Head Amp/ DAC suggestions for $250 - $1,000
Jun 3, 2013 at 3:02 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 46

isagreg

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Hello,
 
I'm looking for Head Amp/ DAC (combo or separate boxes) for $250 max. that can drive the following adequately.
 
Currently have:
Sony MDR-V6
Shure SRH440
AKG Q701 (on its way)
 
Planning to have:
Beyerdynamic DT880 (600 Ohm)
Sennheiser HD 600
 
DAC: 24/192, USB, Optical and Coax. preferably.
Interested in desktop Head Amp/ DAC only, don't care about portability/ battery or USB operated units.
Source: FLAC, MP3 (Foobar2000) from desktop PC that has USB and Optical.
 
Thanks
 
Jun 4, 2013 at 2:03 PM Post #3 of 46

wes008

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Dang, you're gonna have a tough time finding something to fit that bill. Ok, you can definitely find something for your current headphones in that price range. However, it won't be future-proofed for your planned purchases and it probably won't have optical/coaxial. :frowning2: For what you currently have, I'd recommend an HRT MicroStreamer. I'd almost dare to recommend a Magni/Modi stack, but that'll definitely sound too harsh with the Q701. The Q701 may sound slightly harsh on the MicroStreamer, but certainly not as much as other stuff in this price tier. As for your future headphones, I recommend expanding your budget. You'll want some really nice gear to drive the DT 880 and HD 600 (both fantastic headphones, btw). So, now it's up to you. Buy an incremental step now, or wait until your budget is bigger and buy gear that will last your into future headphones. Enjoy the journey 
wink_face.gif

 
Jun 5, 2013 at 12:18 AM Post #4 of 46

isagreg

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Thanks for the reply.
This is what I found so far:

Schiit Magni/Modi $200 (USB) USB/ EXT POWER 24bit/96kHz  32-600 Ohm
Firestone Audio Fubar HD $200 (USB, COAX, OPTICAL) EXT POWER 24bit/192kHz 32-600 Ohm
Aune X1 Mk2 $200 (USB, COAX, OPTICAL) EXT POWER 24bit/192kHz 32-600 Ohm
Audio GD NFB-12.1 $215 (USB, COAX, OPTICAL) EXT POWER 24bit/192kHz 32-600 Ohm
Audinst HUD-MX2 $248 (USB, OPTICAL) EXT POWER 24bit/192kHz 16-600 Ohm

What do you guys think? Is anything worth considering from that list?
If not how much should I bump up my budget?

Thanks.
 
Jun 5, 2013 at 8:12 AM Post #5 of 46

wes008

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Be wary of the drive capacity (ohm range) that the manufacturers give. While the amp CAN drive headphones in that impedance range, it can't always do it well. E.G., the Magni/Modi can drive 600 Ohm headphones, but it starts to show it's flaws there. Also, the fixed 5x gain leaves not much room for volume play on a 32 Ohm headphone. You mentioned the Aune X1, but I'd actually recommend the Aune T1. That tube will make your Q701 sing, and that amp/dac should play ok with the HD 600 if/when you get them. 
 
Jun 5, 2013 at 8:18 AM Post #6 of 46

hedphonz

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theres also the ZERO 24/192KHZ DAC , Headphone AMP
 
big thread on it here at head-fi - worth reading the review
 
Jun 5, 2013 at 8:19 AM Post #7 of 46

Koolpep

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Quote:
Thanks for the reply.
This is what I found so far:

Schiit Magni/Modi $200 (USB) USB/ EXT POWER 24bit/96kHz  32-600 Ohm
Firestone Audio Fubar HD $200 (USB, COAX, OPTICAL) EXT POWER 24bit/192kHz 32-600 Ohm
Aune X1 Mk2 $200 (USB, COAX, OPTICAL) EXT POWER 24bit/192kHz 32-600 Ohm
Audio GD NFB-12.1 $215 (USB, COAX, OPTICAL) EXT POWER 24bit/192kHz 32-600 Ohm
Audinst HUD-MX2 $248 (USB, OPTICAL) EXT POWER 24bit/192kHz 16-600 Ohm

What do you guys think? Is anything worth considering from that list?
If not how much should I bump up my budget?

Thanks.

 
I would vote for the Schiit stack.
 
Once you get the HD600 & DT880, the next logical upgrade would be an Asgard2 instead of the Magni. Next step Bifrost, if at all.
 
Cheers,
K
 
Jun 5, 2013 at 3:17 PM Post #8 of 46

isagreg

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I would prefer to stay with solid state amps. So Aune T1 tube amp is out for now.
 
Regarding the budget. The mentioned phones are in $300-400 price range. I'm having tough time justifying spending more than $250, OK $300 max. If I had HD800 for example ($1,500) then $1,000-1,500 DAC/ Amp would make sense.
 
If Magni does not have enough "juice" then what about Asgard 2? Will it be better with Q701, DT880 and HD600?
 
There are these too:
JDS Labs Objective 2 amplifier + ODAC (one ugly device though)
Matrix M-Stage (don't even know if this works with 600 Ohms)
 
Jun 5, 2013 at 4:14 PM Post #9 of 46

jaywillin

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Quote:
I would prefer to stay with solid state amps. So Aune T1 tube amp is out for now.
 
Regarding the budget. The mentioned phones are in $300-400 price range. I'm having tough time justifying spending more than $250, OK $300 max. If I had HD800 for example ($1,500) then $1,000-1,500 DAC/ Amp would make sense.
 
If Magni does not have enough "juice" then what about Asgard 2? Will it be better with Q701, DT880 and HD600
 

i allowed myself a budget of about $250 give or take, for my amp, dac setup. i've had in no particular order, the m's from schiit, the d1 from audioengine, the microstreamer , and what i'm currently using now is a fiio e09k amp/preamp, and a hrt musicstreamer ii, total about $260 from amazon. i don't need my system to be portable, all my listening is at home, the fiio serves as a preamp to the speakers i use.
as for the asgard 2, i really would like to have tried it, and i may someday, but it alone is 250, and i really wanted to stay under the 300 combined
 
 
oh, my headphones are grado sr225i's i really didn't need a lot of power, though the magni and fiio do have plenty
 
Jun 5, 2013 at 5:11 PM Post #10 of 46

sonitus mirus

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You might look at the Audioengine D1 for a DAC.  It runs about $170, but you might find one cheaper with a bit of research.  It has both a USB and optical inputs, with the optical handling up to 24-bit/192KHz. (usb input up to 24/96).  It uses a very good chip, the AK4396.(this may be the same as the Schiit Modi)  Although I'm not thrilled with the amp portion of this unit and I only use it as a DAC, it can hold it's own in a pinch and can make for a great portable unit to travel with if the need ever arises.
 
http://audioengineusa.com/Store/audioengine-d1-tech
 
This would be more versatile than the Schiit Modi DAC as it handles an optical input as well, plus the RCA output is 2Vrms versus the Modi's 1.5Vrms.
 
So, maybe consider the Audioengine D1 with the Schiit Magni.  
 
Jun 5, 2013 at 5:42 PM Post #11 of 46

i019791

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Quote:
Thanks for the reply.
This is what I found so far:

Schiit Magni/Modi $200 (USB) USB/ EXT POWER 24bit/96kHz  32-600 Ohm
Firestone Audio Fubar HD $200 (USB, COAX, OPTICAL) EXT POWER 24bit/192kHz 32-600 Ohm
Aune X1 Mk2 $200 (USB, COAX, OPTICAL) EXT POWER 24bit/192kHz 32-600 Ohm
Audio GD NFB-12.1 $215 (USB, COAX, OPTICAL) EXT POWER 24bit/192kHz 32-600 Ohm
Audinst HUD-MX2 $248 (USB, OPTICAL) EXT POWER 24bit/192kHz 16-600 Ohm

What do you guys think? Is anything worth considering from that list?
If not how much should I bump up my budget?

Thanks.

You could consider Audio gd NFB-15.32, to which Audio gd NFB-12.1 was a slightly inferior predecessor. It will drive well all the headphones you mention.
 
Jun 5, 2013 at 6:43 PM Post #13 of 46

i019791

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Quote:
Audio GD NFB-15.32 ($235) has a better DAC (USB supports up to 192 kHz) but the Amp section is identical according to specs.

It is also tuned to be more neutral, according to Audio gd - this does not show into the specs.
Note that the usb input is much better at NFB-15, and not just because it is 192K cabable.
 
Jun 5, 2013 at 7:44 PM Post #14 of 46

isagreg

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Audio GD NFB-15.32 at $235 is doable, the only thing that makes me nervous is ordering directly from China and the warranty issues (if it needs service).
 
Audioengine D1 looks interesting too, and it is pretty "cheap" at $170.
But it definitely cannot drive 600 Ohms. But on the other hand Beyerdynamic DT880 comes in 250 Ohm as well. Don't know how different they are.
 
Should I be concerned that it is USB powered only?
Will it handle Q701 and HD600 (and DT880 250 Ohm) to full potential?
 
Jun 5, 2013 at 8:20 PM Post #15 of 46

jaywillin

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when i was wondering what to do dac wise, i was thinking 192khz was something to really look for
but then i learned that windows(i use a pc) won't do 192 without drivers installed and not through usb.
also almost none of the music i listen to is even available 192
so for me a dac that does 24/96 is all i need
the e09k and the modi made a great combo for about $220 delivered
 

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