Jul 6, 2017

Correct DAC setup for my Sennheiser 65XXX dual turbo prop headphones?

OK, so I am really old and buy waaaaaaaay too much stuff here on MD. So I joined the drop for the Sennheiser 65XXX turbo prop headphones recently because everyone said it was such a great deal and hey, I've been looking at Bose for years at $300+ and these seemed to review better. So now I find out in order to have them work to their full potential on my iPhone and Macbook Pro that I have to buy some kind of a DAC Amp or whatever. And come to find that MD has like 7,000 of them for sale. I want to scream! Where do I start? What do I buy? Do I need a different one for each application? Price is a concern but will pay for quality/longevity. Heeeeeeellllllllllllpppppppp! Oh, and thanks in advance!
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HD650/6xx is a fun one to get some equipment experience on. It will sound great driven by a crap amp like those in your Apples, but will sound even better with real amps, all the way up to the multiple thousand dollar range. It will be just as much at home driven by a $2k amp as by a $200 amp. The standard OEM amps in computers or phones are really too weak to do a good job on these headphones. the Objective 2 amp is good, but was still too weak for these cans IMO. I was running an custom amp that I built for power hogs for a while and it made me happy, then I built this guy (http://www.pmillett.com/butte.htm) on a whim after having found the Innerfidelity review on it and knowing Pete Millett's reputation in amplifier design (suffice it to say, he does a better job than I do). It's a simple, but powerful amp, costs about the same to build as O2 (would be much cheaper without the enclosure purchased from Pete's ebay store), and it puts a smile on my face every time I listen to it with my HD6xx. If you have the resources to go to its range, the Airist Audio Heron 5 outclasses even the Butte.

Your amp will only be as good as the source going into it. A better DAC than the on-board ones in your Apples will pay dividends as well, or better yet, a decent phono. I would start with a good clean DAC since it appears from your post that you're stuck in digital land. I don't go overboard on these. $100-$200 range is sufficient to get a nice transparent DAC with a genuine high Z line level output. I'd take a look at the SMSL Sanskrit DACs were I in the market. I hear good things about them.

For an all-in-one, I hear good things about the Schiit Jotunheim with the DAC addition as well.

With those headphones you really are ready to make audio gear your playground (which sucks because it can be an expensive hobby; even if you're building your own...)
Here are a few suggestions of good reasonably priced products

Desktop :

-Odac and O2
The Odac and O2 combo can come in an all-in-one Odac+O2 device, but you can also get them seperatly which might be a better solution because it gives you more flexibility as far as changing the DAC or the AMP in the future. Also when separate the O2 amp could be used as a 'portable amp' because it accomodates rechargable batteries.

-Shiit stack (Magni + Modi)
This is probably the best buy as far as a desktop amp+dac goes but this setup will not be portable as the Magni (the amp) uses an external power supply.

-Aune X1S
This is also a top quality all-in-one (DAC+AMP) solution but it does have an external power supply, so desktop only and being all-in-one it isn't as flexible as far as potential future upgrades go.

Portable:

-DragonFly Red
This might just be the best bang for your buck you can get as it delivers excellent quality and is about as portable as you can get, but it does have a few flaws: 1 - no internal battery so if used with your phone it will drain the phone. 2- Not flexible, USB in to Jack out, that's it , no rca spdif or anything else so apart from driving your headphones ,you could use it as a preamp I suppose but thats it. 3- Doesn't work with all android devices, on some devices the internal amp isn't recognised properly and you can't get a loud enough volume without installing (and paying for) a third party app and even then it can be fiddly, so if that's your plan I would check if your device is gonna be a problem (if you have an iPhone you're good to go).

- Oppo Ha-2
This is the more expensive and bulkier solution as but whereas I can't tell you if it sounds any better than the DragonFly Red, it has many more options including a gain control, an efficient bass boost (which you might quite like with the HD6XX seing as they tend to be a bit shy in that region), an internal battery that not only allows you to not drain your phone when used on the go, but it can actually be used to charge your phone if need be...

Basically my advice is if your HD6XX are going to stay at your desk and pretty much never moove then go for the Shiit stack, but if you plan on travelling with them (BTW they are open-back so a terrible choice for public transportation or commuting of any kind) go for the Oppo if you have the money, or the DragonFly Red if your on a tighter budget.

One last thing to note is that anything less good than these products (Like the Fiio E10K or the DragonFly Black) won't be able to drive the headphones properly and would be in my opinion a waste of money, you're better off to just make do with watever you have while saving up to get something that will truly do the HD6XX justice
There is no single perfect solution in audio. There will always be options. You first need to know what you want and what you need for the job. Before buying anything else just go to head-fi website and read some forum threads about beginners in HIFI. After that you can check the thread for HD6XX or HD650 where people share their opinions with their pairings like DACs, amps etc. An iPhone or iPad can still power HD6XX if you are listening to loud tracks. Still not the best way to power the Sennheisers' but you can listen to them if there is no amp available around you while you are learning about headphones and audio.
Turkay
Thanks Turnkey!
Why don't you wait and receive the product and then listen to know how it sounds first. Apple products typically have clean outputs anyway. After listening, get an O2 if you dont feel you are not getting enough volume out of them.
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Yup
The Objective O2 (without DAC) from JDS is all you need with Apple products if you want to save $, as the DACs and output of Apple products are objectively (no pun intended) of very fine quality enough (iPhone, iPad, Macbook Pro). The O2 will simply take over the amp function with higher output capability (volume).

https://www.jdslabs.com/mobile/products/35/objective2-headphone-amplifier/
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