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Bengineer

Headphone DAC / Amp under $800

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Currently running a pair of MrSpeakers Aeon Closed off a JDS Labs Element DAC/Amp.

 

Wondering if there are any options in the sub $800 realm that are a good upgrade on the Element. I think its basically a beefed up O2 Dac/Amp.

 

Suggestions?

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Ifi iDSD Micro Black Label for both transportability and good DAC/Amp combo?

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Mm. I don't need transportability. So I wonder if its much of an upgrade on the Element.

 

$800 ish. Don't mind second hand too.

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If you don't mind 2 boxes, you have heaps of flexibility. Keep the Element and get a better dac, maybe DSD capable if that appeals to you, or maybe a ladder dac. Or you could use the Element's dac and get a headphone amp with balanced drive, and upgrade your cable.

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Separate units are fine. But I don't know if the JDS is a worthy amp or dac to do that.

 

Looking at the Audeze Deckard at the moment.

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Perhaps not, but if you keep it, you get to spend your whole budget to upgrade one component, and upgrade the other one later when you can afford another step :thumb:

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Yeah, kind of don't want to be upgrading after this. Atleast not for a long time!

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@Bengineer I actually forgot it can do that with the Element! You know, either use the DAC or amp section separately.  If you wanted to get a better DAC, you can try the Klein DAC made by @Gieseler Audio. As for amp...apparently the Jotunheim strikes above weight.

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Leads to the question, what would provide the best upgrade. DAC stage or AMP.

 

First though would be AMP

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The Aeons are pretty easy to drive though. I'm using the Gieseler Klein II and @Suopermanni's old Jotunheim to drive the Aeon Flow Open via a balanced cable. I think the upgrade from Modi 2 to Klein provided more than the amp upgrade from Magni 2 to Jotunheim balanced. I'm not familiar with the Element, though.

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This might be worth considering:

www.stereo.net.au/forums/topic/244866-lh-labs-geek-pulse-xfi-dac-and-headphone-amp/

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I have a Marantz HD-DAC1 that I am very happy with. I think someone had one advertised on the forums in your price range. Worth checking out. Nice review on this site:

 

http://www.theaudiobeat.com/equipment/marantz_hd_dac1.htm

 

I forgot to add I've also owned a JDS Element. I found it flat and lacking body compared to the sound of the Marantz - at the time driving AKG Q701s. I now also have a pair of Shure SRH1840 and Senn HD650 on hand that I think the Marantz drives well. 

Edited by Bikkitz

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12 hours ago, Bikkitz said:

I have a Marantz HD-DAC1 that I am very happy with. I think someone had one advertised on the forums in your price range. Worth checking out. Nice review on this site:

 

http://www.theaudiobeat.com/equipment/marantz_hd_dac1.htm

 

I forgot to add I've also owned a JDS Element. I found it flat and lacking body compared to the sound of the Marantz - at the time driving AKG Q701s. I now also have a pair of Shure SRH1840 and Senn HD650 on hand that I think the Marantz drives well. 

Yeah I saw that. I couldn't find the amp outputs online though. Any idea?

12 hours ago, LHH said:

I can highly recommend the RME Babyface Pro, if you can get a deal that brings it close to your budget. My thoughts here:

 

https://www.stereo.net.au/forums/topic/125913-rme-babyface-pro/

Interesting! Will look into it.

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5 hours ago, Bengineer said:

Yeah I saw that. I couldn't find the amp outputs online though. Any idea?

Interesting! Will look into it.

Not sure what you mean by amp outputs. It has 3 gain settings for headphones, low, medium, high. The product info sheet says it provides 800mW / 32 ohm. I can confirm it happily drives Sennheiser HD650 with headroom / volume to spare.

 

It also has fixed and variable RCA outputs. So it can be connected directly to an integrated or power amp. I primarily use it in my main system connected an integrated driving bookshelf speakers (Marantz PM KI pearl lite and Monitor Audio Silver Series speakers).

 

Prior I had an Oppo 105 and can say I prefer the sound of the HD-DAC1. Headphone amp is used for late night listening, so I don't bother my other half.

Edited by Bikkitz

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Yeah, meant to say power output. But you answered that.

 

Anyone's thoughts on the budget Schiit Multibit DAC?

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4 hours ago, Bengineer said:

Yeah, meant to say power output. But you answered that.

 

Anyone's thoughts on the budget Schiit Multibit DAC?

 

I don't have experience on the Mimby, but Schiit's Jotunheim recently got an update which included a multibit dac module that's essentially the mimby's chipset. Could be a fantastic pairing.

 

I just got my hands on an Audio-GD R2R-11 dac/amp combo. I got it mainly for that r2r dac feature to feed my tube amp and I must say, it definitely is a very musical, warm sounding yet revealing dac. You could check out Audio-GD's other R2R dac offerings or their delta sigma dac/amp combos on their website: http://www.audio-gd.com/Products-EN.htm . Most of them seem competitively priced. Can't say much beyond that as I haven't been able to try any others that were better than my model.

 

Only downside is that they have a very odd payment method and their English is......bad.

 

Cheers,

Edward

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Well, no closer to choosing :(

 

Maybe $300 DAC and $500 Amp?

 

Or $800 in a combo.

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