than 600ohms to get the best bass performance, for example.  


Your sources are important, but also keep in mind that since headphones are stereo, you want to have game and music settings probably kept at stereo, and not artificially set at 7.1 or 5.1, since those settings are best when you have multiple speakers, and then not really great for music unless the music is engineered for such a set up, as with some DVD records, etc..  

post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 

My budget for an amp/DAC combo would be $500 at the most.

post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 

Bump.. still looking for recommendations.

post #11 of 14
Originally Posted by echopapa View Post

Bump.. still looking for recommendations.


post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 

BUMP.. Still looking for other amp recommendations from this setup. I do like the Xonar card, but I'm not -blown- away by it. Am I going to have to spend more than $500 (my budget) to get a standalone amp/dac until it's noticeably better? Also.. maybe replacing the op amps would be my best option and call it good?

post #13 of 14

I use the Fiio X3 alone with the 600ohm DT990s and have been impressed for months. You can also use the X3 as a usb dac/amp to your computer and make the 990's sing. All for $200. Yes, the Fiio is that powerful and the synergy here is the thing, not the money. Not saying it's endgame, of course, but I found it shockingly coherent.  For reference to what level of sound I am used to: The best cans I own are HE-500's and the best amp I own is the Burson Soloist. (I also own the Anedio D2 Dac) 

Edited by Blackford - 2/13/14 at 6:15pm
post #14 of 14

I am using the Objective 2 amp with my DT990 600ohms and it is a perfect match for me. It lets the headphones sound the way they should. I used the Fiio E17 and the Bravo V2. With the Bravo V2, there was a lack of details and a big rolloff at both ends. With the E17, the bass was ligth and didn't have any impact. I would definitely recommend the O2.

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