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Is there a desktop headphone amp buyer's guide? Or alternatively, recommendations?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I'm looking for a decent desktop headphone amp that can drive most things I can throw at it. I currently don't have anything too terribly special, just a set of modified monoprice cans atm. But i do plan on getting better stuff in the future. 

I currently have a Fiio E11 and I love it, but I want something that I can plug in and not have to worry about the battery all the time. The sound card on my computer is terrible at driving headphones of any sort. 

 

A USB dac would be nice, but it would have to be linux compatible as well. 

 

Is there a place I can go to find out what amp would be best for me?

Or, alternatively, does anyone have anything they would like to reccommend? I don't have a huge budget. Probably would have to be less than 100$,  but I'm reasonably skilled with a soldering iron so diy kits wouldnt be a problem. 

post #2 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon C View Post
 

I'm looking for a decent desktop headphone amp that can drive most things I can throw at it. I currently don't have anything too terribly special, just a set of modified Monoprice cans atm. But i do plan on getting better stuff in the future. 

I currently have a Fiio E11 and I love it, but I want something that I can plug in and not have to worry about the battery all the time. The sound card on my computer is terrible at driving headphones of any sort. 

 

A USB dac would be nice, but it would have to be Linux compatible as well. 

 

Is there a place I can go to find out what amp would be best for me?

Or, alternatively, does anyone have anything they would like to recommend? I don't have a huge budget. Probably would have to be less than 100$,  but I'm reasonably skilled with a soldering iron so diy kits wouldnt be a problem. 

Schiit Magni or O2 (Objective 2) headphone amplifier.

You might find something used for with in your budget and I'm sure the are O2 diy O2 kits.

 

You might also consider getting a sound card with a good DAC chip, that you can plug the head amp into.

Asus Xonar DX or D1 sound card (used $60), comes with the CS4398 DAC chip :)

I'm sure there must be Linux drivers for it's C-Media CMI8788 audio processor.

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

Those both look pretty good.

I dont know how much it matters, but I listen to a lot of electronic music at high bitrates. Everything from chillout, to drum and bass, to psytrance, and such like that.

It seems a lot of the amps I find dont do very well with bass, and for me that is an important part of what I listen to.

post #4 of 6

Don't worry much about that because the amp ideally shouldn't color the sound (unless it's a tube amp, in which case it's coloring the sound in a purposeful, controlled manner). "Coloration" insofar as one desires it ideally should come from EQ, but practically your headphones will be the biggest influence. 

post #5 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon C View Post
 

Those both look pretty good.

I dont know how much it matters, but I listen to a lot of electronic music at high bitrates. Everything from chillout, to drum and bass, to psytrance, and such like that.

It seems a lot of the amps I find dont do very well with bass, and for me that is an important part of what I listen to.

The headphones you use would have more effect on the bass then the headphone amplifier used.

Beyerdynamic DT990 are bassy open headphones.

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

I dont mind a little coloration if it enhances the listening experience.

What are people's thoughts on the Schiit Magni vs the Vali?

Is the "tube sound" worth an extra 20$?

Or would somethign else be better?

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