Which amp/DAC for Beyerdynamic DT 1990 and iPhone 7+
May 19, 2017 at 12:10 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 6

flohma

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Hello,

I'm new to this forum, perhaps you could call me an aspirational audiophile. After years of listening to MP3 files I'm upgrading to FLAC/ALAC and decent headphones. I just got the Beyerdynamic DT 1990s and am very happy with their clean and precise sound. Heck, they even sound good on my iPhone 7+ !

However, reading here and elsewhere I understand that volume isn't all, perhaps the DT 1990s need an amplifier to make me appreciate their dynamic range even more.

My question is this: should I go for a dedicated headphone amp or an amp/DAC combo?

I tried various small Fiio amplifiers and they don't seem powerful enough, not a big difference to iPhone alone.
The Beyerdynamic A20, however, complement the DT 1990s very nicely, but I've read a few critical comments here regarding their value for money (I paid 325 Euros for a refurbished unit that looks and presumably sounds like new) and performance.

Or should I invest in an amp/DAC combo in case the iphone DAC can be improved? Trying out the ifi nano and micro at the moment and, wow, they are powerful.

I don't care much for effects (xBass or whatever) but want a natural, very precise sound and a wide sound stage.

Budget: not more than 500 Euros, I'm afraid my 44 years old average ears surely wouldn't be able to tell the difference produced by extremely fancy audiophile products. But I hope to make a difference in my ears' education with a good mid-range purchase and for this I'd appreciate your advice. I listend almost exclusively to classical music.

Thanks!

Flo
 
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May 19, 2017 at 2:13 PM Post #2 of 6

PurpleAngel

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May 20, 2017 at 10:54 PM Post #4 of 6

ProtegeManiac

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However, reading here and elsewhere I understand that volume isn't all, perhaps the DT 1990s need an amplifier to make me appreciate their dynamic range even more.
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I tried various small Fiio amplifiers and they don't seem powerful enough, not a big difference to iPhone alone.

You need an amp with more power but a lot less distortion and noise. That said, if you can't hear the difference between the roughly 5mW, 0.01%THD audio chip on a smartphone and the roughly 25mW++ output off any of those portable amps (on the upside, some who hear a drastic difference have methodological issues with how they did their comparos), it's even harder to tell if even an O2 or Meier Corda Rock will make an audible difference for you.

My question is this: should I go for a dedicated headphone amp or an amp/DAC combo?

A dedicated DAC's function is to send a clean, fixed voltage signal to an amplifier, regardless of whether your DAC is a separate unit or built into a single chassis along with the amp circuit.


The Beyerdynamic A20, however, complement the DT 1990s very nicely, but I've read a few critical comments here regarding their value for money (I paid 325 Euros for a refurbished unit that looks and presumably sounds like new) and performance.

Well, the thing is, you already have that. Even if you wanted something that has better bang for the buck, you'd end up selling that for a loss. If you like the sound out of that anyway then just keep using the A20. Maybe get a DAC or those docks that allow for a line output while keeping the iPhone upright (note that the sync dock can also be used with the cables that work with a DAC, that way you can keep the phone upright next to the amp).


What would the Darkvoice to better than the A20?

Better bang for the buck since it costs less and has a low noise floor. But if you already have the A20 I'd much rather just keep using that.
 
May 21, 2017 at 2:23 AM Post #5 of 6

flohma

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Thanks, ProtegeManiac. I did hear a difference in volume with the small amps, it just didn't seem that big to justify spending 150 Euros...

Here's the thing with the A20: I can still send it back, so I'm evaluating. I like the sound, and didn't notice any noise.

BUT something that concerns me is that I have to turn up the volume knob to about 80% in order to have decent volume on my DT 199os. How is the A20 supposed to power 600 Ohm headphones if I need to crank it up to 80% with a 250Ohm HP like the 1990s? Could this unit (purchased on Amazon Warehouse) be faulty? If I crank the ifi micro up fully...well, I don't, it would kill my ears.
 
May 21, 2017 at 11:36 PM Post #6 of 6

ProtegeManiac

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Thanks, ProtegeManiac. I did hear a difference in volume with the small amps, it just didn't seem that big to justify spending 150 Euros...

Just the volume, but not if the sound is cleaner, notes more distinct, percussion tighter, etc?

If not then the thing is it doesn't make it easy for us to tell if you can perceive any further difference, barring listening a lot louder where the laptop or those portable amps are distorting but a good desktop amp is barely even starting to run out of steam.


Here's the thing with the A20: I can still send it back, so I'm evaluating. I like the sound, and didn't notice any noise.

BUT something that concerns me is that I have to turn up the volume knob to about 80% in order to have decent volume on my DT 199os. How is the A20 supposed to power 600 Ohm headphones if I need to crank it up to 80% with a 250Ohm HP like the 1990s? Could this unit (purchased on Amazon Warehouse) be faulty? If I crank the ifi micro up fully...well, I don't, it would kill my ears.

What's feeding a line signal to the A20? If you're using your iPhone crank it up to full volume. Same thing with a laptop. Either way, just dial back a bit if you hear noise. Using a desktop DAC with the A20 will feed it a minimum 1.8v line signal, so it's definitely a stronger signal than the iPhone's analogue output.

Also check if the A20 has different gain settings. Consult the manual. If it does then set it to high gain.

If none of those work or apply in this case, then try the DV336se with something like the JDS Labs EL DAC.
 

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