Headphones / DACs / Balanced Input
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Hello, newbie here. I have been reading a lot of discussions here for the last couple of days and learned a lot already. I'd appreciate if I can get some opinions on a few issues since there are a lot of people here with a lot more experience than I have. My entry level Sennheiser PX100 IIi have died on me recently. I have been using it for 3-4 years connected to Fiio E10K. So, I have been doing some research and decided to upgrade to Drop + Grace Design Standard DAC Balanced connected to Drop + THX AAA™ 789 Linear Amplifier. The sound source is my laptop. But I have read somewhere in the discussions here that the DAC is not really balanced because its chip is not capable of it. Is this really true? If this is true I guess it makes more sense to buy the one without balanced connection since it is cheaper. Does the sound quality differ between balanced/unbalanced connections in this DAC? Also I'd appreciate any headphone recommendations. I mostly listen to electronic music and rock music along with some classical and I like punchy bass. I always had the bass boost switched on with high gain on Fiio E10K and I loved how I could feel the drivers of Sennheiser PX100IIi moving. In search for a new pair, I recently went to a HiFi shop to test some headphones. They only had Sennheiser Momentum 3 and HD4.50BT open for test purposes. Connected to my Fiio E10K with the bass boost on, they felt like they did not have any bass at all. This was my first time trying high quality headphones. Someone in the discussion forums recommended Drop + HIFIMAN HE4XX Planar Magnetic Headphones for their tight bass, would this be a good fit? Any other recommendations are appreciated. Thank you in advance!
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rastus
1123
Sep 25, 2020
The THX and the new balanced standard DAC look like, the solution they were meant to be. No entertainment screen frills with copper showing somewhere. The XLR connections,, use them, the updated DSD capability,, try it. The problem has been getting sound quality,, reproduced music at the level an artist would approve,, actually bouncing around $1K, this is a solution. It is this part of drop, what they do. I will also tell you that R-2R digital to analogues, are the most accurate reproduction of a human singing voice and played musical instruments I have experienced. It can even be improved, always nice, It is also expensive. DS is still the squeaky cleanest 🧼 and recordings are now made to work with the signature, everything becomes a filter, so really you want both in some form... but DS is cheap today for what you get, case: drop balanced dac. One rig can get you up there close, without too much budget pain; that bouncy $1K. The Elex hp here on drop and the Audio g-d R2R 11 dac/amp. http://www.audio-gd.com/R2R/R2R11/R2R11EN.htm Imperative, get a decent USB cable. https://www.amazon.com/Pangea-Audio-Premier-Cable-Meter/dp/B06Y1WRF26/ Don’t Panic, you also need a good player, a helpful guide: https://www.us.marantz.com/-/media/Files/DocumentMaster/MarantzNA/US/Marantz_DAC_White_Paper_4_5_2016.pdf

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ikgn
2
Sep 28, 2020
rastus, thank you for your answer. Cheers!
Balanced is not something I would worry about until you have difficult to drive headphones and/or very long cable runs between your source and your amp. Both sides of the pro/con camps tend to misunderstand what a balanced configuration is and where the benefits lie. THX789 Balanced? - no it is not a fully balanced dual-differential amp, running this headphone with SE input will be the same as balanced input from a quality perspective, outside of the typically higher voltage supplied by a balanced source. This amp actually warns again using the high gain with an input voltage in excess of 2.1 V as you could hit the clipping point of the amp in that configuration. Many balanced DAC's will output more voltage than this can handle on high gain. Grace Balanced SDAC - this is a really solid little DAC, whether you use the RCA or XLR inputs I doubt you will notice a difference assuming they are within 10 feet of each other. A single ended Modi from Schiit would also work just fine. If you have never heard a planar magnetic headphone before their bass presentation is different than what you are used to hearing with your Sennheisers. I own a the closed version of those headphones so I can't really compare them for you, only speculate. I for one love planar headphones as the bass is very low distortion and typically extends quite deeply, something your current headphones can't achieve. If you really want to "feel" the bass you are probably better off looking at headphones from Fostex, Denon and ZMF vs. getting a planar headphone. TLDR: Balanced does have benefits, but that varies greatly by the gear and the use scenario. Balanced is NOT required to get full enjoyment out of the vast majority of gear and headphones.
No experience with the LCD-1 but I do have an Audeze Sine that I enjoy.
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ikgn
2
Sep 28, 2020
Thank you, cheers!