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Desktop DAC/amp for HD 558

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hello, everyone.  I've been unable to make up my mind on a desktop dac and headphone amp in the $150-200 price range; I've been lurking for a long time, but I feel it would help more to get a dialogue going.  They're going to be driving my Sennheiser HD 558s, so I know a high powered amp isn't exactly necessary, but I do want to give my self the option of upgrading in the future.  The dac and amp do not have to be one integrated unit and portability isn't a factor, but I would prefer to stay closer to the lower range of my budget.  Any suggestions or help will be greatly appreciated; thanks!

post #2 of 12

The Vali by Schiit is hard  to pass up at the $120 price. Give it a look...

 

Matt

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

I've read some pretty good stuff about the Vali as well, but that doesn't leave me any real room for a decent dac.  Given that my source is my computer's motherboard, do you think the amp is more important than a dac?

post #4 of 12

I'd say that they are equally important. On your budget you could get the Vali and modi for $230, pretty close to your budget. You won't do better at that price point. If the price is still too high you could get them used here for a little less. 

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

That may be stretching my budget a bit, but it's probably worth it.  Thanks for your advice :)

post #6 of 12
Audioquest dragonfly?
post #7 of 12
You can also get the Schiit Modi and Magni for $200 + shipping. So a little cheaper than getting the Vali.
post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meistershank View Post
 

Hello, everyone.  I've been unable to make up my mind on a desktop DAC and headphone amp in the $150-200 price range; I've been lurking for a long time, but I feel it would help more to get a dialogue going.  They're going to be driving my Sennheiser HD 558s, so I know a high powered amp isn't exactly necessary, but I do want to give my self the option of upgrading in the future.  The DAC and amp do not have to be one integrated unit and portability isn't a factor, but I would prefer to stay closer to the lower range of my budget.  Any suggestions or help will be greatly appreciated; thanks!

 

Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z sound card, $89

Asus Xonar Essence STX, (Used on eBay, $150?)

 

Schiit Magni headphone amplifier, $99 and a Asus Xonar DX or D1 sound card, used $60.

 

The Magni is just a little more desirable headphone amplifier, then the one built in the Essence STX.

As the Magni has a low output impedance and gives you a volume knob at your finger tips.

Plus the Magni can be use with more then just a Windows PC.

 

If you just need something for music and basic stereo video.

ELE EL-D02 USB DAC/amp, $18.90

Best to order two just in case one stops working

post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 

So, do you think the Vali is worth the additional 20 dollars versus the Magni?  I want to shy away from the soundcard route so that I can use my equipment with a laptop if I'm traveling.  I feel pretty set in getting a Modi, but I'm unsure of what amp I need to pair with it, or even if there's a sufficient/cheaper non-Schiit option out there.

post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meistershank View Post
 

So, do you think the Vali is worth the additional 20 dollars versus the Magni?  I want to shy away from the sound card route so that I can use my equipment with a laptop if I'm traveling.  I feel pretty set in getting a Modi, but I'm unsure of what amp I need to pair with it, or even if there's a sufficient/cheaper non-Schiit option out there.

 

Magni vs Vali, not sure which is better for the HD558s

There is the PAV2V (Pocket Amplifier 2 Version 2) headphone amplifier, sells for around $60-$70 on EBay.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/PA2V2-Headphones-Amplifier-Rechargeable-Headphone-Amp-/191150837877?pt=US_Headphones&hash=item2c817a5075

 

For a low cost DAC, there is the ELE EL-D01 USB DAC, $12-$15.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/ELE-EL-D01-MINI-HIFI-USB-Original-PCM2704-DAC-BOARD-CARD-With-ELNA-Capacitor-/251511920558?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a8f4757ae

post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meistershank View Post
 

So, do you think the Vali is worth the additional 20 dollars versus the Magni?  I want to shy away from the soundcard route so that I can use my equipment with a laptop if I'm traveling.  I feel pretty set in getting a Modi, but I'm unsure of what amp I need to pair with it, or even if there's a sufficient/cheaper non-Schiit option out there.

 

It's worth every penny. Possibly the stingiest hp on the planet is the hd800. Many are saying that the Vali drives that hp quite well. Now that's some props. :wink:

post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meistershank View Post

So, do you think the Vali is worth the additional 20 dollars versus the Magni?

Here's what I posted in another thread just today:
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

The Vali is the FOTM right now as a $119 hybrid tube/solid state amp. A lot of people that got it as their first amp upgrade are promoting it.

However, not everyone prefers that tube/solid state sound vs. a straight solid state amp. A hybrid tube/solid state amp is not the same as full tube amp; it adds some tube flavor. The "tube flavor" is actually distortion to the original signal that many find to be musical. However, I own/have owned two hybrid tube/solid state amps, and I prefer the accuracy of a solid state amp.

So could be you might like the Magni better anyway. Without hearing both, you really can't know.

Unless you are inclined for some reason to think you would prefer the tube flavoring of the Vali vs. the accuracy of a solid state only amp, might as well stick with the Magni. The Magni has more power and also a lower output impedance, meaning it's better suited to drive very low impedance headphones (e.g. 16 ohm) should you ever get any.
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