Best $200 or under desktop amp
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alterndog

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Hello,

I’m looking for a new desktop amp. I’d be driving HD6XX and DT770 headphones. I’ll be using a DF black as the DAC.

Curious what would be my best options in the $100-200 price range? I’ve heard about the Asgard 3, Vali 2, JD Labs EL Amp II (b-stock), Topping A50, and upcoming ifi amp and THX AAA ONE Linear Amp from Drop.
 
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DenverW

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You might also want to look at the drop carvalli tube hybrid, which just got dropped to 175. The 6xx pairs well with tube amps.
 
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alterndog

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You might also want to look at the drop carvalli tube hybrid, which just got dropped to 175. The 6xx pairs well with tube amps.
I had the CTH, but ended up selling it. First one I had developed an issue where there was nothing in the right ear of headphones and then the warranty replacement developed a hissing noise when turning the volume pot and had low static noise in the right ear which bothered me. I was done after that with the CTH.
 
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That’s too bad! I had none of those issues. At the top end of your budget is the darkvoice 336se. Also great with the hd6xx.
 
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Darkvoice gets my vote, or stretch the budget a little and get the SMSL THX amp.
 
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alterndog

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That’s too bad! I had none of those issues. At the top end of your budget is the darkvoice 336se. Also great with the hd6xx.
Ya I loved the sound, but the amount of issues it had overrode it.
 
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I have a JDS Labs El Amp (first generation). Out of all amps up to 1000€ it was by far the best in my opinion. Didn't try that much though and none of those you listed above.
 
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The Asgard 3 is great. I reviewed it pretty thoroughly here if you're interested.
 
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alterndog

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The Asgard 3 is great. I reviewed it pretty thoroughly here if you're interested.
I was just reading your review! I saw that the Asgard 3 and the smsl people above mention are on your best desktop amp section. Would you say the smsl is worth the extra $90? I do not have a balanced set up. My DAC would be a DF black. Also have you ever tried any JD Labs stuff?
 
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Mightygrey

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I was just reading your review! I saw that the Asgard 3 and the smsl people above mention are on your best desktop amp section. Would you say the smsl is worth the extra $90? I do not have a balanced set up. My DAC would be a DF black. Also have you ever tried any JD Labs stuff?
I would personally opt for the Asgard over the SP200. It's a better-built product, with a far better and more useful volume pot. The 'balanced' output on the SP200 isn't actually balanced - it's a single-ended design and is for convenience only. JD Labs makes solid, well-performing products. I used to own their O2/ODAC combo (which was terrific) but I personally haven't listened to their current line-up.
 
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I would personally opt for the Asgard over the SP200. It's a better-built product, with a far better and more useful volume pot. The 'balanced' output on the SP200 isn't actually balanced - it's a single-ended design and is for convenience only. JD Labs makes solid, well-performing products. I used to own their O2/ODAC combo (which was terrific) but I personally haven't listened to their current line-up.
Awesome! Thanks for the info.
 
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I think the new Drop exclusive ifi Zen Can for 6XX looks pretty promising although it's not out yet, and if it's okay with your budget. I think you have to look at the power output because 6XX is 300ohms, the Drop Cavalis tube might not work... I had the THX 789 and I think it works well with the 6xx, the SP-200 is a little better in terms of stats so I would put my vote on that as well.
 
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