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[Pls Help] New Amp+DAC or new Headphone?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hi, 
I'm new to head-fi and new to headphone audiophile.

My current gears are:
Senn Momentum + Cambridge DacMagic XS + PC source at work
Senn HD598 + imac source at home

 

I want to upgrade my listening at home with about 500usd so I consider one of these:
1. Denon DA-300usb (hardly find any good review)
2. o2 + odac
3. Schiit Asgard2 (with imac build-in soundcard) 
4. Replace HD598 by HD650 and buy Amp/DAC later 

I live in Poland so gears are quite expensive compare to USA or ASIA.
Pls give me your recommendation.  

post #2 of 19

I think that you would be best served by upgrading your amp and dac. For the money the O2/ODAC combo is very hard to beat,if not impossible. The O2 will power about 98% of headphones well and would give you a solid platform to upgrade your headphones if you so desire. The HD598s are very good headphones and would do well with a good amp and dac. The Schiit Asgard is a good choice but my only concern is that you would be using it with your built in soundcard, which would be a bottleneck. For the money the o2/ODAC would be a much better value considering you would get a great amp and dac, as opposed to a just a great amp, for around the same price.

post #3 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by dangblue View Post
 

Hi, 
I'm new to head-fi and new to headphone audiophile.

My current gears are:
Senn Momentum + Cambridge DacMagic XS + PC source at work
Senn HD598 + imac source at home

 

I want to upgrade my listening at home with about 500usd so I consider one of these:
1. Denon DA-300usb (hardly find any good review)
2. o2 + odac
3. Schiit Asgard2 (with imac build-in soundcard) 
4. Replace HD598 by HD650 and buy Amp/DAC later 

I live in Poland so gears are quite expensive compare to USA or ASIA.
Pls give me your recommendation.  

 

I would buy the HD650 (or whatever headphone tickles your fancy) now and then upgrade your amp and DAC later.  The iMac produces great SQ out of the box, but could buy an inexpensive Fiio for your iMac (while you save for something better) with the added benefit that you can also use it for portable use when needed.

 

I don't think it is very smart to buy the best amp in the world to amplify crappy headphones (not saying the HD598 is crappy, I'm thinking of getting a pair myself).    I would beg, steal or...err...work hard to get the best sounding headphone possible and then upgrade the other gear to make it sound even better.

post #4 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spiral Out View Post
 

I think that you would be best served by upgrading your amp and dac. For the money the O2/ODAC combo is very hard to beat,if not impossible.

 

Not bad advice...but I still would upgrade the headphones first.

post #5 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by elvergun View Post
 

 

Not bad advice...but I still would upgrade the headphones first.

I think the HD650 would be the best way to go if the OP already had an amp for them. The HD650s definitely require an amp. I seriously doubt his Mac's built in sound or DacMagic XS would drive them well at all. It seems like a waste of money to buy a pair of headphones that you don't have the equipment to drive properly. Might as well stick with the HD598,at least the gear he has can drive them. .

post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spiral Out View Post
 

I think the HD650 would be the best way to go if the OP already had an amp for them. The HD650s definitely require an amp. I seriously doubt his Mac's built in sound or DacMagic XS would drive them well at all. It seems like a waste of money to buy a pair of headphones that you don't have the equipment to drive properly. Might as well stick with the HD598,at least the gear he has can drive them. .

 

Sure, but I bet you that 9 out of 10 Headfi dentists would argue that the O2/ODAC combo is not good enough to drive the HD650.  Some of them recommend TOTL amps to properly drive the Sennheiser.  If they are right, we are back to square one.

 

I don't think it is  a waste to get the headphone first.  You  can still enjoy the basic sound signature, which will obviously improve when you upgrade the equipment.

 

On the other hand, his HD598s will probably sound better with the O2/ODAC.  The chicken or the egg...

post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by elvergun View Post
 

 

Sure, but I bet you that 9 out of 10 Headfi dentists would argue that the O2/ODAC combo is not good enough to drive the HD650.  Some of them recommend TOTL amps to properly drive the Sennheiser.  If they are right, we are back to square one.

 

I don't think it is  a waste to get the headphone first.  You  can still enjoy the basic sound signature, which will obviously improve when you upgrade the equipment.

 

On the other hand, his HD598s will probably sound better with the O2/ODAC.  The chicken or the egg...

Sure, some people on this board, and on other sites, think you need to get a super high power/high-end amp, that has had a chicken sacrifice performed over it, to power the HD600/650. A lot of this hobby is total nonsense. 

 

I have a Xonar DGX soundcard that is at least as good or better than the iMac's audio out. When I hook my DT880s 250 ohm (for the purposes of comparison is pretty similar in power requirements) , there isn't a satisfying amount of volume and the sound is very muddy and two dimensional. When I hook them up to my desktop amp, it truly is a night and day difference. There is a great deal more clarity, dynamics, volume, and depth and width to the soundstage. I would say the DGX delivers about 60% of the performance of the desktop amp with the DT880. A computers built in sound or most sound cards were never designed to drive high impedance headphones. I can't understand why someone would buy a pair of headphones that they will only get 60%-70% of performance out of. Seems like a massive waste of money to me. It's like buying a Ferrari 458 with a Honda Accord engine in it.

 

Normally, if the OP had a pair of headphones that were totally different than the HD650, I might be inclined to agree with you. If the OP had some Grados or another forward headphone and hated the sound signature, I would say that upgrading the headphones first would be a good idea. But the HD598s are in the same family of headphone and are going to have a some what similar sound signature. I would be willing to bet a properly driven HD598 is better than a poorly driven HD650.

post #8 of 19

Have it both ways (or neither). Save up till you can buy HD6x0 and O2 or O2+ODAC. By then, you might even want a different model such as a planar.

 

But I agree that an unamped HD650 is missing a lot. You can probably get enough volume, but the sound could be distorted and enough detail will be missing that it's not worth it.

post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Claritas View Post
 

Have it both ways (or neither). Save up till you can buy HD6x0 and O2 or O2+ODAC. By then, you might even want a different model such as a planar.

 

But I agree that an unamped HD650 is missing a lot. You can probably get enough volume, but the sound could be distorted and enough detail will be missing that it's not worth it.

 

I used the HD650 without amp.  They are ok...they didn't sound distorted to me.  Sure, with an amp they did sound better. 

 

I will always go for the headphone first and then build around it.   A used Fiio is probably all he needs to get by until he can get a better amp.

post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spiral Out View Post

Sure, some people on this board, and on other sites, think you need to get a super high power/high-end amp, that has had a chicken sacrifice performed over it, to power the HD600/650. A lot of this hobby is total nonsense. 

Some people are looking for that extra 0.1% to 1% improvement they get out of a different DAC/amp setup. It's not for me--and people with no amps like the OP shouldn't be encouraged to think that way--but to each his own smily_headphones1.gif
post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post


Some people are looking for that extra 0.1% to 1% improvement they get out of a different DAC/amp setup. It's not for me--and people with no amps like the OP shouldn't be encouraged to think that way--but to each his own smily_headphones1.gif

I used to think that way, but in the process of upgrading my gear over time, I started listening less to music and more to the sound of my gear. I found that mentality sucked all of my enjoyment out of listening to music, which is why I started with the whole hobby in the first place. I ended up selling all my gear, it was no longer fun for me. That was about 12 years ago. I'm starting back into it, but I'm not getting on that ride again.

post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thank you for replying. I really appreciate your opinions :)

I agree with elvergun that headphone is one of the most important gears to get good quallity music. And if I had crap headphone, I will buy a good one first.
But is my HD598 crap? And compare to HD605, much different without amp?

I also agree with Spiral Out that when I bought a new DAC (DACMagic XS), I only tried to hear the different of gear, not music :(

How about Denon DA-300usb? No-one talked about that? Compare to O2+ODAC? It is 100usd less expensive than DA-300USB in my country. 

post #13 of 19

I think the Denon was launched very recently and it's unlikely people got the chance to listen to it.

From a technical perspective it looks like a pretty sophisticated unit and should be interesting to see how it does against competition.

One the headphone side, the amplifier is rated to only 55 mW/32Ω, which is quite low., especially since it's powered externally.

If you plan to upgrade to a more demanding headphone, like HD650, the Denon is probably not a very good choice.

O2-ODAC, on the other hand, can drive most headphones you can throw at it.

Given the price it sells for it's hard to make a good case for something else.

 

 

 


Edited by James neutron - 3/17/14 at 4:29am
post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by James neutron View Post
 

I think the Denon was launched very recently and it's unlikely people got the chance to listen to it.

From a technical perspective it looks like a pretty sophisticated unit and should be interesting to see how it does against competition.

One the headphone side, the amplifier is rated to only 55 mW/32Ω, which is quite low., especially since it's powered externally.

If you plan to upgrade to a more demanding headphone, like HD650, the Denon is probably not a very good choice.

O2-ODAC, on the other hand, can drive most headphones you can throw at it.

Given the price it sells for it's hard to make a good case for something else.

 

 

 

 


Oop, I dont know that Denon DA-300 cannot drive HD650 well. If its true, I will buy O2+ODAC for sure.

I think of Denon because  it has more input and look good on the table next to imac :)
And because its new product from Denon, maybe it would be supported and upgraded in future?
 

post #15 of 19

In terms of features the Denon has, of course, many advantages. The O2-ODAC is a very simplistic, no frills, device with minimal connectivity.

For typical headphone use it is more than enough and it does have the power to drive demanding headphones.

The Denon is seriously under-specified for headphones, if the 50mW for 32 ohms is the accurate power output of the unit.

To put things into perspective your Dac Magic XS is specified at 150mW, which is 3 times more, and the O2 amp delivers 613mW into 32 ohms.

 

For an easy to drive headphone like HD598 the Denon might be enough, but if you plan to upgrade your headphones you'll most likely have to buy a separate amplifier for them.

All in all I'm not sure the extra money spent will be worth it.

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