Which external headphone amp/DAC to get?

Discussion in 'Soundcards, Speakers HiFI & File formats' started by eclap, Feb 16, 2014.

  1. eclap

    eclap Banned

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    Hey guys, I'm thinking about taking my road towards the holy grail of sound fidelity a step further (hate you head-fi!!!). I'm looking into trying an external solution.

    Shoot.

    Aune T1 is already being closely researched. So is Audio-GD NFB-11.32 and 15.32. You guys tell me why yours is the preferred option (yasa, darkest, GenClaymore). It's going to be tough to decide but I'm looking into maybe trying out DT880 Premium 600 Ohm, and kinda curious about the HD 650 too.

    Anyone else feel free to chip in with your preferred setup. I'm a sucker for valves though, just to warn you! :/

    OK, here's my short review of the Aune T1.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2014
  2. PhazeDelta1

    PhazeDelta1 Ancient Guru

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    I'll probably get crucified for saying this but with the money your going to spend on an external unit(s), you could get either the Asus Xonar Essence STX or the Xonar Phoebus and still have some money left over. I have no idea how the Essence STX works, but the amp on my Phoebus has no problems driving my 600 ohm DT 880 headphones.
     
  3. eclap

    eclap Banned

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    hmm, Xonar Phoebus = £150, Aune T1 = £130. Pretty even, price wise. I've ordered Aune T1 but can still cancel the order. Either way, from what I'm reading, you can't go wrong with either.

    I've never used an external DAC though, so it's something I wouldn't mind messing about with. Cheers for the input mate.
     
  4. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa Master Guru

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  5. PhazeDelta1

    PhazeDelta1 Ancient Guru

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    Damn. That looks nice. But that price tag doesn't :D
     
  6. GenClaymore

    GenClaymore Ancient Guru

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    I been using my DT880 premium 600's with my NFB15.32 and it been working great, I did get the TCXO upgrade for my unit as I originally didn't get it when i ordered. The best thing is you can still use your Z with the NFB15.32 by using optical out of the Z into the unit if you want the gaming functions from the card. While you can use USB input for every thing else. Which what I currently do with the DGX I have which i use when i gaming for It gaming dsp, and my USB input for every thing.

    Also if you just need a stronger amp, The Little Dot MK III is a good choice, i seen many people with DT880 premium 600's who say great things about the combo, I seen it go from 200-249 on ebay. So you can just use the Existing Z with the Little Dot MK III as it is a very strong tube hp amp thats enough for the DT880 premium 600's.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2014
  7. gridiron whirlw

    gridiron whirlw Ancient Guru

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    I would honestly settle in on what headphones that I want for sure.....then get the amp.

    If you decide on the HD650....then I would think seriously about a Bottlehead Crack amp.

    Darkest has the HD650 and Aune T1 and likes it....so you can't go wrong there.

    Also, sorry about your wallet, eclap :p
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2014
  8. GenClaymore

    GenClaymore Ancient Guru

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    The downside is Eclap would have to built the bottlehead crack amp, as it seems you can't get it together already, and I Doubt he wants to pay some one extra to do it for him.

    One thing eclap could do is order both headphones from amazon and keep the one he likes, Tho the DT880 premium 600's are very good headphones and works with all types of music and are very durable, i seen too many stories of HD600/650's headband cracking which scared me away from them my self.
     
  9. Darkest

    Darkest Ancient Guru

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    The issues with the headbands was resolved a good while back, any newer models purchased shouldn't have an issue. The Aune T1 is fantastic, especially if you want to play with tubes a little. I'd recommend buying a couple of extras if you decide to get that unit. Both the NFB15.32 and 11.32 are fantastic, and not really that much more money. It's a common misconception that a top tier sound card gets you more bang for your buck in regard to headphones imo.

    The Bottlehead Crack is well worth looking into if you want a better amp, but as others have mentioned you either need to build it yourself or get someone else to build it for you. Head-Fi might have a couple for sale that don't break the bank, worth checking out. If you don't mind using a soldering iron they're not difficult to put together either, more of a time investment.

    Check massdrop for anything you're interested in buying by the way, I've signed up and regularly get emails for audio products from them. They buy in bulk when enough people show interest in a specific item, and the end user generally makes a healthy saving due to it.

    As for headphones, check out the Philips Fidelio X1. They're compared to the likes of the DT880's and HD650's, one reviewer even stated that they're a healthy middle ground between the two. Very well priced in the UK at the moment also.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2014
  10. eclap

    eclap Banned

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    I ordered the Aune T1. Have a few spare valves in the shed too. I've spent £250 on audio in the last 10 days. Ouch. The X1 look really good too. Hmmm.
     

  11. Darkest

    Darkest Ancient Guru

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    Be sure to write up your impressions when you get it. Really tempted by those X1's myself tbh.
     
  12. eclap

    eclap Banned

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    will do. Kinda had to get something because the Z can't quite drive the 250 Ohm DT880, imo. I'll see when I get the T1. Think I'll leave the SB Z in there too, for now. But recently I've noticed that I'm not using any of their features (surround etc). I might just leave it in there for the sporadic speaker use.

    Also really tempted by the X1, I've been reading some reviews, they do sound awesome. Plus they really look gorgeous too!

    EDIT: btw, this is the one I got http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00A2QJMRY/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    The update version. Apart from a different valve in there compared to the original, is there any other differences?

    Edit 2: if you pull the trigger on those x1, I'll do it with you :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2014
  13. head

    head Member Guru

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    The SB Z can not power a DT880 250? I'm asking because I am planning to buy SB Z + DT880
     
  14. eclap

    eclap Banned

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    It does a good job, but I think there's something lacking. I will know for sure when my T1 arrives. It's my no means a bad combo, but imo it's lacking a bit of oomph.
     
  15. Darkest

    Darkest Ancient Guru

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    The only difference is the updated Valve, which does sound better than the stock in most scenarios. For the price difference it's worth paying the little extra for the better tube. I'd highly recommend grabbing a Genalex Gold Lion E88CC though, it's the tube I'm using with mine and it makes a healthy difference.

    There's a few tube impressions on the Head-Fi impressions thread, although if you've some sat around you'll have options to play with to start with.

    Don't tempt me on the X1's :p I've been holding off for awhile now.

    What's the ETA on the T1 btw?
     

  16. gridiron whirlw

    gridiron whirlw Ancient Guru

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    If you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself, I believe there are 2 or 3 guys at head-fi that are top notch builders.....maybe cost you another $100-$125 US dollars.

    I have actually been saving for an LCD 2.2 or one of the new HiFiman's that will soon be out...the 400i & 560i.....new design and supposedly very light weight.

    I have came close to spending my cash on the HD650 & BHC combo.......just because of the synergy that it "supposedly" has.....but if the synergy is as good as the RS1i & Mad Ear....then I could easily be on board with this idea. :)

    I am just curious about a dark headphone, but with great detail......for the price one can grab a nice used HD650 these days that combo is actually a heck of a deal.

    Darkest...are you thinking about the BHC ?

    I really would not worry about the headband breaking.....heck I hang my cans on a stand when not in use and take pretty good care of my stuff.....not to say it can't happen....but, I believe the original issue of the headband breaking has been resolved.

    Getting both sets of cans is a nice idea eclap, then send back whatever you decide.....then move on to the amp.

    eclap, the amp you ordered gets a lot of high praise and has rolling options. :)
    I believe you will like it a lot over the soundcard amp

    Oh yeah....I think elap & Darkest.....take the plunge......seems to be a great price!
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2014
  17. Nafta

    Nafta Master Guru

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  18. eclap

    eclap Banned

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    They do look good, but I already ordered the Aune T1
     
  19. Darkest

    Darkest Ancient Guru

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    How long until you get your hands on it mate? Still pondering those X1's. I really, really want to try a pair, but at the same time I don't want to put down £180 on something I might not keep.

    Gridiron Whirlw, after all I've read about it the BHC is a definite tbh. The X1's would be a great buy for you also, if you're wanting to get into a well priced headphone that offers something different to your usual Grado's. Especially from the descriptions given. We should all make a pact to buy the bloody thing and be done with it! Myself, you, and Eclap. LoL

    Either way I'd highly recommend doing one of two things, look into possible meets in the area or find a darker headphone that matches well with your current gear to try out. As you know, most of it has high resale so even if you don't like it, it shouldn't be much loss for the experience.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2014
  20. eclap

    eclap Banned

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    It only just shipped this morning so I expect it to be here Friday at earliest, more likely on Saturday.
     

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