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Recomendation for desktop DAC/Amp [IEM and full-sized Headphones]

Joined
Aug 10, 2018
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#1
Fellow members,

I come to ask for your help: I want to buy a new desktop DAC/Amp combo (they do not need to be together in one device, but is is prefered). I currently have a Micca Origen+ (1st gen) and have had no problems with it so far, since I used to pair it only with somewhat hard-to-drive headphones. Now that I bought a IEM, the Micca can only be used in low-levels, and having a channel imbalance up to almost 10 o'clock on the volume knob it is really a pain in the neck.

Also, since I saw Amir's review of the G2, I have been questioning whether the problems he mentioned are also present in my version, and I decided to upgrade.

So, the question: what DAC/Amp can you recomend (up to US$ 400,00) that is able to drive both sensitive IEMs and hard-to-drive headphones while keeping low levels of noise and distortion? Initially I was looking into the JDS Elements and but now the Topping DX3Pro really got my attention. Is there any other recommendation besides those?

Thanks a lot!
 

Patrick1958

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#2
Fellow members,

I come to ask for your help: I want to buy a new desktop DAC/Amp combo (they do not need to be together in one device, but is is prefered). I currently have a Micca Origen+ (1st gen) and have had no problems with it so far, since I used to pair it only with somewhat hard-to-drive headphones. Now that I bought a IEM, the Micca can only be used in low-levels, and having a channel imbalance up to almost 10 o'clock on the volume knob it is really a pain in the neck.

Also, since I saw Amir's review of the G2, I have been questioning whether the problems he mentioned are also present in my version, and I decided to upgrade.

So, the question: what DAC/Amp can you recomend (up to US$ 400,00) that is able to drive both sensitive IEMs and hard-to-drive headphones while keeping low levels of noise and distortion? Initially I was looking into the JDS Elements and but now the Topping DX3Pro really got my attention. Is there any other recommendation besides those?

Thanks a lot!
Ifi Idac2
https://ifi-audio.com/products/micro-idac2/
 

Synergist

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#5
Might I humbly suggest one or more of the offerings from Schiit Audio...a company which cut it's teeth about 8 or 9 years ago creating best bang for one's buck headphone amps. as well as D/A converters...they now manufacture combined D/A - amp combinations starting at approx. $100.00, (U.S.A.), Fulla II, to separates beginning at that same price, on upward in reasonable steps, to their Yggdrasil D/A converter $2,200, and Ragnarok Integrated amp/headphone amp. at $ 1,800...
Peace/Namaste,
Synergist
 

derp1n

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#6
Might I humbly suggest one or more of the offerings from Schiit Audio...a company which cut it's teeth about 8 or 9 years ago creating best bang for one's buck headphone amps. as well as D/A converters...they now manufacture combined D/A - amp combinations starting at approx. $100.00, (U.S.A.), Fulla II, to separates beginning at that same price, on upward in reasonable steps, to their Yggdrasil D/A converter $2,200, and Ragnarok Integrated amp/headphone amp. at $ 1,800...
You must be new here... ;)

Only a handful of Schiit's product line is well engineered and/or good value for money. It pays to research before investing in any Schiit gear. The only stuff I'd recommend personally is the Magni 3 and Modi 3 for amp and DAC, if it meets your needs.
 
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#8
You must be new here... ;)

Only a handful of Schiit's product line is well engineered and/or good value for money. It pays to research before investing in any Schiit gear. The only stuff I'd recommend personally is the Magni 3 and Modi 3 for amp and DAC, if it meets your needs.
I would extend what you wrote to: it pays to research before investing in any gear. Not just Schiit. That is why I wanted to check with you guys!

From another post, there may be an option of a Monoprice Monolith (that uses the THX amps), although it will cost a bit more than $400. I might wait for that. Maybe...
 

maxxevv

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#9
Some of the affordable and portable solutions are actually pretty good for what you're describing of your usage needs.

Check out the reviews portion on the Topping NX4 DSD and the Sabaj Da3. (The Da3 is more suited for plugging into laptops, though they can function with handphones too ).

Other than the extreme stuff such as really low sensitivity planars or stuff such as the HD800 and Auteurs, they should be plenty sufficient for most of the stuff out there. And being portable, they add some flexibility to your use of IEMs too.
 

VMAT4

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#10
I use an Arcam rHead headphone amp. Which, I bought used for about $400 . I also use a D10 DAC but, only as an USB to toslink converter.
I think the rHead & D10 combo would meet your needs if, you don't mind buying used and going about $100 over budget.

You mentioned the Monoprice Monolith THX amp. I see that the new Monolith tube amp/DAC combo is getting good reviews for under $400 .
 
Joined
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#11
Some of the affordable and portable solutions are actually pretty good for what you're describing of your usage needs.

Check out the reviews portion on the Topping NX4 DSD and the Sabaj Da3. (The Da3 is more suited for plugging into laptops, though they can function with handphones too ).

Other than the extreme stuff such as really low sensitivity planars or stuff such as the HD800 and Auteurs, they should be plenty sufficient for most of the stuff out there. And being portable, they add some flexibility to your use of IEMs too.
Well, my headphones currently are: Sennheiser HD650 (actually 6XX), Fostex TR50p (actually ZMF Vibro mk2), Audiodream AD8 (Audiodream is a local company that makes CIEMs).

Besides my MO+, I have the Centrance Dacport Slim, which has a digital volume controller which is fantastic for the IEMs. It also has enough power for me to use the HD650. That is the DAC/Amp I currently use when mobility is necessary.
 
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#12
I use an Arcam rHead headphone amp. Which, I bought used for about $400 . I also use a D10 DAC but, only as an USB to toslink converter.
I think the rHead & D10 combo would meet your needs if, you don't mind buying used and going about $100 over budget.

You mentioned the Monoprice Monolith THX amp. I see that the new Monolith tube amp/DAC combo is getting good reviews for under $400 .
I will check both options, VMAT4! Thanks!
 

maxxevv

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#13
Well, my headphones currently are: Sennheiser HD650 (actually 6XX), Fostex TR50p (actually ZMF Vibro mk2), Audiodream AD8 (Audiodream is a local company that makes CIEMs).

Besides my MO+, I have the Centrance Dacport Slim, which has a digital volume controller which is fantastic for the IEMs. It also has enough power for me to use the HD650. That is the DAC/Amp I currently use when mobility is necessary.
I see why the integrated desktop choice then.

I have the HD6XX too, as well as the HE4XX. I use a dedicated chinese made 9038Pro DAC with the Matrix HPA-3B amp which I got from Massdrop.
Haven't a clue how the DAC measures ( though it sounds basically uncoloured to my ears) but the combination has tremendous headroom and ceaselessly smooth power.

On the harder to drive HE4XX, I use it at the lowest gain setting ( it has 3), and the volume dial just touches 50% rotation on balanced out.
Its Class A, so it runs pretty warm though.
 

Arnandsway

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#18
I didn't find the measurements. Is it better than the other ones I posted?
It is pricy yes. Maybe someone ships @amirm an iDac2 some day
I'm glad I've only recently joined ASR, and read all the measurements Amir did. As such, I remembered correctly that the Ifi iDac 2 has been mentioned somewhere. So I did some digging.
Found out Amir did not do an extensive review of this DAC, but he did compare some measurements compared to the Mytek Brooklyn and the SMSL Sanskritt 6th. Here the Idac2 wasn't anything to be very enthuasistic over, compared to other cheaper DAC's.

Check the Brooklyn comparison here
And the SMSL comparison here
 

amirm

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#19
Maybe someone ships @amirm an iDac2 some day
No need, I have had a micro iDac2 for quite a while. :) I will test it at some point....
 

Veri

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#20
No need, I have had a micro iDac2 for quite a while. :) I will test it at some point....
That's cool Amir didn't know that :D i figure it won't measure super great but I'm still interested!
 
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