Amp/DAC for office
Apr 13, 2019 at 9:02 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 16

Gmag21

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Hi all,

I recently purchased a pair of Sony Z1R headphones and I’m planning to use them exclusively on my desktop PC at work (streaming hifi music from tidal). I’m thinking about pairing my new headphones with a DAC/amp device but not sure what’s best or recommended for my use case. I don’t plan on blaring the music really loud since I don’t want my coworkers to get angry. I have my own office with a door though so if I wanted to go a little louder I could probably close my door and jam out (although most of the time my door is open & people are walking by or coming into my office).

I would say my main reason for wanting the DAC/amp would be to get higher quality audio at normal listening levels. I’ve narrowed it down to 6 potential options but willing to consider anything else you guys recommmend. I don’t wanna spend more than $1200 or so but I’m flexible and would be willing to save more money if I think the device is really worth the upgrade. I’m also not a hardcore audiophile (just a regular guy that likes high quality music to listen to at work). My genres are alternative rock, mainstream pop/electronic, and classical piano if that makes any difference;

1) Woo Audio WA11
2) Sony PHA-2A
3) Used Sony TA-ZH1ES
4) Dragon Fly Red (Cheap Option)
5) Schiit Jotunheim
6) You don’t need one

Thanks,
Grant
 
Apr 13, 2019 at 9:52 AM Post #2 of 16

Gmag21

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Also I prefer to not have a large piece of equipment on my desk if possible... I need to maintain a professional image and don’t want people wondering what in the world that massive thing on my desk is lol.

I also thought about getting a DAP and connecting to that instead of the desktop PC but not sure if the sound quality would be that much different?
 
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Apr 13, 2019 at 12:04 PM Post #3 of 16

Monsterzero

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I'd get either a Magni/Modi MB 3 stack or an AGD R2R-11. Both have a small footprint. Both will offer good sound for relatively little cash.
There are certainly more expensive options out there,but unless your job offers you the time to do serious listening,I dont see a real reason to toss major cash at a work rig.

With a DAP you wont have to deal with potential USB noise that could come from connecting to a PC. The downside of a DAP is limited storage for music,and battery life.
 
Apr 13, 2019 at 4:12 PM Post #4 of 16

Gmag21

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Thanks for the tips! Definitely taking a hard look at the Schiit stack and like the fact it takes a smaller footprint & isn’t expensive. I’m still pretty attracted to the Sony PHA-2A though because it’s got the 4.4mm balanced output but not sure how big of a benefit it really is
 
Apr 13, 2019 at 4:42 PM Post #5 of 16

Monsterzero

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Thanks for the tips! Definitely taking a hard look at the Schiit stack and like the fact it takes a smaller footprint & isn’t expensive. I’m still pretty attracted to the Sony PHA-2A though because it’s got the 4.4mm balanced output but not sure how big of a benefit it really is

I have no experience with your headphones,nor the Sony amp,or even balanced headphone inputs,so I cant be much help there.
 
Apr 14, 2019 at 7:09 AM Post #7 of 16

surfgeorge

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Any specific reason the Chord Hugo (used) didn’t make it on the list?
That would be what I’d be looking for. I’m bringing the Mojo to work every day but with your budget you can get a used Hugo 1.
 
Apr 15, 2019 at 3:59 PM Post #10 of 16

RobertSM

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The WA11 is a great unit that will easily drive you Sony Z1R headphones. It's also very portable and small. Small enough that you could easily slip it into a desk drawer or bag if you had an office meeting and wanted to present a tidy office with no audio gear in sight.
 
Apr 15, 2019 at 4:42 PM Post #11 of 16

surfgeorge

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Wasn’t aware about the Hugo 1 but will definitely take a look. What do you think a reasonable price for a used one should be?

Grant

I saw a Hugo for like 700 or 800 Euros and it sounded like an incredible deal to me. Unfortunately I can‘t justify it... have the Mojo for portable and the 2Qute for the Stereo
 
Apr 16, 2019 at 11:00 PM Post #13 of 16

Gmag21

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The WA11 is a great unit that will easily drive you Sony Z1R headphones. It's also very portable and small. Small enough that you could easily slip it into a desk drawer or bag if you had an office meeting and wanted to present a tidy office with no audio gear in sight.
Do you know if it has the 4.4mm output? I’ve never actually listened via 4.4mm but I’ve heard it’s supposedly really good
 
Apr 17, 2019 at 12:05 AM Post #14 of 16

Kukuk

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The PHA-2A is a great amp, but I'm not 100% sure on how it works with regard to battery vs cable. I'm fairly certain it only runs off the battery, and can't be charged while in use, but maybe the USB port I was using to charge it at the time was only 5V/1A, versus the 5V/1.5A it recommends. I might have to play around with this some more.

Because the battery life is only 5 hours, this is my only real reservation with recommending this amp. It could just be that I wasn't using a 1.5A USB charger, and it can run off that indefinitely. Maybe someone else can chime in on this.

Outside of that, I'm a sucker for the Marantz HD-DAC1, and I'll recommend it any chance I can get. It's a little bit larger compared to other headphone amps, but sounds phenomenal, and should you get the itch to buy other headphones it'll power anything you throw at it. It's also quite lovely looking, and would not look out of place in an office environment.
 

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