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Rec's for HD600 with USB-DAC & pre-outs

  1. JoshK
    I am looking for a recommendation for a can amp for my Senn HD600s, in the up to $600 range preferably, that would include a USB DAC (mostly computer source) and have pre-outs for power speakers (XLR would be mint, as I intend to use pro monitors). The only one I know is Topping DX7S, but I've read some issues with noise level. I'd love to grab a used Oppo HA1 but I'm not willing to swing that much for such an amp.

    I am currently using the headphone amp built into my Scarlett 6i6 multi-feature whatever you call it that I mostly picked up for measurements (I am a bit more of an objectivist than a headphile).

    Thanks in advance.
  2. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    AudioGD NFB-11 but that only uses RCA on the preamp outputs.

    There's also the Schiit Jotunheim with the optional USB DAC module.

    Those aren't separate circles in a Venn diagram. Objectivists are one type of "headphile."

    And btw just from measurements that 6i6 would only measure well on the HD600 at low volume levels; it'll get much worse on low impedance, low sensitivity headphones as it has a relatively high output impedance (that introduces an EQ effect if the load nominal impedance is low enough) than what you might think Headphiles as non-objectivists might tend to prefer. Speaking of which...in many cases what might seem purely subjective sound isn't always getting EQ-d (given they don't like high output impedance either) but the just hear the low end a lot louder by listening to everything a heck of a lot louder; or maybe at the headphone end their preferred compromise for "flat" could be "rolling off gradually above 2000hz" than "kinda looks flat but with a spike at 3500hz and 12000hz." In any case, as far s the amp is concerned, in many cases what is seemingly subjectivist is just "higher power output and damping factor for higher system output at comparable if not lower noise and distortion."

    Think of it like people building overkill computers for whatever games they play just to make sure there are zero bottlenecks, except they don't get to quantify that with much higher minimum 1% lows FPS for smoother gameplay with all graphics settings maxed out.
    PaganDL likes this.
  3. JoshK
    Thanks for the rec's and I didn't mean to seem so negative with that comment. Now you got me looking at the NFB-28.28 though, even though it is a bit above my desired budget it looks very tempting. I've always liked the looks of what AudioGD did.
  4. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    Didn't really take it that way, I'm just clarifying the details.

    Not a bad choice but you'll need balanced cables for your headphones.
    PaganDL likes this.
  5. JoshK
    actually it looks to have both 1/4" and XLR
  6. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    I'm saying why buy a balanced amplifier with more parts ie more potential point of failure only to use it in single ended mode anyway Might as well just buy a good single ended amplifier.
  7. JoshK
    I get what you are saying. Well, actually only sort of.... When it comes to speakers and amps for speakers there isn't a "balanced" output even for a balanced amp. For balanced headphone outputs (never looked into it), is the balanced output really that much different that a single ended output from a balanced amp (common mode rejection, distortion reduction, etc)? I have to presume that in essence you have two amplifiers for each polarity that are floating independent of one another as opposed to summed at the output like a balanced speaker amp.

    FWIW, I ordered the NFB-11.28 as I couldn't really justify the difference for my use case. The above is more for my edification.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2018
  8. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    Speaker integrated amps tend to have a shared ground but once you get to some power amps, particularly those with XLR inputs, those tend to be balanced.

    Active speakers also usually have balanced inputs. Some just have SE inputs like KRKs; otherwise you can always just try an SE preamp on these.

    Sometimes but the thing is it depends more on which balanced amp and which single ended amp you're comparing. Some really good SE amps will register similar noise and distortion figures anyway, with teh balanced amp having the advantage really only in how the circuit can reject other noise sources, but mostly theoretically than practically, since you'd have to have a really long cable for example or that if you do have such noises, noise rejection on the balanced amp won't necessarily mean that extraneous noise source will not be audible. You might as well use a power conditioner or something.

    It doesn't even guarantee that balanced drive will get you more power. The Lyr3 is SE but makes more power than the Jotunheim, and both are running Class A/B; though in some cases you might find a balanced amp that runs Class A and has practically as much power as the Lyr3, like the NFB-28.

    I'd only really get the NFB-28 if I'm using pro monitors that would make it safer for me in terms of shipping and import tax from AudioGD to just get a balanced preamp than risk getting noise from an SE preamp into balanced input monitors. Or if I'm using headphones that will actually make the most out of the 8watt output.
  9. JoshK
    You know, I was being a bit daft. I didn't think about separate grounds for each channel, which was why I was confusing myself. Thanks for answering the question.

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