Upgrade My MidFi Stack
Jul 14, 2023 at 1:17 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 13

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Hi I want to upgrade my audio stack I'm currently running -

chord 2qute/SMSL SU-8S -> THX 887/Jotunheim 2 -> Beyer DT1990(my favorite HP's/sound signature). All of these are around the $500 price point but I'm wanting to step up to the best bang for the buck ~$1500 per step price point.

So far I'm looking at -
chord Qutest or Gustard R26 -> SS amp ~$1500 -> Meze 109 Pro or Focal Clear. I was told these HP's would bottleneck those dacs/amps is that true?

This would be used to listening to a lot of EDM/Electronica and gaming. Any suggestions?
 
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Jul 14, 2023 at 7:19 AM Post #2 of 13
If you have a goal in mind because you have good stuff already. For microdetail, the SMSL HO200/DO200 is a winner. I also have the Monoprice liquid platinum stack, which makes my THX amps sound dry and sterile when I switch to them.
The DT1990 is fun on a bun. The AK4499 slow filters really rolloff the treble for bright headphones, so the Monoprice would be good. The SMSL HO200 or SP400 stack has the dynamics and microdetails.
 
Jul 14, 2023 at 9:40 AM Post #3 of 13
If you have a goal in mind because you have good stuff already. For microdetail, the SMSL HO200/DO200 is a winner. I also have the Monoprice liquid platinum stack, which makes my THX amps sound dry and sterile when I switch to them.
The DT1990 is fun on a bun. The AK4499 slow filters really rolloff the treble for bright headphones, so the Monoprice would be good. The SMSL HO200 or SP400 stack has the dynamics and microdetails.
The goal would be to try some different sound signatures by modifying/upgrading the stack or just having those different sound signature options available for when I want to hear something different. I'm not sure I like the dry/sterile sound of the THX amp but I've only tried Matrix and Jotunheim amps in the past in my personal setup, the Jotunheim does sound warmer. I also really like chord sound so wanted to upgrade to the Qutest but curious about the all R26 rave. I guess you're saying there won't be a big upgrade in sq upgrading from this midfi stack in terms of money spent unless I go to SummitFi?

Quick update I tried the Focal Clear MG locally and I'm learning towards the Meze 109 Pro's/Hifiman Xs/DT1990 as my HP's of choice. So the Dac/Amp would revolve around those.
 
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Jul 15, 2023 at 10:01 PM Post #4 of 13
I'd get an RME ADI-2 and play with EQ, in your position.
 
Jul 16, 2023 at 12:05 AM Post #6 of 13
This. I got one last year and is end game DAC territory for me. Add to that a headphone amp with 2 jacks one for IEM's, a PEQ, plus a plethora of tweaking and a geeks dream for a manual. A truly outstanding device.

I'll probably end up with one eventually - happy enough for now with the D90/A90 stack and EQ at the source, but I can't deny it would be really nice to be able to handle all that on the DAC itself. I'd never be happy with the ADI's power output, but it's otherwise very special.
 
Jul 16, 2023 at 12:20 AM Post #8 of 13
Actually the headphone amp ain't too shabby. I'm driving Focal and Fostex Headphones. The IEM jack is very handy indeed. Drives my AKT8IE MK II's beautifully. I do have a Jot 2 attached to at as well but it wasn't needed.
I'm the sort of crazy that refuses to admit headphone amps that put out less than 1.5wpc are worth considering and had two 400wpc speaker amps in a 500sf apartment (but never ran the system loud). It's half believing that headroom and accounting for momentary spikes in draw are important... And half the enjoyment of knowing I could blow stuff up if the mood struck. :wink:

Edit: looks like they bumped output up at some point - I'm a little out of the loop. I'd probably still keep the A90 around for really hard to drive stuff, but that's cool.
 
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Jul 16, 2023 at 6:19 AM Post #9 of 13
Meze 109 Pro or Focal Clear. I was told these HP's would bottleneck those dacs/amps is that true?

I don't think so. Recently (I think that it was the Meze thread?) someone who had Susvara got Meze 109 Pro indstead. These are nice cans and they'll scale well with better amps and DACs.
 
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Jul 16, 2023 at 12:13 PM Post #10 of 13
I have both dt1990 pro and focal clear, can confirm the sound signature of the 2 is pretty similar, clears just have a little more openness and detail. To be honest, didn't get blown away by the difference. I did try a pair of Focal utopias a couple months ago and those are something else...
 
Jul 16, 2023 at 6:48 PM Post #11 of 13
I have both dt1990 pro and focal clear, can confirm the sound signature of the 2 is pretty similar, clears just have a little more openness and detail. To be honest, didn't get blown away by the difference. I did try a pair of Focal utopias a couple months ago and those are something else...
I tried the Focal Clear MG's locally and wasn't that impressed by them they did have punchy mids and vocals also might have been the naim dac they were connected to. Prefer my DT1990's over them I do want to try the meze 109 pros though as they're supposed to be a good headphone for all genres.

Anyway not sure I want the RME ADI-2 as a good all arounder(especially since I'm not into IEM's at the moment) to play around with EQ. I can't tune it as good as the pros so I want good upper midfi dedicated DACs and AMPs that do their jobs really well and have their own distinct sound signatures.
 
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Jul 17, 2023 at 4:39 AM Post #12 of 13

From what I can tell Naim's sound characteristic leans towards punch and dynamics in general, so that DAC could've contributed. Please take this with a grain of salt, it's been ages since I've heard a Naim DAC (the small V1 model ), so I'm not in 100% sure.
 
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Aug 2, 2023 at 3:42 PM Post #13 of 13
Anyone have a chord Qutest? Wondering why people buy new power supplies for it when there's a interview with Rob Watts saying the included power supply is the best and basically like a car battery and can't get any better in terms of measurements. Having a hard time deciding between Qutest and Gustard A26.
 
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