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New Guy, Need Help with DAC and AMP choice

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hello All!


TL;DR. Lurked for a few weeks and bought momentums and k712, wondering if I need a dac and amp and if I do which would work well with both. Budget around $500. No specific music or purpose, but do listen to EDM but am exploring other genres.


And the full.


I've been lurking around here and a few other places google has led me to and I figure it's about time I finally joined. So my story is a bit long winded and random but it all started off with me browsing through askmen one night when I saw a deal for Monster DNA in ears on clearance sale at target for $50 down from $100; white only if you fancy this set for that price. I didn't like them much and returned them. My friend bought some beats and it sounded a bit better, but then I remembered the beats I had before and said enough of the monsters and beats, let's go see what proper IEMs are recommended and I started looking for recommendations and reviews.


2 weeks later and a lot of things read and absorbing, I find myself in a dilemma. I started off wanting IEMs but now I've decided to just stick to my altec lansing IEMs for the gym and I picked up a set of Momentum over-ears for now. I haven't really made a choice what music I primarily listen to or if music is the only thing I will use them for. I've always been more of an EDM person but I've been branching out into other genres. Now I wonder, does EDM music really need audiophile level headphones? Are Momentums even considered audiophile level? Any who, reading has me wondering if I need DACs and Amps and all that or would the Momentums suffice? I hope they will tell me that over the next few days of listening.


Also, it took a long time to settle on that pair because the M4U1, B&W P5 and P7, AKG 550, HD598, and one other I forget all sounded great. Now I wasn't sure what was driving them and if it was appropriate given that they all ran off some headphone amp splitter thing at best buy so I really don't know if they all sounded great or they all sounded the same because of the source and amp. But price was a big deciding factor.


I ordered a AKG K712 and am waiting for their arrival to compare to the Momentums and see if I really need a set of open and a set of closed headphones. Research has me processing a lot of information and I think I need both, but I'll see if I actually do.



What I do know is that I've already paid for both and for the most part plan on keeping both, so the biggest question I have right now is what DAC and AMP to get to use with both. Would an O2/ODAC pair well with both the Momentum and K712? Or should I look at something cheaper like the FiiO line of amps and dacs? Should I look the other way at Magni & Modi? Should I look up at tube amps? I was eyeing the LD MKivSE but it dawned on me that it's just an amp and I would need a dac. I don't even know what tube sound is and if I would like it. Have around $500 to spend on the DAC and Amp. Future proof and longevity would be nice but I'm guessing that's not happening.


If you've read this far what do you think? Any and all opinions welcomed. Thank you :) 



post #2 of 7

It depends, if money's not an issue then a DAC is always a good addition.


The momentums don't really need a DAC or AMP as long as you don't want your music excessively loud, but the K712 will certainly benefit from a little more power.


Tube amps is an aquired taste. It's only my opinon but I think they're a waste of money since you can get the same toned down highs simply with an EQ or DSP.


This all depends on what you're using to play music. if it's a PC, then you definitely need a DAC, if it's a mobile device, then you need a headphones amp.

post #3 of 7

I think you might benefit from an amp such as the Fiio E12 - the Momentums are warm and comfy sounding, the K712 are similar. The E12 has a brightness which will likely complement those sound signatures.


As for open/closed, this is something you'll need to try but I reckon EDM may be better on the closed-back headphones as there's more bass usually. I've noticed that EDM isn't so enjoyable on high-end equipment as it reveals low-bitrate artifacts within synth sounds and kick drums which annoys me.

post #4 of 7

Any of those listed should work fine what what you need.  I personally have experience with the Schiit Magni/Modi, so I can definitely recommend that.  Maybe consider going up higher i the Schiit line. I know I've seen people use Asgard with a Modi until they needed a DAC with more functionality.


If you are open to other possibilities, maybe consider  Headamp Pico Amp/Dac.  Its right at your budget, highly regarded, and completely portable.  Could be a nice solution depending on your needs.


Just a few things to think about.  Good luck.

post #5 of 7
I have the ODAC and used to have the O2 and bought them before the Modi and Magni were available. Everything I have read suggests that the Modi/Magni are comparable to the ODAC/O2. I'd go with the Modi and Magni. Given your budget, you could jump up on the amp quality. I really like my Asgard 2 paired with my ODAC. It's better amp than the O2, IMO. It also has a pre-amp for if you want to hook up powered speakers or a speaker amp and passive speakers, so that you can control the speakers all through one volume knob. Also, go with a separate amp/dac rather than a combined unit. Then later if you want to try a tube amp or a different amp, you don't have to buy another DAC.

And you definitely want an amp to drive the K712s to try them out. The AKG Q/K7xx series needs a headphone amp to sound their best because they are a bit difficult to drive. For EDM, I do enjoy my AKG K612s (apparently somewhat similar in sound signature to the K712s). They don't have bass emphasis, but they do have good bass. When I want extra bass emphasis with EDM, I use my HE-400s. but I don't find them necessarily better. Just different. What will be right for you is a personal preference thing. The big thing with EDM is that you probably don't want headphones with a steep bass roll off in the midbass region--the K712s have good bass extension, so that's not a problem.

Solid state amps aim for accuracy/transparency. I agree with Tad-Bravo . Tube amps will add a touch of distortion which many people find pleasurable, but it depends on your tastes. I prefer solid state amps over the hybrid tube/solid state amps that are in your budget range which are not quite the same in providing the full tube sound of much more expensive tube amps. Also, some people prefer the tube sound and like when they can change out the tubes to change the sound (aka "tube rolling"). Since you don't have experience with the difference between the two, I'd say start with solid state.
Edited by cel4145 - 6/10/14 at 9:33am
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for the replies!

Tad bravo I totally forgot to mention my sources! I'll be playing them off iOS devices and laptops of sorts. Which reminds me I still have to look into foobar and rockbox for options and alternatives. And cel4145's point about standalone dac and amps make a lot of sense. I didn't want to think about any future upgrades or changes but I'm sure it's inevitable.

Stevehifi I noticed the same thing with EDM, just never knew the reason some files sounded bad on better equipment. Use to think better gear makes any music sound better lol. I'll look into the fiio 12. Was that the mont blac? I forget. I was heavily considering the e17 for its portability.

Analog savior, I have seen the pico amp here and there on reviews and recommendations, I almost jumped on a c5d, would you happen to know which of the two is better since they are both highly portable?

I read so many good things about schiit products and he400. I wish I could try them out somewhere. I believe th modi and magni does t have any settings to play with such as gain or bass boost. I was looking for something with that just because they seem useful.

Thanks for all the replies. Lots of things to absorb still.

Keep the suggestions coming if there are any left smily_headphones1.gif
post #7 of 7
The HE-400 works very well with that Schiit Asgard 2. The HE-400 are awesome headphones for EDM. They have great resolution because of the planar magnetic drivers, and some good bass emphasis.
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