$1750 setup help. New to this place, avid but rusty AF audiophile.

Hey guys, I'm currently starting off my audiophile setup from scratch. I've allocated a budget of $1750 and I'm looking for a decent desktop DAC/Amp combo. I just wrote down all the details below to make it as concise and short as possible. Would appreciate any input from y'all. Done some research and narrowed the list down to the following candidates.

  • beyers DT1990 Pro
  • Sennheiser HD660S
(feel free to suggest)
  • Marantz HD-DAC1
  • iFi iDSD Micro Black Label
  • Chord Mojo
--- OR --- Desktop DAC:
  • EL DAC
  • Schiit Bifrost Multibit

Desktop Amp (Open to tube amps if it helps):
  • Massdrop x THX AAA 789
  • Massdrop x Alex Cavalli Liquid Carbon X Amp
  • Schiit Valhalla (Tube)
  • Schiit Asgard
  • EL Amp

Sound preference: Thumping bass and well-pronounced low-mids. NO muddy bass. Also looking for superior imaging and amazing soundstage. I tend to crack the knob higher than most peer audiophiles. Music: EDM, Vocals, Choir, Metal, Piano. Maybe even movies and gaming? I like A E S T H E T I C S too. Total budget: $1750 for the whole setup.

Mar 21, 2019
For DAC/amp I would also recommend the RME ADI-2 DAC route, simply one of the best out there for detail and black background level with more features than anything else even WELL beyond its price range in an incredibly compact package. The DAC is absolutely phenominal, the amp is very good though neutral, and you have abilities and features you simply can't get anywhere else in a DAC/amp - at any price. You can always use it as a preamp for an external amp if that is your preference... which is how I use mine for my E-stat rig (driving a warm stereo amp). For headphones, the Modhouse Argon Mk3 with ZMF Lambskin pads has everything but the looks....
Mar 18, 2019
Headphones: Senn HD660s or Audeze LCD-2C Amp/Dac :RME ADI-2 DAC Best bang for the buck, I run 90% of my gear off this Amp/Dac combo. You will never need anything else.
Mar 18, 2019
So simple ! HD6XX and the THX 789 Amplifier. Dt 1990 if you like analytical and flat sounding. Just you know the Dt 1990 will smoke the HD650 any day in sound performance. However for the price and its intended use, HD6XX wins because of the pure blisstical of listening music rather than detailed listening. Also, vocals and smooth texture are more pronounce. As for the amp, there is no reason to go for any other amp than the 789 if you could afford. Save money and go for the 789. Should not even be a question, its an easier answer.
Mar 17, 2019
Hi, can the nano drive the 6xx well?
Mar 15, 2019
I had your same question last year and I did the following: started with
  • Sennheiser HD6xx
  • ifi Black nano
after 6 months I ended up with my current configuration which is really fantastic:
  • HIFIman Sundara
this config is really transparent and plenty of power! I am also a volume knob addicted! I listen mainly EDM, classic and some jazz. happy choice and listening!
Mar 2, 2019
I vote for Focal Elex + Questyle CMA400i, thumping bass and style! ~1400$
Feb 28, 2019
I daily drive the 1990 and I can say that they are transparent, detailed, and the bass extension is super good. Never listened to the 660s so I can't say anything about them. The build is definitely better on the 1990 though.
Feb 28, 2019
I send the 1990 back, to bright for me and not comfortable. Have HD 650 now happy with them
Mar 18, 2019
Hello. He stated HD6XX not HD 660S. By the way, the DT 1990 sucks to my hearing. I think probably I did not push them well enough. I used portable pico amp/dac. I do know the how the dt 1990 could sound because of my experience with the DT990.
Feb 22, 2019
Going to go with a bit of a curveball here, but headphones.com has Focal Elegia open box for $700 (normally $900), and Westlake Pro has the RME ADI-2 DAC for $999 ($1100 pretty much everywhere else). I hate to name drop specific sellers, but that would stretch your buying power into arguably the single best way to spend $1750 on a desktop headphone setup. Both are endgame caliber units that you won’t outgrow, and they pretty much check all of your boxes, including aesthetics.
Feb 22, 2019
Stay away from the Marantz, you're paying for the name, if you want to go that route the TEAC UD-503 is a much better choice, both in looks and performance. If you can wait for the THX, do it! Then pair it with the SU-8. Or look at the Monoprice THX desktop unit with integrated balanced DAC. The Dt1990 is one of the best all around headphones for it's price, certainly better for gaming than the 660s due to it's sound stage alone. But honestly the two headphones you listed are so different from each other that it's hard to know what sound signature you're after. Headphones I'd look at: Hifiman Sundara (on sale for $350) Focal Elex LCD2C Amiron Home (same driver as the 1990, less detail, teble spike tamed) Argon
Mar 21, 2019
It definetly is versatile, I use it as a dac for my Marantz Pm15 S1, works great. So you think the headphone output sq is the same??
Mar 22, 2019
The amp and dac are fine, it's the firmware/software that Monoprice screwed up. Which is a real shame, because the hardware is solid.
If I were building a new system with that budget here is what I would put together: Amp: THX 789 or LCX - both have pretty solid power, the former aims for very netural, the latter warms things up a shade, both should be able to handle a variety of headphones DAC: SDAC Bal or SMSL SU-8 Headphones - Hifiman Ananda, Edition XX, TR-X00, Elex - nothing wrong with the 660S or 1990, outside of the Beyer spike in the treble region. I don't have any headtime with either, however I do own the 650 and 990 predecessors. The 990 is my least favorite Beyer and I've owned 4 of them. My primary rig (and my cost): TEAC UD-501>Cayin iHA-6>HE-500/Elex/T1/HD650 ($1390 to 1860) Reasoning: I prefer separates as I can swap a piece of the chain for something with different features without being forced to change other aspects. The Cayin works extremely well with balanced headphones, not so ideal with low-impedance SE varieties but I have other amps that are more of a "jack of all trades".
Mar 20, 2019
Got those in Aune T1's, good,, but not at the same level as the NOS ones...
For a budget win I'm also a fan of the Matsushita (Japanese factory, setup by Amperex) 6922's... used to run around 35-60 a pair matched/tested. Smooth with good extension, maybe a tad "soft" compared to my Phillips MiniWatts SQ's from Amperex factory in Heerlen. The latter are now 10x the cost of the former (4x when I bought them).