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Searching for an AMP and DAC for DT 1990 Pro

NiklasH

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Hello everyone,

I am new to this great community and I hope that you can help me out!

Back in 2019 I have decided buy the DT 1990 Pro. A decision I do not regret to this day!

I would like to step up my game a little bit and purchase an DAC and an AMP. I’ve actually wanted to buy a new gaming headset but read on multiple sites that a studio headphone paired with a DAC/Amp is much often way better in terms of (sound)performance.

Do you guys have any recommendations for a DAC or an AMP that pairs very well with the DT 1990 Pro? Or even a DAC/AMP combo that just performs great in general?

Back then I was reading about Topping D10s and the Atom Amp but did not buy them due to availability problems here in europe. A lot of products by Topping ( for instance The Topping D30 or DX3 Pro) are available where I live though.

I've read that the schiit asgard 3 and the DT1990pro are a good combo aswell. On the other hand this AMP is not available in europe, so I would have let it ship from the US.


(Im thinking of buying a desk mircophone aswell, so maybe that narrows down the alternatives?)



I’m looking forward to your answers!
Thanks!
 

3125b

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You could buy a Topping E30 + L30 stack. If you buy from an authorized seller, the latter will be a fixed version now.
The DT 1990 is reasonably easy to drive, if you are looking into that anyway, a decent Interface like the Motu M2/M4 or the new Audient iD4 MKII might also be an option.
 

digitalfrost

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I drive my DT990 Pro (250ohm) from an Geshelli Archel 2, it has more than enough power.
 
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NiklasH

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You could buy a Topping E30 + L30 stack. If you buy from an authorized seller, the latter will be a fixed version now.
The DT 1990 is reasonably easy to drive, if you are looking into that anyway, a decent Interface like the Motu M2/M4 or the new Audient iD4 MKII might also be an option.

Thanks for the answers!
So you would say its better to buy a seperated DAC and AMP? The Topping products seem to be very good according to the reviews on this Forum + they are available here.


I drive my DT990 Pro (250ohm) from an Geshelli Archel 2, it has more than enough power.

Sadly this product is Not available here in europe
 

LTig

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Which device do you use currently to drive the DT1990, and do notice any flaws? It's certainly possible that a new DAC or amp measures better but the improvement is inaudible.
 

Bullwinkle J Moose

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Thanks for the answers!
So you would say its better to buy a seperated DAC and AMP?

I think it "may" depend on the price

I seem to consistently be getting better sound quality on combo DacAmps under the $200 range

Your results may vary

When spending several hundred or thousand, I would be much pickier about each and can never find a combo unit with exactly what I want (for each) , sooooo.......separates!
 
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NiklasH

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Which device do you use currently to drive the DT1990, and do notice any flaws? It's certainly possible that a new DAC or amp measures better but the improvement is inaudible.

Currently I am not using any DAC or AMP, just my PC...


I think it "may" depend on the price

I seem to consistently be getting better sound quality on combo DacAmps under the $200 range

Your results may vary

When spending several hundred or thousand, I would be much pickier about each and can never find a combo unit with exactly what I want (for each) , sooooo.......separates!

Thanks for the clarification!

What about the SMSL SP200? Would that be another good AMP? Maybe paired with a DAC that costs around 100-150 Euro?
 
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paolomo

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Currently I am not using any DAC or AMP, just my PC...
Thanks for the clarification!

What about the SMSL SP200? Would that be another good AMP? Maybe paired with a DAC that costs around 100-150 Euro?
I own the SP200 and it can drive the much less sensitive DT880 600Ohm very well. I'd definitely recommend it for the DT1990. You'll have plenty of power to work with the EQ.
 
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NiklasH

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I own the SP200 and it can drive the much less sensitive DT880 600Ohm very well. I'd definitely recommend it for the DT1990. You'll have plenty of power to work with the EQ.

Thanks! It is available in Europe. So I will look into that.
Would you say that the differences between the THX Amps are strongly noticable?

Would that AMP be better than a topping AMP?
With what DAC are you pairing it?

Sorry a lot of questions...
 

Iglo

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Both amps have good performance. The Topping L30 measures better overall, but still for your headphones this difference isn't really audible (except when using very sensitive IEMs, where the L30 does have the upper edge).

There are however, some pros and cons to take in to account.

The SP200 offers balanced inputs which prevents ground loops if paired with a DAC that offers balanced output which is nice (although those DACs are often more expensive). It does offer more power although for all but very demanding headphones this isn't needed. Personally I would have liked to see a low/normal/high gain setting vs only (low)normal/high gain*.

The L30 has a pre-out which comes in handy if you want to add powered monitors to the setup. And there is price, the Topping E30+L30 cost about the same as only the SP200 amp (where I live). So taking cost/performance in to account this is a clear benefit.

If you would like balanced inputs and need more power (if you plan on buying very hard to drive headphones) I would take the Topping A30pro in to consideration. With the risk of sounding like a Topping fanboy, but I do think that the A30pro offers more functionality and the price difference isn't that great vs the SP200.

* I personally often use low gain mode often even for regular headphones. The volume control offers more precise control in this mode.
 
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paolomo

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Thanks! It is available in Europe. So I will look into that.
Would you say that the differences between the THX Amps are strongly noticable?

Would that AMP be better than a topping AMP?
With what DAC are you pairing it?

Sorry a lot of questions...
I agree with Iglo, your headphones will sound just fine whether you choose SMSL or Topping. The deciding factors really are the different functionalities they offer and the price. Even the design. But soundwise you are going to get the same great results in both cases.

To answer your question, my SP200 is paired with an M200 DAC but you can get the same great audio with less money, with differences that are pretty much inaudible. You can also spend more, but what you are going to get is added functionalities, do not expect the sound to change miraculously ;) I own a more expensive DAC, but I also pair amps to my Mac sometimes (the horror!) and I enjoy my music regardless.
 
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NiklasH

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Both amps have good performance. The Topping L30 measures better overall, but still for your headphones this difference isn't really audible (except when using very sensitive IEMs, where the L30 does have the upper edge).

There are however, some pros and cons to take in to account.

The SP200 offers balanced inputs which prevents ground loops if paired with a DAC that offers balanced output which is nice (although those DACs are often more expensive). It does offer more power although for all but very demanding headphones this isn't needed. Personally I would have liked to see a low/normal/high gain setting vs only (low)normal/high gain*.

The L30 has a pre-out which comes in handy if you want to add powered monitors to the setup. And there is price, the Topping E30+L30 cost about the same as only the SP200 amp (where I live). So taking cost/performance in to account this is a clear benefit.

If you would like balanced inputs and need more power (if you plan on buying very hard to drive headphones) I would take the Topping A30pro in to consideration. With the risk of sounding like a Topping fanboy, but I do think that the A30pro offers more functionality and the price difference isn't that great vs the SP200.

* I personally often use low gain mode often even for regular headphones. The volume control offers more precise control in this mode.

Thank your for this detailed answer! I am not planning to buy new headphones very soon to be honest. Thats why I‘m really looking for a setup that will last me a long time.
I am for sure no audiophil so I agree that I would not hear every nuance or difference an AMP or DAC Creates.

What confuses me is that I‘ve read a review about the THX 789 on here that states that you will never need another AMP if you are going to buy this. Could one say this about the Topping E30/L30 combo, too? Is the Topping also „Balanced“? And what does that really mean for my „ears„?

Again, I am in no means an expert, so maybe I‘m approaching the whole thing wrong?

Thanks again for your help so far!
 
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NiklasH

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And do you notice any flaws or why do you want a DAC/amp?

Yes, I do hear weird sound like a constant electronic buzzing or something. I do not have issues with other Audio sources.
 

Iglo

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Thank your for this detailed answer! I am not planning to buy new headphones very soon to be honest. Thats why I‘m really looking for a setup that will last me a long time.
I am for sure no audiophil so I agree that I would not hear every nuance or difference an AMP or DAC Creates.

What confuses me is that I‘ve read a review about the THX 789 on here that states that you will never need another AMP if you are going to buy this. Could one say this about the Topping E30/L30 combo, too? Is the Topping also „Balanced“? And what does that really mean for my „ears„?

Again, I am in no means an expert, so maybe I‘m approaching the whole thing wrong?

Thanks again for your help so far!

No problem, glad to be of help! Not so long ago I was struggling with exactly the same questions. I was comparing the top end models (DAC/Amps) just to come to the realization that for my use case it didn't matter that much (not audible anyway).

Regarding the statement that the "THX 789" (THX 888 in case of the SP200) would be the last amp you should ever need. Is based on the power it can deliver. The SP200 you mentioned does have more power vs the Topping L30 but (way) less than the Topping a30pro. But power isn't really that much of an issue to drive most headphones.

The thing is that (very) high output power headphone amps are only needed for really demanding headphones. Some headphones need a huge amount of power to get to loud volumes. But there are not that many really hard to drive headphones around (and often those are also quite expensive).

A Topping L30, from a power perspective, can drive a very wide variety of headphones except for the most demanding like the: Beyerdynamic DT880 600ohm, Hifiman he-6 (but these are exceptionally power hungry).

Yes, the SP200 is more power full vs the L30 but with all but the very demanding headphones this difference wouldn't be of any benefit (and the L30 measures better especially for sensitive headphones and In Ear Monitors).

For the sake of future proofing your setup, you could favor the SP200 or A30Pro (this one has way more power and can power anything) over the L30. But....You should ask yourself the question: i) how much more money will you need to spend now for that unused power ii) are you planning on buying any of those power hungry headphones (often these headphones are $$$).

Let's say that you pick a DAC/Amp combo with all the power you need now and in 5 years you buy a $2000,- headphone which are very power demanding... wouldn't it be more economical to just sell your current Amp and invest some additional money in a new Amp which can deliver more power (and also benefit from 5 years of new developments in the field)?

Balanced vs unbalanced for headphone amps can have two meanings (to make things more complicated ;)).
Amir made a very useful review about the subject. You can check the video in this topic: Understanding Balanced Audio (video) | Audio Science Review (ASR) Forum

It boils down to the fact that balanced is the better connection method, but if you do not have any ground loops in your system there isn't an audible sound difference (but balanced inputs / outputs do add cost to the Amp/DAC making them more expensive). Personally I use the E30 / L30 without any ground loop issues (I have my PC connected via optical/SPDIF to the E30 which eliminate any potential PC USB ground loop issue).

If an amp is tested reasonable well by Amir you can count on it to deliver a good performance and most measured differences are not in the audible range. It then comes down to personal preferences (what specs/features/options you like) and what you are willing to spend for those features.
 
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NiklasH

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No problem, glad to be of help! Not so long ago I was struggling with exactly the same questions. I was comparing the top end models (DAC/Amps) just to come to the realization that for my use case it didn't matter that much (not audible anyway).

Regarding the statement that the "THX 789" (THX 888 in case of the SP200) would be the last amp you should ever need. Is based on the power it can deliver. The SP200 you mentioned does have more power vs the Topping L30 but (way) less than the Topping a30pro. But power isn't really that much of an issue to drive most headphones.

The thing is that (very) high output power headphone amps are only needed for really demanding headphones. Some headphones need a huge amount of power to get to loud volumes. But there are not that many really hard to drive headphones around (and often those are also quite expensive).

A Topping L30, from a power perspective, can drive a very wide variety of headphones except for the most demanding like the: Beyerdynamic DT880 600ohm, Hifiman he-6 (but these are exceptionally power hungry).

Yes, the SP200 is more power full vs the L30 but with all but the very demanding headphones this difference wouldn't be of any benefit (and the L30 measures better especially for sensitive headphones and In Ear Monitors).

For the sake of future proofing your setup, you could favor the SP200 or A30Pro (this one has way more power and can power anything) over the L30. But....You should ask yourself the question: i) how much more money will you need to spend now for that unused power ii) are you planning on buying any of those power hungry headphones (often these headphones are $$$).

Let's say that you pick a DAC/Amp combo with all the power you need now and in 5 years you buy a $2000,- headphone which are very power demanding... wouldn't it be more economical to just sell your current Amp and invest some additional money in a new Amp which can deliver more power (and also benefit from 5 years of new developments in the field)?

Balanced vs unbalanced for headphone amps can have two meanings (to make things more complicated ;)).
Amir made a very useful review about the subject. You can check the video in this topic: Understanding Balanced Audio (video) | Audio Science Review (ASR) Forum

It boils down to the fact that balanced is the better connection method, but if you do not have any ground loops in your system there isn't an audible sound difference (but balanced inputs / outputs do add cost to the Amp/DAC making them more expensive). Personally I use the E30 / L30 without any ground loop issues (I have my PC connected via optical/SPDIF to the E30 which eliminate any potential PC USB ground loop issue).

If an amp is tested reasonable well by Amir you can count on it to deliver a good performance and most measured differences are not in the audible range. It then comes down to personal preferences (what specs/features/options you like) and what you are willing to spend for those features.

Wow, thanks for that in depth answer!

I think I might really look into the L30/E30 combo. Sadly the E30 isnt available at the moment.
Do you might know an alternative?

May I ask you how you have connected your DAC to your PC and your AMP to your DAC?
 

Iglo

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There are many DAC options you can check them here: Audio Electronics Review and Measurements Index | Audio Science Review (ASR) Forum
Just select "Device Type" > "DAC dedicated" and "Recommendation" > "Yes".

A Shiit Modi or Topping D10s could be good options. Although the D10s has a quite unique feature set (optical out vs input), which depending on how you are planning to use the DAC can be great or very limiting.

You could also get the L30 and use the line out of your PC for the time being. Alternatively the Apple USB-C Dongle/headphone adapter measures quite nice for what is basically a $9,- mini DAC. If your PC doesn't have USB-C your could use an adapter to make it work: USB C to A Adapter although this doubles the price of this setup ;) ($9). Dongle review

I used the Apple dongle myself while I waited for my E30 and it worked very well.

May I ask you how you have connected your DAC to your PC and your AMP to your DAC?

Sure, I have three devices connected to my E30.

1. My main PC is connected via the TOSLINK / optical. So the optical output on my PC's motherboard is connected to optical in on the E30. As. PC's are often a cause of ground loop issues this has a benefit of decoupling the DAC and (main PC) as a optical cable will not transfer ground to and from PC/DAC.
2. A Raspberry Pi for streaming (Spotify Connect / music from my NAS) using USB. So USB cable going from the streamer to the DAC.
3. My work laptop is connected to a D10s which I use to get a coaxial output to the coaxial input of my E30. This is an example why the unique feature set (optical/coaxial output) on the D10s can come in handy (although as a stand alone DAC you only have USB input on the D10s, so no optical/coaxial inputs to hook up multiple sources).

The E30 and L30 are connected via RCA. Any decent RCA cable will do, brands like KabelDirect, AmazonBasic, World Best Cable are all perfectly fine. If you plan on stacking the E30 and L30 on top op each other 25cm cable length is perfect. I use these Topping interconnects as I couldn't find cheaper short RCA cables at the time.
 
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NiklasH

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There are many DAC options you can check them here: Audio Electronics Review and Measurements Index | Audio Science Review (ASR) Forum
Just select "Device Type" > "DAC dedicated" and "Recommendation" > "Yes".

A Shiit Modi or Topping D10s could be good options. Although the D10s has a quite unique feature set (optical out vs input), which depending on how you are planning to use the DAC can be great or very limiting.

You could also get the L30 and use the line out of your PC for the time being. Alternatively the Apple USB-C Dongle/headphone adapter measures quite nice for what is basically a $9,- mini DAC. If your PC doesn't have USB-C your could use an adapter to make it work: USB C to A Adapter although this doubles the price of this setup ;) ($9). Dongle review

I used the Apple dongle myself while I waited for my E30 and it worked very well.

May I ask you how you have connected your DAC to your PC and your AMP to your DAC?

Sure, I have three devices connected to my E30.

1. My main PC is connected via the TOSLINK / optical. So the optical output on my PC's motherboard is connected to optical in on the E30. As. PC's are often a cause of ground loop issues this has a benefit of decoupling the DAC and (main PC) as a optical cable will not transfer ground to and from PC/DAC.
2. A Raspberry Pi for streaming (Spotify Connect / music from my NAS) using USB. So USB cable going from the streamer to the DAC.
3. My work laptop is connected to a D10s which I use to get a coaxial output to the coaxial input of my E30. This is an example why the unique feature set (optical/coaxial output) on the D10s can come in handy (although you only have USB input on the D10s, so no optical/coaxial inputs to hook up multiple sources)

The E30 and L30 are connected via RCA. Any decent RCA cable will do, brands like KabelDirect, AmazonBasic, World Best Cable are all perfectly fine. If you plan on stacking the E30 and L30 on top op each other 25cm cable length is perfect. I use these Topping interconnects as I couldn't find cheaper short RCA cables at the time.

Thanks again! That is extremely helpful!
One last question: Where there any problems with your L30? Ive read that some L30s apparently „broke“ headphones or stopped working completely? Is this still a thing?
 

Iglo

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Early versions (serial numbers up to 2011xxxxx*) could, in very rare cases, go defect and in a few specific cases result in damage headphones (there are a few cases on the forum).

Topping fixed the issue (serial numbers 2012xxxx and newer) and replaced devices that had a risk of going defect/damaging headphones under warranty. With the revision, sensitive headphones and IEMs will still be protected against unintended damage even in the most extreme failure scenario.

Obviously this wasn't great. If this incident leaves a trace of doubt in Topping products there are also many alternatives to chooses from. Although any electronic device can have (unforeseen) issues and Topping did acknowledge the issue while also provided a good solution (replacing all devices which could pose a risk).

Current version numbers (my replacement is a 2101xxxx) are fixed so not risk to headphones anymore. I would however be warry of second hand devices as there are cases known where people sell there old device after receiving a replacement (not allowed by Topping, the old devices should be destroyed).

If you buy a new L30 from a reputable reseller there is nothing to worry about.

If this incident leaves a trace of doubt in Topping products there are also many alternatives to chooses from. Although any electronic device can have (unforeseen) issues.
 
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NiklasH

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Early versions (serial numbers up to 2011xxxxx*) could, in rare cases, go defect and in some cases damage headphones (there are a few cases on the forum). Topping fixed the issue (serial numbers 2012xxxx and newer) and replaced devices that had a risk of going defect/damaging headphones under warranty. With the revision, sensitive headphones and IEMs will still be protected against unintended damage even in the most extreme failure scenario.

Obviously this wasn't great but Topping did acknowledge the issue and provided a good solution (replacing all devices which could pose a risk).

Current version numbers (my replacement is a 2101xxxx) are fixed so not risk to headphones anymore. I would however be warry of second hand devices as there are cases known where people sell there old device after receiving a replacement (not allowed by Topping, the old devices should be destroyed).
If you buy a new L30 from a reputable reseller there is nothing to worry about.

Thanks, that was the last hint for me!

All of your answers helped a lot!

Do you have any experience with other AMPs or DAC is the pricecategory of the Topping e30/L30?
 
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