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New Headphone + AMP/DAC Setup


My JVC HARX-900 finally died and it now looks like a good opportunity to upgrade my PC audio setup. I am thinking of going with a pair of headphones along with an amp/DAC setup. I would like to have to have a headphone amp that has a pre-amp output for my crappy Logitech speakers.

Here are a few things I am set on/open to:

  1. I would like to go with open back headphones.
  2. I would like to try an amp with valves. (if i don’t like it, I’ll sell it)
  3. I’m open to building a kit. Maybe I could find a way to incorporate nixie tubes for fun.
  4. Phono input would be cool but not necessary.
  5. $400 budget. I’m fine with going for a DAC later.

Here is what I found so far:

  1. Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO 250 ohm (Is there a reason go go with the premium?)

  2. Schiit Vali amp.

  3. Schiit Modi DAC. (I’ll get this later. I can tolerate Supreme FX for a bit.)

Any input?




What is your preferred sound signature? Do you want more treble, bass, or mid range? More soundstage? What kinds of music do you listen to?

Secondly, are you sure you want a preamp? That would mean that the dac or amp would have volume control over your logitech speakers. The reason I ask, is because my next suggestion for an amp has a lineout, not a pre-out/pre-amp.
With a lineout, the speakers themselves would have the volume control.

Lastly, I recommend the JDS Labs EL amp, although you will need to feed it signal through RCA inputs. It’s a fantastic headphone amp. Also, I recommend the Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilees (massdrop exclusive, if you can get them right away, do it)
My other suggestion would be a semi open headphone like the Fostex T50RP Mark III’s.

Those are just what I recommend, but that is subject to change depending on how you answer the previous questions, lol.

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What kind of outputs does your PC have? (Coax, optical, usb, etc)

The Fostex HP-A3 is nice, the LakePeople DAC C410 is also nice.

Have not heared in person, but the Beyerdynamic A 20 is a fairly cabable headphone amp.



I listen to a lot of Bucket Head and Stevie Ray Vaughan. I like the idea of having a bigger sound stage that is balanced.

I also plan on using this for gaming (DCS world with the Track clip pro). Might be hard to get both in one headset.

The lineout would make more sense. I may eventually go the route of bookshelf speakers.



Opitcal, USB and Coax.



AKG K712 Pro

Shop around for prices - in Aus these retail for $850, but I got mine out of Hong Kong, shipped for $340

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$339 here in the states before taxes and shipping. There are used options tho for about $250 before taxes and shipping.



Can’t give you any informed opinions on AMPs / DACs, but I have really come to like the AKG K7xx’s:

Between $150 - $200. Large sound stage, and is a treat for me because I’m a fan of vocals being the focus of the audio, even during metal music, which it handles nicely too.

This is a Massdrop, and so they cut the price down with the build quality a bit. The cans themselves are built pretty well, but the top straps I would not trust with a solid drop.



Okay, all is possible then :wink:

I would suggest the “Focusrite 2i4 2nd Gen”. Output wise, it should cover all directions you may move in.

Alternatively your idea of the Schiit Stack is good.

When you want to shoot for the stars, Marantz HD-Amp 1.

Have them, they certainly have a wide sound stage. However amazing they are, they are still AKGs, meaning they can´t really play dirty.



Are you knocking the AKG’s??? REEEEEEE!!!

LOL yeah AKG do have a very specific voicing. I listen to almost all genre’s with mine and I love them, but it is a personal choice thing.
The AKG 7XX are also great and arguably better value for the money.

I think if you are prepared to spend ‘mid range’ money you will be happy with any brand. Maybe look at each brands sound profile, then decide if you want something really neutral, bass friendly, or whatever.



I like the AKG 7XX but it looks like the track clip won’t fit for them.




I found out that i live 5 miles from Schiit Audio. I think I know what I’m going with on that end.

The modded Fostex looks good as well but I may end up going with Beyerdynamics. It’s too bad they don’t have a detachable cable.

EDIT: I found these:



I am now $450 poorer. Thanks everyone.

I ended up going for the Sennheiser HD 6xx with a Fostex HP-A3 DAC/Amp.




I think you made good decisions. The HD6XX I’d take over the DT990s any day of the week (I own both), and that Fostex unit is a nice little amp/DAC combo.

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I was going to recommend a set of Audiotechnica open air cans that I used and loved, but you can’t go wrong with Senneheisers (unless you get earbuds).

Nice haul.

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Have you received it?
Are you enjoying your combo :grin:?
I hope so!

I know it’s a bit late, but I would recomend the Akg K712 plus a Fiio E10K as dac and a Little dot MK1+ as tube amp, this could be a nice investment as a first tube purchase.

If someday you want to invest on a pretty good tube amp for your HD6XX, you should consider the Little Dot MkIII, this amp has also pre-amp for studio monitors and combines nice with Sennheisers HD6-- :blush: .



I have it and it is a nice combo. Having a dedicated Phones/RCA button is more useful than I anticipated. The amp is plenty loud (I was worried since it is USB powered). The tube amp is an option i am considering at some point although I might use it as an excuse to build a kit. Any excuse to play with high voltage and vacuum tubes.



Definitely look into the Bottlehead Crack since you have the HD 6XX. I tried it at a meet recently and the pairing deserves the praise it gets.



Does the knob control the volume of the RCA output as well?



This amp has a pre-out with the volume knob controlling the RCA out.