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Discussion Starter #1
Hi guys. I'm looking for recommendations for the best desktop DAC + Amp to use for headphones. I just bought a pair of Sendy Aivas that I'm looking to pmsend more power to. I've watched reviews on the $500 Monolith 124459 THX AAA as well as the $600 Topping DX7 pro. I'm willing to spend some $$, but I really don't want to go with something that requires more than one box. I'd like Bluetooth, but more as a tie breaker than a requirement.

Are there other options besides the above-mentioned that you would recommend? Have you tried either of the above with similar headphones?

Thanks!!
 

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Unfortunately, there is no best, there is only best for you.


I've got RME ADI-2 DAC. Besides being one of the best DAC + headphone amp it has a lot of additional functionality built-in. For example, it has 5-band EQ which allowed me to compensate flaws of my new Senn HD6XX. It's not cheap, ~$1000-1200 depends where you get it from. But to me it was worth it.
Some info about it was posted here:
https://www.avsforum.com/forum/173-2-channel-audio/3000158-rme-adi-2dac-can-compete-w-big-boys.html
 

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Thanks Hoary. I'm new to this stuff so I really appreciate the advice. Do you find the RME to output enough power to drive your headphones at pretty high volumes? I'm returning a much lower price Topping A50 because I just could not get the volume I want - in fact it was barely a noticeable improvement over plugging my new Sendys directly into my iPhone 11. I really don't know what max output I should be looking for...
 

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HD6xx are pretty sensitive (~107dB?) so they are easy to drive even so nominal impedance is at 300 Ohm. ADI-2 DAC has more than enough power to drive them. I'm using low settings and typically at -30...-20 dB. Just tried to raise to -5 dB and it's way too loud for me.


With planars, check around, maybe ask on audiosciencereview (ASR) forum as it seems more people with ADI-2 DAC hanging around there. There is an RME guy visit that forum periodically.
 

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Thanks for the advice. As luck would have it I found a local guy who was selling an ADI-2DAC for $800. Picking it up this evening. Hopefully it's as good as the reviews say!
 

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check out mass drop for some options
 

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I am pretty happy with my Jolida FX + Liquid Crimson setup or were you looking for an all-in-one setup?
 

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I'm currently using an Essence HDACC DAC/AMP which was out of your range last time I checked.
Some of the SMSL offerings seem to be gaining quite a following for value for money.
They appear to be well built and come upon Drop (formally Massdrop) at good prices.

There are some well-respected brands - Best DAC/AMP for DT990 PRO (250 ohm Headphone) that come up on Drop too, it's a good place to keep an eye on.

As far as tonality goes, a lot depends on the source hardware and software. Computers tend to modify the bits depending on settings. If they didn't, you wouldn't be able to adjust the volume from the computer. That in itself is re-scaling (reducing) bit depth. Not at all sure if you can actually set a computer to produce a neutral bitstream. I did some PA testing playing WAV tone files (pure sin wave tones) in WMP and VLC. VCL produced strong harmonic undertones for source tones above 10 kHz. I have lost effective hearing above 10 kHz and could hear the harmonics from VLC clearly. I did not hear any harmonics from WMP. My conclusion is that VLC is definitely inferior to WMP in respect of tonal neutrality. I think the fact you are using a computer as a source outweighs tonality issues in DACs.

You may get cleaner audio just putting the media on a USB HDD plugged into your broadband modem. Then any WiFi device like a BD player etc could extract a bitstream from there to output to a DAC or it's own inbuilt DAC.

Audio specific products have a better chance IMO.
 
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