New AMP/DAC with matching

Discussion in 'Advice Threads' started by Conor Brennan, Jun 10, 2018.

  1. Conor Brennan

    Conor Brennan Rando

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    Hi all.

    I think this is specific enough to warrant it's own thread because I have quite a few questions in regards to hopefully upgrading my amp/dac setup. My fulla 2 worked, but I want something a bit nicer for the future. If its too general, please just delete it and PM me (if it doesn't get a notification, I haven't had anything deleted here yet).

    So to begin, my cans that I use range from 14 ohms (Mr. Speakers Aeon Flow Closed) to 50 ohms (Hifiman HE560). I know about the whole 1/8th rule in regards to amp pairing and matching, but since I don't exactly have enough expendable money to have a setup for both, I want to find something that will hopefully work well for both.

    Currently I'm hoping to spend under $500. I've been looking at the Massdrop CTH + SDAC since I've heard it's great. That being said, I should also probably consider the Schiit stack with the Modi Multibit, or maybe with the vali? I don't know exactly which way to swing on this.

    Would I be better off getting the normal CTH and then a separate DAC? I haven't heard quite as much about SDAC that is built into the CTH + SDAC, although I know it's supposed to be pretty dang good. Would I be better served by setting up with the CTH and a Modi? Then again, the Modi Multibit is a bit expensive. All that being said- I'm going into college soon and would like to have some semblance of portability to go along with all this, so if I choose to study in the library or elsewhere I don't need to hire a caddy to help me move all my shit. It seems to me that the Cavalli is the more "portable" option, whereas the schiit stack is much more locked down because of how much Schiit there is to move. Also, since I'm on a laptop, would I just go from the RCA - AUX into my headphone jack? Or would that cause some weird headphone distortion thing that I don't understand as a filthy plebian, or will that be fine?

    If there are any other things I should consider, feel free to mention them to me! Thanks a ton for the help!
     
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    MTCH + SDAC module is a killer package for $320. If you want something better and can stretch your budget, Lyr 3 + 4490 module for $600.

    Another possibility is separates, Vali 2 and Modi Multibit for $400 if you want to experience multibit sound. Separates give you more flexibility for playing with different stuff.

    Note that I've only recommended tube hybrids for the headphones that you've mentioned. I think tubes would be good with those headphones.
     
  3. Lenroot77

    Lenroot77 Friend

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    @Conor Brennan
    Sent you a Pm as I have several of the items you are curious about and I live just a bit to the north of you.
     
  4. Conor Brennan

    Conor Brennan Rando

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    I have the validation of the almighty Marvey, so it must be good.

    If I recall correctly from another post of yours, you said the Modi Multibit's strength lies in its staging and the relative "darkness" that it gives the sound, correct? If so, that might be slightly annoying to me with the tubey warmth in addition. I tend to like a relatively neutral sig with some slight coloration in either the bass or the treble (as an example, I love the HD600 but don't like the 650 with 99% of amps unless they give the treble a soft boost).

    That all being said-
    Do you think the cavelli SDAC combo is slightly less colored than a Modi Multibit/vali stack? I love the tubey sound on my 560s, as I have the LD1+, but it picks up EMI like crazy and has a high noise floor imo. I don't see why I would dislike it on the AFC's since they're just great all around and could probably use a slight smoothening in the treble (I like them best without the filters but some songs like Ringer by Ben Reimer can get a little hot for me even. I could also use it with my Grado's, loved them originally but once I got used to my planars they started to be a bit hot for me.

    to tl;dr all that, I'm looking for slight coloration and I want to know which is the better way to go from a subjective standpoint as the one that colors it less dark because I don't want to reduce the treble too much- but rather make it smoother.
     
  5. Conor Brennan

    Conor Brennan Rando

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    Oh, and to build on that novella I wrote up there, I could get a Lyr3 for 450 with all the tubes schiit sells it with.

    Can the same questions that I asked earlier still apply (about colorization) but also take this into consideration?


    Also, what's the 4990 module?


    Thanks again!



    Oh, and one more question because I'm goddamn clueless sometimes.



    I have a good price on the CTH without the SDAC, but if I continued to use it with would the schiit add background noise to it? Because I don't want it to let the amp down.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2018
  6. Conor Brennan

    Conor Brennan Rando

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    I hate to bother you because I'm sure you're a busy guy, but I think I'm probably going to try and go for separate amp/DAC setups.

    That being said, what are some good dacs under $200? I know you're doing that shootout but I'm just hoping to get some quick ideas of what dacs would be good options.
     
  7. Conor Brennan

    Conor Brennan Rando

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    Oh, and I would prefer that the DAC doesn't color the sound. I want the sound to be colored only by the tube amp and the headphones.
     
  8. a44100Hz

    a44100Hz Friend

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    To answer your earlier question... the Lyr 3 has the option of adding a DAC card inside it to make it a combo unit. The 4490 is the model number of the AKM (manufacturer brand) chip that Schiit uses for most of their delta-sigma DACs. You can also get multibit cards from Schiit; multibit is a different kind of technology than the delta-sigma chips which are ubiquitous in electronic devices.

    IMO the flagship products of the Schiit lineup are their multibit DAC cards. To me they sound more like live music, real instruments. I think the Lyr 3 has a multibit option but it’s more expensive. Personally if you want separate units I would get something like a Bifrost Multibit (aka Bifrost Multibit, $600 new) so you get the Gen 5 USB feature (so you don’t need the Eitr; Gen 5 is basically a built-in Eitr) and future upgrade potential (the Modi Multibit is not upgradable). Alternatively, a Modi Multibit + Eitr is $430. Or less if you get a b-stock Eitr. Which could be a good way to go if you think you may later get, say, a Gungnir Multibit.

    All DACs will “color” what your hear to some extent. Even if that’s just the way the soundstage is presented. If there was no difference then we’d all have $10 DAC chips.
     
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  9. magicwonder

    magicwonder Rando

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    In terms of audio quality (without looking at the difference in price) which one do you recommend?
     
  10. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    What headphones again? What headphone will get the most usage? It's all about synergy, headphones and amp (and source) must be thought of as one.

    Very easy to buy the BEST amp, the BEST headphone, and the BEST DAC, and end up with something kind of crappy or mediocre sounding. I have seen this many times at headphone meets. 80% of vendors at CanJam are really good at doing this: getting mediocre sound from GREAT individual pieces of gear.
     
  11. magicwonder

    magicwonder Rando

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    Senn HD600, Senn 598, Phillips Fidelio X2. With HD600 being my favorite.
    Thank you
     
  12. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I am thinking Valhalla 2, but might be too bright with the Valhalla's scratchier highs which is better offset by HD650. It depends upon your sensitivities and without more reference points from you, I cannot say for certain. Massdrop ZDT Jr. (with vintage GE tubes in the front) is a sure bet with HD600 - if you can find one.

    Lyr 3 is less layered, slightly less immediate than Valhalla 2 with the Senns; but Lyr 3's laid-back and smoother presentation will be a better match with the slightly forward or bright HD600 and Fidelio X2. The clarity of the Lyr 3 will take advantage of HD600's bass being somewhat cleaner than HD650. The slower transients of the Lyr 3 will be offset by HD600's greater speed. Also Lyr 3 is a much more flexible amp than ZDT Jr, or Valhalla 2 for use with other headphones, i.e. planars

    I would not get the MB module for Lyr 3. Just my opinion. If you want the Schiit multibit sound, best to get Modi Multibit (Modi Multibit). Get the 4490 card. I can't remember exactly, but I think I might have preferred the 4490 card to an external Modi 2U. What you really want is a Gungnir Multibit to make the most of the Lyr 3. Hope this helps.
     
  13. magicwonder

    magicwonder Rando

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    I have Massdrop ZDT Jr. on order from Massdrop, but I guess the long wait is starting to get to me, so I will stick with that for an amp, what about a good DAC to combine with Massdrop ZDT Jr?
     
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Massdrop RDAC? Modi Multibit? Otherwise SDAC or Modi 2U for less. Whatever you do, don't get a Topping D30 DAC.
     
  15. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Separates is the way to go. I like the SDAC a lot. Dirt cheap and sounds good. Not much stuff I am aware around $200 for DACs. Get the best amp that you can get. Upgrade DAC later. The MCTH for amp might be the way to go for the price point you are looking at. But then again, this makes the MCTH + SDAC AIO the proper choice again.

    Now MCTH and RDAC is nice. But that might blow your budget.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
  16. magicwonder

    magicwonder Rando

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    LOL,
    I use ASR for do NOT buy recommendations.
     
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  17. Elnrik

    Elnrik Super Friendly

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    It's not like they give you a plethora of choices. There is Topping, Topping, maybe that one Topping model, and... Oh yeah, Topping.
     
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  18. Conor Brennan

    Conor Brennan Rando

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    I will be using my HE560 the most probably, but about equal usage with the Aeon Closed.



    I know this wasn't directed at me. That being said, did you feel the CTH colored sound too much? I like the treble smoothness that comes with the tubes and the slight distortion, but I want to make sure it doesn't feel too laid back or I'll get bored.

    Might I be better off with a Solid State amp, like the Liquid Carbon X? I know I love how my HFM HE560 pairs with the Little Dot 1+, I just don't love the LD1+'s background noise. Maybe it's just mine, but I get this crazy high noise floor. Very noticeable on my Grados too, where the LD1+ would shine wonderfully if it didn't butcher me with the damn noise floor. The Aeon seems to work pretty well with the LD1+ too.
     
  19. Conor Brennan

    Conor Brennan Rando

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    Oh, and a question to pair.

    I'm headed to college and I have historically just plugged my tube amp into the Line In slot on my computer. When I go to college I won't have access to a computer with a line in slot. Will I be ok using the Headphone jack? I plan to go from 3.5 Aux -> analog -> CTH.

    That being said- I would ideally like to find a DAC that is also analog because I've had plenty of issues with USB's on computers in relation to my sound quality, and would prefer to avoid those for the future. I just want to make sure that using the headphone jack on the laptop won't butcher my sound quality in some unforeseen way that I don't fully understand.
     
  20. allegro

    allegro Almost "Made"

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    Brennan, you will be using a USB port on your laptop to connect to the DAC using a USB A-B cable. You can't use the headphone jack. What do you mean you won't have access to a laptop without a USB port? You need a laptop with USB port to play your stored music files or use a streaming service like Tidal or Spotify.
     
  21. Conor Brennan

    Conor Brennan Rando

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    I said line in but I might've made a mistake somewhere. I don't know quite as much as I'd like to know.

    This is what happens when I stay up too late...
     

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