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Amp Recommendation

  1. auvgeek
    TL;DR: Looking for an amp with good synergy with closed-back dynamic cans that is desktop friendly.

    So I've been out of the audio game for a bit. My current setup is Gumby + Saga (tube upgrade) + Threshold Stasis 150 ii (vintage Pass 90W speaker amp) + modded HE-6. I just got the Gumby last week for my birthday, after about a year without a working DAC (vintage Theta DAC had started humming/buzzing on me). During that time, I had just been using the DT-150 out of my laptop's headphone jack.

    Current problem is that I find the HE-6 setup distracting (it just sounds so good) and also I turn up the volume, and then I listen to them way too loud for hours. And the HE-6 is kind of heavy for all day use. I also find it a little too bright for normal, all-day listening -- after a few days I end up with tinnitus, which scares me cuz I'm still pretty young.

    At the same time, I haven't been able to make myself switch back to the DT-150 out of my laptop when I have an amazing DAC just sitting there. I really like the DT-150. It's not fatiguing at all -- I can and have listened to it all day everyday without any issues. Sound stage could be larger and imaging a little better, but the overall sound signature is great for me.

    I listen to about 80% rock (mostly indie bands but also some classic and also folksy), 15% classical, and like 5% misc. I've listened to enough live classical music and acoustic rock to know what it (male and female vocalists, string instruments, etc) "should" sound like, which is always my goal when chasing good sound. I am sensitive to harsh treble, and if I have any preferences aside from as natural as possible, it's for punchy bass with good dynamics.

    So the obvious solution is to get a cheap amp to use the DT-150 with the Gumby. But I'd like to purchase with an eye toward the future: all my gear is currently in my spacious office at a university lab and I'm about to finish my PhD and get a real job so I'll definitely need/want a compact work setup (worst case is I'll be in a cube farm) with a closed-back can sometime next year. Eventually I'll want to upgrade the DT-150 to something nicer, maybe ZMF Eikon or something so I'd like the amp to scale well or be super cheap. And then I'd move the Gumby, Sage, and speaker amp to my house and work on building a two-channel setup (bookshelf speakers at first, maybe Sierra 2, and then eventually the Salk Song3 or something similar ... but I digress).

    So the options I see are:

    1. Schiit Magni 3 with my Gumby. Cheap, prolly sounds fine. When I start work, I'll either have to sell it and get a combo amp/DAC (Lyr3 MB) or buy a Modi MB to pair with it.
    2. Schiit Lyr 3, amp only. Hopefully sounds amazing, probably more amp than necessary for the DT-150. Buy the MB card next year after I graduate. Nice that it's the same tube as the Saga. But it's also more than I'd ideally spend now, and I don't know if it will have synergy with the DT-150 or whatever I end up upgrading to (Eikon or whatever).
    3. Something else? I had a Gustard H10 before, and thought the DT-150 was kind of a little too dark out of it. BH Crack has always intrigued me but isn't super appropriate for a cubical/office environment either.

    What would you do? Any other amps I should consider for the DT-150 now? I do like the Moffat/Schiit DACs, especially with them coming out with their new USB module sometime next year.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2018
  2. FastAndClean
    you can get the new topping dac amp combo, they measure very good
  3. FastAndClean
  4. auvgeek
    Thanks for the suggestion.

    Can you compare the sound to the Schiit Magni3? Can you use it as an amp only? I'd like to retain the ability to use the Gumby until I graduate sometime in the next 6 months.
  5. PaganDL
    Hi @auvgeek,

    I suggest if you're after a low cost but high value option for good sound to look at, the Presonus HP 4 would fit your needs nicely, not to mention has a passthrough for speakers as well, though if you use your passives, you still need the speaker amp as a bridge.

    I recommend looking at pro audio places for good deals on the HP 4.

    Hope you have a great day !

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