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Suitable DAC and Amp for Sennheiser HD650

Discussion in 'Audio, Video & Home Theater' started by mumer8637, Jan 22, 2014.

  1. mumer8637 New Member

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    Hello,

    I am looking to upgrade my current headphone setup to a Sennheiser HD650 and a DAC.

    Currently, I am using Sennheiser HD 558 Open Headphones with my Alienware-18 on-board Realtek Chipset Realtek ALC3661. It is one the highest performing on-board sound card with a 600ohm headphones amp. The SNR of 90dB is also pretty darn good for an on-board solution.

    My headphone will most probably be a Sennheiser HD650. It took me over a month to decide so please don't suggest anything else as it will make things more complex for me. For the soundcard, I need a AIO solution for Movies, Music and Gaming. My current on-board solution uses Dolby Home Theatre v4, something I love, and specially, the virtual surround mode which makes my stereo Senns sound better surround than any other gaming headsets (I own many of them and they all suck!).

    I can either get the well rated Asus Essence One DAC and Headphone Amp but it’s only a stereo solution with no virtual surround software. Many people suggest that a high-end DAC like this with SNR of 120dB coupled with big soundstage of HD650 gives better surround effect that Dolby!? Another solution would be the Asus Xonar U7 which is a gaming oriented card but has a really high-end Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC and Dolby Home Theatre V4 just like my current card except better in every way! The only trouble is that its Headphone amp is only 150ohms which is inadequate to drive the HD650. Of course I can add an amp like Objective2 to drive the HD650 and would still cost far less than the ASUS Xonar Essence One DAC.

    So to sum up, would you recommend the Asus Essence One DAC and Headphone Amp at £349.97 or ASUS Xonar U7 + Objective 2 Amp with a total cost of £166.99 any why?
    I don't mind paying the extra but given its worth it.

    Thank you.

    Best regards,
    mumer8637
  2. BumbleBee

    BumbleBee

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    The Aune T1 is on sale

    http://www.techpowerup.com/forums/threads/aune-t1-integrated-headphone-amplifier.197069/

    Massdrop.com ships to Europe but you should email them to make sure it comes with EU Plug.

    Sennheiser headphones scale with better equipment. I would get something like a Schiit Bifrost and Schiit Valhalla. you can buy a USB microphone if needed.

    not long ago I did an experiment with the Asus Xonar Essence ST that is collecting dust inside my computer. I played a couple rounds of Conquest Domination in Battlefield 3 with and without Dolby Headphone using my Sennheiser HD600 headphones. I went 104-33 and 99-38 on Ziba Tower and Operation 925. The only thing Dolby Headphone does is make everything sound artificial. it does not make you a better player.
    mumer8637 says thanks.
  3. mumer8637 New Member

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    That's a very good suggestion! I'll try the stereo with a high-end DAC and compare it with Dolby or THX Surround..
  4. BumbleBee

    BumbleBee

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    if you can't afford the Schiit Bifrost the Schiit Modi will do.
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  5. mumer8637 New Member

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    Its my first high-end audio solution so I want to stick with a famous brand that mass-produces them.
    In the future, I'll consider these custom ones..
  6. Frederik S Staff

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    A used ST or STX from ASUS or the new sound blaster Z from Creative . The TI amplification chip on those are ideally suited for the HD650s.

    No reason to get a the O2 + DAC setup for the HD650s
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  7. mumer8637 New Member

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    I am using laptop so need to get the USB version. I am looking forward to the Creative Xi-Fi HD as the ASUS Xonar U7 won't be able to power the HD650 with its 150ohm output impedance.. The Xi-Fi HD on the other hand has a 330ohm impedance so it won't have trouble powering the 300ohm HD650.
  8. Frederik S Staff

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    mumer8637 says thanks.
  9. mumer8637 New Member

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    Last question: Money no objection, ODAC or ASUS Xonar Essence One? And if possible, why?
  10. BumbleBee

    BumbleBee

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    I don't like the Objective 2 Amplifier or ODAC. I don't like how it sounds, the front panel layout or the USB receiver. I like the Schiit Modi more.

    when the Asus Essence One came out I read a couple reviews but didn't like some of the design choices. I don't know anybody in Canada that owns one so I never checked it out.

    tubes are the way to go with the Sennheiser HD650. if you do some research you will come to the same conclusion. the Woo Audio WA6, Bottlehead Crack, Schiit Valhalla and La Figaro 336C/332C are the most popular headphone amplifiers.
  11. BumbleBee

    BumbleBee

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    the Bottlehead Crack is really good value ($280) but it's a kit you have to assemble.

    it's all point to point soldering like a traditional tube amplifier. you don't need to populate or work with a PCB.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2014
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  12. Frederik S Staff

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    Essence One if you need the extra connectivity (studio monitors and stuff), the O2 for everything else. The amplification stage on both is transparant with high impedance headphones, but the O2 can also be used with in-ears and highly efficient headphones since you can tweak the gain ratio.
  13. johnspack

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    A bit pricey for me, but very nice! I wonder if a tube dac would work well with my ref AKGs....
    More than 25k PPD
  14. BumbleBee

    BumbleBee

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    the Aune T1?

    I bought a MHDT Steeplechase ($399) recently. it's nicer than I expected. i'm going to upgrade it.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
  15. johnspack

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    Nah, looking at the Bottlehead.... I like to build things too, so I'd love to get my hands on the kit. Dam, that Steeplechase looks nice too.....
    More than 25k PPD
  16. BumbleBee

    BumbleBee

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  17. johnspack

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    Well, it would be for my AKG Q701s.... think it would work pretty good!
    More than 25k PPD
  18. BumbleBee

    BumbleBee

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    the MHDT Steeplechase is different than other MHDT D/A converters. it's not NOS (non oversampling) and it uses a AK4396 chip instead of Burr-Brown PCM56. it's more modern but only comes in silver. it's all steel, aluminum and acrylic.
  19. BumbleBee

    BumbleBee

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    I started looking into Tube D/A converters after I came across this DIY Tube DAC on a russian website which linked me to the original engineer who sold the kit. he was trying to make something that could rival the Audio Note Tube DAC.

    [​IMG]

    MHDT D/A converters ($399-$1400) are much cheaper than Audio Note (2.1x kits start at $1500-$80,000) and a lot of people like to upgrade them so I bought one.

    sorry to go off-topic :p
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2014

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