You have a MacBook in front of you and a set of HD600s on your head. What DAC/AMP do you put in between these two on a modest budget?
Dec 17, 2016 at 3:55 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 6

THUNDERSTUD

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Hi Head-Fi!
 
So the gist is kinda this, I'm after some killer audio quality for some serious music listening. I listen to almost any music from Pink Floyd to Kendrick Lamar to Daft Punk etc etc so I'm not looking to confine myself to headphone setup that is going to be heavily genre driven.
 
Now, where I start to make things difficult is about here. I'm sold on some SENNHEISER HD 600 cans at this point. For me, my price range and general accessibility to headphones these seem like the best way to go (should anyone tell me the HD650s are going to be the better bet, please let me know, I MAY be able to push the budget here).
 
What I'm going to be playing music from will be my MacBook (for the most part) and if possible (if the AMP/DAC combo allows it) my iPhone. Also, I have a real rig (my gaming PC) that I will sometimes use as well. But, for the most part, it will be the MacBook.
 
Portability. This is the word of the day. Now, I'm not talking ULTRA portable, just, not massive. Like, I would like to be able to throw my MacBook, headphones and DAC/AMP in my bag and be on my way. Also, the idea of a combined DAC/AMP combo is very very appealing to me. 
 
Now, I would pull the trigger on the Creative Sound Blaster X7, because it seems to fit the bill basically to perfection. Can drive the cans? Check. Is a DAC/AMP combo? Check. Is small enough that I can consider it portable? Check. Can run from my iPhone? Check. Can run from my MacBook? Check.
 
The question is - Is this item a "gimmick"? I mean, I know it's not a gimmick but it is expensive, and if better can be had for that kinda money or less, I would take that option provided it fit my awkward list. Having to power the MacBook and DAC/AMP is not a problem.
 
Anyways, any help here is MUCH appreciated as I've been falling through this rabbit hole for a few days now and I'm starting to lost my mind hahaha just wanna pull the trigger on SOMETHING at this point.
 
Thanks guys! 
 
Dec 17, 2016 at 6:18 AM Post #2 of 6

mysticstryk

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I'd take a look at the Fulla 2 if I were you. Priced at $99 and checks all your boxes (and then some).

Impressions are pretty positive on the Fulla 2. Creative sound quality has generally been considered mediocre at best.

As for headphones? See if you can wait for the next HD6xx drop from massdrop. It's literally a 650 in a different paint job and only $199. The 600 is great but I think the 650/6xx would fit your music preferences better and is more of an all-rounder.
 
Dec 17, 2016 at 6:36 AM Post #3 of 6

nutric08

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Buy the cans. That should stop the itch for at least a little while. Later you can buy an amp/dac but dont expect a BIG difference. Rather subtle differences which are hard to detect if you are not familiar with the sound of your headphone unamped.

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Dec 17, 2016 at 2:04 PM Post #4 of 6

obobskivich

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I would say no to the X7 - its huge, and most of its price is for the speaker amp (which you haven't mentioned wanting to use). Creative makes much more portable devices that are headphone-only, like the G5, that will also cost a lot less. I will qualify I've not heard the G5, but it looks like it could be a good choice here due to its big range of inputs and outputs, and much smaller size. I would say your best bet is to just go look for "USB DAC amp" and see what you find that looks appealing - there's literally an ocean of options out there these days.

I don't want to get into the HD 600 vs HD 650 debate (or any of the drama that frequently surrounds Massdrop products - both are essentially never-ending), but I will refer you to Tyll's three-way shootout of the HD 580, 600, and 650 to provide some context for these cans: http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/very-important-sennheiser-hd-580-hd-600-and-hd-650

The HD 580 are no longer available, so apologies if you read that and come away thinking "man, I really want the 580 now!"
 
Dec 17, 2016 at 2:52 PM Post #6 of 6

ProtegeManiac

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Now, where I start to make things difficult is about here. I'm sold on some SENNHEISER HD 600 cans at this point. For me, my price range and general accessibility to headphones these seem like the best way to go (should anyone tell me the HD650s are going to be the better bet, please let me know, I MAY be able to push the budget here).
 
What I'm going to be playing music from will be my MacBook (for the most part) and if possible (if the AMP/DAC combo allows it) my iPhone. Also, I have a real rig (my gaming PC) that I will sometimes use as well. But, for the most part, it will be the MacBook.
 
Portability. This is the word of the day. Now, I'm not talking ULTRA portable, just, not massive. Like, I would like to be able to throw my MacBook, headphones and DAC/AMP in my bag and be on my way. Also, the idea of a combined DAC/AMP combo is very very appealing to me. 

 
Pangea HP101. Fits easily in my Tenba Discovery Daypack (Small) that I only carry one bag to meets, along with my camera, spare battery, speedlight, and tripod. It's discontinued but there are Lowepros with a similar config 9and larger size depending on how big your laptop is, although the padded compartment for the camera gets larger also). I'm sure there are other ways to carry it in other bags, like using a large enough padded cam pouch like the Crumpler Haven (L) for the headphone and the amp between the earcups.
 
On my desk with a Samsung Galaxy Note 3

 
Here's how I pack my small backpack; I have a larger one for when I need my laptop though as my iPad in its Otterbox won't fit and not even my Yoga 700 11.6, although it's an even bigger bag sized for my larger, older gaming laptop (Crumpler Sinking Barge). My frustration really is how bags sized for larger laptops assume your cameras get exponentially larger faster than the laptop size.

 
Here's how the HD600 fits in the top compartment, which I normally use for a spare shirt and GPS if I'm going far enough from marked roads.

 
 
 
 
 
Portability. This is the word of the day. Now, I'm not talking ULTRA portable, just, not massive. Like, I would like to be able to throw my MacBook, headphones and DAC/AMP in my bag and be on my way. Also, the idea of a combined DAC/AMP combo is very very appealing to me. 
 
Now, I would pull the trigger on the Creative Sound Blaster X7, because it seems to fit the bill basically to perfection. Can drive the cans? Check. Is a DAC/AMP combo? Check. Is small enough that I can consider it portable? Check. Can run from my iPhone? Check. Can run from my MacBook? Check.

 
 
Unless your bag is anything like the Crumpler Customary Barge, or at the very least a Lowepro Fastpack 250 (or any cavernous bag, like a large bike messenger but those aren't padded), I can't see how you can easily (which is the keyword here) just toss the X7 into a bag. Here it is next to a Grado so you'd have some reference for how tall it is.


 
And here it is next to a Macbook for its front to rear depth.

 

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