Originally Posted by Katsuargi
Hm. I'm running a xonar dx. Is that enough DAC for these mid range cans or do I need a separate dac?
Yes, and no. ;]
For amplification I like to go crazy. Class a discrete dc coupled non feedback current signal amplifiers, isolation from the pc, and ac line noise suppression.
I like Audio-GD products, you can find theyre cheaper units used for around $200. Audio-GD R2R11 / NFB11.
Use a USB to optical converter with a decent linear supply, put a usb hub chip in front of it.
And put the dac/amp on a Topaz ultra isolator line noise suppressor. Can get these used for under a $100 easy and sometimes find em real cheap for under $50. Nothing knocks line noise better.
One of my setups uses an Uptone USB Regen(used for $75) with a jameco linear supply($10). The linear supply plugs into a lt3042 regulator($20), and then a star quad cable to the regen. The regen goes into a Breeze DU-U8(used $70), a digital to digital converter with an xmos u8 board with upgraded tcxos and a linear power supply. Then an optical connection to an Audio-GD NFB-11 on a Topaz 91092-12. Really perfect clean detailed sound.
You'll see some cant tell the difference between the builtin headphone jack on a motherboard and a Benchmark dac/amp. Why? a non isolated usb connection, plugged right into the wall, with a switching supply. Doesnt matter how much feedback you cram into an opamp or what regulators are used, all that noise is still there. Digital signals benefit greatly from reduced noise, and usb benefits greatly from optimal signal integrity.
-The topaz knocks common/traverse mode ac line noise
-The usb regen provides optimal signal integrity, reducing phy noise generated by error correction.
-Avoid the leakage and poor output impedance of switching supplies entirely.
-The star quad dc cable reduces noise generated by the varied current draw of digital devices, which causes a noise generating voltage to develop across the inductance of the cable which passes through device regulators. Attenuated by using low inductance quadrapole/star quad cables.
-The isolation of optical breaks noise generating leakage loops which form between electrically connected devices.
-The upgraded tcxos have reduced phase noise.
-The Audio-GD products have discrete multi stage regulation as well.
Dont believe me? Then stick to the Xonar. Theres a trend currently with things that measure well like the thx aaa and octo, they measure well because of feedback loops, and feedback loops distort transients, something they dont measure... so theres little audible difference between the Xonar and these more expensive items.
A little careful planning and watching of used markets and you can build a really amazing sounding system. Id just caution against these flavor of the month reddit/headfi/ASR recommendations...
And hey if you really want to have fun, look into Out of Your Head. This program, with some manual equalization, a system similar to what I described above, planar magnetic headphones, and a bass shaker system will transform your stereo headphones into a 7.1 surround system, a pair of studio monitors, a pair of hifi loudspeakers in treated/untreated rooms, or large movie theaters.
Headphone soundstage is unmatched and surround virtualization fidelity rivaled only by the Smyth Realiser used to measure the rooms.