DAC/amp to drive K701 suggestions
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grmnasasin0227

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Hey all, just joined today, been hearing great stuff about this forum for several months. I'm looking for suggestions for a DAC/amp combo to drive my AKG K701s. Currently they're only running off of an Auzentech Forte sound card (which DOES have an amp built in, but definitely doesn't do the whole job). I've heard a few people say that these cans can be a real pain to properly drive, so I figured instead of looking at vendors and trying to guess what would work with specifications (I have no way of testing anything before I buy), I'd ask here and try to get my options more narrowed down. This will be my first DAC/amp, so I'm indifferent if it runs on USB or S/PDIF as long as there's negligible difference or a proper distinction is made. I have a budget of about $500, but can push it to $600 if there's a worthwhile upgrade just out of reach. I'm not entirely sure what other questions you'll need answered, so I'll leave it here.
 
Just to note, I'm only asking about DAC/amp combos for simplicity's sake. If a separate DAC and amp would yield better/comparable results for about the same or cheaper, that's just fine too. Thanks all!
 
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sphinxvc

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The Schiit Lyr would be right, and for a DAC, an Audio-GD NFB-12 or one of the Nuforce DACs, whichever works in your budget.
 
Welcome to head-fi.  Sorry about your wallet.
 
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Hello.
 
The Matrix M-Stage Headphone amplifier work very well with the K701. You can search the forum here or Google it and you will find many good reviews. You could pair it with the a HRT Music Streamer II good for 24-bit/96 KHz. It will give you very nice and warm sound that will go well with the AKG sound signature.
 
Nice combo for about $450
 
 
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grmnasasin0227

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Thanks for the suggestions guys, haha about the wallet! Are there any ideas for DAC/amp combos out there, or is it generally best to have them separate as per your suggestions?
 
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Matrix Quattro DAC\Amp...read the threads on it.
 
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The K701 are a bit peculiar on the amplification that is why it's difficult to recommend a DAC/AMP combo (considering your budget). The Matrix M-Stage is a very good match for the K701 (and other headphones). As for the DAC the HRT Streamer is well respect too but you can also select the Nuforce uDac-2. It would allow you to use it with IEM.
 
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grmnasasin0227

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Quote:
The K701 are a bit peculiar on the amplification that is why it's difficult to recommend a DAC/AMP combo (considering your budget). The Matrix M-Stage is a very good match for the K701 (and other headphones). As for the DAC the HRT Streamer is well respect too but you can also select the Nuforce uDac-2. It would allow you to use it with IEM.


Would there be something in particular if I raised my budget to $1000 tops or so? $500 is what I have on hand now but if I wait a bit I have no issues spending more if there is a simpler solution.
 
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Twinster

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Audio GD products are pretty good for DAC/AMP but I don't have any experienced with them sorry.
 
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Not sure if this would help you, but I'm using the NFB-12 as both amp/dac right now, and I believe it does the job perfectly well. Since it's my only amp I can't compare it to others, but I can say that If you don't want to "taint" the sound sig of the K701, The amp portion is just fine. I noticed no difference in the sound signature of the headphone. Instead, it gives the K701 better separation, detail, and clarity.
 
But with a $500 limit, Might as well just get another dedicated amp.
 
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Mad Max

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The new NFB-5 uses ACSS like the FUN, and has a better power supply and DAC section to boot.  Still within your budget.
 
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grmnasasin0227

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Besides the extra features in the NFB-5 over the NFB-12 (such as the 'flavor switch'), is there any comprehensive difference in character or quality?
 
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Quote:
If you don't want to "taint" the sound sig of the K701, The amp portion is just fine. 

This is true, the tubes of the Schiit Lyr, or Woo 6 would "color" the K701 to have a fuller midrange, but that's something desirable IMO.  The K701s really need power, so I would not overlook that either.
 
Quote:
The new NFB-5 uses ACSS like the FUN, and has a better power supply and DAC section to boot.  Still within your budget.
 
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Besides the extra features in the NFB-5 over the NFB-12 (such as the 'flavor switch'), is there any comprehensive difference in character or quality?

Yes.  The FUN (and probably the NFB-5) has superior soundstaging IME.  FWIW, The FUN with the right "flavor" was great for the K701s, but I did like what tubes did for the headphone even better.
 
 
 
 
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grmnasasin0227

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Quote:
This is true, the tubes of the Schiit Lyr, or Woo 6 would "color" the K701 to have a fuller midrange, but that's something desirable IMO.  The K701s really need power, so I would not overlook that either.
 
 

Yes.  The FUN (and probably the NFB-5) has superior soundstaging IME.  FWIW, The FUN with the right "flavor" was great for the K701s, but I did like what tubes did for the headphone even better.
 
 
 



I have no experience with tube amps but right off the bat, it looks like the Woo 6 goes for over $600 on their site. Are there notable retailers that have it cheaper (not a concern if there aren't, I'll just have to wait to buy it)? Is there a preferable DAC to go with the Schiit or the Woo (like the NFB's mentioned), or am I just after something that won't add character, and will allow the amp to shine?
 
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Quote:
I have no experience with tube amps but right off the bat, it looks like the Woo 6 goes for over $600 on their site. Are there notable retailers that have it cheaper (not a concern if there aren't, I'll just have to wait to buy it)? Is there a preferable DAC to go with the Schiit or the Woo (like the NFB's mentioned), or am I just after something that won't add character, and will allow the amp to shine?

Not really, but you can find used Woo 6 here for about $500.  Be careful as there are two versions out there.  The Woo 6 I had slightly underpowered my K701s, you'll find yourself cranking the volume and possibly running out of headroom.  Aside from that the Woo 6, sonically, is fantastic.  To solve the headroom issue you would be better off with the WA-6SE, but that's $1080 I think.  I would just go with the Lyr at half the price, leaving the rest of the money for upgraded tubes.  There's a Aussie' head-fier who really liked the Ming Da 84C07 with his K701s, so that's probably worth a look at--I haven't heard it and can't vouch for it.  DAC-wise, there are many options out there.
 
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I read somewhere people actually liked the E7/E9 combo with their K701's, but I forgot where I saw it >_< Also very nicely in your budget, with some eating money too!
 
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