DAC/amp guidance!
Apr 10, 2020 at 3:49 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 7

pjones5

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Hello everybody, I hope this post finds people well in this difficult time. My day job is an associate pastor (well, part-time) so if anyone needs prayer or just to talk - feel free to reach out.
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(Edit) - Some clarification. In discussing whether something will power high impedance headphones, I'm less concerned with volume per se. It's definitely something to be considered, but I listen to music at a relatively low volume to begin with (usually in the ball park of 60 to 70 dB). Rarely will I top 85 dB. I'm far more concerned with preserving the dynamics of the music. For instance, I saw somewhere that a graph for the HD650s (which are the same as the HD6XXs) which shows the impedance based on frequency output. For the majority of low and high frequencies, the HD650s have an impedance of 300 ohms, but in the high-low and low-mid to mids range, the impedance spikes to as high as like 450 ohms. Does that mean that an amplifier recommended for x to 300ohms isn't going to provide enough juice for the HD650s to effectively produce those frequencies? I have no idea!

I took the plunge into building my audiophile collection a few months ago. I just set aside a little bit of funds aside here and there. I mostly jump on online deals/discounts when I can - which has helped me get some sweet gear for a lot less than I normally would be willing to pay. That being said, I have a pair of Sennheiser HD6XX's coming in the mail and should, hopefully, arrive in a few days. All of my other headphones are low impedance (about 32 ohms tops) and I've been running them on a FiiO BTR5 with no problem. The HD6XX's, however, run at 300 ohms with a sensitivity of 103 dB/1Vrms. I would imagine, then, that my BTR5 is not going to have the easiest time running these guys - I did, however, order a 2.5 balanced cable for the HD6XX's so we'll see.

I don't have a dedicated DAC/amp setup on my desk. I'm very heavily considering the Topping A50 DAC/amp combo because its a low enough price that I get my beak wet without comprising too much on sound quality/performance. There aren't very many reviews out there though, so I was going to see if anyone could give me a yay or nay on it. I was looking at a Schiit stack with the Magna 3+ as an amp with a the Schiit Modi 3 as the DAC. However, there appeared to be several reviews that indicated the Schiit Magna 3+ burning out after a few months of use.... Plus, it'll cost me about $100 more to take that route over the A50. I really like as well with the A50 that they have a variety of headphone jack options. Give me your thoughts!

I'm still considering taking it a different route... I've been all over the map in considering getting a DAP. I was just going to get the FiiO M6 or M9, then I decided to just wait and save for a Sony Walkman (probably their ZX500 model). Then I got the BTR5 and was quite content to just use that with my iPhone 8. Here's the problem - Tidal tracks when downloaded in MQA take so much space (duh)! iPhone's have a fixed storage, so I'm not going to be able to download as much music that I want to download. I have very eclectic tastes and so I listen to a very wide variety. If I can't download it, then I'd have to depend on cellular for portable use. When using Tidal, then, that'll just chew through my data plan. All of that to say, I've come full circle and am now seeing the benefit of having a DAP - something where I can throw one, maybe two, micro-sd cards into it.

Ideally, I'd like to get a DAP that can power my high impedance headphones (like the HD6XXs). Is that even possible? The FiiO M11 has a recommended headphone impedance of 16 to 300 ohms, so that just touches the HD6XXs. Ideally, I'd like a DAP under $600 (preferably in the ball park of $400 to $500) with the ability to utilize streaming services like Tidal, Spotify, etc. (with the ability to also download tracks from those services). I've looked at the FiiO M11, Shanling M6, HyBy R6 Pro. Recommendations?

Now, I know some of you might be asking, "Why in the world would you want a DAP to power your HD6XXs? Just get the amp!). I'd like a DAP that could be used as a USB-DAC/amp so that I get the best of both worlds. I can either spend to get a dedicated DAC/amp stack, or a good DAP, but getting both is out of the question for the time being. Plus, a DAC/amp stack is only going to really benefit my HD6XXs (which, from what I read, is worth it). A DAP could provide versatility so that I'll have something to power the HD6XXs when at my desk while also still having a portable option for my N40s or K553s.

Let me know your thoughts! Am I dreaming here? Do I need to just face facts and get the DAC/amp stack and put the DAP on the back burner?
 
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Apr 10, 2020 at 5:00 PM Post #2 of 7

Chris Kaoss

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Hello everybody, I hope this post finds people well in this difficult time. My day job is an associate pastor (well, part-time) so if anyone needs prayer or just to talk - feel free to reach out.
-------------

I took the plunge into building my audiophile collection a few months ago. I just set aside a little bit of funds aside here and there. I mostly jump on online deals/discounts when I can - which has helped me get some sweet gear for a lot less than I normally would be willing to pay. That being said, I have a pair of Sennheiser HD6XX's coming in the mail and should, hopefully, arrive in a few days. All of my other headphones are low impedance (about 32 ohms tops) and I've been running them on a FiiO BTR5 with no problem. The HD6XX's, however, run at 300 ohms with a sensitivity of 103 dB/1Vrms. I would imagine, then, that my BTR5 is not going to have the easiest time running these guys - I did, however, order a 2.5 balanced cable for the HD6XX's so we'll see.

I don't have a dedicated DAC/amp setup on my desk. I'm very heavily considering the Topping A50 DAC/amp combo because its a low enough price that I get my beak wet without comprising too much on sound quality/performance. There aren't very many reviews out there though, so I was going to see if anyone could give me a yay or nay on it. I was looking at a Schiit stack with the Magna 3+ as an amp with a the Schiit Modi 3 as the DAC. However, there appeared to be several reviews that indicated the Schiit Magna 3+ burning out after a few months of use.... Plus, it'll cost me about $100 more to take that route over the A50. I really like as well with the A50 that they have a variety of headphone jack options. Give me your thoughts!

I'm still considering taking it a different route... I've been all over the map in considering getting a DAP. I was just going to get the FiiO M6 or M9, then I decided to just wait and save for a Sony Walkman (probably their ZX500 model). Then I got the BTR5 and was quite content to just use that with my iPhone 8. Here's the problem - Tidal tracks when downloaded in MQA take so much space (duh)! iPhone's have a fixed storage, so I'm not going to be able to download as much music that I want to download. I have very eclectic tastes and so I listen to a very wide variety. If I can't download it, then I'd have to depend on cellular for portable use. When using Tidal, then, that'll just chew through my data plan. All of that to say, I've come full circle and am now seeing the benefit of having a DAP - something where I can throw one, maybe two, micro-sd cards into it.

Ideally, I'd like to get a DAP that can power my high impedance headphones (like the HD6XXs). Is that even possible? The FiiO M11 has a recommended headphone impedance of 16 to 300 ohms, so that just touches the HD6XXs. Ideally, I'd like a DAP under $600 (preferably in the ball park of $400 to $500) with the ability to utilize streaming services like Tidal, Spotify, etc. (with the ability to also download tracks from those services). I've looked at the FiiO M11, Shanling M6, HyBy R6 Pro. Recommendations?

Now, I know some of you might be asking, "Why in the world would you want a DAP to power your HD6XXs? Just get the amp!). I'd like a DAP that could be used as a USB-DAC/amp so that I get the best of both worlds. I can either spend to get a dedicated DAC/amp stack, or a good DAP, but getting both is out of the question for the time being. Plus, a DAC/amp stack is only going to really benefit my HD6XXs (which, from what I read, is worth it). A DAP could provide versatility so that I'll have something to power the HD6XXs when at my desk while also still having a portable option for my N40s or K553s.

Let me know your thoughts! Am I dreaming here? Do I need to just face facts and get the DAC/amp stack and put the DAP on the back burner?
Hi.

Don't hesitate with the pairing of your BTR5 and the HD6xx, especially on balanced.
While the BTR5 couldn't drive them like a proper amp, they'll sound pleasant out of this little gem.
I've stressed the BTR5 with the T1 ( 600ohm at 1KHz) and it was listenable though.
Sure, you'll never get the best out of the HD6xx with it, but it'll sound enjoyable.

Hehe, you're covered with the apple curse. :ksc75smile:
That's the main reason i love my LG V30, besides its sound capabilities.
Equipped with a 512 GB microSD card and the QuadDAC with a small headamp, it's the best AIO for mobile use, imo.
Never been into dap since, so i'm not able to give a good recommentation on that.

Hope someone with better knowledge about daps will chiming in.

Good luck on your way, happy listening and all the best.
Chris
 
Apr 10, 2020 at 5:14 PM Post #3 of 7

pjones5

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Hi.

Don't hesitate with the pairing of your BTR5 and the HD6xx, especially on balanced.
While the BTR5 couldn't drive them like a proper amp, they'll sound pleasant out of this little gem.
I've stressed the BTR5 with the T1 ( 600ohm at 1KHz) and it was listenable though.
Sure, you'll never get the best out of the HD6xx with it, but it'll sound enjoyable.

Hehe, you're covered with the apple curse. :ksc75smile:
That's the main reason i love my LG V30, besides its sound capabilities.
Equipped with a 512 GB microSD card and the QuadDAC with a small headamp, it's the best AIO for mobile use, imo.
Never been into dap since, so i'm not able to give a good recommentation on that.

Hope someone with better knowledge about daps will chiming in.

Good luck on your way, happy listening and all the best.
Chris

I really do have the Apple curse. I really enjoy the software/hardware smoothness that Apple provides, so I've slowly switched all my tech to Apple. Had I realized that they might just be the worst brand for audiophiles, I might've reconsidered!

I'm definitely going to give the BTR5 the old college try. I don't want to unnecessarily spend money if the BTR5 does the job. I still have the problem with storage though. I am looking at the FiiO M11 Pro, even though it's a bit out of my price range - it just seems like you get more band for your buck, especially when powering full-sized headphones. I did consider just getting a new phone. I haven't paid for a new phone in years - I just get my family's old ones. Thought about going the LG V50 or V60 route, maybe even Sony Xperia. But, even then, you're still looking at an $800+ price tag and you're only option is a 3.5mm jack (and I really do prefer the 2.5mm balanced). Plus, having device continuity is nice with Apple products. I would almost rather full send it and get the Ibasso DX220 with a more powerful amp.

Happy Listening!
 
Apr 10, 2020 at 5:28 PM Post #4 of 7

buke9

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While I don’t have or have heard the BTR 5 I’m sure it probably will run the 6XX’s the Earstudio ES100 does and balanced to ear bleed levels. The HiBy R6Pro does as well while not as good as a Bottlehead Crack but not bad for portable.
 
Apr 10, 2020 at 7:50 PM Post #5 of 7

pjones5

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The Earstudio ES100 definitely seems to pack a lot of punch for such a small piece of equipment. I was considering getting a second BTR5 to be used as permanent USB-DAC. I might just get this though seeing as how it's got great reviews and is about $40 cheaper.
 
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