Left wanting... more!
Feb 24, 2020 at 11:30 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 14

Siyfion

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I dont profess to be any kind of expert these days on headphones, DACs, Amps, Audio Interfaces, etc. and was wondering if anyone had any recommendations based on what I've got, and am looking for.

Current setup:
  • Sennheiser 598SE
  • Schiit Magni Heresy
  • Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 (3rd Gen)
  • CL-1 Mic Activator
  • RODE ProCaster
What I'd like:
  • Headphones that don't fall off my head as easily as the 598SE (soooo annoying!)
  • Headphones that sound as-good, or better than the 598SE (I'd like a bit more bass if I'm honest)
  • Happy to replace any / all the existing gear
  • Like the price points, look & ethos of Schiit gear... Thoughts on the Jotunheim with the Multibit DAC?
  • My mic not to go mental when using Discord for extended periods of time (seemingly a Scarlett issue.. :/ )
Questions:
  • Is a separate DAC & Amp the best way to go?
  • Thoughts on the Drop THX AAA 789 Amp? vs Schiit?
  • If I get a set of Focal Elex headphones, is a balanced output essential? / massively preferable?
  • Sennheiser HD 6XX vs my 598SE?
 
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Feb 24, 2020 at 12:02 PM Post #2 of 14

phthora

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I dont profess to be any kind of expert these days on headphones, DACs, Amps, Audio Interfaces, etc. and was wondering if anyone had any recommendations based on what I've got, and am looking for.

Current setup:
  • Sennheiser 598SE
  • Schiit Magni Heresy
  • Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 (3rd Gen)
  • CL-1 Mic Activator
  • RODE ProCaster
What I'd like:
  • Headphones that don't fall off my head as easily as the 598SE (soooo annoying!)
  • Headphones that sound as-good, or better than the 598SE (I'd like a bit more bass if I'm honest)
  • Happy to replace any / all the existing gear
  • Like the price points, look & ethos of Schiit gear... Thoughts on the Jotunheim with the Multibit DAC?
  • My mic not to go mental when using Discord for extended periods of time (seemingly a Scarlett issue.. :/ )
Questions:
  • Is a separate DAC & Amp the best way to go?
  • Thoughts on the Drop THX AAA 789 Amp? vs Schiit?
  • If I get a set of Focal Elex headphones, is a balanced output essential? / massively preferable?
  • Sennheiser HD 6XX vs my 598SE?
  • A separate DAC and amp is ideal if you plan to upgrade or change components later. An all-in-one would be a better value.
  • The THX 789 and the Focal Elex are both phenomenal values. In fact, I would say that each represents the absolute peak of price-to-performance in their respective fields.
  • Going balanced will depend largely on which amp you choose. Some are indeed better out of the balanced output, many sound exactly the same. The 789 is one of those. I would recommend a good quality 3rd party cable for any Focal, as the stock cable is unwieldy and stiff. Periapt is a good option. Might as well go balanced if you are buying a new cable anyway.
  • The 6XX is fantastic for the price, as is the 58X. Both fall short of the Elex, however.
 
Feb 24, 2020 at 12:58 PM Post #5 of 14

phthora

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So I guess my question to you @phthora then is, what DAC would be paired well with the THX & Elex/HD 6XX? Or would I be best off keeping my Scarlett 8i6?

That's going to depend upon your budget a bit. Topping makes a couple of great value amps, the D50S and D70 are both solid options. The D50S is a touch warmer, blurrier, and less detailed than the D70, but you can sometimes find it for less than $200. I would definitely recommend having a dedicated DAC, especially with a revealing amp like the 789, but I am not familiar with the Scarlett you have already.

Regarding Schiit, the internal multibit card is okay, but I would take the D50S over it any day. If you are interested in a dedicated R2R DAC, that's a different matter. The Bifrost Multibit is quite good, but it does have some warm coloration and over-smoothness to it, IMO. The Jot as an amp is great, but I can't speak to the others.
 
Feb 24, 2020 at 3:38 PM Post #7 of 14

phthora

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So what would you (or others!) say to a combo of Schiit Bifrost & Jotenheim (without the DAC)?

That's a great pairing with the kind of synergy that is hard to find unless you're buying two units designed to go together like that. It won't be the most technical, cleanest, or most resolving, even at the price, but it has a sprinkling of something like 'tube magic.' In other words, distortion, but pleasant. The Jot also has some harshness in the treble which I think is a result of the amp's relative lack of resolution. Nothing outrageous, but some headphones will aggravate the issue. On the plus side, it will drive any headphone.
 
Feb 24, 2020 at 6:26 PM Post #8 of 14

pichu

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I dont profess to be any kind of expert these days on headphones, DACs, Amps, Audio Interfaces, etc. and was wondering if anyone had any recommendations based on what I've got, and am looking for.

Current setup:
  • Sennheiser 598SE
  • Schiit Magni Heresy
  • Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 (3rd Gen)
  • CL-1 Mic Activator
  • RODE ProCaster
What I'd like:
  • Headphones that don't fall off my head as easily as the 598SE (soooo annoying!)
  • Headphones that sound as-good, or better than the 598SE (I'd like a bit more bass if I'm honest)
  • Happy to replace any / all the existing gear
  • Like the price points, look & ethos of Schiit gear... Thoughts on the Jotunheim with the Multibit DAC?
  • My mic not to go mental when using Discord for extended periods of time (seemingly a Scarlett issue.. :/ )
Questions:
  • Is a separate DAC & Amp the best way to go?
  • Thoughts on the Drop THX AAA 789 Amp? vs Schiit?
  • If I get a set of Focal Elex headphones, is a balanced output essential? / massively preferable?
  • Sennheiser HD 6XX vs my 598SE?

First off, sucks your getting mic issues in discord. I have the same setup except for the Scarlett 2i2 3rd gen. Mic and Cloud Lifter and Scarlett interface is a killer podcast/discord set up that will leave people saying crap like, "Dude your mic sounds so good! What do you have?"

As for headphones that won't fall off your head, that's a good amount!

Better than 598SE is also fairly easy to do depending on the budget.

So I like my DAC and Amp to be separate but it doesn't make a difference like many would like you to believe. I'm in the club that thinks you don't get huge improvements until you're paying big money.

Focal Elex with a clean source will be awesome and endgame for many. To put it into perspective, I own Senn 800S, ZMF Auteur and have owned a dozen other headphones, and the Elex gets the most listening time. Things like the LCD4 and Utopia are somewhat more accurate and objectively better. But they are also $4,000 headphones. The Elex is $600!!!

Balanced is a meme, and the Elex is fairly easy to drive single-ended. If you like the Schiit look I suggest a Lyr 3 with a Schiit Modi non-multibit. I think Elex sounds better with a more analytical clean DAC and a warmer amp like a tube or hybrid. The reason being is that it is a nuetral bright sound signature. Tube or hybrid helps take an edge off, where the analytical DAC stops it from becoming too relaxed sounding. But with that said, I preferred the Liquid Platinum Amp to the Schiit Lyr 3 after owning both for a couple of weeks.

If your source is a computer with FLAC and streaming Tidal/Spotify/Qobuz, etc, then get a Schiit Eitr in the chain to fix any unwanted noise coming from your computer USB. From there I suggest a Schiit Modi Multibit with Schiit Heresy if you want colored DAC and Analytical AMp. Or if you want analytical DAC and colored Amp, then go for a Schiit Modi non-multibit with Liquid Platinum Amp.

There are so many options out there, and if you get the option to try out a lot of stuff you'll realize that the headphones make 90% of the difference. Most DACs use the AKM or ESS DAC chips, and then it is up to the quality of the other components and features that should sway your position. Headphone amps sound more different to me than DACs do from each other.

I dislike the darker, bassier amps like Vioelectric and prefer the brighter more airy sound of Headamp, Meier Audio, etc.

You need to find the headphone you like the most and spend most of your money there. Don't be surprised when you get an endgame headphone then go drop a couple of grand on a headphone amp or DAC and you're left a few miles short of what you thought it would do over your Schiit Magni and Modi. Don't overthink it and you will be okay. Focus on the music as hard as that sounds! Feel free to PM if you have any questions about specific headphones, I've heard the majority and have an opinion on most.

Cheers,

Jonathan
 
Feb 24, 2020 at 11:16 PM Post #9 of 14

ProtegeManiac

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  • Headphones that don't fall off my head as easily as the 598SE (soooo annoying!)

You can fully extend the metal arms on that and then bend it inwards to make them fit tighter.




  • Headphones that sound as-good, or better than the 598SE (I'd like a bit more bass if I'm honest)
  • Happy to replace any / all the existing gear
----
  • Sennheiser HD 6XX vs my 598SE?

HD6XX brings more deep bass but chances are it could have the same fit issues unless you bend the metal arms on those too.


  • My mic not to go mental when using Discord for extended periods of time (seemingly a Scarlett issue.. :/ )

Maybe try a Creative or Xonar soundcard.

Problem there is you might have to use a more efficient mic since these don't have the same sort of mic preamp that you can find on the Scarlett.
 
Feb 25, 2020 at 3:49 PM Post #10 of 14

Siyfion

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First off, thank you @pichu & @ProtegeManiac for your responses.

First off, sucks your getting mic issues in discord. I have the same setup except for the Scarlett 2i2 3rd gen. Mic and Cloud Lifter and Scarlett interface is a killer podcast/discord set up that will leave people saying crap like, "Dude your mic sounds so good! What do you have?"
Yeah, that was my thinking too! Out of interest, what sample rate do you run your Scarlett on? I've been having issues with mine on anything above 48kHz, but I'm starting to think that leaving it alone on the 44.1kHz setting might not be all that bad?

Focal Elex with a clean source will be awesome and endgame for many. To put it into perspective, I own Senn 800S, ZMF Auteur and have owned a dozen other headphones, and the Elex gets the most listening time. Things like the LCD4 and Utopia are somewhat more accurate and objectively better. But they are also $4,000 headphones. The Elex is $600!!!
That may well have sealed the deal for me on the Focal's, I love the way they look and everything I've read / watched / listened to about them simply raves about them. Slightly different league to my HD 598SEs.

Interestingly I can't find the Schiit Eitr listed in the product listings on their website, only on the EU distributors page, weird!

I think the other thing I'm getting from most online resources is that the DAC is the last part setup that's likely to make a massive difference to my enjoyment. As such, I'm wondering whether it's simply worth sticking with the Focusrite Scarlett for now as the DAC, and spending my money on the Elex and potentially a "better" amp? Though having said that, the Schiit Modi isn't exactly hugely expensive... Just such a shame that being UK based it means I've got very limited potential to listen to these Amps / DACs before buying them & incurring all the shipping costs.

For now I'm thinking, get the Elex ordered when I'm over in Tampa, FL later on next month... and maybe also order a Lyr 3 with either an internal Multibit or AK4490 DAC, or a Modi 3/Multibit.
 
Feb 25, 2020 at 6:22 PM Post #11 of 14

Monsterzero

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I'm in the club that thinks you don't get huge improvements until you're paying big money.

+1. Very true. Of course theyre are various shades of this truth. A HD6xx and decent tube amp w/ NOS tubes can sound very good for the money spent.
I think the other thing I'm getting from most online resources is that the DAC is the last part setup that's likely to make a massive difference to my enjoyment.

Mmm...no. DACs are vitally important,but like the above quoted statement,youre not going to get that OMG moment from upgrading from a $100 DAC to a $500 DAC.
My journey took me from a Chord Mojo to a Lampizator Atlantic TRP,with lots of incremental steps in-between. The Mojo is a nice little device,but the TRP def brings the OMG moments,and for the price,it should.
 
Feb 25, 2020 at 6:38 PM Post #12 of 14

pichu

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First off, thank you @pichu & @ProtegeManiac for your responses.


Yeah, that was my thinking too! Out of interest, what sample rate do you run your Scarlett on? I've been having issues with mine on anything above 48kHz, but I'm starting to think that leaving it alone on the 44.1kHz setting might not be all that bad?


That may well have sealed the deal for me on the Focal's, I love the way they look and everything I've read / watched / listened to about them simply raves about them. Slightly different league to my HD 598SEs.

Interestingly I can't find the Schiit Eitr listed in the product listings on their website, only on the EU distributors page, weird!

I think the other thing I'm getting from most online resources is that the DAC is the last part setup that's likely to make a massive difference to my enjoyment. As such, I'm wondering whether it's simply worth sticking with the Focusrite Scarlett for now as the DAC, and spending my money on the Elex and potentially a "better" amp? Though having said that, the Schiit Modi isn't exactly hugely expensive... Just such a shame that being UK based it means I've got very limited potential to listen to these Amps / DACs before buying them & incurring all the shipping costs.

For now I'm thinking, get the Elex ordered when I'm over in Tampa, FL later on next month... and maybe also order a Lyr 3 with either an internal Multibit or AK4490 DAC, or a Modi 3/Multibit.

Im running my Scarlett at 192kHz with no problems. Elex is the best choice under $1,000 in my opinion so good call! That's weird, Eitr should def be there hmmm. Also, I just remembered i cant recc the Lyr 3 because the design choices of the circuit are questionable. Also, when turning it on, even with the volume at zero, it'll make a weird quick pop noise after about 30 seconds of being on. That can't be good for your headphones...

Thats cool, are you from the Tampa area?
 
Feb 26, 2020 at 4:14 AM Post #14 of 14

Siyfion

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Thats cool, are you from the Tampa area?

No, but my in-laws have a house near Sun City Center which we go to at least once a year for an extended holiday! Soak up some sun and warmth after the miserable wet and cold British winters!

Are you running your Scarlett through a USB hub or directly? Also which model? I’ve got a dongle-book (new MacBook Pro) with only USB C (and so a hub), or my PC with lots of options, but both seem to have issues.
 

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