New Head-Fier
EF600's full, sweet sound makes the most of my HE1000v2 stealth headphones.
Pros: NOS output sounds nearly as good as my $4500 turntable setup.
Cons: OS output sounds no better than a very good sigma-delta DAC.
This is my first impression of the HIFIMAN EF600 DAC/amp. I received the HIFIMAN EF600 about a week ago. I have been enjoying listening to it daily. I traded up from the EF400 because I wanted a coax input in addition to the USB. I currently have three other DACs, all using the sigma-delta modulator method of conversion. They are the Burson Conductor 3 Reference, the RME ADI-2 DAC FS, and the Gustard X-26 Pro (running into the HeadAmp GS-X mini). I listen with the HIFIMAN HE1000 v2 Stealth Edition headphones. Stock headphone cable for the ¾” jacks on the Burson C3R and RME ADI-2 DAC FS outputs, and Cardas Clear 4-pin cable for the balanced outputs on the others. My disc spinner is the Audiolab 6000CDT transport. I use my Apple MacBook Pro into the Core Power Technologies USBe Perfect to send Qobuz into the DACs. This past week I’ve been listening to a variety of jazz from Miles Davis to the Bad Plus; classic rock, prog rock, indie rock and Zappa; and guitar & vocal music like John Prine, Sam Baker and Shelby Lynne’s tribute to Dusty Springfield; Just A Little Lovin’ (excellent album).

The HIFIMAN EF600 surprised me. Actually, it nearly floored me. At this price, I did not expect it to sound as good as it does. To me, this sounds better/more enjoyable than any other DAC/amp I have. I was shocked when I first put on Thelonious Monk’s Underground CD. Every instrument sounded more real, more fleshed out, than I had ever heard them sound before on this CD. I have been similarly pleased streaming Qobuz via USB cable. Using the Low Gain NOS mode, the EF600 sounds fuller and weightier than my other DACs, as well as sounding more like I’m listening to my Rega P6/Hana ML/Parasound JC 3 Jr. rig than to a digital source. The OS mode on this DAC sounds more like a sigma-delta DACs. It is a little on the bright side, and the fullness (analog-like sound) of the NOS mode isn’t there. I suppose its good if you have midrange heavy headphones that can use a little zing, maybe like my olds Senn HD-600 cans.

To sum up, the EF600 (in NOS mode) gives you the power and detail of a solid state amp, along with the richness of a tube amp (like my Feliks Audio Espressivo Mark II). At this price, I think it is unbeatable. Thank you, HIFIMAN, for putting out this DAC/amp at a reasonably attainable price point. It sounds like something costing many times its price. Oh, and the HE1000 V2 Stealth cans fit perfectly over the headphone holder portion of this DAC/amp. It’s a keeper.


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Just ordered one of these, your review pushed me over the edge.
Give us your feelings about it :wink:
Great writeup! I'm curious on your opinion of the RME with it's built in Amp vs this combo.