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DAC & AMP in need of advice (open suggestions)

Hopeless109

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After reading reviews and extensive research for 6 months. At the same time saving up a bit of money for the upgrade.

I have started to root for JDS Labs.

Since I am only using it with my old computer pair it with one & only Ananda stealth magnet. Now I am having a problem with the following choices

Atom stack 2 $250 new release, mo output option, mo power!! (but I don't think need that yet)

Element iii mk2 $450 all in one device, 1 power supply all in 1. Simply comparable music with atom stack but some say is better. I love it but the price tag is preventing me from the purchase button

Used Element ii for $260. I am not sure if this is similar to Element iii but the price could be compared with the new Atom stack 2.

Which one do you think is better for a newbie? Please voice out your advice with no hesitation

12/Dec/2023 update to open suggestions
I was actually into "all in 1" devices in the first place since they can have 1 less power supply to plugin or even no power supply. It can take up less space on my desk as well
The thing is I was looking at element iii and the price is just too high for me. I am not sure if a used element ii will be as good as element iii
Therefore, any comments on Topping DX3pro+? SMSL M300 SE and DL200? Fiio K7? and such

one more question, I am thinking of changing my Ananda cable to a longer one. should I go for 6.35mm jack or a balanced with 4.4mm?
 
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Power Pop 23

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FYI


I vote for the Atom stack 2

Consider incorporating parametric equalization for your headphones - as suggested in the link above - via software running on your computer - you may perceive 'more transparency' in playback

I think Amir would recommend considering saving up for a setup that has a differential (balanced) inputs - especially for a USB input from a computer - to guard against hum from an AC power ground loop.
 
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Hopeless109

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Dec 11, 2023
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FYI


I vote for the Atom stack 2

Consider incorporating parametric equalization for your headphones - as suggested in the link above - via software running on your computer - you may perceive 'more transparency' in playback

I think Amir would recommend considering saving up for a setup that has a differential (balanced) inputs - especially for a USB input from a computer - to guard against hum from an AC power ground loop.
Thank you for your prompt reply~~

I understand the Ananda was not perfect, choosing it is due to my big head XDXDXD. Sony XM3 was hurting me after a long section. luckily I got Ananda at a bargain price. The Eq info is great, it is a lifesaver since I have a strong feeling that the bass isn't great.

Was initially going for all-in-one Zen Dac v2 & DX3pro, but then I heard good things about JDS Labs and rooting for them.

how do you feel when atom stack 2 is compared with element ii? Since the price of used is so close
 

Power Pop 23

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Thank you for your prompt reply~~

I understand the Ananda was not perfect, choosing it is due to my big head XDXDXD. Sony XM3 was hurting me after a long section. luckily I got Ananda at a bargain price. The Eq info is great, it is a lifesaver since I have a strong feeling that the bass isn't great.

Was initially going for all-in-one Zen Dac v2 & DX3pro, but then I heard good things about JDS Labs and rooting for them.

how do you feel when atom stack 2 is compared with element ii? Since the price of used is so close
I would go for 'new' because I don't feel I would hear any measured difference between the two. Others can better advise on the parametric equalization software to deploy but I believe it can be done for free or very little money.
 
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