Apr 27, 2018137 views

Is it worth splashing the cash for better amp/dac if....?

Hey all,
I have a modi 2/magni 3 combo with my HD 660s and i have always wondered if it was worth spending more money on something similiar to the Jotunheim? Since i can easily drive the HD 660s with my combo, would i notice anything significant with a more expensive setup?
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Okay. So here's my take on it, as a 660s owner myself and who has that same rig as one of my set-ups; Try something DIFFERENT. Something that is a different style amplifier. What you have there is a very competent rig, but it's pretty much solid state through and through. I like Schiit. If you want to stay Schiit, but switch up the base sound sig, you could try one of the hybrid tube amps like the Lyr. Or you could try a true tubie like the Woo Audio offerings- I have these cans on the various Woos from the trusty and well-loved WA6 to the WA2 to the WA7 Fireflies. They all sound very nice with the 660s, and because you run a different tube set with each amp,(as well as build and specs), you get a different sound on each one. I can honestly tell you that, if you don't over-gain the 660, each amp in the range offers a nice justification. I'm not saying buy 3 or 4 different tubies off the bat, I am saying that any one of these is a choice of merit. Or maybe try a nice solid state amp from a different builder, like JDS Labs or Grace or that Cavali hybrid is sure sweet....
I am so NOT helping, eh? I guess where I am going with my,(somewhat sleep deprived), blather is to say that, if it's me, doing it over again with these cans, I would say YES to trying a different gear, and one that shifts the SS in a different, yet pleasing direction. There is so much out there that you can do!
I think, for a nice starter into Tube amping, the WA6 is a good way to go, literally thousands of tube combos to be tried in search of the sweet spot for you. Or a different tube set to roll for each kind of sound genre that you listen to. If you want to try different for Solid State, JDS Labs The Element as a very nicely priced elegant and wonderful sounding DAC/amp in one object of art. It's probably my personal favourite desktop solid state amp right now.
Good luck on your search!
There Would be a slight benefit if you use the XLR balanced cables/output.
@ElectronicVices did you settle on the original Lyr? Lyr 3 looks interesting.
warmegg
Yeah I bought the original Lyr a few years back, did some tube rolling and settled on a pair of 1969 Phillips MiniWatt SQ E88C/6922. It's not something I can use with my more sensitive gear as that version lacks a selectable gain. Lyr3 appears to be a complete redesign so I'm not sure my experience would translate well to the new model, it appears to be a hybrid Jotunheim now. I actually just ordered a Cayin IHA-6 that has yet to arrive.
I'm not familiar with the HD660's but I've noticed quite a bit of improvement with the HD650 over the years. A quick rundown of the chains I've used: 1) Denon Receiver HP Out 2) Added Fiio E9 3) Added Emotiva XDA-1 DAC 4) Swapped E9 for Schiit Lyr 5) Added Gustard H10 6) Swapped XDA-1 for UD-501
Each step was an improvement but I don't think any one of them was night/day difference. The biggest jumps were adding an amp and separate DAC, the upgrades to each of those categories were marginal improvements but worth it to ME. And that is the toughest part of this hobby, everyone's ears are different and you must decide for yourself on two things:
1) Can I personally tell a difference? 2)Is that difference worth the cost of entry?
If you don't have access to be able to listen locally like @beyonddc mentioned, find a source with a good return policy.
Since you already have a DAC/AMP combo, I wouldn't just buy a new set just to test it and ending up returning (if that even possible) if you don't like it.
Perhaps bring your headphones to a local music store and try out different AMPs and see if you can tell a different.
Another idea might be join a local meetup if there is one available and bring your headphones for a test drive. https://www.head-fi.org/forums/local-regional-head-fi-meets-parties-get-togethers.24/