• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

The desktop setup needs an upgrade

crush

Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2022
Messages
15
Likes
2
Hi all, so I'm kinda new to audiophile (2 years ago I was still using Astros A40 so don't judge me) and since the beginning of the last year I bought 2 KPH30i (one clear, that is modded with Grado pads, and another normal) and a Beyerdynamic Tygr.

I have some headphones on my list, such as Hifiman Sundara, Harmonic Dyne Zeus/Poseidon, T60 Argons, Sendy Apollo, Rode NTH-100, Airmotiv GR1, Sivga SV021, and Sennheiser HD 600. Probably won't buy all in my lifetime and some of them are kinda difficult or way more expensive to get in Europe.

So for now, the upgrade that I'm looking for is to have a stack or a DAC/AMP to power my current/future headphones and also a set of speakers to pair with that.

I would say that the budget for both of these things would be around 600 euros/dollars and for that for speakers I was thinking about the Micca RB42, Swan DT100, and Mackie MR624. For DAC/AMP or stack I was looking at the Topping MX5, Topping DX3 pro plus, Topping E30/L30, and Ifi zen DAC V2. Possible compatibility with a ps4/ps5 would be great but not a must and I would love to read your suggestions.

Maybe some information about me and why I want all these pieces of equipment. I'm a software engineer that loves music, movies, and gaming. I'm with my Beyerdynamic most of my day, because I'm always listening to music while I work, and off work, I occasionally game and watch movies/tv series. I like my headphones and I know that if I'm playing some fps game I want to be using headphones for imaging but I also wanna have a good pair of speakers to use just to chill, listen to music, watch movies, and play casual single-player games. I've put the Mackies on my list because Z from Z reviews said that they are very detailed speakers at lower volumes, and I think that is a feature that would be very useful for me.

I attached photos from my current desktop setup to give you an idea of the workspace and I know it may be relevant for suggestions.

I hope you can help me with this and thank you for it.
 

Attachments

  • WhatsApp Image 2022-11-21 at 01.02.54(1).jpeg
    WhatsApp Image 2022-11-21 at 01.02.54(1).jpeg
    112.4 KB · Views: 92
  • WhatsApp Image 2022-11-21 at 01.02.54.jpeg
    WhatsApp Image 2022-11-21 at 01.02.54.jpeg
    106.2 KB · Views: 93

Puzzle

Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2022
Messages
46
Likes
18
won't be wrong going use toppings products, that'll be fine. Just remember that you need an amp which also works as preamp
 

Dunring

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 7, 2021
Messages
461
Likes
497
Some do-no-wrong combos would be the Topping E30II/L30II, the JDS Atom amp+/DAC+, or if there's a holiday sale on the E50/L50 I really liked those the couple of times I had them. The Topping DX7Pro can be found used at good prices sometimes since Drop had them for a while and the + version is out, but the original DX7Pro sounds great and looks cool. Are those the DT880 black/ninja edition or the Tygr 300? Hard to tell from the angle (I have the Tygr 300 also).
 
OP
C

crush

Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2022
Messages
15
Likes
2
Some do-no-wrong combos would be the Topping E30II/L30II, the JDS Atom amp+/DAC+, or if there's a holiday sale on the E50/L50 I really liked those the couple of times I had them. The Topping DX7Pro can be found used at good prices sometimes since Drop had them for a while and the + version is out, but the original DX7Pro sounds great and looks cool. Are those the DT880 black/ninja edition or the Tygr 300? Hard to tell from the angle (I have the Tygr 300 also).
Hi, thanks for the comment. They are the Tygr 300. I'm also considering the Fiio K7. As for used products, I'm all for it but in Europe, it's kinda difficult to find anything on eBay, I don't know if there is another website better in this case. I'm considering also de E50/L50, as for JDS I know their stuff is good but I find that the build quality is a bit bad from what I see in reviews.
 
OP
C

crush

Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2022
Messages
15
Likes
2
won't be wrong going use toppings products, that'll be fine. Just remember that you need an amp which also works as preamp
I'm a kinda newbie still, in this case, the preamp functionality would be for the speakers, right?
 

Puzzle

Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2022
Messages
46
Likes
18
I'm a kinda newbie still, in this case, the preamp functionality would be for the speakers, right?
Yes, and the preamp functions should be mentioned at their specs, for example I think a90 has and a30 pro doesn't.
 

Berwhale

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
2,971
Likes
3,621
Location
UK
Welcome to ASR!

I think this will just about fit in your budget...

Topping EX5 + iLoud Micro Monitors (and XLR to TRS cables to connect to EX5 and possibly some stands) + MiniDSP UMIK-1 measurement microphone (to use with REW to calibrate and correct the speakers using EqualizerAPO). I would plan to add a subwoofer to this at some point.

EX5 has a decent DAC and HP amp, it's has balanced outputs which should remove the possibility of ground loop issues and it has full pre-amp capability (and remembers HP and Pre-amp volumes independently).

The iLoud Micro's are good for their size and their size will make them easier to place correctly on your desktop (your second vertical monitor is going to compromise your setup).

Here's my setup with their bigger (and much more expensive) brothers, the iLoud MTMs sitting either side of a 34" UWQHD display...

IMG_20220709_115102 (Small).jpg


Learning how to measure and correctly setup a pair of speakers (both positioning and correcting frequency response) is well worth the effort. It's not hard and you'll be rewarded every time you change your setup or purchase new speakers/monitors...


Bonus: Here's a thread describing how I overloaded my Topping IR remote to control the EX5, power to my monitors + sub and switch PEQ profiles between headphones and monitors in eAPO on Windows :)

 

Puzzle

Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2022
Messages
46
Likes
18
Hi, thanks for the comment. They are the Tygr 300. I'm also considering the Fiio K7. As for used products, I'm all for it but in Europe, it's kinda difficult to find anything on eBay, I don't know if there is another website better in this case. I'm considering also de E50/L50, as for JDS I know their stuff is good but I find that the build quality is a bit bad from what I see in reviews.
I have the k7 and it works well on my he560 and mdr z7, but it does not has preamp function so it won't work with speakers
 
OP
C

crush

Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2022
Messages
15
Likes
2
Welcome to ASR!

I think this will just about fit in your budget...

Topping EX5 + iLoud Micro Monitors (and XLR to TRS cables to connect to EX5 and possibly some stands) + MiniDSP UMIK-1 measurement microphone (to use with REW to calibrate and correct the speakers using EqualizerAPO). I would plan to add a subwoofer to this at some point.

EX5 has a decent DAC and HP amp, it's has balanced outputs which should remove the possibility of ground loop issues and it has full pre-amp capability (and remembers HP and Pre-amp volumes independently).

The iLoud Micro's are good for their size and their size will make them easier to place correctly on your desktop (your second vertical monitor is going to compromise your setup).

Here's my setup with their bigger (and much more expensive) brothers, the iLoud MTMs sitting either side of a 34" UWQHD display...

View attachment 245025

Learning how to measure and correctly setup a pair of speakers (both positioning and correcting frequency response) is well worth the effort. It's not hard and you'll be rewarded every time you change your setup or purchase new speakers/monitors...


Bonus: Here's a thread describing how I overloaded my Topping IR remote to control the EX5, power to my monitors + sub and switch PEQ profiles between headphones and monitors in eAPO on Windows :)

Wow thanks for the input. I heard about the ilouds but since I'm a newbie I don't know if I'll be able to calibrate them haha, but yeah would be a good learning step to make. Are they better than the ones I mentioned?
 
OP
C

crush

Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2022
Messages
15
Likes
2
I have the k7 and it works well on my he560 and mdr z7, but it does not has preamp function so it won't work with speakers
Really? I just watched Z reviews using it with the Mackie MR624
 

Puzzle

Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2022
Messages
46
Likes
18
Really? I just watched Z reviews using it with the Mackie MR624
Do you mean using k7 to drive the speakers? I think that might not be possible, HE 560 and mdr Z7 are both headphones
 
OP
C

crush

Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2022
Messages
15
Likes
2
Do you mean using k7 to drive the speakers? I think that might not be possible, HE 560 and mdr Z7 are both headphones
Yeah he does the review with the Fiio K7 powering the Fostex TH909 and a pair of Mackie MR624, that's why I thought it would be ok to use in this setup
 

Puzzle

Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2022
Messages
46
Likes
18
Yeah he does the review with the Fiio K7 powering the Fostex TH909 and a pair of Mackie MR624, that's why I thought it would be ok to use in this setup
I read the specs of MR624 and it turns out to be a pair of speakers with amp built in, so you don't need an extra preamp to power it (https://mackie.com/en/products/studio-monitoring/mr-series/MR624.html), if you go its website you will notice that this speaker has power cord, that means it is self-amped. Normally for these self amp speakers you just need a device to give them sound signal, but not drive them fully, and that's why k7 will be suitable for them (or basically all device with proper output can be used to signal the self amp speaker)
 

Berwhale

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
2,971
Likes
3,621
Location
UK
Really? I just watched Z reviews using it with the Mackie MR624

Just so it's clear...

The Mackie's are powered monitors. They include their own amplifiers within the cabinets and they need a line level (or balanced) input (e.g. RCA or XLR/TRS connection). You can 'drive' these with the output from a DAC (with volume control), or line out/pass-though from an HP amplifier or from the line output of a combined DAC/HP Amp like the Fiio K7 or Topping EX5 (I would suggest the balanced connection offered by the EX5 is worth the extra cash - solving ground loops can be frustrating and potentially expensive if you have to replace kit later).

You also mention the Topping MX5 in your OP. This is a combined DAC/HP Amp/Speaker Amp. You would need to connect passive speakers to this unit (it has no line output to connect to powered monitors).
 
OP
C

crush

Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2022
Messages
15
Likes
2
Just so it's clear...

The Mackie's are powered monitors. They include their own amplifiers within the cabinets and they need a line level (or balanced) input (e.g. RCA or XLR/TRS connection). You can 'drive' these with the output from a DAC (with volume control), or line out/pass-though from an HP amplifier or from the line output of a combined DAC/HP Amp like the Fiio K7 or Topping EX5 (I would suggest the balanced connection offered by the EX5 is worth the extra cash - solving ground loops can be frustrating and potentially expensive if you have to replace kit later).

You also mention the Topping MX5 in your OP. This is a combined DAC/HP Amp/Speaker Amp. You would need to connect passive speakers to this unit (it has no line output to connect to powered monitors).
Ok nice, thanks for the explanation. After watching some reviews I'm more inclined to buy the EX5, do you think it would be enough to power all those headphones I mention? I also agree with you about the iLouds. Probably the best size to set up on my desk. Gonna leave the mx5 + Micca rb42 for a living room setup in the future.
 

AnalogSteph

Major Contributor
Joined
Nov 6, 2018
Messages
2,536
Likes
2,416
Location
.de
Instead of a DAC, I would also consider a little audio interface run into a headphone amp (L30 II, Magni Heresy etc.). That sort of setup would also provide balanced output for active monitors to your liking, plus at least one input for a Proper Microphone™ (including, possibly, the measurement variety). Running the headphone output into an external amp tends to be enough to salvage even some decidedly naff ones (Focusrite gen3 comes to mind). There is tons of choice between $99 and $200.

Your desk looks quite big enough to accommodate some 5" class monitors (RP5G4, MR524 etc., don't forget desk stands or at least the ubiquitous pads). Good 3"/3.5" class speakers will run you at least as much while being more compromised at the same time.
 
OP
C

crush

Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2022
Messages
15
Likes
2
Instead of a DAC, I would also consider a little audio interface run into a headphone amp (L30 II, Magni Heresy etc.). That sort of setup would also provide balanced output for active monitors to your liking, plus at least one input for a Proper Microphone™ (including, possibly, the measurement variety). Running the headphone output into an external amp tends to be enough to salvage even some decidedly naff ones (Focusrite gen3 comes to mind). There is tons of choice between $99 and $200.

Your desk looks quite big enough to accommodate some 5" class monitors (RP5G4, MR524 etc., don't forget desk stands or at least the ubiquitous pads). Good 3"/3.5" class speakers will run you at least as much while being more compromised at the same time.
I don't know if I have the space to have those monitors at face level. Give me a nice setup of DAC, amp and speakers in that 600 range and I'll check it out
 

Berwhale

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
2,971
Likes
3,621
Location
UK
Ok nice, thanks for the explanation. After watching some reviews I'm more inclined to buy the EX5, do you think it would be enough to power all those headphones I mention? I also agree with you about the iLouds. Probably the best size to set up on my desk. Gonna leave the mx5 + Micca rb42 for a living room setup in the future.

It will certainly be fine for the HD600 and Sundara, i'm not overly familiar with the other models you list. I'd also add that once you start EQing to preference, you might find that your desire to acquire the whole list diminishes. Personally, I settled on one open back (HD660s) and one closed back (K371) for most of my listening.

If you do find you need more power for some difficult to drive headphones, you could always add a separate, more powerful, HP amp to the RCA outputs on the EX5 (the pre-amp is switchable to drive the RCA, XLR or both). Alternatively, save up a little more for the DX5 which has a more powerful amp than the EX5.
 
OP
C

crush

Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2022
Messages
15
Likes
2
It will certainly be fine for the HD600 and Sundara, i'm not overly familiar with the other models you list. I'd also add that once you start EQing to preference, you might find that your desire to acquire the whole list diminishes. Personally, I settled on one open back (HD660s) and one closed back (K371) for most of my listening.

If you do find you need more power for some difficult to drive headphones, you could always add a separate, more powerful, HP amp to the RCA outputs on the EX5 (the pre-amp is switchable to drive the RCA, XLR or both). Alternatively, save up a little more for the DX5 which has a more powerful amp than the EX5.
From the list, I think the only ones that are hard to drive are the Argons, but since that's a 500dollar headphone that only sells in America, I won't be getting them in the near future haha, unless I get a used one for a nice price. As you said, in that case, I can always use the ex5 as a pre-amp and get a powerful amp to power it.
 
OP
C

crush

Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2022
Messages
15
Likes
2
It will certainly be fine for the HD600 and Sundara, i'm not overly familiar with the other models you list. I'd also add that once you start EQing to preference, you might find that your desire to acquire the whole list diminishes. Personally, I settled on one open back (HD660s) and one closed back (K371) for most of my listening.

If you do find you need more power for some difficult to drive headphones, you could always add a separate, more powerful, HP amp to the RCA outputs on the EX5 (the pre-amp is switchable to drive the RCA, XLR or both). Alternatively, save up a little more for the DX5 which has a more powerful amp than the EX5.
It's possible that I could get the L50/E50 for about 400, what do you think versus EX5? I lose the Bluetooth, but I could always add a Bluetooth receiver if I really need it, and the iLouds have Bluetooth covered, won't sound the same but still pretty great I think.
 
Top Bottom