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Maxdiken

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Hello,

I am having a hard time choosing the most adequate DAC/AMP combo for my DT-770 Pro 250 Ohm. My budget is around 200€ but I'm willing to stretch it up to 250-300€ if it's worth the price.
Currently, I have looked at a bunch of different combos, including the Topping L30 II/E30 II stack, the Atom stack, the S.M.S.L SU6/SH6 stack, the Schiit Magni+/Modi+ stack and the Fiio K5 Pro ESS.
I don't know if it matters much but it would be mainly to listen to pretty much any kind of music, from classical compositions to recent progressive metal, at the exception of rap and reggae. However, I have some small musical projects I'd like to start working on in the near future, if that accounts of anything aswell.

Hopefully I can get some guidance regarding my request and eventually some new/better recommendations.

Thank you.
 

Dunring

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I've got a Topping L30ii and you can't go wrong with the stack. Plenty of power and completely silent noise floor even with 10ohm IEMs. Can't go wrong with it or the JDS Atom+ stack.
 
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Maxdiken

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I see, glad to hear it. Does any of those stacks differ in sound ? My guess is that they all have their own sound signature so, depending on your taste, one particular stack might better suit you.
 

Doodski

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I see, glad to hear it. Does any of those stacks differ in sound ? My guess is that they all have their own sound signature so, depending on your taste, one particular stack might better suit you.
They do NOT have sound signatures. Proper DACs do not have have sound signatures unless you believe reviewers that are paid to review stuff via advertising revenue at their magazines or website. The JDS Labs ATOM DAC+ is the best value for the dollar in DACs but the Schiit Magni Heretic headphone amp for the same price range as the JDS Labs ATOM AMP+ has about 2x more power output at the ~33 Ohms load test. I personally use the JDS Labs ATOM DAC+ with the Schtiit headphone amp because they are the best of their respective price ranges. They stack well because they are near identical in size too.
 
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Maxdiken

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They do NOT have sound signatures. Proper DACs do not have have sound signatures unless you believe reviewers that are paid to review stuff via advertising revenue at their magazines or website. The JDS Labs ATOM DAC+ is the best value for the dollar in DACs but the Schiit Magni Heretic headphone amp for the same price range as the JDS Labs ATOM AMP+ has about 2x more power output at the ~33 Ohms load test. I personally use the JDS Labs ATOM DAC+ with the Schtiit headphone amp because they are the best of their respective price ranges. They stack well because they are near identical in size too.
Oh alright, that should make my choice easier. Unfortunately, it seems that Schiit and JDS are not the best deal when you are in Europe. The JDS Labs ATOM DAC+ and the Schiit Magni Heretic don't come cheaper than 150€ each. I should've payed more attention to that before mentioning them. Both the Topping L30 II/E30 II stack and the S.M.S.L SU6/SH6 stack are more available and affordable over here (230-250€). I'm just curious to know how these compare to the Fiio K5 Pro ESS (which is 200€ here) ?
 
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Maxdiken

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Skip the L30/L50 for the L70
Even though I can afford it, I'm not sure I'm willing to spend that much into an amp unless there's a big incentive regarding this very one amp. Could you please elaborate on why this one is preferable ? And would I need to pair it with a DAC ?
 

b7676

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The resistor ladder volume control steps + display alone is worth the price. Plus, you get two amps inside it ('balanced'). The 4.4 connector for IEMs. Select individually or use all 3 headphone outs. It remembers two settings profiles. Will take your choice of dac (SE or BAL) and output rca and/or xlr for studio monitors etc.
L70 is the cheapest good preamp ever, also having the 12v trigger and remote.
Pair it with whatever dac you come across, shop used for one even. Amir's advice is to just go straight for differential (xlr, trs) wiring/gear if you are reading here. RCA is obsolescent.
 
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Maxdiken

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The resistor ladder volume control steps + display alone is worth the price. Plus, you get two amps inside it ('balanced'). The 4.4 connector for IEMs. Select individually or use all 3 headphone outs. It remembers two settings profiles. Will take your choice of dac (SE or BAL) and output rca and/or xlr for studio monitors etc.
L70 is the cheapest good preamp ever, also having the 12v trigger and remote.
Pair it with whatever dac you come across, shop used for one even. Amir's advice is to just go straight for differential (xlr, trs) wiring/gear if you are reading here. RCA is obsolescent.
That's very tempting but I feel like this would be better as an upgrade in a year or two. 400€ is double of what I originally planned to invest. I'm kind of a newbie in this field so I'd prefer choosing a setup where I could feel the differences as I upgrade my rig and learn more. Appreciate the recommendation though, I'll check out the L70 the next time I wish to upgrade.
 

Trell

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Have a look at the various DAC/HP amp combos instead of just DAC+HP amp stacks. Such a combo will drive your high-impedance DT770 just fine, take less space, fewer cables and just more convenient in use.
 
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Maxdiken

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Have a look at the various DAC/HP amp combos instead of just DAC+HP amp stacks. Such a combo will drive your high-impedance DT770 just fine, take less space, fewer cables and just more convenient in use.
I have looked at a bunch of combos, such as the iFi Audio ZEN DAC V2, the Fiio K5 Pro ESS, the Topping DX3 and a few more but since they come a little cheaper and since I don't mind spending a little extra for better quality, I thought why not go for a stack so I can conveniently replace a piece when I want to upgrade. Also, I have enough room for a stack and cables are no big deal so it's really not a deal-breaker for me.
 

Trell

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I have looked at a bunch of combos, such as the iFi Audio ZEN DAC V2, the Fiio K5 Pro ESS, the Topping DX3 and a few more but since they come a little cheaper and since I don't mind spending a little extra for better quality, I thought why not go for a stack so I can conveniently replace a piece when I want to upgrade. Also, I have enough room for a stack and cables are no big deal so it's really not a deal-breaker for me.
A DAC+HP amp stack in itself is not a sign of having a better quality than a combo unit.
 
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Maxdiken

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A DAC+HP amp stack in itself is not a sign of having a better quality than a combo unit.
I get that, but isn't it better to be able to replace one part if, for instance, the amp dies ? If there is no flexibility downside to the combo and it offers the same versatility in sound as the stack then I'd definitely go for it.
 

unpluggged

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I get that, but isn't it better to be able to replace one part if, for instance, the amp dies ?
You will still need to replace only one part if a combo unit dies ;)
 
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Maxdiken

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So my options have narrowed down to the Fiio K5 Pro ESS and the Topping E30 II/L30 II. Price is fine for either of them.
Any reason to go for the Fiio besides convenience for space and cables ?
What choice would be wiser if I were to buy another pair of headphones that's harder to drive ?
 

solderdude

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Looks, convenience, functionality, support, availability and price would be the only reasons to make a choice between them.
Those are all personal opinion things.

Topping has 6dB more 'power' available.
An amp needs to be able to reach 10V = 0.3W in 300ohm spec. when you want DT770/250 to go 'impressively loud'
K5 can reach 6.8V (0.15W in 300ohm)
L30-II can reach 13V (0.56W in 300ohm)
In both cases the DT770/250 will not sound 'nice' anymore and distort substantially (rated 100mW continuous)
 
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Maxdiken

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Looks, convenience, functionality, support, availability and price would be the only reasons to make a choice between them.
Those are all personal opinion things.

Topping has 6dB more 'power' available.
An amp needs to be able to reach 10V = 0.3W in 300ohm spec. when you want DT770/250 to go 'impressively loud'
K5 can reach 6.8V (0.15W in 300ohm)
L30-II can reach 13V (0.56W in 300ohm)
In both cases the DT770/250 will not sound 'nice' anymore and distort substantially (rated 100mW continuous)
Interesting details. But now I don't quite grasp why there are so many more expensive amps out there if these are sufficient for the overwhelming majority of headphones ? Also, I'm trying to plan for the future aswell, since I got my eyes on some open-back headphones I'd like to purchase at some point such as the K702, the DT-1990 or the HD600 so spending on an entry-level product I'd have to change when I get more involved in the audiophile universe doesn't sound optimal.
Last thing I'm a bit ashamed to admit, I got a Fiio K5 Pro ESS two days ago to experiment with my headphones while I make up my mind and I'm having a hard time hearing differences between amp and no amp. I can get more than enough volume both on my PC and my phone with no distortion. Is this normal ?
 

unpluggged

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It gets loud enough with 2 V input. I can drive my HD6XX with the Qudelix 5K single-ended (even with −5.6 dB pad for EQ). I switch to balanced only when I listen to some classical music recordings and need a bit more headroom.
 
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Maxdiken

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It gets loud enough with 2 V input. I can drive my HD6XX with the Qudelix 5K single-ended (even with −5.6 dB pad for EQ). I switch to balanced only when I listen to some classical music recordings and need a bit more headroom.
Okay so most amps can drive most headphones, no need to dig deep to find a setup that works.
 
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