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Topping DX3 Pro+ vs Ifi Zen Dac V2

TosicBob

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Hello everyone!
I have a pair of Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro (250Ohm) and in search of a good Dac/amp or a Dac + Amp Combo with a maximum budget of around 200€.
From what I found the Topping DX3 Pro + and Ifi Zen Dac V2 are the best choices, but now which one should i choose, and why?
If you have other advices, feel free to tell, since I'm new to the HiFi World.
I would buy from amazon.it
Thanks in advance!
 

RickSanchez

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Topping DX3 Pro + and Ifi Zen Dac V2 are the best choices, but now which one should i choose, and why?
Those are options, but not the "best" ones. There are many excellent DACs, headphone amps, and DAC/amp combos on the market that are reasonably priced and would work for your DT 990 Pro's.

Hopefully you've spent some time on ASR already to get a feel for which DACs measure well and are transparent, along with what those measurements mean. Same for headphone amps. The difference with headphones is that you also have to pay attention to:
  • output power. Does the amp have enough juice to drive your particular headphones to loud enough listening levels without distorting?
  • output impedance.
    • if you're not familiar with it here's the 1/8 rule: NwAvGuy: Headphone & Amp Impedance
    • For your headphones (250Ω input impedance) the Topping DX3 Pro+ is fine even with its rather high 20Ω output impedance. But for someone like me using 35Ω headphones I'm not going to take the risk of having the amp potentially alter the FR curve.
I would start here to find either DACs or amps that measure really well but are ~$125 USD, as well as looking for DAC/amp combos for around $250 USD. Read those reviews to understand the measurements and any other feedback in the comments. After that:
  • Focus on the features, build quality, aesthetics, warranty, etc. that are important to you. What's "best" is not about finding the perfect match given that there are tons of DACs and amps that you can choose from that measure well and have enough power. It's about your preferences ... so long as the devices measure well enough.
  • For power: Solderdude recommends buying an amp (or a DAC/amp) with at least 100mW power into 300 Ohm. Keep in mind that for some amps this might only be in high gain if the amp has multiple gain options.
  • For output impedance: tons of options with 250Ω headphones like your DT 990 Pro's. But if you plan to get different headphones down the line you may want to look at amps that have <2Ω output impedance.

Edit: corrected mistake in the headphone out impedance number.
 
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RickSanchez

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TosicBob

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As an example, the Topping E30 + L30 stack might be of interest to you and within your budget. Both are excellent devices based on their respective measurements, and the L30 has enough power to drive your headphones.
Thanks for the detailed response.
I ended trying both the Ifi Zen Dac V2 and the DX3 Pro plus, but I just can't hear any difference, and don't know what to do.
Talking about the preamp section (for speakers) which one is better between the two?
 

RickSanchez

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Well, the point of my earlier post is that there isn't really a "better" option because it depends on what your requirements are. I also wouldn't limit yourself to just the Ifi Zen Dac V2 and the DX3 Pro+; there are a fair number of great DAC/amp combos.

But if you just want a quick answer then buy the DX3 Pro+.
 
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TosicBob

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Realistically speaking, i don’t think i would use the BT, since i use it on the Desk with my PC. Talking about the Preamp, i don’t know, for now i dont have any speakers, but maybe in future i’ll buy them, so to be prepared, it may have sense (?).
The Bass boost (IFI zen) button was interesting but you can have the same effect with EQ on topping right?
Right now i’m thinking if it isn’t worth returning the 990 Pros, to buy better headphones (200E) and a cheaper dac / amp, since the headphone should be more important, right?
You think it would have sense? In case what are my possibilities with a budget of 300-350 EURO Max?
 

RickSanchez

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The Bass boost (IFI zen) button was interesting
Those things are gimmicks and do not make a device worth buying.

I'm not exactly sure what you're asking after that, but if I'm reading you correctly I would say:
  1. Figure out what headphones you want to buy. This is the critical first step because you'll need to make sure whatever amp you buy has enough power to drive your headphones.
  2. Whatever budget you have left after that you can use for a DAC + amp stack, or a DAC/amp combo.
If you want to start researching DACs and amps or DAC/amp combos now it's pretty easy:
  1. Use this tool.
  2. For Type filter on: "DAC (Dedicated)", "DAC (Multifunction)", "Headphone Amp (Dedicated)", "Headphone Amp (Multifunction)"
  3. For Recommended filter on: "Yes"
  4. For Price (USD) set the max end of the range to $225 (or whatever) if searching for DAC/amp combos, and maybe half that if searching individually for DACs and headphone amps.
Again, the Topping E30 + L30 stack might be of interest to you and within your budget. Both are excellent devices based on their respective measurements, and the L30 has plenty of power to drive headphones. The L30 can also be used as a pre-amp to drive speakers.
 
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TosicBob

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Those things are gimmicks and do not make a device worth buying.

I'm not exactly sure what you're asking after that, but if I'm reading you correctly I would say:
  1. Figure out what headphones you want to buy. This is the critical first step because you'll need to make sure whatever amp you buy has enough power to drive your headphones.
  2. Whatever budget you have left after that you can use for a DAC + amp stack, or a DAC/amp combo.
If you want to start researching DACs and amps or DAC/amp combos now it's pretty easy:
  1. Use this tool.
  2. For Type filter on: "DAC (Dedicated)", "DAC (Multifunction)", "Headphone Amp (Dedicated)", "Headphone Amp (Multifunction)"
  3. For Recommended filter on: "Yes"
  4. For Price (USD) set the max end of the range to $225 (or whatever) if searching for DAC/amp combos, and maybe half that if searching individually for DACs and headphone amps.
Again, the Topping E30 + L30 stack might be of interest to you and within your budget. Both are excellent devices based on their respective measurements, and the L30 has plenty of power to drive headphones. The L30 can also be used as a pre-amp to drive speakers.
I'm asking which Headphones with 300 Euro could i buy? Even 350/400 euro if an amp isn't needed.
I would use them for gaming and listening to music, so it can be both open or closed back.
In this price range i only know the Sundaras by name, so if you could help me finding other headphones (i don't know if it would be better planar magnetic or normal dynamic) i would be thankful. (Something that's clearly better over DT 990 Pro 250Ohm possibly)
If an dac/amp is needed what could i pair those hypotetically? Is there any dac/amp for 100Euro?
Thanks in advance!
 

DarrylG

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Those are options, but not the "best" ones. There are many excellent DACs, headphone amps, and DAC/amp combos on the market that are reasonably priced and would work for your DT 990 Pro's.

Hopefully you've spent some time on ASR already to get a feel for which DACs measure well and are transparent, along with what those measurements mean. Same for headphone amps. The difference with headphones is that you also have to pay attention to:
  • output power. Does the amp have enough juice to drive your particular headphones to loud enough listening levels without distorting?
  • output impedance.
    • if you're not familiar with it here's the 1/8 rule: NwAvGuy: Headphone & Amp Impedance
    • For your headphones (250Ω input impedance) the Topping DX3 Pro+ is fine even with its rather high 20Ω output impedance. But for someone like me using 35Ω headphones I'm not going to take the risk of having the amp potentially alter the FR curve.
I would start here to find either DACs or amps that measure really well but are ~$125 USD, as well as looking for DAC/amp combos for around $250 USD. Read those reviews to understand the measurements and any other feedback in the comments. After that:
  • Focus on the features, build quality, aesthetics, warranty, etc. that are important to you. What's "best" is not about finding the perfect match given that there are tons of DACs and amps that you can choose from that measure well and have enough power. It's about your preferences ... so long as the devices measure well enough.
  • For power: Solderdude recommends buying an amp (or a DAC/amp) with at least 100mW power into 300 Ohm. Keep in mind that for some amps this might only be in high gain if the amp has multiple gain options.
  • For output impedance: tons of options with 250Ω headphones like your DT 990 Pro's. But if you plan to get different headphones down the line you may want to look at amps that have <2Ω output impedance.
You're citing the output impedance of the DX3 Pro Plus' DAC section. The output impedance of the amp section is advertised as <0.1ohm.
 

Bumer

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May I ask why you picked the 250ohm DT990 when there is 80ohm version? 80ohm version is meant for casual listeners and pretty much everyone. And 250ohm version is for professionals. The professionals already work with the gear that can drive high impedance headphones.

I would say your headphone was a bad selection given there is a low impedance option. If it was something like HD6XX and there is only one impedance option you get then it’s understandable.

I have the DT990 80ohm and both DX3 Pro+ and Zen DAC v1 (not v2). I prefer the Zen DAC just because it has a tiny bit more base (without baseboost) and a wider sound stage than DX3 Pro+. With baseboost, it adds some low end to the DT990s which helps in some genres. The DT990s are base shy and the baseboost only boosts it a tiny bit since these cans are stubborn in base reproduction. I also listen to HD6XX and turning on base would be like adding two more subwoofers.

I also think the little warm character of the Zen is because of the burr brown DACs in them. The ESS in DX3 is a little clinical imho. Both can drive 80ohm DT990 and HD6XX just fine. 250ohms should work as well if you just listen at human level but a bad choice to begin with.

I don’t have experience with Zen v2 though. I believe nothing has changed except for full MQA support.

Hope this helps. You will have to try both for yourself and see which one you like.
 
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TosicBob

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May I ask why you picked the 250ohm DT990 when there is 80ohm version? 80ohm version is meant for casual listeners and pretty much everyone. And 250ohm version is for professionals. The professionals already work with the gear that can drive high impedance headphones.

I would say your headphone was a bad selection given there is a low impedance option. If it was something like HD6XX and there is only one impedance option you get then it’s understandable.

I have the DT990 80ohm and both DX3 Pro+ and Zen DAC v1 (not v2). I prefer the Zen DAC just because it has a tiny bit more base (without baseboost) and a wider sound stage than DX3 Pro+. With baseboost, it adds some low end to the DT990s which helps in some genres. The DT990s are base shy and the baseboost only boosts it a tiny bit since these cans are stubborn in base reproduction. I also listen to HD6XX and turning on base would be like adding two more subwoofers.

I also think the little warm character of the Zen is because of the burr brown DACs in them. The ESS in DX3 is a little clinical imho. Both can drive 80ohm DT990 and HD6XX just fine. 250ohms should work as well if you just listen at human level but a bad choice to begin with.

I don’t have experience with Zen v2 though. I believe nothing has changed except for full MQA support.

Hope this helps. You will have to try both for yourself and see which one you like.
Well, i think there wasn't on amazon the 80ohm version, or it was way more expensive than the 250Ohm, but as i said i can still return the 990 Pros, in fact i tried now both the DX3 Pro+ and Zen Dac V2, and i think i liked more the zen dac v2 (Actually in A/B comparison i couldn't hear any difference, but the zen dac is cheapier and has the bass boost function, that i enjoyed, ngl).
So i would like to try other headphones too, even if I have to spend 400 euros (headphones + dac/amp if needed)
 

Bumer

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Well, i think there wasn't on amazon the 80ohm version, or it was way more expensive than the 250Ohm, but as i said i can still return the 990 Pros, in fact i tried now both the DX3 Pro+ and Zen Dac V2, and i think i liked more the zen dac v2 (Actually in A/B comparison i couldn't hear any difference, but the zen dac is cheapier and has the bass boost function, that i enjoyed, ngl).
So i would like to try other headphones too, even if I have to spend 400 euros (headphones + dac/amp if needed)
Understood, a lot of enthusiasts fall for low prices on high impedance headphones including me. I have done the same and returned when understood who the high impedance headphones are made for. Most don't know about the differences when they start out. Then they start investing more money on amps to drive them.

But all beyers cost the same when on sale. They don't reduce the prices of all their impedance ranges at once. If you keep looking they all cost the same when they are in sale. They just don't go on sale at the same time.
 
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