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Topping e50/l50 stack vs d90/a90 for any headphone

nonnyno

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Hi,

My SMSL M500 Mk 1 has just been totaled by a lightning storm - seems like a good time for an upgrade. I've decided to try for an end game setup.

I have been considering the following 3 options:
  • e50/L50 stack
  • d90/a90 stack
  • Topping DX5

Headphones I'm considering are:
  • DCA Aeon Noire
  • DCA Stealth
  • Focal Stellia
  • Susvaras

Would either of the stacks or the DX5 do the job of driving these headphones well? Would I be able to hear any differences at all between them?
This kit will be doing time plugged into a PC and it wont be expected to drive speakers or anything else.
 

Veri

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If the Susvaras are on your list you'd better get a dumb-powerful amplifier especially if you want to use a EQ profile with neg. gain.

Maybe also consider Sabaj A20d/A20h stack, strong amp and the A20d churns out 5+ Vrms so the combination is absurdly powerful. With the L/M/H gain options you can power anything. Then you can spend more on headphone(s) rather than dac/amp...
 
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nonnyno

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Wow - thank you. Thats a quality combo I hadn't considered (there are so many they're just fading into an endless blur of superlative measurements) and could save quite a bit of cash. I like the form factor. I wish they hadn't put the chrome trim on the edge of the volume knob and I hate the font they use for their branding (a bit of tape can deal with that though).
 

NiagaraPete

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I’d add two more options.
Topping D30Pro/A30Pro ((very powerful headphone amp)

Topping EXE
 

Veri

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nonnyno

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looks quite nice. Mebbe I should wait to see what a review says. Another month or twe of cash in the bank. I'll listen to my current headphones through the PC dac in the meantime and cry every day at the death of my smsl which improved things massively.
 

NiagaraPete

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Also a very good and elegant stack but would it suffice for susvara?
Buy from Amazon and test. I’m not sure for the price difference of the D90/A90 there would be a difference.
 
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nonnyno

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Buy from Amazon and test. I’m not sure for the price difference of the D90/A90 there would be a difference.
Actually testing DACS and AMPs in the UK from Amazon is less of a problem than testing headphones. The DCA's and things like the Susvaras are only available from hifi specialists which are miles away from me. The Focal Stellias I could try from Amazon but the pricing is currently off the charts silly (especially since right now the price for the Stellias at the specialist shops is less than half - a week ago they were the same price).

Returns from most retailers on headphones are difficult in the UK. I'm more inclined to go with the DCA's or the Stellias than the Susvaras simply because whilst I want an end game headphone I really struggle to believe that spending an extra £2K will get me anything audibly better especially given eq.
 

Veri

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-note that almost no one buys Susvara at retail price, if you mail all retailers for possible discount and play them against each other the price is much reduced
-if you just need to power the DCA headphones the A30/D30 stack is probably highest value :)
-on the other hand the mentioned Sabaj stack is most future proof, I don't even need higher than low gain. it can power anything
 
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nonnyno

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The A30/D30 stack also looks good. The price difference between these two is very small. Wish I could find reviews of the A20h.

I prob should try to audition the headphones first (or at least make a decision on what budget) because ultimately that will determine the preferred choice of amp. At 54 am I actually capable of hearing the superiority of say a Stealth/Susvara over an Aeon Noire or a Stellia once eq'd? If not then theres not much point spending the extra money. An online test showed I could still (on a good day with a following wind) hear up to 16.7kHz. I've never tortured my ears. I fear that I may just be looking to spend that much because I have this feeling that I will regret not doing so even though I know its daft.
 

NiagaraPete

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The only think for me is the Sabaj A20h headphone jacks are on the back. Otherwise it looks great.
 

NiagaraPete

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The only think for me is the Sabaj A20h headphone jacks are on the back. Otherwise it looks great.
Another deal breaker for me is the lack of pass through and a ground flip.
 

reasons

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If the Susvaras are on your list you'd better get a dumb-powerful amplifier especially if you want to use a EQ profile with neg. gain.

Maybe also consider Sabaj A20d/A20h stack, strong amp and the A20d churns out 5+ Vrms so the combination is absurdly powerful. With the L/M/H gain options you can power anything. Then you can spend more on headphone(s) rather than dac/amp...
I have never heard of the Sabaj, am I missing something as they don’t seem very powerful compared to everything else discussed on this forum. Can you discuss more?
 

Veri

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Another deal breaker for me is the lack of pass through and a ground flip.
Something in favor of the Sabaj is perfectly balanced resistor volume control! But yes if you need extra functionality besides head-amp better look at the Toppings.

I have never heard of the Sabaj, am I missing something as they don’t seem very powerful compared to everything else discussed on this forum. Can you discuss more?
Only the small brother was measured here so I can only go by my own findings of owning one. Would be nice if Amirm or WolfX could measure one at some point though :)
 

NiagaraPete

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Can you elaborate on this?
Yes. One of the features that I needed was a pass through. So to explain. Balanced cable from DAC to headphone amp > Balanced from headphone amp to speakers. With the A30Pro/D30Pro you also have unbalanced or both. So lot's of functionality.
 

reasons

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Something in favor of the Sabaj is perfectly balanced resistor volume control! But yes if you need extra functionality besides head-amp better look at the Toppings.


Only the small brother was measured here so I can only go by my own findings of owning one. Would be nice if Amirm or WolfX could measure one at some point though :)
Just looking at the raw data form the manufacturer, the amp does not seem that powerful in comparison to other amps being discussed. I am intrigue though if it can truly power a susvara with overhead, also, love the rear ports
 
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nonnyno

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Well folks. Lots of food for thought. Thank you very much for your input.
 
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