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Quick question: Do I need an external dac to use this headphone amp? Below is my diagram.
(Macbook) ---> 3.5mm to RCA cable ---> O2 Headphone Amp ---> (headsets such as HD6xx, M50x, DT770)
Lastly, what should be my gain be 1.0x or 2.5x and why?
You don't "need" it":) The two issues are sound quality and ergonomics. You should get a fine analog signal out of the Macbook (I've been relying on my ipod an ipad's internal DAC for years with my Objective amp). I've tried an external DAC and could not tell the difference. Some audiophiles will hear differences, but that isn't really the crowd that the Objective was designed for. Now, I would not do the same with my Dell laptop because I suspect the DAC chip is super cheap, and fooling with the volume controls is more of a pain. Getting an external DAC just adds more clutter to your desk that may or may not be a concern (more space, more wires, another plug . . . or you could find an Objective amp/ODAC combo--they're out there).
As for gain, I would start at 1.0. It should be plenty of power for the headphones you listed. I don't use soundcheck, and I have a few songs in my collection that are really quiet. Those are the only times I ever bump up the gain.
So then the medium gain option would be better than the Standard gain option as the former starts at 1.0x gain.