Need DAP with Sennheiser HD 650
Jun 10, 2020 at 9:01 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 48

LunaticPandora

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I want a great quality (no price is too high) headphone experience. I mostly listen to classical music--Mozart, Bach, etc. I am a composer and a graduate student studying music theory.

The WA7 Fireflies are very interesting Headphone Amp / DAC and I was thinking of trying these.

My concern is that my new laptop, the new XPS 17 will not have a sound card capable of making the best of high quality music streaming. I use Tidal, but I am open to trying another service.

That is why I'm looking for a DAP. Should I stream from a DAP if I want a higher quality? I have been plugging into my old laptop on USB through a small $100 headphone amp, and the quality is not great.

Does anyone have any recommendations?

Thanks, I really appreciate it.
 
Jun 12, 2020 at 7:30 AM Post #3 of 48

ProtegeManiac

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That is why I'm looking for a DAP. Should I stream from a DAP if I want a higher quality? I have been plugging into my old laptop on USB through a small $100 headphone amp, and the quality is not great.

Your problem with a DAP is that while they might sound cleaner they tend to not have a lot more power or even gain vs your laptop (I won't be surprised if a gaming laptop has higher gain) since they're running their amp stage plus a screen and CPU off one ~7V battery.

To exaggerate, it's still kind of like using a Tamiya toy car motor to move an actual car instead of buying a Model S that has two engines.
 
Jun 12, 2020 at 8:36 PM Post #4 of 48

LunaticPandora

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Your problem with a DAP is that while they might sound cleaner they tend to not have a lot more power or even gain vs your laptop (I won't be surprised if a gaming laptop has higher gain) since they're running their amp stage plus a screen and CPU off one ~7V battery.

To exaggerate, it's still kind of like using a Tamiya toy car motor to move an actual car instead of buying a Model S that has two engines.

Would using Jlazer's suggestion of the WA Topaz in connection with the DAP solve that problem?
 
Jun 12, 2020 at 9:44 PM Post #5 of 48

bzippy

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Would using Jlazer's suggestion of the WA Topaz in connection with the DAP solve that problem?
Yes I'm sure that's a very capable portable unit. That and a nice DAP would surely be a stellar portable system. But do you need it to be portable? If not then you should probably go with an AC powered desktop unit, because you'll almost always do better at the same price point going desktop over battery powered. And beyond performance considerations, there's the inconvenience of keeping the batteries charged.
 
Jun 12, 2020 at 9:54 PM Post #6 of 48

LunaticPandora

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Yes I'm sure that's a very capable portable unit. That and a nice DAP would surely be a stellar portable system. But do you need it to be portable? If not then you should probably go with an AC powered desktop unit, because you'll almost always do better at the same price point going desktop over battery powered. And beyond performance considerations, there's the inconvenience of keeping the batteries charged.
No I don't need it to be portable. I'm thinking of getting a speaker system, so perhaps there is an all-in-one speaker system that would fit the bill -- Is there a good one you can recommend that would allow me to stream 24-bit directly from Tidal or some other service through the speakers, and also plug in my Audeze LCD-3's to get the most out of my headphones as well?

My concern if I go through my laptop is that the laptop sound card is a stock Realtek which I'm not sure is capable of delivering high quality audio. Maybe I'm wrong about that. It is a brand new machine, but is more designed for visual content creators than musicians.
 
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Jun 12, 2020 at 11:43 PM Post #7 of 48

ProtegeManiac

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Would using Jlazer's suggestion of the WA Topaz in connection with the DAP solve that problem?

Kind of but...

I.
No I don't need it to be portable.

Why pay for compact size and the compromises that come with it if you don't need it to be portable? That's like having a huge desk, you only move the computer around except for maintenance and upgrades, and you still go with a miniITX rig that either can't run at full performance on both CPU and GPU, or choosing a 3-slot GPU that can kind of maintain boost clocks still leaves you with a tiny CPU cooler and you cook your Ryzen 7/9 or unlocked Core i5/i7/i9 before you even get to use the fact that it has unlocked multipliers.


II.
I'm thinking of getting a speaker system

How are you gonna plug that in to the Topaz? You can't.


I'm thinking of getting a speaker system, so perhaps there is an all-in-one speaker system that would fit the bill -- Is there a good one you can recommend that would allow me to stream 24-bit directly from Tidal or some other service through the speakers, and also plug in my Audeze LCD-3's to get the most out of my headphones as well?

My concern if I go through my laptop is that the laptop sound card is a stock Realtek which I'm not sure is capable of delivering high quality audio. Maybe I'm wrong about that. It is a brand new machine, but is more designed for visual content creators than musicians.

Other way around. Use a DAC to decode 24bit, have it feed a signal to a headphone amp driving the headphones that also has preamplifier outputs to feed a preamp signal to powered speakers.

Like a Schiit Asgard3 with the optional built in DAC.

Or the Schiit Modi3 and Magni3.
 
Jun 13, 2020 at 12:35 PM Post #8 of 48

LunaticPandora

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Why pay for compact size and the compromises that come with it if you don't need it to be portable? That's like having a huge desk, you only move the computer around except for maintenance and upgrades, and you still go with a miniITX rig that either can't run at full performance on both CPU and GPU, or choosing a 3-slot GPU that can kind of maintain boost clocks still leaves you with a tiny CPU cooler and you cook your Ryzen 7/9 or unlocked Core i5/i7/i9 before you even get to use the fact that it has unlocked multipliers.

Are you referring to my decision to use a DAP as my source rather than my laptop? The only reason I am considering a DAP is because I'm concerned my laptop sound card isn't good enough to process in 24-bit. If you think the laptop is fine, then that's all I needed to hear...and thanks a lot for your helpful reply!
 
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Jun 13, 2020 at 1:46 PM Post #9 of 48

bland125

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You should try, if you haven't already, your headphones straight out of the laptop first. The sound card in your laptop is probably good already, it's the overall implentation and USB out that are often problematic. if it ends up being noisy, not powerful enough or not to your liking, you have 2 options:

1) USB amp/DAC
2) DAP

Depends how you want to interact with your device and there are options at every price range you can think of.

You mentionned a speaker system also and even an all-in-one system which I would certainly NOT recommend for classical music replay.

You seem a little all over the place, I think maybe you haven't really made your mind yet and you should rethink how YOU would like to listen to music? Rest assured that there are viable options for all the possible ways so it will be easier for us to help you out if we have clearer directions! :)
 
Jun 13, 2020 at 1:51 PM Post #10 of 48

SilverEars

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If you are going to drive HD650, can't recommend a DAP. Go with something easier to drive if you need to use a DAP. I really don't know headphones driven well with a DAP. I really don't see the point of driving headphones with DAPs.

I think you need to either commit to a portable or desktop setup, and find the right phone for the purpose. Not, get a 650 and try to drive it out of DAP.
 
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Jun 13, 2020 at 3:50 PM Post #11 of 48

LunaticPandora

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You mentioned a speaker system also and even an all-in-one system which I would certainly NOT recommend for classical music replay.
Thanks for your reply! Can you elaborate on this?

The only reason I am considering a DAP is because I'm concerned my laptop sound card isn't good enough to process 24-bit. I don't know how it works, I just know the sound card is not great and I'm worried about that being an issue. Is a stock Realtek sound card capable of processing 24-bit? If it is, then I won't really need a DAP

Yes I know I am all over the place. :) There are so many options. I am just looking for an excellent ~$2000 headphone setup, decent speaker setup, with no need for portability. I already have HD650, looking into trying the Audeze LCD-3 in combination with WA or Schiit DAC/amp.
 
Jun 13, 2020 at 4:20 PM Post #12 of 48

bland125

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Well considering that you are after quality replay of classical music, an all in one speaker seems like a bad match, even for the best AIO out there. I'm no classical music expert but I've been to proper symphonic orchestra representations (OSM in the symphonic house here: https://www.osm.ca/en/the-hall/) and I can't even begin to imagine an AIO solution being able to even get close to a decent replay of that. You need scale, dynamics, soundstage, instrument separation as well as full frequency range replay. Headphones, IEMs, speakers can give you some of it but an AIO? I don't think so.

Considering we are in 2020 and this is a performance laptop, I would be very suprised if it couldn't handle at least 24/192 with some decent specs but again, the overall implementation will matter as well and I can't know unless with the very same laptop comments on it. 300ohm HD650 need some decent power to shine. I can't find the onboard audio exact specs but try it out first before buying anything else.
 
Jun 13, 2020 at 8:26 PM Post #13 of 48

buke9

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~
Thanks for your reply! Can you elaborate on this?

The only reason I am considering a DAP is because I'm concerned my laptop sound card isn't good enough to process 24-bit. I don't know how it works, I just know the sound card is not great and I'm worried about that being an issue. Is a stock Realtek sound card capable of processing 24-bit? If it is, then I won't really need a DAP

Yes I know I am all over the place. :) There are so many options. I am just looking for an excellent ~$2000 headphone setup, decent speaker setup, with no need for portability. I already have HD650, looking into trying the Audeze LCD-3 in combination with WA or Schiit DAC/amp.
OK so many don’t think a Dap can run the 650’s just have to say with a Silver plated 2.5 mm cable the HiBy R6 Pro has no problems at all. Since you like Classical I did put on some Mozart and a bit of Beethoven and they did handle them well but just have to say the HE-500’s were much to my more liking and since the Dap is fairly powerful had to try the AB-1266’s as well and it did take it to another level.
 
Jun 14, 2020 at 1:55 AM Post #14 of 48

ProtegeManiac

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Are you referring to my decision to use a DAP as my source rather than my laptop? The only reason I am considering a DAP is because I'm concerned my laptop sound card isn't good enough to process in 24-bit. If you think the laptop is fine, then that's all I needed to hear...and thanks a lot for your helpful reply!

If you use an external DAC you can bypass the soundcard on the laptop. The only way you'd still be using it is if you use optical output, which allows for the DSP features to be used (usually). Still it'll be the external DAC's DAC chip that will handle the conversion and more importantly feed the analogue signal into a usually cleaner output stage.
 
Jun 19, 2020 at 9:23 PM Post #15 of 48

LunaticPandora

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So I wound up cancelling my laptop order and I'm going to build a PC. And I went with the sound card Creative Labs Sound Blaster AE-9 32-bit. It comes with a DAC, but I might want to upgrade it. Hopefully it is powerful enough for my HD 650.
 

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