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Headphones / Amp recommendation for given budget

tamask01

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Apr 5, 2022
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Hi all,
I'm new to audio stuff and I'd like to make my first meaningful purchase. I'd like to ask you for suggestions as your product reviews and general know-how seemed better than other forums. I'll keep my question clutter free.

Topic
Audio setup for PC desktop, looking for Headphones and amplifier (and DAC if needed?)

Budget
600 $, give or take for the whole thing.

Use case/setup
Used only at home, at a desktop PC. Will game or listen to whatever I feel like at the time but will do no serious sound / music production.
  • No active noise cancelling needed
  • Passive noise cancel isn't a requirement either
  • Wired only
  • Motherboard: Asus Rog Strix B550-f with its SupremeFX audio, whatever that is
  • I wear glasses
  • I'll wear the headphones for a couple of hours at most at a time, not the whole day
  • No microphone needed / not for competitive gaming
My homework
I looked up reviews here and on other sites. I learned about some brands I haven't known before but not every great brand has all perfect product lineup. Based on that I think my product category is the "entry level audiophile" stuff. For this price range I think most of the budget should be spent on the headphones but I'll definitely need an amplifier to power it properly and for convenience.

Why I think I'll need an amplifier
I tried a Sennheiser HD 560S through my MoBo's rear IO audio slot, it had a terribly weak and hollow (albeit accurate) sound so I returned it. I learned later on that it is advised to use the front panel audio but that doesn't work on my pc case... (facepalm).

I read up on amplifiers for my budget and the Schiit Magni Heresy looked a good value.

Why I don't think I'll need a DAC
My short experiment with the SH HD560S showed that I hear no hissing, static or crackling so the conversion was accurate enough. Should I buy a cheap DAC anyway? Would that make a difference?

The headphones
Honestly, I have no idea, the possibilities are endless and there are some great options from HiFiman, Sennheiser, Audio Technica to name a few.
 

Sgt. Ear Ache

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I'd say maybe the AKG-K371 and something like a fiio E10K would probably be just superb.

But yeah, the Heresy is a fantastic amp. My setup is a Topping E10 dac into the Heresy and then Hifiman HE-400i headphones (EQ'd via Oratory with just a tad less bass) and frankly, I have no need or desire for anything else. It sounds incredibly good...you can forget all about that "entry level audio" bull crap. For that $600 budget, you are getting top tier sound. Don't fall for the BS.

As far as the dac goes, you're right. You probably don't need it. I have a thing about headphone outs on laptops (and honestly with PC on-board sound chips in general) myself. I've had a couple flakey ones over the years. I like going the USB route to a separate dac.
 
Last edited:

iamsms

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Dec 14, 2020
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Hifiman Sundara + topping dx3 pro plus/smsl stack (su6/sh6)/jds lab stack/jds atom stack/topping ex5 would be my choice.

If you wanna spend $100 or so more, you can get hifiman edition xs too, but I haven't heard it personally.
 
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tamask01

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Apr 5, 2022
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Thanks for the answers.

I've seen Hifiman headphones reviewed here, many of them got great reviews and accurate sounds so I think that's where I will start.
Which one do you prefer between the HE-400i, edition xs or Sundara? I mean, I heard both of them are great but they must be different somehow.
As for the amp, the SMSL is a bit out of my budget (it costs almost double the price of a Schiit around here).

Do you think any of those headphones need an equalizer?
 
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