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Mad Lust Envy's Headphone Gaming Guide: (12/10/2019: Schiit Gaming Dac/Amps 'Hel' and 'Fulla 3' added)

Discussion in 'Video Games Discussion' started by mad lust envy, Jan 17, 2011.
  1. xxxkinel
    Thank you

    On the first page of this review MLE reviews either akg 701 or the akg 702
    Does anyone know what headset he reviewed
    Because in the title it shows two names
    So i dont know what the review is for what version

    Any chance you could post the db settings of those frequncies
    How far can you pinpoint enemys footsteps from 5ft 10ft 20ft 30ft im just wandering out of curiosity

    [merged]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 9, 2019
  2. Johnnytran
    I'm not at home atm but if you look at my post history I posted a screenshot of the G6 EQ I used with the A40, it's pretty much the same thing I'm using with the DT770's. I have no idea how far I can pin point footsteps sorry
     
  3. xxxkinel
    Are you still using boost high preset ingame
    Thanks for the replys
     
  4. Mad Lust Envy Contributor
    The review itself plainly states K701 in like every other sentence.

    Not that it matters, findings over the years have concluded that they were nigh identical. Driver variation mainly being what accounted for the very minute differences. The main difference was the color, and removable cables in the K702, while the K701 was attached at all times.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2019
  5. xxxkinel
    MLE thank you for the reply
    I read the review many years ago but i cant remember
    I did try and read the review yesterday but it the link wasnt working for me

    Ive got my list down to two headphones now either the
    Akg 702 or the dt770 pros
    Ive put the dt770 pro on my list because of johntrans recomdation
    What do you guys think would be best
    These will just be used to soundwhoring in call of duty modern warfare 19 nothing else
    Its for the ps4 with my astro mixamp pro tr
     
  6. themrmikemcd
    While I can't say that I am anywhere near an audiophile, I own the DT770 and find them more fun and have some good bass. Not booming bass but enough for me to enjoy single player and listening to music. I have no information on the akg 702s.
     
  7. Xspearo
    I can say the AKG 702 with sound blaster G6 are really good for Apex and COD MW.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2019
  8. ronfifer
    If you go for K702 make sure you have one other headphone to play single player or non-competitive games, as the K702 sounds poor in that department. I use the K702 for competitive FPS and AD900x for single player or Coop games. AD900x can be used for both scenarios, competitive and single player, but the K702 is best at competitive only. I have not tried the DT770 pro.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2019
  9. xxxkinel
    Thank you all for your advice
    We bought the akg702 i just have to wait till it gets back in stock
     
    SierraMadre likes this.
  10. flooberjobby
    So I have had like 2-3 Audio Technica AD700 headphones. When my last pair died a while ago. I got a pair of ATH-ADG1X, hoping they would be like my previous audio technica's. But to me I feel like they're terrible for gaming compared to them. Since the AD700 is discontinued and my ADG1X is basically a AD700X. Any recommendations on either a place to repair my AD700(s) or something I could get that will give me the same or better sound for Competitive FPS gaming?I know the AD700 really lacked in base. But I have never found another headphone that lets me hear footsteps and other important game sounds like them. Unless someone could tell me that the AD700X is basically a AD700, and the ADG1X is just crap, that would help to.

    I saw that the AKG 701, and AKG 702 were close to the AD700 in your review. But there are so many variations of them on AMAZON it's hard to find the right one. If I was going to try the AKG701, and the fact that the AKG 702 basically sounds the same with detachable cable I was going to try the 702 because it would be easier to replace a worn out cable.

    Just an FYI. I never had an amp, or dac to go with my AD700. Never felt I needed one with it.
     
  11. SierraMadre
    The ADG1X drivers are based on the AD900X, just with a bit more bass although neither are by any means “bass” cans. Moreover, it has a higher impedance (48 ohms) than the AD700 (34 ohms) so would probably benefit from a better dac/amp (even the AD700X has higher impedance (48ohms) than your old AD700s). It is not known for being particularly responsive to low powered amps.

    But, if you have given up on them then the AKG 702 is your best bet but a 701 would work too, possibly slightly better as it has very slightly less bass than the 701. Additionally, several users have commented on how they find the AKGs 701/702 to be better at imaging than the AD line. You would definitely want a dac/amp though as the K702 has an impedance of 62 ohms and is even less sensitive (I.e. less responsive to low power amps) than the ADG1X.

    I suggest you get a dac/amp (or at least an amp), it will improve your experience with most headphones and may fix your issues with the ADG1X . . . Even if it doesn’t, then you’ll want likely need a dac/amp anyway for the K702.

    If you don’t want to get a dac/amp then short of finding a used AD700 in good condition, the best option would be the Philips SHP9500. It has a 32 ohm impedance and is pretty good for sound whoring as it’s airy and somewhat bass-light.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2019
    flooberjobby likes this.
  12. Mad Lust Envy Contributor
    Ok guys, I'm STRESSING that this isn't going to be on the same caliber as my usual reviews, because I just don't know how to do dac/amps properly. Keep that in mind. I tried here, but it may sound a bit more casual than normal. As such, I don't really consider this a review, but more of a hodgepodge of personal impressions. Take that as you will.



    ----------
    ----------

    Schiit Gaming Dac/Amps 'Hel' and 'Fulla 3'
    hel-fulla3-comparison-1920.jpg
    Hel: $189 as of Dec 2019
    Fulla $99 as of Dec 2019

    Where to buy: Hel at Schiit.com , Fulla 3 at Schiit.com

    Full Review with many images posted HERE first.

    Disclaimer: A special thanks to Schiit's Jason Stoddard for sending out the Hel and Fulla 3 for my impressions. He didn't even ask for a review, just wanted me to give him what I thought of them and any points of improvements, etc.

    As I'm someone who doesn't feel comfortable with dac/amp reviews, this particular "review" will be a bit more freestyle, with a more relaxed, thoughts on paper approach to writing, as opposed to my typical review process of trying to make it as professional as I possibly can. I think it's better for it, as I don't feel right about trying to condense my thoughts into my common review style for headphones for amp/dacs. It's why you haven't seen any full on review of anything outside of the gaming dac/amps that were easier to write about due to the software features. As Schiit's dac/amps are more simplistic, without any software, it wouldn't work quite the same. This entry will not be as long as those reviews, but I'll do my best in trying to make it legible to a degree. Thanks for your understanding.

    I also know those in my small corner of the audiophile community like and use virtual surround devices, which these are not. So these aren't aimed at them, and here I'm writing this 'review' for everyone else who doesn't need or use stuff like that, and just want the raw, untouched, stereo sound. Besides, the Fulla and Hel make excellent amp/dacs outside of gaming as well, so they may still be interested in these.

    I've also decided on merging the Fulla 3 and Hel into one "Schiit Gaming DAC/Amps" review, mainly because they're both fresh products with similar uses, at different price levels. I didn't feel a need to separate them into smaller reviews, as I think it all flows together for me as just one review. Besides, I don't have elaborate testing being done in terms of their sound, measurements, or what have you. This will be a more 'casual' approach into these two products.




    Intro

    I'll be the first to admit, I'm an avid fan of Schiit. Now, by saying that you may think I'm biased towards them. I'll just tell you that in terms of amps, all I care about is them providing enough clean power for my headphones. I don't expect solid state amps to sound very different from one another as long as the headphones in question are supplied the power necessary for them to perform optimally.

    Yes, I know they do sound different here or there, but the vast majority of a headphone's sound is the headphone, regardless of who makes the gear attached to it. In terms of DACs, well, I'm also happy just having one that provides a digital to analog conversion cleanly. So I'm not the best person in trying to convince me that $5000 dacs are better than $100 DACs that sounds good enough to my ears. Multibit, NOS, DSD, whatever. None of that matters TO ME. Like, for one example, at the time of owning the original Modi and the ODAC, I found the ODAC to sound superior. Like audibly so. That still didn't stop me from being a fan of Schiit.

    So then why am I a fan of Schiit when I don't really care much about amps and dacs all that much? Things like their design sense, whether physical, mechanical, or simply aesthetics. They inject their own ideas to their products, and tend not to follow common industry standards. They stand out. I love that. Bandwagons are boring. Be unique. Be Schiit, not sh... you get it. I like their swagger. I like that they make me wanna know MORE about amps and dacs with their manner of speaking about them. They make learning about these things fun. So yes, I'm thankful for Schiit for making me just a little more knowledgeable about aspects of audio I don't pay as much attention to.

    So while I'm a fan of Schiit, don't expect bias in terms of how these dac/amps stack up next to other dac/amps. I'm only looking at these products in a bubble for what they are and provide. Why not get other things outside of Schiit amp/dacs? Well, I have, but they tend to be gaming oriented. In terms of typical audiophile gear, I get Schiit gear because that's what I want. You want Topping, JDS, Monoprice, or whatever? Good for you. You want that, I want Schiit. I'm sure we'll both be happy.

    Personally speaking, I have owned the original Modi, Magni, Vali, and Lyr. My current main setup utilizes the Modi 3 and Magni 3. So I'm no stranger to Schiit. I haven't ventured into their more exotic offerings, nor their multibit iterations. Perhaps someday. I've been very happy sticking to a well performing mini Schiit stack.

    Even so, I (as well as plenty of others) have clamored for Schiit to make dac/amps all in one chassis. While they relented a while ago with some add-in cards for the Asgard, Lyr, and the like, the Fulla was their first true dac/amp design, followed by the Hel. Had the Hel been released a year earlier, that probably would've been my main gear over the Modi/Magni 3 stack. I love my stack, but I love the simplicity of dac/amps in one box even more.

    So in comes the Fulla 3 and Hel. Both being the only Schiit devices with mic inputs, earning them legitimate 'gaming dac/amp' status, though they are true audiophile dac/amps beyond the scope of just gaming.

    Before jumping in, let me quote some of the product specs for both devices

    Fulla 3:

    Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, +/-0.5db
    Maximum Power, 16 ohms: 400mW RMS
    Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 250mW RMS
    Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 200mW RMS
    Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 40mW RMS
    THD: <0.002%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS
    IMD: <0.002%, CCIR
    SNR: >105db, A-weighted, referenced to 1V RMS
    Crosstalk: >-80dB, 20Hz-20KHz
    Output Impedance (headphones): 0.5 ohms
    Output Impedance (line out): 75 ohms
    Input Impedance (rear 1/8" jack): 10k ohms
    Gain: 1.7 (4.6db)
    USB Receiver: C-Media CM6631A
    DAC: AKM AK4490 with TI OPA1662-based filter stage

    Sample Rates and Bit Depths: 16/44.1 to 24/192 supported without drivers on Windows 10, Mac, Linux, Android (UAC 2 device)

    Output Stage: TI LMH6643 x 2 (1 per channel)

    Power Supply: Via USB, with +/- 5V rails via high-current dual-polarity switching regulator, with inductor filtering and local regulation

    Power Consumption: 0.8W typical
    Size: 3.5 x 2.5 x 1.375” (including knob)
    Weight: 9 oz


    Hel

    Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, +/-0.3db
    Maximum Power, 16 Ohms: 1200mW RMS
    Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 1000mW RMS
    Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 650mW RMS
    Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 200mW RMS
    THD: <0.0015%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS
    IMD: <0.0015%, CCIR
    SNR: >108db, A-weighted, referenced to 1V RMS
    Crosstalk: >-80dB, 20Hz-20KHz
    Output Impedance (headphones): 0.25 ohms
    Output Impedance (line out): 75 ohms
    Input Impedance (rear 1/8" jack): 10k ohms
    Gain: 1 (0dB) or 5 (14dB)
    USB Receiver: C-Media CM6631A
    DAC: AKM AK4490 with TI OPA1662-based filter stage

    Sample Rates and Bit Depths: 16/44.1 to 24/192 supported without drivers on Windows 10, Mac, Linux, Android (UAC 2 device)

    Output Stage: TI OPA1688 (4 amp stages per channel)

    Power Supply: Via USB, with +/- 12V rails via high-current dual-polarity switching regulator, with inductor filtering and local regulation

    Power Consumption: 2.5W typical
    Size: 5 x 3.5 x 1.375” (including knob)
    Weight: 13oz




    Build

    Schiit knows how to make some sexy looking gear. Their outer appearance is 100% Schiit, and hasn't strayed far from year 1 Schiit products. Don't fix it if it ain't broke, I'd say.


    Fulla 3:

    20191204_122142.jpg


    Its size is essentially a Modi or Magni chopped in half, slightly shorter in height, with a beefy volume pot attached to the top. It's a cute, tiny thing, with the volume knob being almost comically large relative to the body itself. The volume pot makes the one on the Magni look puny.

    Starting at the front (left to right):

    fulla3front.jpg

    3.5mm mic input: replaces the Fulla 2's front facing analog input, (which now has been moved to the rear on the Fulla 3).

    3.5mm headphone jack: This has replaced the 1/4" jack of the Fulla 2. This is one change I somewhat understand being made, but I still would've preferred a 1/4" jack. Most headsets are gonna have 3.5mm plugs, which I'm sure is why Schiit has made that change, but if you want to use a regular headphone which may have 1/4" plugs, you'll have to hope they have a 3.5mm underneath the 1/4" plug, or include a 3.5mm adapter, or you'll have to get one yourself. It's far less common than having a 3.5mm to 1/4" adapter. 3.5mm jacks are also less reliable. In my opinion, just including a 1/4" adapter (like they do in the Hel) would've been far more ideal. Maybe for the next one, Schiit will go back to the 1/4" jack. 1/4" to 3.5mm adapters aren't great unless it's in cable form, which are more expensive than the questionable barrel adapters that add stress to 3.5mm ports.


    The rear of the Fulla (left to right):
    fulla3rear.jpg

    3.5mm variable out - apparently it has a marker for line level, but I don't see one. I'll update if/when I'm corrected.

    3.5mm analog input - for when you want to use the Fulla just as an amplifier. Not sure I see many use cases for this, which is why I would've taken a digital toslink/optical input instead, if possible.

    Micro USB port for power - Either for when you want to use the Fulla as an amplifier only, or if you don't want to draw power from whatever device the data USB input is connected to.

    Micro USB port for data. You likely won't need to use the power only port, unless your data usb ports don't give the Fulla enough power, or using the Fulla only as an amplifier.


    The top of the Fulla holds the previously mentioned volume knob, which is frankly quite awesome. It feels substantial, and an improvement over the meager little knob on the Magni and Vali. There is also some open slots up here for ventilation, as is the norm on all Schiit amps.

    fulla3sides.jpg

    The sides are just for ventilation, while the bottom holds three rubber feet, which keeps the Fulla from sliding around while adjusting the volume, perhaps even better than the Magni, as the front facing knob on the Magni makes it a bit easy to push around while making volume adjustments. The Fulla's problem is that there is only one rubber foot on the rear, which makes it wobble a bit with minimal pressure. I think for the eventual Fulla 4, Schiit should place 4 feet on the bottom. It's a minor quibble, nothing truly necessary, but would be welcome.

    In terms of weight and size, the Fulla 3 is light and super compact, making it a perfect companion for notebooks/laptops. For that alone, I would consider the Fulla 3 over virtually any other dac/amp for on the go purposes. You simply connect it via usb, and toss it in a bag when done. It is simplicity at its best. Function and form for the minimalist who mainly wants more than what a laptop can provide through its headphone jack.

    One final thing worth noting is the lack of a power indicator. I would like to see at the very least an internal red LED similar to the one found on the Hel. Definitely internal, seen through the openings, and not the laser beam that was the front white led of doom from past Schiit products.


    Hel:

    20191204_122051.jpg


    The Hel is more or less the size of a Magni or Modi, just slightly shorter in height, with the inputs/outputs placed on the short sides as opposed to them being on the longer sides on the Magni/Modi. This means that the Hel will take up less horizontal space, but will need more clearance in the back in terms of depth.

    Starting at the front (left to right):
    helfront.jpg

    Mic gain knob - allows you to manually adjust the mic output level. This is something many other gaming dac/amps tend to somehow miss. The inclusion here alone puts the Hel well above the others for me in terms of microphone practicality. I'll take a manual knob over software controls each and every time. Thank you, Schiit. Never get rid of this. In fact, maybe include it on more products. Fantastic.

    3.5mm mic input - self explanatory. You can attach any mic here. This is ONLY for the mic, so if you have a headset with both audio and mic channels placed in one 3.5mm input, make sure to use the included audio/mic splitter.

    USB/Analog Input switch - Select from the USB input or analog input.

    Low/High Gain switch - choose between 1 (0db) or 5 (14db) gain. You should have plenty of volume travel with the right gain selected on most headphones.

    1/4" (6.3mm) headphone jack - I don't think one can ever go wrong with a 1/4" input. Much better than 3.5mm, personally. If you have a headphone that only has 3.5mm plug, that's what the included adapter is for. You probably have a million 1/4" adapters laying about anyways.


    Now on to the rear (left to right):
    helrear.jpg

    3.5mm analog input - For the times you want to use the HEL as an amp only device. Perhaps you have a Modi multibit or other dac, here you go. It goes without saying that the mic input won't work unless the Hel's dac is being used.

    3.5mm variable out. Has volume control, but if you want to use the Hel as a dac only, set it to low gain, and raise volume all the way to the max. It will effectively become a line out this way.

    Power micro USB input - This is necessary to power the Hel with the included 2.1a wall wart. Make sure it's this wall wart being used, as other wall warts (like the one supplied with the Modi) will not supply enough power to the Hel.

    Data micro usb input - This one is necessary for dac use.


    Final Build Quality Impressions:
    20191204_122210.jpg

    As for points of improvements for both Hel and Fulla, I think it's about time to let micro USB die a long, gruesome death, and in its place, utilize the utterly superior type-C ports. I'm not just saying that because I have ruined countless micro USB cables and ports. Nope. That's not the reason. Ok, maybe it is. I hate micro USB anything, and can't wait for everyone to forget about it forever. Schiit, you guys are pioneers... please don't hold back your gear with these outdated ports. Do it for me. I'm also sad that the true line out was removed on the Fulla, and now you're forced to use the pre-out. I know real estate is at a premium with the Fulla, so I do understand this change. I'm just a little sad about it.

    20191204_133335.jpg

    As for the Hel, I wish it was oriented like the Magni, where the inputs would be placed on the longer sides, like typical mini Schiit devices. The Hel is essentially a Magni rotated 90 degrees. It would've made it easier to stack with other mini Schiit gear, as well as technically have more space for rear inputs. I dunno how they'd change the actual internal circuitry to allow this, but I'm sure they can pull it off. I think even rotated sideways to sit like other mini Schiit, the volume knob and openings are placed just fine as is

    The Fulla 3 and Hel are well designed overall. Asides from the changes I mentioned that I'd like to see for the next possible revisions, there really isn't anything wrong with the Fulla's build and design. Top notch product. Asides from personal wishes, the Hel is also very well built. The Red and black color scheme looks great as well.



    Accessories
    20191204_121408.jpg

    The Fulla 3 comes with a 3ft micro usb cable as its only accessory. The rubber feet are already mounted to the Fulla. Nothing really necessary in addition to the cable, though perhaps a 1/4" to 3.5mm adapter as wall as a headset audio/mic splitter cable would've been great, though I understand why it wasn't included, as it'd add to the cost. You may need a longer USB cable depending on your setup, but most people likely have spare micro USB cables to begin with.

    20191204_121349.jpg audiomicsplitter.jpg

    The Hel comes a bit better equipped. Two 3ft micro USB cables, a 2.1a wall wart for power, a 3.5mm to 1/4" adapter, and a headset audio/mic splitter. All the essentials are covered.



    Ease of Use

    20191204_125845.jpg

    The Fulla 3 and Hel are wonderful products in that there is no software required, and in most current age setups don't require driver downloads. You simply plug it into your main device, and select it as your audio device. You should be good to go. If for some reason you're using something a bit older without UAC2 support, Schiit has a driver download page with instructions, by CLICKING HERE.

    As gaming dac/amps, the Fulla and Hel are a bit more limited in comparison to something like the Creative G6 or X7 due to lack of typical features found on other devices like software, equalizers, presets, etc. That being said, there are reasons to go for the Schiit gear over more specialized gaming dac/amps, one being the much, much easier to use functionality. You really can't mess up the usability here, while stuff like the G6 and X7 can at times be hampered by its software and driver issues. With the Schiit gear, you plug them in, and they just work. No fiddling with drivers, software, and confusing options. What you see, is what you get. That to me, is perfect. Outside of my love for virtual surround processing options, I tend not to bother with all other features on those types of dac/amps. So if and when I'm not worried about virtual surround applications, I find the Fulla and Hel to be more ideal choices.

    In terms of non-PC use, the analog input takes care of that for times when you need just an amplifier, though I believe as a gaming dac/amp, a digital toslink/spdif optical input would've greatly added to the Fulla and Hel's functionality where it counts, though perhaps there is size restraints that keep the Fulla from being able to have one. I'd happily give up the analog input on both for this, personally. I believe the Fulla is best used as a dac/amp, and should be bought for that reason as the entry level dac/amp of choice, and then upgrading to the next tier if necessary. As for the Hel, I'm sure something can be done to add an optical input in the future without sacrificing any input, which would allow the Hel to compete in the console space. Or maybe it's just wishful thinking.

    Going back to the volume knobs, I just find them so much better in practicality over front mounted knobs, for devices as small as these. You can essentially just rest your hands near the devices and adjust with your fingers, while front mounted knobs require a bit more effort. I dunno, I'm sure it's purely based on preference, but if Schiit placed volume knobs on top of all their mini solid state amps like the Magni, I'd be all over that. Yes, it means they'll have to sit on the top of whatever Schiit stack you have going on, but that's an easy choice to make. Even off center, I think a Magni with a top mounted knob on ther right side with ventilation on the left would be wonderful. Maybe for a Magni 4. The Hel and Fulla are already covered.

    Both the Hel and Fulla have automatic switches when headphones are plugged in that mutes the rear outputs. While this is absolutely helpful and fine overall, I still think a manual switch would be better, if mainly because there may be some times when you use high gain for a headphone, and low gain on your speakers or other external devices. You may end up unplugging your headphones and find that your speakers are blaring way past your comfort level. I'm sure most people will exercise some caution and lower the volume before unplugging headphones. Just needed to bring that up.



    Sound

    As solid state amps, I don't expect to hear a drastic difference between the Hel and Fulla 3 in terms of sonic characteristics. As such, I don't wanna make things up and write them down in a section full of hyperbole. I will say that the Fulla 3 sounds a little more dry, and thinner than the Hel, if just a smidge. It has a sharper bite to sounds compared to the Hel which sounds slightly more balanced. They both sound great, and do what I need them to do: provide my headphones with a nice, clean sound. That's all I need of them, and they both pass with flying colors. I don't have the tools to A/B compare and do blind tests to be fully confident of these statements. Take that as you will. I told y'all dac/amps aren't my field. :p


    Amplification

    As is expected, the Hel can provide quite a bit more power than the Fulla 3. 4x the power, so if you don't feel confident in powering your headphones with the Fulla 3's level of power, perhaps it's best to play it safe and go up one tier higher to the Hel, which should absolutely have enough power for practically any headphone outside of truly demanding headphones. The Fulla 3 however, is no slouch and can provide power and volume to a large majority of headphones. Having what Schiit states is 10 times the power of a typical headphone jack from a phone or laptop device, you can rest assured that the Fulla makes for a great portable headphone powering device.

    Personally speaking, I'd likely recommend the Fulla with most headphones known to work well out of most devices, and perhaps go for the Hel if you find yourself with headphones known to scale or demand more. If I was getting something like a K702 or DT880/600ohm, I'd probably go for the Hel instead,.if I had to choose between the two devices.

    I think ideally, the Fulla is for on the go or secondary setups with easier to drive headphones, and the Hel in a main setup with big boy headphones. As I only have easier to drive headphones at the moment, I can only speculate, but I'm confident in this.

    In terms of gain selection from my tests with the HE400 (as my hardest to drive headphone at the moment), having set windows volume to 30% (for testing purposes) and adjusting volume on the Fulla and Hel, the Fulla provided a nice loud volume at 100%, while the Hel would've needed to switch to high gain, as 100% on low gain was less volume than the Fulla. That being said, the moment I changed to high gain, the Hel had quite a lot more headroom over the Fulla, as is to be expected. The Fulla has just one gain setting at 1.7x (4.6db), while the Hel has low at 1x (0db), and high at 5x (14db).

    I think as far as gaming dac/amps go, the Hel likely stands as the most powerful of all, likely only challenged by the Creative X7 (which I don't quite know the power specs for).



    Microphone Input


    I've never been very good with microphone recording or optimizations on PC. Hell, I can't even manage to get my Creative G6 to record at the moment. I planned to have three examples here, but I'll leave it at two. From my admittedly short testing, and lack of proper knowledge (I really just don't find myself using voice chat hardly ever), I found both the Fulla 3 and Hel's mic inputs to work exceedingly well for my purposes. I did find that the Fulla 3 was a lot more sensitive and could pick up my voice a lot more than the Hel, though I'm sure there's ways to mitigate that or have them perform on par in terms of vocal loudness. I do feel the Fulla may pick up external noises more than the Hel, but it may just be a clash of settings and optimizations again. Either way, here are the two mic tests, using Audacity with an Audeze Mobius with a V-moda BoomPro mic cable attached. I would simply just swap out the mic and set Audacity's default mic comunication to either the Hel or Fulla. Don't gauge performance here by how loud my voice is. That is user error, not a problem with either device.

    Please excuse the heavy breathing. I've been in and out of perfect health the past few weeks, having lost my voice, and still recovering. I haven't been able to take a deep breath without coughing up a lung for a while now.

    Warning: May be a bit loud, so lower your volume before listening.




    Considering the physical mic gain on the Hel, I'd choose that every time, if voice chat is incredibly important to you. Nothing beats being able to adjust as simply as that.



    Personal Recommendations

    20191204_130306.jpg
    The Fulla makes a perfect on the go transportable dac/amp for laptops. Can't ever underestimate the simplicity of having a small device that merely connects via usb, and gets full functionality. If you care even a little about your audio quality on the go, I can't think of a better dac/amp device than the Fulla, not even the Hel. It's small, simple, cheap, effective, and doesn't require external power. Toss it in your bag, and go.

    The Hel is technically a superior product, but it requires external power, so I don't see it as versatile as the Fulla. I definitely see it is a perfect device for a home or office however. Considering it also has a manual mic gain adjustability, I'd keep it around even if you have better amps or dacs. It makes life so much simpler if you ever use microphones or headsets.

    20191204_140407.jpg
    (My unorthodox bedroom listening setup. As you can see, my PC is near my TV which acts as my monitor. My Magni/Modi/Hel is placed much closer to my seating position, which is further away than where the chair is placed in the image)

    As for connectivity, they're both mainly centered around USB for their ideal uses, so I hope in the future Schiit adds optical digital inputs on both to truly expand the scope of devices they can be used with. I know I'm repeating myself, but I really want this functionality to be something Schiit looks as a priority for the next iterations, especially for devices aimed for gamers. Gamers use consoles, and consoles mainly get their best audio from HDMI and optical digital outputs. You can easily just send one optical out from the TV to the dac, and it'd cover everything connected to the TV via HDMI. It really simplifies things immensely.



    Likes and Dislikes


    Fulla 3 Likes:
    • Price
    • Size
    • Build
    • Top mounted volume knob (more of this, please)
    • Simple/Easy to use
    • Portability
    • Volume Gain
    • Mic input
    • Clean sound, no noise floor

    Fulla 3 Dislikes:
    • Wobbly rear (needs spaced out rubber feet in the rear)
    • Limited connectivity (hoping for optical input in a future revision)
    • No 1/4" jack (preferred over 3.5mm. I think Fulla 2 had this right. Just include a 3.5mm adapter)


    Hel Likes:
    • Build, Color
    • Good amount of power
    • Mic Gain knob (I'd be happy if more dac/amps had this)
    • Satisfying input and gain switches
    • 1/4" jack
    • Red power indicator inside chassis
    • Top mounted volume knob (more of this, please)
    • Clean sound, no noise floor
    • Simple/easy to use
    • Plenty of gain

    Hel Dislikes:
    • Limited connectivity (hoping for optical input in a future revision)
    • Not really a dislike, but a wish for next Hel to be oriented more like a Magni, where it's stack friendly



    Final Impressions

    I remember a time when Schiit was vehemently against dacs and amplifiers sharing one body. Fast forward nearing the better part of a decade later, and we have Schiit releasing serious amplifiers with op-amps (something they were not about), and dac/amps in form of the Fulla, Hel, and even add-in dac cards for their bigger amplifiers. Schiit loves to stand out and do their own thing, but sometimes you can't avoid some trends due to their practicality and usability. They still stick to their design philosophies, but now can branch out and release things a bit more accommodating to others. I love that.

    The Fulla is an easy sell. An affordable, excellent DAC/amp you can take anywhere which trumps anything you'd get out of a phone, tablet or computer's built in sound capabilities. This thing sells itself. Plenty for most available headphones or headsets that aren't known to require gobs of power. The type of headphones and headsets you'd likely be taking with you on the go to coffee shops, offices, or have in secondary setups. Really, the Fulla 3 is a banger of a product. Not much else to say. If you're getting into dac/amps, the Fulla 3 is an excellent starter and a bridge to Schiit's other offerings.

    The Hel is an even more serious powerhouse of a product. More power, physical adjustment of microphone output, and easily capable as an all you need device, even in a main setup. I recommend the Hel over the Fulla for more serious audiophiles who are looking for a main dac/amp, one that is permanently fixed to your desk setup. The Fulla makes more sense to me as a secondary or portable device, as you only need to attach one cable, whereas the Hel demands power from the wall, making it a little less travel friendly.

    For both devices, particularly the Hel, I believe once Schiit revises it and adds an optical input, it will be a serious contender as my most recommended dac/amp for unprocessed stereo gamers, as it will greatly expand its connectivity. Even us virtual surround users will be able to pipe audio digitally to the Hel. As always, I look forward to what Schiit has in store for us in the future.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2019
  13. adydula
    Great review!!

    I too am a Schitt fan and its great to see these guys be successful in many audio areas!

    Alex
     
    Tim van der Leeuw likes this.
  14. WhiteHartMart
    Would love to get a Hel but a 'gaming' dac/amp is no good to me without optical in and PS4 chat support :wink: Darn it :frowning2:
     
  15. Yethal
    Can microphone still be used if input is over analog and not usb (both plugged in but usb used only for mic) ?
     

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