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Nov 19, 2017
Looking for a DAC/AMP (separate or combo, I'll take either) for power my M50x's, HD 6XX's, and some other hi-fi headphones I get in the future. My budget is between $200 - $400 to give an idea.
Thank you all for the suggestions, I have decided on the Schiit Valhalla 2 after much consideration.
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ifi Micro iDSD for portable use
Fostex HPA4BL - it's $479 on Amazon but has balanced output and is awesome. If this is too far out of your range, then the Audio-GD R2R11
I own Objective 2 and IFI Micro IDSD Black Label.
I can recommend ifi - great for desktop and portable use very good quality with nice 3D and Bass boost.
I've chose this one since it was all in one : potable, desktop and preamp out, capable of driving ANY headphone on the World - very good sound quality! BL is 550$ (amazon) right now - I was able to buy one for 445$ :) (lucky:) ). I think it's worth those few $ more because of the flexibility and quality you receive.
Using it with mine 6XX and K7XX and I love it.
In comparison with O2 - i would go with ifi any time - of course subjective point of view.
For a desktop rig, throw in an Ifi Nano iUSB3.0 with a decent, budget but proven amp like JDS Labs Objective O2. For a pairing dac, I would recommend either the Odac revB, the OL dac, both of which are from JDS as well, or the Sdac from Massdrop & Grace design. This set up would filter out all the noise, interference and distortion which would otherwise be truthfully - or brutally - revealed by a well measuring dac/amp combo like the ones above. It resolves the thin, lifeless sounding issues many O2/Odac users have noticed in their setups. I've tested my Ifi iUSB 3.0 nano + Odac revB (haven't got the OL dac then) + O2 amp rig against the Ifi micro iDSD Black Label, and preferred the former by far ^^
If you want portability I'd recommend taking a look at the RHA Dacamp L1, it costs $ 299,95 and has lots of crazy features for a PORTABLE DAC & AMP Combo and it's able to rival desktop ones.
so many options
JDS Labs Element (not portable) - I own
JDS labs ODAC / AMP COMBO (not portable)
OPPO - HA2 (portable) - I own
IFI - iMicro IDSD (portable) - I own
Schiit Modi/ Magni - I own
Schiit Asgard 2 + Modi 2
Audio-GD R2R-11 - I own
I own many other DAC/ AMPS but they are above the 400$ mark.
I would not touch the LYR 2 with a Schtick - I had horrible experience with the LYR 2 (running tubes) , and ended up selling mine.
But if you want portability and POWER, get the IFI i Micro IDSD ( can be usually found on sale for 380$, its an amazing AMP/DAC)
for strictly desktop use I would consider AUDIO-GD R2R, or the ELEMENT - both are top class in your price range.
also keep "expandibility" in mind - lets say if you want to add active monitors down the road, you want to make sure to get an AMP/DAC with line/variable out (very important)
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sorry sir I unfortunately cant comment on Valhalla 2, I don't own it. I was able to find this Valhalla 2 review. The reviewer says that the unit sounds Lean and Bright, so it might not be good fit for many headphones _ I had the same issue with LYR 2. My DT 990, HE-560, HD 650 sounded awful with LYR 2 (using telefuken tubes), but my philips X2 sounded good with LYR 2.
I second the ifi Micro iDSD for portable use - I own it and love it
I also second the Audio-GD R2R for desktop use I don't own it but have heard it and it is really good
On the low end of your budget lies the Mayflower O2 amp & ODAC rev. B combo at $230 to $250 .
Currently it looks as if Mayflower will give you $25 off for the Holidays. One shouldn't hear too much difference between DACs. I own an O2 amp. It sounds great. I think this option should be mentioned.
Let me add JDS Labs sells an O2 & ODAC combo for about $280 .
Do you want to go tube, or Solid State?
SS; go with JDS Labs The Element.
It's gorgeous, it's a DAC/Amp, and it sounds fab.
It powers everything I have nicely.
Schiit Lyr 2 LISST version is a hybrid, a hair over 400 at $529 Allows you to switch back and forth between SS and tubie power amp.
You'll need a DAC, but an inexpensive companion DAC,( like the Modi2) will do that just fine.
Sometimes you can get Woo for decent prices on the 'Bay.
Some folks like the Little Dots, but I have found them less than reliable.
So... I'd go with the Schiit Lyr 2, best of both worlds and
will support many years
of headphone up-purchasing.
The Element is a super sweet combo, and entirely no-mistake choice.
iFi micro iDSD Black Label
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