DAC/AMP for my Alpha Dog
May 18, 2015 at 4:19 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 9

noa2450

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Good evening forum,

I've lurked this site for hours and hours now, to the point where I now haven't got much sleep this week. I'm moving into a small apartment and need to buy myself a setup of closed cans, dac and amp. After much decision-making I've ordered a pair of MrSpeakers Alpha Dog - in the end, one cannot resist to be fascinated by the project of making this can (and the sound should be amazing, of cause).

I need your advice picking the right dac/amp combo for this pair. I am looking for a combo with juice enough for the alphas, but room for more needing cans is not a priority. I would be happy to find a somewhat portable set, which I can bring with me to the university, but a desktop solution is not frowned upon. Furtheremore it would be a bonus if I could use the dac function seperatly with studio monitors while at home. How much sound quality differs from desktop to portables, I don't know. Maybe you can inform me here aswell?

At the moment I am concidering following options:

Portable - Apex Glacier, Leckerman Audio UHA6S, O2+Odac, C5D, Aune B1
Desktop - Audio GD NFB-XX, Schiit Magni/Modi Uber, Aune T1

Which of these do you think would pair the best with the soundsignature of my alphas?

My music preferences:
60% blend of jazz, soul, r&b and other rythmic genres, 30% electronical music 10% classical

My soundsignature preferences:
Tight and rhytmical > enjoyable mids and lows (tho' neutral) > open, wide soundstage > clarity and detail

I hope you can help me order the right combo. What would be the best overall sound, what would be the best match and what would be the best bang-for-the-buck?

Other recommendations are much welcome!

Thank you in advance!
 
May 18, 2015 at 1:21 PM Post #2 of 9

cel4145

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The Audio GD NFB-15 or NFB-11 would easily drive the Alpha Dogs to VERY loud volumes. So would the Schiit Modi/Magni 2 stack.

As to which of all these amp/dacs would sound better to you? There's quite a bit of debate that once you get up into this class of dac/amps, with many saying they are going to be accurate, unless it's a tube amp, that differences should be inaudible as long as the headphone amp is powerful enough to drive the headphones to your listening volumes. If the differences are audible, it would be very slight, IMO, and not something that you could rely on other people's opinions on synergy with a specific pair of headphones.

Now here, the Alpha Dog's are listed as having 98db sensitivity. If that's true, they shouldn't be too terribly difficult to drive. But I really don't know. You'll need to research that more because that is the biggest factor that could determine what kind of setup to get.
 
May 18, 2015 at 2:36 PM Post #3 of 9

noa2450

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Thank you for the answer.

The Audio GD's are indeed powerful and should be able to power the Alphas - tho' they are both the most expensive here in Denmark and they do not meet my ideal of a portable bunch. Anyway, if these are noticeably better than the portable options I will go for them.

From everything I've read, you seem to be right in the somehow equal sound of the options in this pricerange, atleast when it comes to the DAC's. I however are interested in learing wether this is only the case between the desktop solutions in this budget range, or if the portable options I listed would be equally good for the Alpha Dogs?

Again, thank you for your response!
 
May 18, 2015 at 3:14 PM Post #4 of 9

inthere

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I have Alpha Dogs and they are pretty easy to drive. I also have the Schiit Magni Modi stack, the Aune T1 mk2, and the O2+ODAC. For portable options, I also have the FiiO E12 which is very underrated imo. All drive the Alpha Dogs without a problem to very high levels. 
 
O2+ODAC stack is probably the cleanest and the Schiit stack is probably more musical with very good bass. The Aune T1 mk2 with the stock tube is also very musical and VERY warm with the stock tube, but i replaced it with a Phillips E188CC=7308 that makes it both cleaner and more musical than both the other stacks. The Aune with the Phillips tube also has a better soundstage, great mids, and sensational definition and clarity on the bass. 
 
I haven't heard the Audio GD NFB-XX, the Apex Glacier, or the Leckerman Audio UHA6S
 
May 18, 2015 at 3:22 PM Post #5 of 9

cel4145

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Since ithere confirmed that they are easy to drive, the Leckerton UHA6S or JDS Labs are what I would consider for a portable DAC/amp. The O2/ODAC sounds very good, but it is not pocket portable, and to use it with batteries, you have to get the separates, not the combined unit.
 
May 18, 2015 at 6:01 PM Post #6 of 9

noa2450

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Again, thank you both for the replies.

I'm leaning towards a portable option, hence the phones should be easier to drive than I first thought. Wether it should be the UHA6s, C5D or the Apex Glacier, I don't know yet. Guess I will be looking more into the soundsignature of those. If anyone has listened to all these three, I would be glad to read a comparison.

Furthermore you really tempt me to buy a T1 MKII with a tube upgrade for my desktop setup. I've never tried tubes and now might be the time.

Thank you so much for helping me out!
 
May 18, 2015 at 9:27 PM Post #7 of 9

cel4145

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Just keep in mind that the sound signature differences between solid state amps/dacs in that budget range should be very, very minor. Probably better off picking the one you like best in terms of ergonomics and features than expecting the amp to greatly affect the sound of the headphones.
 
May 19, 2015 at 1:07 AM Post #8 of 9

inthere

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Yeah, Alpha Dogs are studs-they even sound sensational on my Schiit Fulla. You have awesome headphones and you can put all the amp names on a dartboard, turn around, and whatever you hit with the dart is going to be the perfect choice:)
 

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