Good AMP/DAC for HE-400
Apr 27, 2015 at 4:39 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 16

Xylonized

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I just got some HE-400s used in excellent condition for $200. They're coming in the mail soon. Does the HE-400 headphone greatly benefit from amping? And if so, what AMP and DAC should I use?
 
I currently have a PC Sound Card of ALC1150 codec built into my motherboard.
 
Apr 27, 2015 at 5:22 PM Post #2 of 16

PurpleAngel

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I would help to list a budget for a DAC/amp?
 
Apr 27, 2015 at 8:02 PM Post #4 of 16

cel4145

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What you mainly need is the amp. A Schiit Magni 2 would easily drive the HE-400s to very loud volumes. Then later you could add a DAC :)
 
Apr 27, 2015 at 8:21 PM Post #5 of 16

PurpleAngel

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  Forgot to do this in original post. I've not got the money for one right away but I'm expecting to get $100-200 to spend on it very soon.

What is the make and model of the motherboard?
Assuming the audio setup is mostly for music?
 
For a DAC
Asus Xonar DX sound card (used, $50) or Hifimediy USB DAC ($57+shipping $8)
 
Headphone amplifier.
FiiO E11K headphone amplifier, $60
So the E11K plugged into a DX or USB DAC, would be a good value for use with the HE-400.
 
Apr 27, 2015 at 9:24 PM Post #6 of 16

Xylonized

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What is the make and model of the motherboard?
Assuming the audio setup is mostly for music?

For a DAC
Asus Xonar DX sound card (used, $50) or Hifimediy USB DAC ($57+shipping $8)

Headphone amplifier.
FiiO E11K headphone amplifier, $60
So the E11K plugged into a DX or USB DAC, would be a good value for use with the HE-400.


It's a gigabyte z97 gaming 7 motherboard. My audio setup will mainly be for music but I do a little bit of gaming and Netflix. I would probably prefer the USB dac over the sound card. Would you say the schiit magni would be better than the FiiO E11k or would I not notice a difference?
 
Apr 27, 2015 at 9:40 PM Post #9 of 16

cel4145

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Would you say the schiit magni would be better than the FiiO E11k or would I not notice a difference?


It depends on whether or not you really like to crank the headphones up on occasion. The Magni 2 will easily drive the HE-400s to very loud volumes. It is a lot more powerful than the E11K. At more moderate volumes? No. You probably would notice little difference.

And yes. The M&M stack is considered a better sound quality DAC/amp combo than the Xonar DX and E11K would be, although how much better is really a personal evaluation. If you like gaming, the DX has the advantage of virtual surround that you might like. If the M&M stack is a bit much, go with the Xonar DX and the Schiit Magni.

Another way to look at this is if you see yourself getting into the hobby of collecting more headphones. The Magni will easily drive most difficult to drive headphones. The E11K will not.

On the other hand, the E11K is portable. So you can use your headphones with your phone or tablet. That might be good if you want to go to another room in the house to listen to your HE-400s. But if portability in a headphone amp is what you are looking for, I'd recommend getting the FiiO E12 for the HE-400s because of the additional power.
 
Apr 27, 2015 at 10:13 PM Post #10 of 16

PurpleAngel

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It's a gigabyte z97 gaming 7 motherboard. My audio setup will mainly be for music but I do a little bit of gaming and Netflix. I would probably prefer the USB dac over the sound card. Would you say the Schiit Magni would be better than the FiiO E11K or would I not notice a difference?

 
Your motherboard comes with fairly good on-board audio (for it being on-board audio), so the HE-400 will do decently well plugged into it.
The Z97 Gamer 7 comes with a ported SBX software (SBX headphone surround sound), software that was originally for the Creative SoundCore3D audio processor, but then ported over to the Realtek ALC1150 audio processor.
Is the porting to the ALC1150 as good as running off the SoundCore3D, not something I can answer.
 
The Xonar DX (or Hifimediy DAC) and E11K are the lowest costing but still decent DAC/amp setup.
If cash is not an issue, spending a little more for a Schiit Modi/Magni stack ($200 to $300 + tax + shipping) might be worth it.
Get an optical input Modi DAC and connect it to the motherboard's optical port, this way you can use all the features of the built in audio (like SBX).
 
I'm a fan for Audio-GD and use an 18 month old Audio-GD NFB-15.32 DAC/amp, $270 + $45 shipping
Dual WM8741 DAC chips.
USB, optical & coaxial inputs
http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB1532/NFB15.32EN.htm
 
Apr 27, 2015 at 10:22 PM Post #11 of 16

cel4145

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+1

I have the NFB-11 (same as the NFB-15 but with a different DAC chip). The Audio-GD NFB-15 is a really good option to consider if you would like multiple digital inputs and pre-amp capability for hooking up powered speakers or a speaker amp. The amp in those NFB's easily drives the HE-400s to VERY loud volumes.
 
Apr 27, 2015 at 11:28 PM Post #13 of 16

cel4145

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I have not heard the Magni 2, but I used to own the Schiit Asgard 2. I think the amp in the NFB's is every bit as good as the Asgard 2.
 

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