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Sound Blaster X1, Topping DX3 pro+ and SMSL C200 review based upon Arya Stealth and HE1000 Stealth

AryaStealth

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Joined
Aug 20, 2023
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Here are my two cents.
Once upon a time I was using DT880 600ohm headphones with Sound Blaster X1 dongle. One day I watched a very positive review about Topping DX3 pro+, so I decided to try it thinking maybe I'm missing something with my Sound Blaster X1. After extensive testing for a few hours, it seemed that DT800 600ohm sounded a tiny bit more detailed on Topping DX3 pro+.
Unfortunately Topping DX3 pro+ headphone jack broke down after about 30 switches in-out the same day I received it.
So I searched a little bit about best for buck combo dac+amps, stumbled upon Amir's review of SMSL C200 on this forum and decided to try it.
Unfortunately the SMSL C200 unit arrived with a broken headphone jack. I don't know how it sounds, but SMSL build quality seems to me even worse than Topping's.
A few weeks ago I bought Arya Stealth and HE1000 Stealth headphones, and decided to give another chance to Topping DX3 pro+.
While I was waiting for it to arrive I kept using my Sound Blaster X1 dongle with Hifimans headphones.
Topping DX3 pro+ arrived, I was very curious, if there will be any difference in sound (supposedly due to better quality amplifier as Topping DX3 pro+ costs 4 times more than Sound Blaster X1).
So I plugged in Arya Stealth to DX3 pro+ and ... I was really amazed that Arya Stealth sounded so much worse on Topping DX3 pro+ than on Sound Blaster X1. I'm no expert, but I believe the boring and unnatural (especially vocals) would be the correct terms to describe that Topping DX3 pro+ sound comparing to Sound Blaster X1. Next I plugged in HE1000 Stealth to Topping DX3 pro+, and it is the same story. I can't recommend you enough Sound Blaster X1 for Hifiman headphones (and probably any headphones, it has enough power to drive even 600ohm headphones). For $50 it seems to me there is currently nothing better on the market that sounds that good and has so much power.
Conclusion: Arya Stealth and HE1000 Stealth sound so nice and natural on Sound Blaster X1. I'm returning Topping DX3 pro+.
Another lesson learned the hard way: a higher priced dac+amp doesn't mean better sound. Sometimes it means the opposite.

By the way Arya Stealth are amazing headphones, especially for vocals and classical music. Neutral and pleasant, and what's more really comfortable. HE1000 Stealth seem to me to be made for other genres - the vocals on HE1000 Stealth are recessed comparing to Arya Stealth and the full orchestra also sounds more natural on Arya Stealth. HE1000 Stealth also have a little bit more treble than Arya Stealth, so they may cause ear fatigue on some tracks. But the tracks with solo violin or live music where you can hear the crowd sound absolutely incredible on HE1000 (and just nice and pleasant on Arya Stealth). So my advice to people who can't decide between Arya Stealth and HE1000 Stealth - try them both before buying. You may find that Arya Stealth suits you better than more expensive and more praised HE1000 Stealth.
 

kckwong723

New Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2023
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I am considering a headphone amp and your experience is very good reference for me. Thx.
 
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