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helpmehelpyou

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hello, this is my first post here.

i plan on getting the hifiman xs as my first actually high quality headphone and i want to get the best amp dac stack for them. i specifically want a stack since i plan to add more things later down the line and this makes upgradeable easier.

my first question is do i even need a dac, and why. i know it converts digital to analog but the hifiman xs can run off of a phone, so cant i just get an amplifier?

i will be using these mainly at home, maybe sometimes take the whole thing in a bag. preferably not a huge fat stack something along the sizes of what i mentioned, max size similar to maybe the magnius/modius stack no bigger.

anyway, some stacks i was looking at is the schitt magni/modi, jds labs atom stack, ifi zen can hfm/zen dac. i heard that the schitt stack is warmer but lacks a bit in detail while the jds labs atom is very fast, sharp, detailed and neutral. i think i do like a warmer signature which i can eq, but detail and fastness is also very important to me. the reason im thinking of the zen can hfm is because its made for hifiman headphones and has an automatic eq thing. but im leaning towards the jds labs or schitt.

any other brands i havent heard of are also welcome.

PS: my mistake i forgot to mention i also need the power supply of the amp and dac to be external that way when i move countries in a year i can just buy a new power adaptor. i seen jds labs and schitt do this
 
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IAtaman

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Hello and welcome :)

Stacks for Edition XS has been a very popular topic these days, not sure why. Maybe we should do a write up and pin it on the top of the page.

my first question is do i even need a dac, and why. i know it converts digital to analog but the hifiman xs can run off of a phone, so cant i just get an amplifier?
You'll soon notice the pattern that the correct answer to many questions in audio is usually "it depends". This case is no exception. The music stored on your phone and streamed from the internet is all in digital format. In order for you to be able hear it, it needs to be converted to analog. If your phone has a headphone jack, it means it does have an internal DAC so it is indeed an option to get an headphone amp (HPA) and connect it to the headphone jack of your phone and be OK with it. And that can be a very feasible solution. The issue with that would be that the DAC on your phone might or might not be that great, and your next phone might not have a headphone jack.

anyway, some stacks i was looking at is the schitt magni/modi, jds labs atom stack, ifi zen can hfm/zen dac. i heard that the schitt stack is warmer but lacks a bit in detail while the jds labs atom is very fast, sharp, detailed and neutral. i think i do like a warmer signature which i can eq, but detail and fastness is also very important to me. the reason im thinking of the zen can hfm is because its made for hifiman headphones and has an automatic eq thing. but im leaning towards the jds labs or schitt.
All those are fine. From that list I'd probably go for JDS Atom stack. Not because they are fast, or detailed or anything, but they are well built and look good, they perform very well, and JDS Labs do not resort to BS marketing like iFi in my opinion. But that is a personal take which you can safely ignore.

Having said that, I would also have look at stacks and integrated DAC/AMP combos from Fiio, Topping and SMSL as well. Any device that can do more than 250mW into 16 ohm (which is most desktop class devices) will do fine.

One important thing to consider for your stack, which you have also touched upon, is EQ. That can truly give you the sharpness, warmth, neutrality you want. Here is a very nice thread that goes into details for all kinds of EQ solutions for all types of devices:

 
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helpmehelpyou

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Having said that, I would also have look at stacks and integrated DAC/AMP combos from Fiio, Topping and SMSL as well. Any device that can do more than 250mW into 16 ohm (which is most desktop class devices) will do fine.
something like the DX3 pro+? so an amp and a dac in one device? yeah i thought of that but since i plan on getting a turntable and a phono preamp id rather have two separate amp and dac instead to make it easier to connect everything, probably should have mentioned that. and thank you for the EQ thread ill go over it now
 

Dunring

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I've got one of those and they take some power but you don't need to break the bank. The JDS Atom amp+ DAC+ will be great. The Topping DX5 I've got also is compact and sounds great. Also the Topping l30 is and E30 is is excellent, and especially good for 10ohm IEMs if you go with them down the road. If it's got 1watt into 32 ohm, you'll have plenty of power, even to equalize with a preamp reduction.
 

delta76

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what is your budget? if you have limited budget, I'd suggest to go with SMSL C200 - great dac, very good headphone amp. should be enough to drive XS. you can add a dedicated headphone amp later if you need even more power. Buy it from a reputable seller like Amazon and you're golden. all for 219$ and might be less on sale. (and no it does not sound like anything - it does sound like nothing)
 
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helpmehelpyou

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what is your budget? if you have limited budget, I'd suggest to go with SMSL C200 - great dac, very good headphone amp. should be enough to drive XS. you can add a dedicated headphone amp later if you need even more power. Buy it from a reputable seller like Amazon and you're golden. all for 219$ and might be less on sale. (and no it does not sound like anything - it does sound like nothing)
my budget probably goes up to 350 since i dont think the amp and dac should be more expensive than the headphones. but ill look into SMSL, thank you
 

IAtaman

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i dont think the amp and dac should be more expensive than the headphones.
I think that is a very sensible approach. But, if you are into this hobby, things escalate quickly, so good to be aware of that as well :)
 

pundel

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my stack for xs smsl su-x and sh-x in the future I think to buy listen to hifiman arya
 
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