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Final showdown: FiiO K5 Pro vs Topping L30(but without DAC) which would sound better?

futureedmguy

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So after almost a month of owning my Beyerdynamic DT 990 pro and trying to figure out which amp to go for, here is what I've narrowed it down to, and I don't wish to consider any other option but these two given my budget, availability where I live and all my past research.

Which of these do you think will sound better with my 250ohm headphones?

Purpose: Mixing/Mastering my music(EDM: mostly melodic riddim, dubstep, hardstyle, DnB stuff)

During my month's usage of these headphones straight out of my laptop, I haven't noticed any volume issues tbh! Like at my laptop's full volume, these sound decently loud to me! Just that sometimes I feel there is an imbalance between both ears (left one's a little louder- don't tell me I have some issue with my hearing please xD). So I'm hoping that will go away once I buy one of these(should an amp be enough to solve this or does this lie in the DAC department?). Also hoping for any improvement in the overall sound to a level that I don't realize is possible thus far.
(Current motherboard: LENOVO Paris 5A8 SDK0J40679 WIN; Sound card: Conexant SmartAudio HD)
Also, my IEMs work fine straight out of my laptop when I need to cross-reference my music decisions, so I probably won't require my amp to drive them? Moreover, I don't use monitors, or plan to connect this device to any other device, or do any sort of gaming using these headphones!

My personal current opinions:
  • I've read that FiiO K5 pro has a warmer sound as opposed to Topping L30's brighter sound. Given how DT 990s already have a treble spike, I feel FiiO takes the point here? I have not explored the world of equalizers yet since I'm very new to music production, so I'm not sure how much the out-of-the-box sound profile matters.
  • I've also read that FiiO's amp isn't all that great and the unit is considered a good option because its DAC part is good. Topping L30's amp is too good though(@amirm rates it very high in all his technical ways too). And since I don't currently find many problems with my headphones being driven by my laptop, maybe a DAC isn't thaaaaat necessary for me? So this time I feel L30 takes my point?
  • K5 Pro is after all an Amp+Dac combo! That must account for something! half-point to k5 for this xD
  • Half-point to L30 because I don't like the name FiiO lol
Aaa someone please help me I'm losing my mind! XD
 

Helicopter

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I doubt the is an audible difference between the two that would show up in blind testing. L30 is significantly more accurate and way better engineered, so I would get that. I would apply parametric equalization to the headphones either way.
 

Jimmy

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If you need just an amp, I would suggest L30, for a combo the K5 Pro is perfectly fine.

In my experience (I own the Fiio), the biggest drawback is the usage as a pure DAC, it doesn't have a fixed output, so for me it's an important feature that's missing.

I don't know about the DT990, but it powers and sounds really good with my 300 ohm HD600, using mid gain the pot is always <11h.

It's true that the gain setting switch changes the sound signature slightly, higher gain settings sound thicker/warmer, I guess they shouldn't, but there has to be something in the design that causes that. For me mid gain is the sweet spot.
 

JJB70

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In general ou don't need an external amplifier for IEMs. If your computer drives your DT990's loud enough for you then you don't really need an external amplifier for those either. If you want an external amplifier (and if we are honest this hobby is about what we want rather than what we need) either option you suggest will be fine so I would go with the one you think looks nicest or which has the best deal.
One bit of advice I would offer is not to fall for the hype around amplifiers and DACs, despite what you may read the differences are either minor or inaudible. This is also true about chasing SINAD, despite the hype just about every amplifier and DAC on the market is beyond the point of it being a non-issue in terms of audible performance. If you have enough power to drive your headphones to the required volume you're probably already sorted.
 

Lupin

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For DT990 both will most likely sound the same I would say.
For (sensitive) IEMs, go for the one with the lowest noise floor.. probably Topping. (I'm too lazy to actually check :p )
 
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