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Best Dac Amp for FPS Gaming with HD 800s

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Thread Starter #22
No don’t buy into that audiofoolery. Nobody in their right mind on ASR is going to recommend buying expensive cables for DAC/Amp PC set up. Figure out the gear first and then we can help with the cables.
How about expensive cables for IEMs or headphones?
 

Jimbob54

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#23
Does RME ADI 2 have balanced inputs? Should I use HD 800s with balanced cables? Which balanced amp would you recommend for HD 800s? The recommendations should be based on gaming.
Balanced inputs? It's a dac /amp.

Why does gaming require a different type of amp? All the signal processing etc should be done before the amp stage . All any headphone amp should do is amplify the l&r signals from whatever is doing the dac /signal processing duties. You need an amp with the right inputs for your use and enough clean power for your chosen cans. The HD800 aren't that hard to drive. Any of the £100 to £200 class leaders per ASR review tables will be fine.
 
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Thread Starter #25
Balanced inputs? It's a dac /amp.

Why does gaming require a different type of amp? All the signal processing etc should be done before the amp stage . All any headphone amp should do is amplify the l&r signals from whatever is doing the dac /signal processing duties. You need an amp with the right inputs for your use and enough clean power for your chosen cans. The HD800 aren't that hard to drive. Any of the £100 to £200 class leaders per ASR review tables will be fine.
Sorry I meant Balanced outputs. Also, I have read in numerous sites that a very good dac amp is needed to drive HD 800s to its fullest potential. Otherwise, it will sound dull and flat.
 
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Thread Starter #26
How do companies such as null audio, audioquest, moster cables, claim that their cables are better, sound wise, than other cheaper options?
 

Jimbob54

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#28
How do companies such as null audio, audioquest, moster cables, claim that their cables are better, sound wise, than other cheaper options?
How do they , or why do they?

How is simple, they say it, publish it, pay to spread that message

Why? Because they dont have a business if not.
 

Jimbob54

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#29
Sorry I meant Balanced outputs. Also, I have read in numerous sites that a very good dac amp is needed to drive HD 800s to its fullest potential. Otherwise, it will sound dull and flat.
And what makes something a "very good DAC &/or amp"?
 

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#30
How do companies such as null audio, audioquest, moster cables, claim that their cables are better, sound wise, than other cheaper options?
They have very good marketing departments that understand their customer base and the psychology of advertising. They also have done a great job of getting their products into brick and mortar stores over the years (like Best Buy, Walmart, etc...) to increase brand awareness. Lastly there are influential figures (Paul Mcgowan) in the audiophile world who promote the idea their expensive cables improve sound quality. ASR cuts through all this crap - just search the site and you will find plenty of discussions on why expensive cables make no difference.
 

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#31
It is one of the best amp dacs under 1000 to drive the HD 800s.
Well it is one of the best dac/amp combos around $1k, period. But unless you are going to use its DSP/EQ features, you are paying a lot of money for functionality that can be achieved on your PC as mentioned previously in this thread.

I use my HD800s almost everyday with a SMSL M300 MKII DAC ($240) and an A90 Amp ($500). I use the free Peace GUI with Equalizer APO to give the HD800s a slight boost in the sub-bass and bass. The RME probably has some fancier EQ features vs my set-up, but I don't need them. The A90 has more power than the RME using it's balanced outputs, but both can drive the HD800s to ear bleeding levels without clipping with extremely low levels of distortion (just look at Amir's reviews).

IMO the RME makes sense if:
  • You want to use its on-board DSP/EQ features. I would talk to someone on ASR who uses it on a regular basis because I know there are A LOT of features.
  • You want digital volume control.
  • You don't care about bluetooth.
  • You want an all-in-one DAC/Amp device instead of a stack.
Otherwise they are plenty of cheaper options that will drive the HD800s just as good if not better.
 
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Thread Starter #32
Well it is one of the best dac/amp combos around $1k, period. But unless you are going to use its DSP/EQ features, you are paying a lot of money for functionality that can be achieved on your PC as mentioned previously in this thread.

I use my HD800s almost everyday with a SMSL M300 MKII DAC ($240) and an A90 Amp ($500). I use the free Peace GUI with Equalizer APO to give the HD800s a slight boost in the sub-bass and bass. The RME probably has some fancier EQ features vs my set-up, but I don't need them. The A90 has more power than the RME using it's balanced outputs, but both can drive the HD800s to ear bleeding levels without clipping with extremely low levels of distortion (just look at Amir's reviews).

IMO the RME makes sense if:
  • You want to use its on-board DSP/EQ features. I would talk to someone on ASR who uses it on a regular basis because I know there are A LOT of features.
  • You want digital volume control.
  • You don't care about bluetooth.
  • You want an all-in-one DAC/Amp device instead of a stack.
Otherwise they are plenty of cheaper options that will drive the HD800s just as good if not better.
I am fairly new to the world of "audiophility", so; take my ideas with a grain of salt, which are mostly based on forum readings. I agree with you that there are many much cheaper dac/amps that have the power to drive HD800s. However, as in the case of SBX G6, power alone is not enough. G6 is criticized for its lack of detail retrieval and clarity, again based on readings. I never said I wanted a dac/amp that would simply drive HD800s; I said I wanted one that could drive them to their fullest potential. I already have mayflower arc mk2 paired with HD660s and they are incredible for gaming, which I bought after extensive reading and asking on forums.

Now back to your answer, strictly for gaming, I do not need the fancy DSP/EQ features of RME. I want something that pairs well with HD800s and gives me wider soundstage, directional audio, mid range and treble clarity. I had some options that I later cancelled for my next dac/amp for these reasons:
1. Monolith by monoprice THX 887 aaa results in harsh mids and high treble, bright, which are a big NO for longer gaming sessions.
2. Tube amps are worm, bass heavy, which renders directional audio, and mid rage and treble suppression, which does not help in competitive FPS games.
I would like you to make some suggestions about the "as good or better dac/amp combos or stacks" that don't have the EQs and features that are unnecessary for gaming, but can atleast generate 300 milliwatts in 300 ohms .
I apologize for the lengthy post.
 

Racheski

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#33
I am fairly new to the world of "audiophility", so; take my ideas with a grain of salt, which are mostly based on forum readings.
I discovered this forum when the lock-down began, and after about 1 week realized that 90% of what people say on other audio forums is complete bs, especially about how a DAC or Amp "sound". You can find plenty of contrasting reviews on head-fi for the same piece of equipment, and when there is a consensus it is usually grounded in objective measurements.

I agree with you that there are many much cheaper dac/amps that have the power to drive HD800s. However, as in the case of SBX G6, power alone is not enough. G6 is criticized for its lack of detail retrieval and clarity, again based on readings. I never said I wanted a dac/amp that would simply drive HD800s; I said I wanted one that could drive them to their fullest potential. I already have mayflower arc mk2 paired with HD660s and they are incredible for gaming, which I bought after extensive reading and asking on forums.
Amir's SBX G6 review found issues with low power under a 300 ohm load, distortion at low frequencies, and clipping at loud volume, so I wouldn't recommend it for a no compromises set-up. Sound BlasterX G6

Now back to your answer, strictly for gaming, I do not need the fancy DSP/EQ features of RME. I want something that pairs well with HD800s and gives me wider soundstage, directional audio, mid range and treble clarity. I had some options that I later cancelled for my next dac/amp for these reasons:
1. Monolith by monoprice THX 887 aaa results in harsh mids and high treble, bright, which are a big NO for longer gaming sessions.
2. Tube amps are worm, bass heavy, which renders directional audio, and mid rage and treble suppression, which does not help in competitive FPS games.
Unlikely that the 887 was the cause of those sound impressions - that thing has distortion levels of -140db and SINAD of 119db - in other words it is completely transparent because the distortion/noise it produces is magnitudes below the threshold of human hearing.
I agree with you on tube amps.
I would like you to make some suggestions about the "as good or better dac/amp combos or stacks" that don't have the EQs and features that are unnecessary for gaming, but can atleast generate 300 milliwatts in 300 ohms.
It seems like you want a no-compromises DAC/Amp combo or stack with plenty of headroom to drive the HD800s to its fullest potential without coloring the sound, with a budget of around $1k.
Amp
A90 ($500)- This will do 1W @ 300ohms using the balanced XLR or 4.4mm outputs. I'm not sure what version of the HD800s you have (older had XLR cable, newer has 4.4mm), but the A90 has XLR and 4.4mm headphone jacks so it can handle both. Single-ended it can do around 200 mW (Amir measured 149mW, specs say 250mW).
Compared to the 887 and Drop 789, the A90 is more powerful, has a smaller form-factor, has an integrated power-supply, a 4.4mm plug instead of a 3.5mm, and a better build quality.
DAC
Here is a previous thread where someone asked for advice about purchasing a "gaming DAC" that you may find relevant. Gaming DAC
To maximize the A90 to its fullest potential and eliminate noise-causing ground loops, I recommend a DAC with balanced XLR outputs. My 2 favorite "budget" options are:
-SMSL M300 Mk2 ($240) has bluetooth 5.0, a digital display, remote, and volume control (which you won't need with the A90). I own one and love it.
-The Schiit Modius ($199) is a great no-frills option that has Toslink and Coax inputs along with the usual USB.
Both of these devices are completely transparent to the audio source.
When you start to look at options for balanced standalone DACs above $250 that most people at ASR will recommend, you pay for additional features rather than sound quality like streaming capabilities, bluetooth codecs, MQA, Roon integration, multiple inputs, etc...features you don't need (correct me if I'm wrong here).

With all that said, I would feel remiss if I didn't also recommend you purchase a Schiit Hel ($189) and see if you like it. It's an all in one solution (DAC, Amp, Mic) with plenty of power (200mW @ 300 ohms) to drive the HD800s to their full potential, and FWIW it's marketed towards gamers.
What monitor do you use for gaming? just curious...
 

Jimbob54

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#34
I am fairly new to the world of "audiophility", so; take my ideas with a grain of salt, which are mostly based on forum readings. I agree with you that there are many much cheaper dac/amps that have the power to drive HD800s. However, as in the case of SBX G6, power alone is not enough. G6 is criticized for its lack of detail retrieval and clarity, again based on readings. I never said I wanted a dac/amp that would simply drive HD800s; I said I wanted one that could drive them to their fullest potential. I already have mayflower arc mk2 paired with HD660s and they are incredible for gaming, which I bought after extensive reading and asking on forums.

Now back to your answer, strictly for gaming, I do not need the fancy DSP/EQ features of RME. I want something that pairs well with HD800s and gives me wider soundstage, directional audio, mid range and treble clarity. I had some options that I later cancelled for my next dac/amp for these reasons:
1. Monolith by monoprice THX 887 aaa results in harsh mids and high treble, bright, which are a big NO for longer gaming sessions.
2. Tube amps are worm, bass heavy, which renders directional audio, and mid rage and treble suppression, which does not help in competitive FPS games.
I would like you to make some suggestions about the "as good or better dac/amp combos or stacks" that don't have the EQs and features that are unnecessary for gaming, but can atleast generate 300 milliwatts in 300 ohms .
I apologize for the lengthy post.
You know the HD800 series is renowned for being quite wayward in the treble department- the 800s less so than the 800? The Monoprice amp has no sonic attributes, most amps dont.

To get the most out of expensive headphones you buy the set that best meets your sonic requirements and then EQ to taste- dont get something that isnt quite right then try to "fix" it by buying upstream kit that counters any of those issues.
 
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Thread Starter #35
I discovered this forum when the lock-down began, and after about 1 week realized that 90% of what people say on other audio forums is complete bs, especially about how a DAC or Amp "sound". You can find plenty of contrasting reviews on head-fi for the same piece of equipment, and when there is a consensus it is usually grounded in objective measurements.


Amir's SBX G6 review found issues with low power under a 300 ohm load, distortion at low frequencies, and clipping at loud volume, so I wouldn't recommend it for a no compromises set-up. Sound BlasterX G6


Unlikely that the 887 was the cause of those sound impressions - that thing has distortion levels of -140db and SINAD of 119db - in other words it is completely transparent because the distortion/noise it produces is magnitudes below the threshold of human hearing.
I agree with you on tube amps.

It seems like you want a no-compromises DAC/Amp combo or stack with plenty of headroom to drive the HD800s to its fullest potential without coloring the sound, with a budget of around $1k.
Amp
A90 ($500)- This will do 1W @ 300ohms using the balanced XLR or 4.4mm outputs. I'm not sure what version of the HD800s you have (older had XLR cable, newer has 4.4mm), but the A90 has XLR and 4.4mm headphone jacks so it can handle both. Single-ended it can do around 200 mW (Amir measured 149mW, specs say 250mW).
Compared to the 887 and Drop 789, the A90 is more powerful, has a smaller form-factor, has an integrated power-supply, a 4.4mm plug instead of a 3.5mm, and a better build quality.
DAC
Here is a previous thread where someone asked for advice about purchasing a "gaming DAC" that you may find relevant. Gaming DAC
To maximize the A90 to its fullest potential and eliminate noise-causing ground loops, I recommend a DAC with balanced XLR outputs. My 2 favorite "budget" options are:
-SMSL M300 Mk2 ($240) has bluetooth 5.0, a digital display, remote, and volume control (which you won't need with the A90). I own one and love it.
-The Schiit Modius ($199) is a great no-frills option that has Toslink and Coax inputs along with the usual USB.
Both of these devices are completely transparent to the audio source.
When you start to look at options for balanced standalone DACs above $250 that most people at ASR will recommend, you pay for additional features rather than sound quality like streaming capabilities, bluetooth codecs, MQA, Roon integration, multiple inputs, etc...features you don't need (correct me if I'm wrong here).

With all that said, I would feel remiss if I didn't also recommend you purchase a Schiit Hel ($189) and see if you like it. It's an all in one solution (DAC, Amp, Mic) with plenty of power (200mW @ 300 ohms) to drive the HD800s to their full potential, and FWIW it's marketed towards gamers.
What monitor do you use for gaming? just curious...

Budget is not fixed around 1000$. You can also recommend cheaper appropriate ones as well. How about the Geshelli stacks, JDS EL stack2?
Can you provide an ulternative to the Topping A 90.
I had an issue with a chifi company and have lost all hope in chifi as a whole.
My final set up will be complete within 3 months hopefully. I am shifting from ps4 to p gaming pcs depending on the specs of ps5. Also, I am waiting for the next gen CPUs and GPUs.
I am corrently using a TN LG ultragear 25 inch panel. If I buy a PC, it would be Asus pg27uqx. Otherwise, I will look for whatever suites PS5.
 

Jimbob54

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#36
Budget is not fixed around 1000$. You can also recommend cheaper appropriate ones as well. How about the Geshelli stacks, JDS EL stack2?
Can you provide an ulternative to the Topping A 90.
I had an issue with a chifi company and have lost all hope in chifi as a whole.
My final set up will be complete within 3 months hopefully. I am shifting from ps4 to p gaming pcs depending on the specs of ps5. Also, I am waiting for the next gen CPUs and GPUs.
I am corrently using a TN LG ultragear 25 inch panel. If I buy a PC, it would be Asus pg27uqx. Otherwise, I will look for whatever suites PS5.
I'm a geshelli fan boy but their DAC doesn't have USB which I suspect you need.

The jds dac /amp single unit might be a good one to try. Minimal wires
 
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Thread Starter #37
I'm a geshelli fan boy but their DAC doesn't have USB which I suspect you need.

The jds dac /amp single unit might be a good one to try. Minimal wires
Using optical might work.... They will release a new dac by fall I believe.
 

Racheski

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#38
Budget is not fixed around 1000$. You can also recommend cheaper appropriate ones as well. How about the Geshelli stacks, JDS EL stack2?
Can you provide an ulternative to the Topping A 90.
I had an issue with a chifi company and have lost all hope in chifi as a whole.
My final set up will be complete within 3 months hopefully. I am shifting from ps4 to p gaming pcs depending on the specs of ps5. Also, I am waiting for the next gen CPUs and GPUs.
I am corrently using a TN LG ultragear 25 inch panel. If I buy a PC, it would be Asus pg27uqx. Otherwise, I will look for whatever suites PS5.
Your comment about Chifi is irrational. It’s like saying you had a problem with an Asus monitor and will never buy from Acer or BenQ because they are all Taiwanese. I have had nothing but good experiences with Topping in the past year, and they have a strong commitment to churning out high quality products that they stand behind. Their head amp engineer is a regular poster on this forum.
Your requirements seem to be changing each time a recommendation is made, because now you are asking for cheaper appropriate options that don’t meet the power requirements you previously stated.
Both the JDS and Geshelli options will work well, but there will be compromises. The JDS has gain and power buttons on the back of the device, and as a former Element owner I found that very annoying. Geshelli is usually a love or hate depending on who you ask, mostly because of the aesthetics, but they are a great value.
Have you tried to use the Tableau dashboards to find products that meet your needs? Have you read Amir’s reviews on this site for some of the products you are interested in?
 
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Your comment about Chifi is irrational. It’s like saying you had a problem with an Asus monitor and will never buy from Acer or BenQ because they are all Taiwanese. I have had nothing but good experiences with Topping in the past year, and they have a strong commitment to churning out high quality products that they stand behind. Their head amp engineer is a regular poster on this forum.
Your requirements seem to be changing each time a recommendation is made, because now you are asking for cheaper appropriate options that don’t meet the power requirements you previously stated.
Both the JDS and Geshelli options will work well, but there will be compromises. The JDS has gain and power buttons on the back of the device, and as a former Element owner I found that very annoying. Geshelli is usually a love or hate depending on who you ask, mostly because of the aesthetics, but they are a great value.
Have you tried to use the Tableau dashboards to find products that meet your needs? Have you read Amir’s reviews on this site for some of the products you are interested in?
Mr Racheski I apologize if I made the impression of changing my mind when offered a suggestion. I just made the point of not being fixated to only 1000$ dac amps. I really do appreciate your contributions. That being said, I have been reading and watching reviews about A90 and learned nothing but excellent things about it. I take back what I said chifi products and will order one by the end of this month hopefully. So, my setup for HD800s would a90 amp and a geshelli with balanced outputs dac (new one released in fall). Sould I buy the 200+ xlr cables from sennheiser for optimal performence?
 

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#40
Mr Racheski I apologize if I made the impression of changing my mind when offered a suggestion. I just made the point of not being fixated to only 1000$ dac amps. I really do appreciate your contributions. That being said, I have been reading and watching reviews about A90 and learned nothing but excellent things about it. I take back what I said chifi products and will order one by the end of this month hopefully.
No worries. In the last 1.5 years so many terrific affordable DAC/Amps have been released that it is hard to recommend just one! And there is no PC Part Picker for newbies looking to purchase their first high end DAC/Amp, so happy to help. You are going to love the A90+HD800s.
So, my setup for HD800s would a90 amp and a geshelli with balanced outputs dac (new one released in fall).
@Jimbob54 Do you have an Enog2 Pro? How do you stack it with an amp & cable manage when the XLR OUT and SPDIF IN are on opposite sides?
Sould I buy the 200+ xlr cables from sennheiser for optimal performence?
Not unless you want to donate your cash to Sennheiser. You already get a 4.4mm balanced cable with the HD800s that will deliver the exact same power as the XLR. I have an after-market cable because I wanted something shorter than the stock 10ft ones, unfortunately you are going to pay at least $100 for one because the HD800s proprietary connectors are 3x more expensive vs other headphones.
You will need two 3-pin male to female XLR cables to connect the DAC to the Amp.
These are $18 each for the 1ft option, and use very high quality components from Neutrik and Mogami: XLR Interconnects
Here is a whole thread about XLR cables if you want other options: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...cent-inexpensive-relatively-xlr-cables.14328/
 

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