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Looking for an Amp/DAC that can make the HD650/HD6xx sound good

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Oct 8, 2018
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#1
Hi guys,

As the title suggests, I'm looking for an amp and DAC that can drive the HD6xx to satisfying music levels on my computer.
Ideally, my budget should not exceed 300$(for both amp and DAC) and they should offer a good cost-performance level.
Personally, I was thinking of the Khadas Tone for a DAC(have to figure out how to do the enclosure), and pair it up with an amp.

If anyone has some suggestions, I'd love to hear them
 

watchnerd

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#2
Hi guys,

As the title suggests, I'm looking for an amp and DAC that can drive the HD6xx to satisfying music levels on my computer.
Ideally, my budget should not exceed 300$(for both amp and DAC) and they should offer a good cost-performance level.
Personally, I was thinking of the Khadas Tone for a DAC(have to figure out how to do the enclosure), and pair it up with an amp.

If anyone has some suggestions, I'd love to hear them
Is the issue simply not enough output or are you looking for some kind of EQ?

I have a pair of HD6XX, and the 300 ohm impedance, when combined with the 1/8th rule, means you want an amplifier with an output impedance of 37.5 ohms or less, which isn't very extreme.

The efficiency is 103 dB, which also means it doesn't need boat loads of power.

Depending on how loud you like it, here is the chart to consider:

http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/09/more-power.html
 

TimW

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#5
The Topping A30/D30 stack and Schiit Magni 3/Modi 3 stack are within your budget. All of these products have been measured and are recommended by Amir. Topping also makes a cool shelf for their stack.
 
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#6
Thanks everyone for your suggestions.

I'll consider the Topping DX3 pro for now. Might grab a schiit stack if I can find one for a deal here.

More suggestions are welcome.
 

Dialectic

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#7
Thanks everyone for your suggestions.

I'll consider the Topping DX3 pro for now. Might grab a schiit stack if I can find one for a deal here.

More suggestions are welcome.
Depending in the models you choose, a Schiit stack is likely, but not guaranteed, to be a shitstack.
 

JJB70

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#8
Maybe slightly OT, but Sennheiser were doing a cracking deal on a HD660S and Apogee Groove bundle, you got the Groove for about £50 more than the SRP of the headphone.
 
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#9
Depending in the models you choose, a Schiit stack is likely, but not guaranteed, to be a shitstack.
Anything that isn't a Modi/Magni 3 I suppose?

@JJB70 It appears that the sale has ended. What a shame, the music production community seems to love Apogee.
 
Last edited:

JJB70

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#10
Yes, the HD660S/Groove bundle didn't last long, maybe worth keeping an eye on the Sennheiser site to see if they do it again or do it with any other models. I believe that Apogee Groove bargain bundles have been done before, I've never tried the Groove but looking on the Internet it seems to be a well respected product from a well regarded pro-audio supplier and if you're getting it for a small additional cost (assuming you want the headphones) then I don't think there's anything to lose by paying a bit more for the bundle.
 

garbulky

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#11
Well I have a Sennheisser HD600 which is very similar in to what you have.

Since you asked about "sounds good", I will talk about what I think it sounds like.

*** Note: my listening impressions are purely subjective and no double blind tests were performed. So definitely consider them subjective impressions. ***

I haven't found a better amp than the Emotiva Basx A-100 to drive these with the jumpers engaged to deliver its max power. They also sound great witthout the jumpers engaged but imo it sounds more dynamic to my ears so definitely worth engaging the jumpers. Engaging the jumpers lowers the output impedance on the amp from 220 ohms to less than an ohm. It also unleashes a completely ridiculous output power of 1300 mwatts/channel @ 300 ohms impedance - which is what your HD6xx operates at I believe. Yeah try find that power elsewhere. (You won't.) Having said that, you don't actually need such incredible power figures to sound good. But it's nice to know you have it. Also I haven't ever found my Senheissers sounding good with an amp that can manage less than 100 milliwatts of power at 300 ohms - even if it's enough to get it very loud. The only amp that comes close to the HD600 that I've tried is the Mytek Liberty DAC/amp.

The experience I get with these is that there is pretty much exactly what you are hoping for when you spend a bunch of money on a headphone amplifier. You've heard of the Sennheiser veil? This gets rid of most of that veil, throwing the headphones around with little abandon. There's also lots of detail, extended bass from what I'm used to, a quickness to dynamics, and an overall "large, open" sound.

You probably want to spend about a $100 for a DAC. I reccomend getting a DAC that has a volume control because with jumpers engaged (direct drive) you don't have a lot of play on the volume control. So I mainly use the DAC to control the volume and leave the A-100 with its volume set at a max (low) volume.
Some options on the market are : The Schiit fulla 2 does have a volume knob so that's pretty nice. Not sure how well it measures.
You can get Emotiva's Little ego or a Schiit Modi though they don't have volume knobs. The little ego does use an analog resistor ladder however to change volume. To change the volume you have to do it manually through your computer. So you may or may not like that. You can also spend $50 and get a Schiit Sys which is a passive volume control if you don't want to deal with not having a volume knob.
 
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#12
Hi,
I am in the same situation, just acquired a pair of HD650 and looking for a DAC and amp. I have compiled the following list of possible candidates (mostly from a European perspective though).
I am leaning towards Arcam rHead and get a DAC later, or SMSL M6 because of it's low price at Audiophonics and convenient form factor but I can't find any measurements of it and it's high output impedance is a minus.
The Element is also pretty high on my list even though I don't find the big knob attractive :)

I think the O2+SDAC from Massdrop looks like a good budget option if you are US based? The SDAC has been measured in this forum, but not the O2.

I haven't listened to any of it, just internet research.

Code:
                        < 1Ohm      DAC         price (€)   link
SMSL M6                             x           145         https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/dac-without-volume/smsl-m6-usb-dac-ak4390ef-32bit-192khz-headphone-amplifier-p-9909.html?search_query=smsl%20m6&fast_search=fs
Topping NX4             x           x           169         https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/mobile-headphone-amplifier/topping-nx4s-usb-dac-battery-headphone-amplifier-es9038q2m-32bit768khz-noir-p-12549.html?search_query=topping%20nx&fast_search=fs
Schiit Modi/Magni 3     x           x           290         https://www.schiit-europe.com/index.php/producten/dacs/schiit-modi-3.html
Arcam rHead amp         x                       250         https://www.amazon.co.uk/Arcam-rHEAD-Headphone-Amplifier-inputs-black/dp/B01J3Z12Z4
FX Audio DAC X7                     x           175         https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/dac-with-volume/fx-audio-dac-x7-dac-ak4490-32bit-384khz-dsd-xmos-cs8422-black-p-12625.html
Topping dx7s                        x           490         https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/dac-with-volume/topping-dx7s-2xes9038q2m-dac-preamplifier-headphone-ampli-dsd-32bit-384khz-symetrical-p-12599.html
Aune x1s                            x           229         https://www.auneaudio-europe.com/index.php/products/x1s-32bit-384-dsd128-mini-dac-headphone-amplifier-silver.html
Aune x7s                                        229         https://www.auneaudio-europe.com/index.php/aune-x7s-class-a-headphone-amplifier-black.html
Daart canary                        x           209         https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/dac-without-volume/daart-canary-dac-usb-xmos-dsd-es9018k2m-32bit-headphone-out-class-a-black-p-11578.html
O2+SDAC                 x           x           150 USD     Massdrop
SMSL idea               x           x           86
The Element             x           x           340         http://www.hifiheadphones.co.uk/jds-labs-the-element-headphone-amplifier-usb-dac-copper-ring.html
O2+Odac                 x           x           250         http://www.hifiheadphones.co.uk/jds-labs-objective2-odac-revb-headphone-amplifier-dac-black.html
 

JJB70

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#14
I haven't found a better amp than the Emotiva Basx A-100 to drive these with the jumpers engaged to deliver its max power. They also sound great witthout the jumpers engaged but imo it sounds more dynamic to my ears so definitely worth engaging the jumpers. Engaging the jumpers lowers the output impedance on the amp from 220 ohms to less than an ohm. It also unleashes a completely ridiculous output power of 1300 mwatts/channel @ 300 ohms impedance - which is what your HD6xx operates at I believe. Yeah try find that power elsewhere. (You won't.) Having said that, you don't actually need such incredible power figures to sound good. But it's nice to know you have it. Also I haven't ever found my Senheissers sounding good with an amp that can manage less than 100 milliwatts of power at 300 ohms - even if it's enough to get it very loud. The only amp that comes close to the HD600 that I've tried is the Mytek Liberty DAC/amp.
The approach taken by Emotiva in supplying jumpers for the headphone output is very interesting, I think I'd be a bit nervous about inadvertently turning the volume up or something. That said, if you want a lot of power then you won't get more and it's a lot cheaper than many headphone amps.
 

maverickronin

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#15
The approach taken by Emotiva in supplying jumpers for the headphone output is very interesting, I think I'd be a bit nervous about inadvertently turning the volume up or something. That said, if you want a lot of power then you won't get more and it's a lot cheaper than many headphone amps.
Possibly worse than that, does it have any on/off transients? One hiccup in your power and the drivers could go *pop*.
 

Sal1950

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#18
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