Amp/DAC recommendations for DT880 -- best value to bring out the best in the headphone?
May 4, 2015 at 11:53 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 6

RothkoRed

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Hi,
 
I recently purchased DT880 600ohm headphones so I'm looking at buying an amp and possibly also a DAC to connect between my iMac and my headphones. I have a late 2013 iMac with fusion drive so USB audio devices can cause the machine to freeze up after a few minutes. Yosemite is meant to resolve this issue but certain software compatibility reasons are forcing me to stick with Mavericks. I would therefore have to setup either a wireless or an optical system (iMac has optical out). I currently have an airport express and Audioengine W1 wireless dac to make use of, although I would prefer the airport due to reason mentioned.
 
My budget is very limited at the moment so I would like to ask what I should buy to get the most out of my headphones for the least amount of money. I don't want to spend an extra $400 for 10% improved sound quality, I just want the best value amp / dac recommendation to make the sing. But I also don't want to buy something that doesn't bring out the best in the headphone. My budget is currently only $200, maybe $250 if I push it a bit. Is there anything I can get for that price or would you recommend I save up a bit more instead of wasting my money? I'm also based in South Africa so purchasing a used amp/dac is unfortunately not an option.
 
Some additional thoughts:
 
- Should I skip getting a DAC right now and use the built in DAC of the airport express?
- I listen to most genres except for hip-hop, rave, dance, etc.
- I would love to have a warmer sound, would a tube amp be a good choice?
 
Thanks!
 
May 4, 2015 at 4:07 PM Post #2 of 6

jodgey4

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  Some additional thoughts:
 
- Should I skip getting a DAC right now and use the built in DAC of the airport express?
- I listen to most genres except for hip-hop, rave, dance, etc.
- I would love to have a warmer sound, would a tube amp be a good choice?
 
Thanks!

I'm not sure of prices in your country, but here's my advice for each point:
 
-Depending on prices, I think that's a great idea. Do you see yourself wanting to sink in money into a DAC down the line though? Because that's another $100+.
-The headphones should take care of that, unless you're wanting additional bass boost options.
-Yes! The 600 ohms means that your DT880's will work very well with OTL amps.
 
Due to the average sensitivity but high impedance, you need a pretty strong amp to drive those cans. According to InnerFidelity, 430 mW into 600 ohms would be ideal, though you could get away with ~50mW.
 
What amps/brands can be found in SA?
 
May 4, 2015 at 4:46 PM Post #3 of 6

RothkoRed

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I plan on ordering the amp/DAC online, most probably from Amazon. In addition to the $200-250, I have also budgeted for courier and import duties.

I understand that an amp improves the sound quality more than a DAC, so I would prefer purchasing a decent amp now and a complimentary DAC at a later stage when my budget allows for it.

I'm not a bass head although I would like to have a warmer sound.

I should have probably mentioned that I have not yet received my 600ohm dt880 headphones and that I can still change my order to the 250ohm versions. Do you think it would be wiser to get the 250ohm version? Would I be able to achieve a better headphone and amp combination for a smaller budget if I go for the easier to drive 250ohm version?
 
May 4, 2015 at 5:36 PM Post #5 of 6

mikoss

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The T1 drives 300 ohm headphones very nicely. I've used it for over a year with my HD-650's and it sounds wonderful with new old stock tubes. I suspect it would be a good job with 250 ohm Beyers as well.

I would also recommend going with Schiit.... Wyrd + Modi 2 + Magni 2. This would be around $300 usd and then maybe some cost for cables. (My opinion would be just to buy cheap ones).

You could also go with Aune, then later on add on an external amp if you feel you are looking for an improvement in dynamics/transients/etc. I personally upgraded the capacitors in my T1, and use it when I'm away from home to drive my HD-650's. Comparing it to the WA2 which is one of the very best OTL amps to drive the HD-650's, it has about 75% of the experience. I can definitely enjoy my headphones with just the T1.

Anyway if you have heard tubes and fallen in love, try the T1. If you aren't smitten with the sound of tubes, try going with Schiit... I've heard both setups and the Schiit one sounds very good for the $300 it costs.

Just some more advice :)
 
May 4, 2015 at 5:42 PM Post #6 of 6

jodgey4

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The Wyrd I'd 100% pass on unless you have power problems. Schiit is very popular.
 
The 250ohm is easier to drive, and usually (much) cheaper. Only get the 600 ohm if you want to use amps with an output impedance higher than 25 ohms with your headphones.
 
The saved money on the 250 vs. 600 could go into a DAC :).
 
Maybe go ask on DT880 threads for ideas as well, you'll probably get better responses there.
 

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