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Suggestions? DAC/AMP combo for HD820

Which one you would use?


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    6

coloboxp

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Hello everyone

I'm looking for a desktop DAC/AMP combo (all in one, space constraints) with balanced 4.4 headphone output.

Budget is $1000 or less (the less the better of course).

Tested the K5 Pro ess, but looking for something with more features (ie, decoding feats, EQ, crossfeed, etc). Was considering MQA for the placebo as well.

At the moment, after reading over and over, I've come to the following contenders:

- Fiio K9 Pro ESS
- Xduoo HA-10
- Would you consider an ifi zen bundle?

Is there any other that you would vouch for? Considering the constraints?

- Combo DAC/AMP
- 4.4mm balanced
- Able to drive the HD820
- MQA placebo is a plus

Optional: roon tested or so :)



Thank you community ✌️
 
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unpluggged

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HarmonicTHD

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RME: measures great, good feature set, good support, good reliability / quality. Only thing is that it “only” has a 5 band EQ, but that you can do on the streamer side.


(Balanced Headphone connections are pretty much audiophile nonsense and so is MQA, beside it is bankrupt and Tidal does not offer it anymore).
 
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coloboxp

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Thank you all!

Indeed that's why I asked here, to get objective suggestions and learning on the process. Specially to avoid nonsense stuff ✌

When your budget is about $1000, why cheap out? Just get an ADI-2 DAC FS (possibly even pre-owned).
Two things.
1. Still feeling guilty about the cost of the 820s :)
2. Stuff in EU gets taxed and ends up costing way more. For example in the US the K9 Pro ESS costs around 550-650 USD but here is between 850-900 EUR.

But for the record, I see it on local stores from 1200 to 1600 EUR (the PRO), so is not that bad on this case. I guess the PRO is better.. I'll check.. unless you consider is not worthy for my purposes.

What for?
I'd like to avoid swapping cables almost on daily basis, as my DAP has 4.4mm and its my DAP's output with high gain.

Yet now I'm considering getting an adapter 4.4mm ♀️ to 6.35mm ♂️ that would basically remain plugged on the dac/amp

Even some dongles and BT adapters are able to drive them. It's not that hard at 103 dB/V.

Ok thank you! the scenario that Senn and other sellers paint, is that it's toooooo hard (of course, they try to sell the HDV820 dac/amp)
I've tested the Fiio's BTR7 and indeed its quite good, but not comfortable for desktop.


I know, it's placebo. I'm trying to be rational on this one.
 
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coloboxp

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Thank you @unpluggged !

RME: measures great, good feature set, good support, good reliability / quality. Only thing is that it “only” has a 5 band EQ, but that you can do on the streamer side.


Thank you for the link to the review!. I think definitely I'll be aiming to get the RME-ADI-2 FS Version 2. I guess that getting the version 2 is going to be the challenge here. Do you recommend the "PRO" one?

(Balanced Headphone connections are pretty much audiophile nonsense and so is MQA, beside it is bankrupt and Tidal does not offer it anymore).

I get your point.

I really would like to avoid swapping cables very often, Unfortunately my DAP (which I use daily) has 4.4mm output with high gain so I prioritize that form factor because of it. It has also a 3.5mm "high gain" option but it is not powerful enough.

I am considering the adapter mentioned on the previous answer, so at home I would just plug the male 4.4mm into it, and use the RMA via the 6.35mm (1/4)

I know, it's placebo. I'm trying to be rational on this one.

Actually it reminded me this video
, and one of the comments on it:

@shaolin95 7 years ago:
As I always say...Audiophiles are super humans with the power of super hearing but like all super heroes, they have one weakness. .their super hearing goes away the moment their vision is blocked. :D
 

unpluggged

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But for the record, I see it on local stores from 1200 to 1600 EUR (the PRO), so is not that bad on this case. I guess the PRO is better.. I'll check.. unless you consider is not worthy for my purposes.
Since you are in Europe, the RME looks even more appealing ;) ADI-2 Pro seems to be redundant for your use case. I got it when I could afford it as an end-game monitoring device with analog inputs and to be able to connect my HEDD monitors digitally. As to its balanced phones output, I did not feel the need for the extra power with my HD6XX (in contrast with the THX AAA 789), so I didn't bother to get an adapter until a week ago, just to play around. And now that I have tried it, I can confirm that balanced mode is not a game changer in my case. The HD6XX, BTW, has the same sensitivity and impedance spec as the HD820, so I think my experience can apply to your case, too.

Yet now I'm considering getting an adapter 4.4mm ♀️ to 6.35mm ♂️ that would basically remain plugged on the dac/amp
Yes, this would do the job.

Ok thank you! the scenario that Senn and other sellers paint, is that it's toooooo hard (of course, they try to sell the HDV820 dac/amp)
Yes, we all know about this myth about "hard to drive high-impedance phones" that require watts of power ;)

I know, it's placebo. I'm trying to be rational on this one.
Fortunately for us, this debate is now over :)
 

unpluggged

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I think definitely I'll be aiming to get the RME-ADI-2 FS Version 2
There are no "versions" of the device as such. There are three variants of the same device, that are identical from the features perspective, they all share the same firmware versions and differ by the DAC chip used. The oldest used the AK4490 (that variant also came with a simpler remote control unit), then it was replaced in production with the AK4493, and after the notorious fire RME had to release the third and current variant that uses the ES9028Q2M chip. They differ only slightly in measured figures and DAC reconstruction filters.

At any rate, only the third variant is in production since mid-2021, so there is no much choice, if only you are not looking for a used unit.
 
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coloboxp

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There are no "versions" of the device as such. There are three variants of the same device, that are identical from the features perspective, they all share the same firmware versions and differ by the DAC chip used. The oldest used the AK4490 (that variant also came with a simpler remote control unit), then it was replaced in production with the AK4493, and after the notorious fire RME had to release the third and current variant that uses the ES9028Q2M chip. They differ only slightly in measured figures and DAC reconstruction filters.

At any rate, only the third variant is in production since mid-2021, so there is no much choice, if only you are not looking for a used unit.
Thank you again, specially from the historical part.

It is a pleasure to get to a place where you can actually get to learn so much and objectively
 

IAtaman

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+1 on RME ADI-2 DAC. It has 5 band PEQ indeed but it also has Bass and Treble controls for which you can set frequency and slope, so if you assign the typical lowshelf / highshelf duty to tone controls, you actuall get a 7 band PEQ, which ought to be enough for everybody.
 

staticV3

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@coloboxp
You could ask oratory1990, either here or on reddit, to create an EQ preset for the HD820 specifically for the ADI-2.
He already has a list of RME presets for a variety of headphones and IEMs (Link), perhaps he can add that one as well.
 
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coloboxp

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@coloboxp
You could ask oratory1990, either here or on reddit, to create an EQ preset for the HD820 specifically for the ADI-2.
He already has a list of RME presets for a variety of headphones and IEMs (Link), perhaps he can add that one as well.

Wow I had no idea he had done such adjustments for the ADI-2s!

I've found yesterday this post on rme: ADI-2 Remote Pre-Release and on the first post, Matthias Carstens shared a zip with 18 presets for PEQ for it, including the HD650s and HD800s.

Now when I have a bit of slack time, I'll open it on an editor and try to correlate it to the PDF from u/oratory1990 / @oratory1990 , if I find some correlation then there might be a way to at least adapt it for the 820s or potentially others directly. Otherwise I'll ping oratory and see if he could do it.
 
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coloboxp

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@coloboxp
You could ask oratory1990, either here or on reddit, to create an EQ preset for the HD820 specifically for the ADI-2.

Tried asking for it but not doable, so well, perhaps directly with roon (if so), I like how they sound anyway

I've said it many times before, the HD820 has too wonky a frequency response to be corrected with just 5 filters + 2 shelves.
Don't get the HD820 if you don't like how it sounds.

No offense to you, I just get this question a lot.
 

Mirko

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This setup seems to work really well and can push up to 2watts. I think less than 400 dollars.

IMG_6905.jpeg
 
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