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Back after 10 Years - Aeon Flow Open DAC+Amp Recommendations


DAC + Amp for Aeon Flow Open

  1. Massdrop Liquid Carbon X + SDAC DAC/Amp

    1 vote(s)
  2. JDS El DAC + El Amp

    2 vote(s)
  3. Schiit Lyr 3 with Mulibit DAC and Tung-Sol 6SN7

    1 vote(s)
  1. boschtb
    I am getting back into headphones after 10 years away. My last rig was a modified Jolida JD100 + RSA Raptor + HD650 and ATH-W11JPN. This time around, I will be using my MacBook Pro as a source, with both lossless and compressed files, and I have settled on the AFO as my headphones. I primarily listen to alternative, indie, singer songwriter, and electronic. Given the genres these genres and the fact that I compressed files are in the mix, I want to stay away from overly analytical combos. I don't mind a some coloration to make the sound a little forgiving and more musical.

    Currently, I have three contenders, but am willing to consider more. In order of price, they are:
    • Massdrop Liquid Carbon X + SDAC DAC/Amp ($380 and ends tomorrow)
    • JDS El DAC + El Amp ($530)
    • Schiit Lyr 3 with Mulibit DAC and Tung-Sol 6SN7 ($725)
    I have read limited, but favorable, impressions of each of these combos with the AFO. If I go with the LCX, I will want to run the AFOs balanced, so that increases the overall cost somewhat. All things being equal, I would prefer to save some money and get the cheapest option. I also don't want to pay for a marginal (10%) difference in performance. But I am willing to pay more for significant improvements and/or simply better synergy between the components. I am also willing to consider other DAC + amp combos, with $725 being my upper limit.

    Thanks in advance for the help getting back into headphones!
  2. Monsterzero
    Try looking into an AGD R2R-11. Warm analog like sounding DAC and nice amp that will drive the AFO quite well. I believe theres one in the classifieds currently. No affiliation.
    boschtb likes this.
  3. bixby
    The EL dac and Magni 3 was a nice combo as well when I had the Magni. I now use a Musical Fidelity amp with the EL dac.

    good luck you have the making of a fine setup!
    boschtb likes this.
  4. boschtb
    The more I read, the more I am leaning towards the JDS stack. It appears that it may hit my price to performance sweet spot and the El DAC would scale up nicely if I decide to upgrade my amp down the line.
  5. Rhamnetin
    JDS Labs or Audio-GD get my vote. Audio-GD value is terrific, it'd cost most of us more to build their products than what their price is.
    boschtb likes this.
  6. boschtb
    Audio-GD is intriguing, but I have had enough random stuff go wrong with electronics over the years that I prefer a manufacturer with a strong U.S. presence, understanding that I may be paying a little more up front for the peace of mind.

    I need to stop reading though, because now I am contemplating a Gilmore Lite Mk2 for my amp.
  7. serman005
    I just want to welcome you back after ten years. Enjoy!! :)
    boschtb likes this.
  8. IkSak
    Welcome back!

    I have the AFO since past December and I’d say this directly: the AFO loves tubes. The pairing with the Lyr 3 and Lyr 2 is terrific. It opens the soundstage and increases the musicality of the AFO. If I had to choose and maximize my value for the money, I’d go for the Lyr 2 (a used one) and buy a separate DAC.

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