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Dackzy

Before you buy amp and DAC + recommendations.

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Posted · Original PosterOP
6 hours ago, rice guru said:

I definitely agree with those people but their is something fun about this amp thats hard to resist for me. it kinda seems like it colors the sound a bit while that sounds like bad thing it makes things brighter and have thumpier bass and it's ina sense fun. and I though if your going to recommend the magni might as well recommend the LS because out of the 3 the ATOM is the best buy

well the magni is an option for EU people or really anyone that isn't close to the US, where the likes of the Atom and spark just don't make any sense because they will be so expensive to get imported. It sounds like the Spark has a V shaped coloration


Before you buy amp and dac.  My thoughts on the M50x  Ultimate Ears Reference monitor review I might have a thing for audio...

My main Headphones and IEMs:  K612 pro, HD 25 and Ultimate Ears Reference Monitor, HD 580 with HD 600 grills

DAC and AMP: RME ADI 2 DAC

Speakers: Genelec 8040, System Audio SA205

Receiver: Denon AVR-1612

Desktop: R7 1700, GTX 1080  RX 580 8GB and other stuff

Laptop: ThinkPad P50: i7 6820HQ, M2000M. ThinkPad T420s: i7 2640M, NVS 4200M

Feel free to pm me if you have a question for me or quote me. If you want to hear what I have to say about something just tag me.

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I have a question and hope someone here can help me.

 

I have a 2.1 speaker system on my PC and I'd like to connect my second to it also.
I bought on ebay an audio switch which allows me to choose which PC is connected to the speakers.
Despite the switch do its work, I simply can't use it because of the white noise that generates on the speakers.
I open the switch box and it's just wires connecting to the switch itself, without any type of electronics to filter that white noise.

 

Do you guys know of any switch that do filter the sound or the only way to clear that white noise is to buy an amp?
By the way, which would be more suitable for my needs, a dac or an amp?

 

Thank you.
 

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Please recommend dac+amp that would be very portable but would be good enough to connect 2 - 6 speakers and would not break the bank, budget not defined for now, but maybe 200 - 300 euros, but if there are something very light and portable for more money, I will consider it.Portability and light weight are top priority in this case.I'm not very knowledgeable when it comes to audio related things so if I did not specify something important,sorry about that. @rice guru Could you maybe offer some advice?

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6 hours ago, noxdeouroboros said:

Please recommend dac+amp that would be very portable but would be good enough to connect 2 - 6 speakers and would not break the bank, budget not defined for now, but maybe 200 - 300 euros, but if there are something very light and portable for more money, I will consider it.Portability and light weight are top priority in this case.I'm not very knowledgeable when it comes to audio related things so if I did not specify something important,sorry about that. @rice guru Could you maybe offer some advice?

Sorry man I'm not a speaker guy but @Derkoli and maybe @King Poet might be able to help because I know they have pretty sweet setups with speakers. And I know this guy is pretty controversial in the audio world check out zeos's Reddit because he should  have recommendations for your use case because for how much he loves his heaphones he more of a speaker guy.

  https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.reddit.com/r/Zeos/&ved=2ahUKEwiUvtKSkq_hAhVFba0KHTuGDkgQjjgwAHoECAYQAw&usg=AOvVaw3YGETuPHsQ8gEh99c1o3qL


***FEEL FREE TO DM ME QUESTIONS ABOUT MY GEAR IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR JUST CURIOUS***

CPU : ryzen 3600x  Motherboard: b350 PC mate RAM:16 GB ddr4 corsair lpx GPU: gtx 1070 6gb Case:phanteks p400 

Storage:x1 280 gb kingston ssd x1 1tb WD blue hdd x1 2tb seagate barraccuda 

 PSU:650 GQ Cooling:be quite! BK009 Keyboard:ducky one 2 rgb full sized Mouse:G502, Model o Operating System:win 10

Desktop audio gear: topping d10 --->  monolith Cavelli Liquid Spark---> Beyerdynamic dt 990 , Sennheiser Hd 58x, Hifiman HE4xx, AKG k240, AKG k52

Speaker Setup: Topping PA3--->Micca RB42

My portable setup: fiio Q1 mk2, fiio ubtr, fiio btr1k,fiio btr5---> Tin T2,Tin t3,Tin t4, QKZ VK4, Koss ksc 75,Blon 03 , Vido

 AKG y50bt,Sennheiser HD 4.40

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4 hours ago, rice guru said:

Sorry man I'm not a speaker guy but @Derkoli and maybe @King Poet might be able to help because I know they have pretty sweet setups with speakers. And I know this guy is pretty controversial in the audio world check out zeos's Reddit because he should  have recommendations for your use case because for how much he loves his heaphones he more of a speaker guy.

  https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.reddit.com/r/Zeos/&ved=2ahUKEwiUvtKSkq_hAhVFba0KHTuGDkgQjjgwAHoECAYQAw&usg=AOvVaw3YGETuPHsQ8gEh99c1o3qL

;)


If you have any questions about ultra high end audio, dont be afraid to shoot me a message, or mention me.

 

Yes my audio stuff is 665,000 USD, I'm a dedicated audiophile/mastering engineer

 

(if you want to see my audio stuff, check my profile, it's too much to list here)

 

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7 hours ago, noxdeouroboros said:

Please recommend dac+amp that would be very portable but would be good enough to connect 2 - 6 speakers and would not break the bank, budget not defined for now, but maybe 200 - 300 euros, but if there are something very light and portable for more money, I will consider it.Portability and light weight are top priority in this case.I'm not very knowledgeable when it comes to audio related things so if I did not specify something important,sorry about that. @rice guru Could you maybe offer some advice?

if the speakers are powered (self amplified) or you have an amp, any portable dac would work, as the dac doesnt actually power the speakers, it only gives the amp signal. Have a look at fiio's stuff or an audioquest dragonfly. https://www.amazon.co.uk/AudioQuest-DragonFly-Digital-Audio-Converter/dp/B01DFMV4NQ/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=dragonfly+red&qid=1554144999&s=gateway&sr=8-3

Or, if you can stretch the budget a bit, have a look at chord's stuff. Finding a dac+amp for 2-6 speaker that is portable is uh kind of stretching it. My home theater setup can use kilo watts at peak power (it is 15.2.5 though... meh. proves a point in my little mind.)


If you have any questions about ultra high end audio, dont be afraid to shoot me a message, or mention me.

 

Yes my audio stuff is 665,000 USD, I'm a dedicated audiophile/mastering engineer

 

(if you want to see my audio stuff, check my profile, it's too much to list here)

 

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So... I've got an old, sporadically upgraded PC from 2010 which is working great. I've been thinking about replacing it but doesn't really got enough incentive to do so. Games are working fine. Getting a new, bigger screen isn't an option until I get a new PC. However, doing a sound upgrade now might be feasible. Soo... I find out you do DACs and Amps now instead of soundcards?! The thing is, I've got an old Yamaha Stereo amp in the closet... Can I use this to the PC anyhow?

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6 hours ago, loppantorkel said:

So... I've got an old, sporadically upgraded PC from 2010 which is working great. I've been thinking about replacing it but doesn't really got enough incentive to do so. Games are working fine. Getting a new, bigger screen isn't an option until I get a new PC. However, doing a sound upgrade now might be feasible. Soo... I find out you do DACs and Amps now instead of soundcards?! The thing is, I've got an old Yamaha Stereo amp in the closet... Can I use this to the PC anyhow?

You should only ever consider this if you have good speakers or headphones to pair then with. Otherwise stick with onboard


***FEEL FREE TO DM ME QUESTIONS ABOUT MY GEAR IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR JUST CURIOUS***

CPU : ryzen 3600x  Motherboard: b350 PC mate RAM:16 GB ddr4 corsair lpx GPU: gtx 1070 6gb Case:phanteks p400 

Storage:x1 280 gb kingston ssd x1 1tb WD blue hdd x1 2tb seagate barraccuda 

 PSU:650 GQ Cooling:be quite! BK009 Keyboard:ducky one 2 rgb full sized Mouse:G502, Model o Operating System:win 10

Desktop audio gear: topping d10 --->  monolith Cavelli Liquid Spark---> Beyerdynamic dt 990 , Sennheiser Hd 58x, Hifiman HE4xx, AKG k240, AKG k52

Speaker Setup: Topping PA3--->Micca RB42

My portable setup: fiio Q1 mk2, fiio ubtr, fiio btr1k,fiio btr5---> Tin T2,Tin t3,Tin t4, QKZ VK4, Koss ksc 75,Blon 03 , Vido

 AKG y50bt,Sennheiser HD 4.40

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2 hours ago, rice guru said:

You should only ever consider this if you have good speakers or headphones to pair then with. Otherwise stick with onboard

Yea.. I'm looking at new headphones and speakers too. It started with me needing a new mic (old integrated mic in headset needs to be replaced). Might as well go for a separated mic headphone this time... maybe a bit better than before - this is where DACs and Amps start to appear.. There's a breaking point where I just give up if things get too complicated. Getting a DAC for my old Amp is doable. Atm I'm looking at Blue Mic Snowball, maybe Yamaha NS-333 Speakers and some DAC, if this should work well with my old Yamaha Stereo amp and PC...

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Wauw, what a thread! First of all thanks! I have some questions. I’m a total neewbie. I get that I might not need an upgrade. But tis the summer and I have so much free time. Ive gone and replaced my old 15” Macbook Pro workhorse for a new 2018-model for the USB-C only to change it for a WINDOWS! PC. Yes, I did that. Holy smokes. My new PC is so freakin’ fast and cost under half of the what the Macbook Pro did, albeit I had to spend a lot of time researching pc components. 

 

I also spent an obscene amount of time on keyboard research. Switches, PCB’s, cases and all. 

 

So then I saw a guy on reddit with a crazy portable audiorig and now I’m here. Ready to spend so I can perfect my reddit/desktopsetup photo. 

 

I do mostly listin to music on my iphone. I do play a lot of pc games. My headphones are these: https://aiaiai.dk/headphones/tma-2/wireless-2-preset

they work in both wored and wireless. 

 

I just got the highest Tidal tier. So I should have enough source material. It says Master from the PC and iPhone but there’s something about MQA I need. 

 

So I know not much. I’m after a thing that looks nice in my photo and gives me better sound. 

 

It should be a fairly cheap dac/amp/combo for desktop. 

 

Or ...

 

Something portable. Should I get a firefly red? 

 

Is MQA neccesary? Is Tidal stupid? 

 

Also. I can already hear a difference between 320 kps from Apple Music and Tidal HiFi. Especially at the end of ‘Let Down’ from Radiohead. There are bells in the HiFi version which aren’t there in the mp3. 

 

Please help me! 

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Get equalizer APO. Make the bass flat, make the lower mids flat and turn up the highs and upper mids a few db 

This comment somehow posted int he wrong forum post


***FEEL FREE TO DM ME QUESTIONS ABOUT MY GEAR IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR JUST CURIOUS***

CPU : ryzen 3600x  Motherboard: b350 PC mate RAM:16 GB ddr4 corsair lpx GPU: gtx 1070 6gb Case:phanteks p400 

Storage:x1 280 gb kingston ssd x1 1tb WD blue hdd x1 2tb seagate barraccuda 

 PSU:650 GQ Cooling:be quite! BK009 Keyboard:ducky one 2 rgb full sized Mouse:G502, Model o Operating System:win 10

Desktop audio gear: topping d10 --->  monolith Cavelli Liquid Spark---> Beyerdynamic dt 990 , Sennheiser Hd 58x, Hifiman HE4xx, AKG k240, AKG k52

Speaker Setup: Topping PA3--->Micca RB42

My portable setup: fiio Q1 mk2, fiio ubtr, fiio btr1k,fiio btr5---> Tin T2,Tin t3,Tin t4, QKZ VK4, Koss ksc 75,Blon 03 , Vido

 AKG y50bt,Sennheiser HD 4.40

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On 8/4/2019 at 8:43 AM, Neewbieaudio said:

Wauw, what a thread! First of all thanks! I have some questions. I’m a total neewbie. I get that I might not need an upgrade. But tis the summer and I have so much free time. Ive gone and replaced my old 15” Macbook Pro workhorse for a new 2018-model for the USB-C only to change it for a WINDOWS! PC. Yes, I did that. Holy smokes. My new PC is so freakin’ fast and cost under half of the what the Macbook Pro did, albeit I had to spend a lot of time researching pc components. 

 

I also spent an obscene amount of time on keyboard research. Switches, PCB’s, cases and all. 

 

So then I saw a guy on reddit with a crazy portable audiorig and now I’m here. Ready to spend so I can perfect my reddit/desktopsetup photo. 

 

I do mostly listin to music on my iphone. I do play a lot of pc games. My headphones are these: https://aiaiai.dk/headphones/tma-2/wireless-2-preset

they work in both wored and wireless. 

 

I just got the highest Tidal tier. So I should have enough source material. It says Master from the PC and iPhone but there’s something about MQA I need. 

 

So I know not much. I’m after a thing that looks nice in my photo and gives me better sound. 

 

It should be a fairly cheap dac/amp/combo for desktop. 

 

Or ...

 

Something portable. Should I get a firefly red? 

 

Is MQA neccesary? Is Tidal stupid? 

 

Also. I can already hear a difference between 320 kps from Apple Music and Tidal HiFi. Especially at the end of ‘Let Down’ from Radiohead. There are bells in the HiFi version which aren’t there in the mp3. 

 

Please help me! 

Welcome to windows ;), There is definetley a difference between spotify premium + apple music and Tidal, so many more details you can hear. Tidal is definetley not stupid, It's un-needed for most people who use beats headphones running off a phone, But it's amazing for audiophiles with resolving equipment. I find there isn't too much difference between a well mastered/recorded FLAC song and the same song on MQA, it's a very, and i mean very, tiny difference on my main system (B&W 803 D3, Mcintosh MA9000, Schiit yggdrasil dac etc.) and i can't tell a difference on my portable setup. There is a tiny difference again on my headphone setup, but it's small, What's the budget for the amp/dac?


If you have any questions about ultra high end audio, dont be afraid to shoot me a message, or mention me.

 

Yes my audio stuff is 665,000 USD, I'm a dedicated audiophile/mastering engineer

 

(if you want to see my audio stuff, check my profile, it's too much to list here)

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP
On 9/23/2019 at 2:16 AM, Starlord808 said:

So a dac is for microphones and an amp is for headphones? I only want to power my headphones so I only need an Amp right?

DAC stands for digital to audio converter, it takes the 1s and 0s your PC spits out and makes them analog, then the analog signal is send to whatever amp you have connected to the DAC and amplifies the analog signal. You can connect your headphones to the amps output.

Your PC already has a DAC build in, but the quality of it isn't the greastest, but it is there, so you can just buy a amp like the JDS Atom or Schiit magni 3 and connect it to your PC via the RCA on the back of the unit, and ofc a RCA to 3.5mm cable.

 

For microphones you need a ADC, which is an analog to digital converter. Microphone interfaces typically have these if they are made to connect to a PC.

 

 


Before you buy amp and dac.  My thoughts on the M50x  Ultimate Ears Reference monitor review I might have a thing for audio...

My main Headphones and IEMs:  K612 pro, HD 25 and Ultimate Ears Reference Monitor, HD 580 with HD 600 grills

DAC and AMP: RME ADI 2 DAC

Speakers: Genelec 8040, System Audio SA205

Receiver: Denon AVR-1612

Desktop: R7 1700, GTX 1080  RX 580 8GB and other stuff

Laptop: ThinkPad P50: i7 6820HQ, M2000M. ThinkPad T420s: i7 2640M, NVS 4200M

Feel free to pm me if you have a question for me or quote me. If you want to hear what I have to say about something just tag me.

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On 3/8/2016 at 12:48 PM, Dackzy said:

Okay guys I have seen a lot of people on here is starting to wanting to buy amps and dacs and let me just explain to you guys why you need one and why you don't need one. This is going to be very basic and generalised.

 

Reasons to get a DAC.

 

1. Noise in your sound

2. Your onboard makes the sound warm or cold sounding

3. Over all low quality sound coming from your onboard

4. Can look nice

5. You want more detail and higher audio quality

 

Reasons to NOT get a DAC.

 

1. No noise.

2. No coloring in your onboard.

3. You already have "transparent" sound. ( kinda the same as Nr. 2)

4. Takes up space.

5. You will need to buy an amp.

 

Reasons to get a amp.

 

1. You can't power your headphones. (your headphones don't get loud enough)

2. Your headphones sound muddy only at that pc (kinda the same as Nr. 1)

3. Can look nice.

4. You want to try tube sound. (they get really hot, so do NOT touch them.)

5. You want better audio quality (though keep in mind that if your source is bad then it won't suddenly sound good with a better amp)

6. Less noise

 

Reasons to NOT get a amp.

 

1. You can power your headphones.

2. Takes up space.

 

Most motherboards on the market to day can power 90%-95% of all the headphones on the market. A DAC and amp will not make your headphones a lot better if you already have "transparent" sound and they are powered properly, they can bring out more detail and overall better audio quality, but I wouldn't recommend getting a DAC and amp if you don't have good headphones, I would rather recommend that you save the money and get better headphones, expecially if you are unhappy by the sound you have in your headphones, because no DAC and amp is suddenly going to do any major change the signature of your headphones.

 

Ohm does not say if your headphones are hard to drive or not.

 

You can have 600 Ohm headphones that are easier to drive than 32 Ohm headphones. It is the sensitivity and efficiency that matters the most.

A very quick exsample of this would be the K612 and the HE 560. The K612 has a ohm rating of 120 Ohm and a sensitivity rating of 101 SPL/V, while the HE 560 has a Ohm rating of 45 Ohm and a efficiency rating of 90 SPL/mW. Using a online calculator we get these results, which shows that the HE 560 will need more power than the K612, despite the K612 having a Ohm rating that is almost three times higher than the HE 560's.

I used this website to calculate the power needed http://www.digizoid.com/headphones-power.html

  Reveal hidden contents

Hifiman HE 560

hifiman 5602.png

 

AKG K612 pro

k612.png

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

Wnat to know how much power your headphones need and the math behind it? Look here

  Reveal hidden contents

Okay let’s explain this a bit more. Headphone drivers have efficiency that is shown as dB/mW or SPL/mW, but they also have a thing called sensitivity which is shown as dB/V or SPL/V, some headphone manufactors will list the sensitivity while others will list the efficiency, so how do you convert dB/mW to dB/V? It is actually really easy.

 

The formula goes like this math 1.png, just remember that multiplying sign is “stronger” than plus or minus, the same goes for dividing sing, so you must multiply and divide before you minus.

 

If you want to make dB/V into then the formula goes like this 

math 2.png

 

Let us take a little example with the DT 770 80 Ohm. They have a efficiency of 96 SPL/mW, so let’s see what that is in SPL/V

math3.png

 

Okay that gives us a sensitivity of about 107 SPL/V, let us see if this is correct

math4.png

Yep it matches up.

 

Now we can calculate how much power they need.

We are going to calculate our desired loudness to be 110dB, why? It is a good middle ground, which has a leeway of about +/- 5dB on either side. Pop music and compressed music has a peak SPL of about 105dB, while high dynamic range audio, like audiophile recordings has 115dB peak.

Let’s get on with the math.

We are first going to look at the calculation using the efficiency

We are first going to calculate the required power in milliwatts and we are again going to use the DT 770 80 ohm.

 

The Formulas goes like this

math5.png

Now let’s put in our numbers

math6.png

 

Let us now find out the milliamps with this formula

math7.png

Now we put our numbers in

math8.png

 

Now let’s find the voltage that we need

math9.png

 

Now we know the voltage, the watt and the ampere we need to get them to play at 110 dB.

 

Let us now make the calculation with sensitivity.

 

We start with the required voltage.

Which we use this formula for

math10.png

We have our sensitivity from before which was about 107 dB/V, so now we just plug our numbers in

math11.png

 

We can now find the required power with this formula

math12.png

This should give about 25 mW, just like what we got when we calculated the required power with efficiency

math13.png

 

Lastly, we have the current aka the milliamps. We are just going to divide the mW with the V

math14.png

And that is how you calculate the required power, volts and current with efficiency and sensitivity.

 

You can also use a website like this one to calculate everything for you.

http://www.digizoid.com/headphones-power.html

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Different explanations (keeping it simple)

  Reveal hidden contents

Noise: you have crakling or some other sound that should not be there.

 

Warm sound: You have more bass and lower mids in your sound when you use your headphones with that pc.

 

Cold sound: You have more treble and less bass in your sound when you use your headphones with that pc.

 

Coloring: Your DAC, amp adds treble/bass/mids.

 

Transparent: your DAC, amp does not add any extra treble/bass/mids to the sound. Nothing is 100% transparent, since everything has its own sound, it can just be a extremely subtle.

 

Tube amp/tube sound: A tube amp generally makes the sound smoother and warmer because it distorts the sound.

 

Going to add more advanced terms soon.

 

 

Before you go buy an amp for some headphones you just orded wait get the headphones and test them with your onboard before you go spend money on a amp.

Before you go buy an DAC amp combo, if you already has transparent sound and you have nothing wrong with your onboard DAC then you will not notice a difference between your onboard and a DAC and if you buy an DAC you will need an amp.

 

Remember sound is not black and white like some people say it is, there are more to sound than just specs.

 

Only look down here if you really need an DAC and amp or just an amp

 

Why get anything else than the cheap products?

  Reveal hidden contents

Okay, we have probably all been looking into some audio gear and seen a price where we just thought "WTF is going on here?". So now let me explain why we have audio gear that cost way over 1000$. This will be simple and VERY general, it is just to give you an idea of why.

 

DISCLAIMER: Just because something cost a lot, doesn't mean it is actually good or anything like that.


First DACs.

When you look at DACs, then you might have come across some that cost 1200$, but why are they better than the 100$ one? A DAC, takes your digital signal and makes it analog, but in the process of the digital signal being transformed into analog and out to your headphone amp or speaker amp it goes through many different components, which all add their own little "touch" to the end signal, each component will add some distortion in some way, which will change the sound a tiny bit or maybe a lot (depending on the part). 

 

The higher end DACs will use higher quality parts which in return means less distortion, but distortion is not everything, it is actually far from everything, let me explain. If you look at specs of a DAC you might see something like ES9018 or AK4490 in your 200$ DAC, but at the same time you might also see them in a DAC that cost 800$, so why is that? Well to put it simply, the implementation of the chip becomes better, which leads to more detail and overall cleaner sound, maybe even a bigger soundstage and better imaging. So the audio quality actually sees a bump. Once you go with the "higher end" DACs you also start to get balanced outputs such as dual 3 pin XLR and multiple inputs, some which you might never have seen before. Only you can say if it is worth it for you to pay maybe upwards of 2300$ for a DAC.

 

I think we covered the reasoning behind higher end DACs, now amps.
When you hear the word amp, you might think that an amp just amplifies a signal up and yes that is the basics of it, but amps also have their own sound, some might bring out some more bass, while others might tame the treble a bit. The cheap amps might have an output impedance of 20 ohms, while a high-end one might be 1 ohm, but why does this matter? the 20-ohm amp wouldn't be able to be used with IEMs without a lot of noise and distortion, while the 1-ohm amp wouldn't have those problems, but that isn't all. If you go through my list of amp recommendations and leave out the tube amps, then the power they give out it cleaner, less colored, don't drown the small details out and so on. You also start to see that some headphone amps get balanced inputs and output.

If you plan to really get into this and want high-end gear, then I would recommend reading up on some terms like: Speed, clarity, macrodynamics, microdynamics and microdetail (some calls this plankton). Though most of them kinda say what they are in their name. Also trust your own ears more than you trust other people and remember to test the actual gear before you buy it. So again the actual audio quality goes up.

 

I think this covers the basics of why we have the very expensive gear. Though I must add that some headphones will show a difference more clearly than others would. The Sennheiser HD 800's are known for being very picky, when it comes to amps and DACs and will show a bigger difference between different DACs and amps than a pair of AD500x's would or something like that, so also take your headphones into consideration when you pick up a new DAC or new amp or both.

What is a DAP? (Digital Audio Player)

  Reveal hidden contents

To put it simply, then a DAP is a high quality MP3 player, but a DAP usually support stuff that is FLAC or higher. You would typically see people with higher quality IEMs or CIEMs (Custom in ear monitors) have some form of a DAP, because they want the high audio quality that they bring to the table, combined with the low output impedance and more power. You would also typically see them used by people that want to test gear in stores or at shows, since they generally offer a higher audio quality than your phone or laptop and they are very portable.

 

There are generally two types of DAPs. 

The first type is a Android based DAP, it allows you to stream music via Wi-Fi and download different apps, it is basically just a phone without a sim tray and 4G, but with much better audio. Though they don't have a lot of CPU power, so don't expect to also play games on them.

 

The Second type is the one that is based on a custom OS, these cannot connect to Wi-Fi and stream Tidal or Spotify, so you are bound to only listen to the music you have on it, some of them do offer bluetooth, so you can stream Tidal or Spotify from your phone to your DAP.

 

Some DAPs also offer the ability to connect to a PC via USB, so you can use it at home as your personal DAC and amp.

 

So if you want higher audio quality on the go, then a DAP is probably what you are looking for.

 

I have used amazon.de and amazon.com for every product that is not from Schiit where I used their own webshop

 

Before looking at tube amps

A tube amp is best with headphones that have a high impedance because it is there they have their power, while a normal solid state amp normally has the most power in the lower ohms. I highly recommend not getting a tube amp for let's say 35 Ohm headphones, but rather a tube hybrid amp which is a mix of a tube and solid state amp, you get the sound of tubes while still having the power in the lower Ohms and having a lower output impedance.

 

My recommendations for desktop amps:

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Schiit Magni 3 EU= 120€ US= $99

This is pretty much the go toamp if you have 100$, it can output a whole 2W at 32 Ohm and it has a clean detailed sound and offers great value. It has a low high gain switch on the back where you also find the power on off switch and the stereo RCA input. It can also function as a pre amp for your powered speakers.

 

JDS Labs Atom US= $99

Competitor for the Schiit Magni 3, it offers the same features as the Magni 3, but it also has a 3.5mm input. It can output 1W at 32 Ohm and it offers a clean sound for the price and is a tad less warm than the Magni 3 in its tonality. This is mainly an option for US based people.

 

Massdrop Cavalli Tube Hybrid US= $249

As the name says it is a hybrid amp, so you get some of the warmth and coloration from a tube, but unlike a OTL tube amp this amp has a output impedance of under 0.5 Ohm, which means dampening shouldn't be a problem with low impedance headphones, like it would be with your typical OTL amp. It has 4 pin XLR and 1/4" out for headphones and RCA in. It uses a 6922 tube, which is a rather easy and cheap tube type to get. Overall the sound is clean and detailed and how much you notice the tube will vary from headphone to headphone. This is a massdrop product, so people outside of the US have to add import ontop of the MSRP.

 

Massdrop THX AAA 789 US= $349

This is amp is price in the entry to mid range level, but offers performance that can compete with higher end amps. It is very transparent, but it has a small bump in the subbass, though this isn't noticeable with all headphones. It has both Balanced and unbalanced in and outputs. It has 3 gain settings and it offers plenty of power no matter the impedance, at 32 Ohm it can output 6W per channel and at 600 Ohm it can output 0.4W. This will be more than enough for any headphone on the market. This is a massdrop product, so people outside of the US have to add import ontop of the MSRP.

 

Schiit Valhalla 2 (tube amp) EU= 379€ US= $349

This is another good tube amp from Schiit, it offers great audio quality for the price, it has a maximum output of 180mW at 50 Ohm which is often more than enough, but at 300 Ohm it has a maximum output of 800mW. It is very clean and detailed with good staging. It pairs well with high impedance headphones.

 

 

Little Labs Monotor EU= 589€ US= $540

This amp is a new'ish entry to the neutral market of headphone amps, in testing I found it to be a fairly impressive amp for the price. It offers a low output impedance which means it will work well with headphones that have a low impedance, since the 8th rule is easy to follow with this amp. It is from my testing neck and neck with the Meier Audio Corda Classic. Great if you have a small home studio or something similar.

 

 

Meier Audio Corda Classic EU= 595€ US= $575

If you are looking for a very analytical and neutral amp then this is the amp to get, I have yet to hear a single amp under 1200$ that offer this kind of neutrallity. It is made with very high quality parts that you ussually don't see in this budget that often and it offers two inputs, so you can hook it up to two different DACs if you desiere to do so. If this matters to you then you should know it is made by a guy in Germany. Keep in mind that he gives discounts when you come over a certain price and world-wide shipping is included in the price. I wouldn't recommend getting this if you are looking for a warm sound.

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My recommendations for desktop DACs:

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Schiit Modi 2 Uber EU= 165€  US= $150

This is a entry level DAC with USB, Toslink SPDIF and Coaxial inputs, it offers a good quality bump over onboard, but it cannot compete with higher end DACs when it comes to detail and precision, this is for most people all that they need. It can also only connect to one amp at a time via RCA. It has a bit of the "thick" lows that some schiit DACs have. It is a bit clearner sounding than the none Uber model and it also needs a wall outlet unlike the none Uber.

 

Meier Audio Corda DACCORD EU= 645€ US= $705

Not sure where to start with this one. It is very clean sounding, no added bass, no added highs, great separation, amazing blacks, good width and a superb crossfeed filter. I can't really say anything bad about it for the price. It has Coaxial, Optical and USB, so you have a wide range of options when it comes to connecting it to your own system and it has both a fixed output and a variable output, so you can control the volume of powered monitors with it. This is IMO really how a DAC should sound when we hit this price range. Keep in mind that he gives discounts when you come over a certain price and world-wide shipping is included in the price.

 

Soekris DAC1321 EU= 612,5€ US=$559

This is the best cheap R2R DAC that I have heard in a while. If you want to try a R2R DAC, but you don't want to spend the likes of $1000 or more, then I highly recommend trying the Soekris DAC 1321. The detail level is high and it has some natural warmth to its sound. It shares its sound characteristics with its bigger siblings, but it comes in at a lower price. The blacks are amazing for a R2R DAC and it has a good width. It also doesn't lack connections with its 3 digital inputs, you can use it with USB, S/PDIF or Coaxial.

 

Rotel RDD-1580 EU= 800€ US= $800

This is a do it all kind of DAC, it has six inputs which include digital coaxial, optical toslink and USB, plus it has bluetooth so you can stream the music from your phone to it. It hits a good balance between features and sound, while still being made very well. It offers stereo balanced out and unbalanced RCA out.

 

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My recommendations for desktop Combos:

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Schiit Fulla 2  EU= 99€ US= $99

Pretty much the best combo you can get for 99$ or 99€, more than powerful for a lot of headphones, while still having high audio quality like the rest of Schiit products. If you don't NEED the power of a Schiit stack, then get this one. It only has a single USB input.

 

 

Monoprice Desktop Amp EU=?? US= $70-80

A competitor to the Fulla 2, but you should only use it with high impedance headphones, since the output impedance is 10 ohm, which is pretty high. The performance is solid for its price. It also has Pre out for powered speakers and line out so you can hook it up to a different amp and purely use it as a DAC, though I don't recommend doing this.

 

 

Audio-GD NFB-11.28

This one is a bit harder to get your hands on, but it is worth it. It has a very transparent sound with a lot of detail and offers a lot of power.

It has USB, optical and coaxial inputs. It just got upgraded with a Sabre 9028, instead of a 9018 and some other small upgrades.

You can buy from them directly here for 330$ (without shipping), if you are in EU then I have found it here for 409€ (without shipping)

 

 

Dangerous Music Source EU= 1100€ US=$800

Quite a nice combo for the price, with features that some might not need. It offers a very clean sound with a good amount of detail for the price and it is perfect for the guy that wants to control his powered speakers. You have separate controls for headphones and speakers. If you are looking for a combo that can do it all and have the money for this, then give it a look, if you don't need the extra features and so on, then maybe look into some of the separate DACs and amps on this thread.

 

 

Soekris 1541 EU = 1562,5€ US= $1425

For the same or about the same price as the Gungnir Multibit you can get this combo and it beats the Gungnir multi in every single aspect except stagning and you also get a fairly good amp. It has different filters that actually change the sound and it has both balanced and unbalanced output to headphones and both balanced and unbalanced pre-output that you can use to hook it up to another amp or to active speakers. If this is too expensive and you don't need balanced out for powered monitors or headphones and you are willing to take a small hit in detail retrival then the Soekris 1421 might just be for you.

 

 

Crane Song Solaris EU= 2138€ US= $1950

In many ways this would be the direct upgrade from the ADI 2 DAC, but it has less features. You won't get things like a IEM output or a EQ, but what you do get is a even cleaner sound and even more detailed sound. I wouldn't recommend this for the average user, but rather someone that has a home studio or wants a very uncolored sound that will show flaws in the music. 

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My recommendations for small Combos that run on usb only:

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Fiio k1 EU= 50€ US= $40 (on sale)
Only look at this if you need something really cheap. I would only get this if your onboard is broken.

 

 

LH Labs GO2A US= $299

Small DAC and amp unit that is good if you want to have a DAC and amp with you when you use your laptop.

 

 

My recommendations for DAPs (Digital audio players)

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Sony NW-A40 series (A45, A46 and A47)

This is for the more budget minded person. This series is great for anyone that want to get better audio quality on the go, but don't want to pay upwards of 500$. They are only unbalanced, but for their price they offer a good amount of detail with a overall natural sound to them.

 

 

Sony NW-ZX300

The little brother to the WM1A, but don't let that fool you it is a very capable DAP, like its bigger brother the WM1A it also have a unbalanced and a balanced output. It can't compete with the WM1A when it comes to detail and overall audio quality, but for its price it is a amazing DAP with a lot of detail and spacious sound. It also runs Sony's own OS and like its bigger brother it also offers Bluetooth

 

 

Sony NW-WM1A

Amazing DAP, it offers unbalanced and balanced output to headphones and it is very well known for offering very high audio quality with a lot of detail and is generally looked upon as the go to high end DAP. It does not have Wifi like some other DAPs, but it does have Bluetooth and the OS is not android, but rather Sony's own OS. 

 

 

Cowon Plenue D

This is one beutiful DAP both in looks and sound. If you want a small DAP for not a lot of money, but still want good audio quality then look no further. It is a very well respected DAP and for a good reason, it doesn't get much better in this price range, but it recently got some tough competistion from Sony's A40 seires. This is however a DAP with a touch screen.

 

I have seen way too many different prices on these DAPs to really set a range, but the Sony DAPs are set up so the cheapest ones are at the top. The Cowon is usually priced pretty similar to a Sony NW-A45.

 

Where do I buy schiit in EU?

http://www.schiit-europe.com/

http://schiit.eu.com/   (UK)

Where do I buy Soekris?
https://www.modhouseaudio.com/ (USA)

http://www.soekris.eu/shop/index.php (EU)

 

 

Lastly if you have interference look at this guide SSL has made.

 

If you have suggestions about gear and explanations.

If you have some gear that you would like to see added then there are 4 options.

 

Comment the gear you would like to see added and why or send me a PM, I will then look into it very thoroughly when I have time and if I find it worthy, then it will be added. Often I will get a loaner unit and test it.

 

If you want a explanation to something, then comment what you would like explained or send me a PM and then I will look into it.

 

FEEL FREE TO ASK ME ANYTHING ABOUT THIS POST

Remember there are no stupid questions, I am here to help.

I hope that this post helped you and cleared some things up for you 


If you wanna add a bit more information, talk a bit about planars and electrostatic cans (and their absolute need for a specialized amp to work), the benefits of sound stage and imaging for gaming, and maybe even do a few recommendations :)

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