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Do I need a DAC and Amp, Or just an Amp

I recently bough a pair of HD6XX and am looking into what I should buy next to most improve the sound quality. I think the next thing I should get is an external amp. I am currently looking to get a Schiit Magni Heresy. Will this help with my sound quality or should I get a DAC as well. like the Schiit modi 3. I'm very new to high end audio setups and want to improve my audio as much as possible without breaking the bank.

Nov 28, 2020
there is an old saying ‘garbage in = garbage out’. In my setup, recently, I changed a source component, that was passing digital and the vastly better job it did at passing zeros and ones to my DAC (a twenty year old unit) was massive. I literally had to tune my subwoofers down by 5dB to return to ‘flatline’ sound. I have built many (over hundreds by now) stereo systems that recreate ‘high fidelity’ sound. I love my second hand market and I have learned a lot of ‘basic’ truths on my journey towards audio nirvana. Most of my best setups have been using flagship parts from many decades past. These typically only cost a few hundred in coin, but can deliver sound that will require many tens of thousands of dollars to get equivalent sound in ‘modern money’. So no doubt there is a ‘balance’ needed for a great sound chain; you might not need world class reference audio... But you will need a synergy. At budget price points many are finding that an integrated DAC/amp as offered here on Drop, can net some great ‘by the spec sheet’ parts, that many have never heard better than. That could easily be ‘the end of your audio project’. I do not think that amps are about volume, necessarily, but about quality. (that being said I am quick to ascertain what I might need from an amp and I sort the wheat from the chaff simply by picking an object up (weight is a good indication of getting something fro your coin). You probably have everything you need (or MOST everything you need) at home already; sometimes that vintage amplifier that hasn’t been used in three decades will have a perfectly usable headphone jack, and a great place to invest your coin might be in a DAC (DACs are the exception to the rule of value being found in vastly older parts, the general rule of thumb a decade ago is that they drop ‘one tier’ of quality every seven years- but this was before the market was flooded with DAC chips designed for portable audio, now being impossible to buy ‘DACs designed to chew power and actually render great sound’ (they are built to be power efficient and generally yield multichannel audio and bit rates and sampling rates that typical users do not buy)). My best audio purchase in the last few years was a Proceed AVP2. Cost a couple of hundred dollars. (great preamp and useful as a DAC as well) these generally need servicing but still prove a great investment if one is nearby. They do not have headphone jacks and probably are not great for a neat setup or ‘small stack’. I do not think one would prove of any use to you , with the exception of ‘thinking outside the box’ for your best solution. Some ancient ‘flagship’ CD players had Digital in duties and could prove great DACs as well.. But second hand doesn’t have warranties etc. To be fair no one can give you useful, tailored advice until we know A) your goal (eg streaming or playing CDs.. / everything from a computer etc) B) your listening preferences (loud volumes vs soft), seek high end sound (eg you played an instrument for ten years and have incredibly tuned ears and need a certain level of sound to be satisfied) C) any constraints (does it have to be small, or even portable) D) What bits do you already have access to, or plan to use There is probably more but I do not cut and paste from generic ‘well thought out’ contemplations... Music styles can make it easy to recommend certain amp types to tailor sound further (eg tubes vs solid state), but an generally accepted audio ‘myth’ is that any sound built right shouldn’t colour the sound at all and just be about providing volume. (Sadly this isn’t true in the slightest and more certainly at ‘budget price points’. If you had an old hifi stereo receiver, I would be inclined to use it and pump all your money into the front end towards it. I like audio bargains and generally recommend flagship type parts at silly low costs (eg always pointing towards something like an Aurender Flow (last drop finished a week ago)). Many pundits think digital is ‘all the same’ and that cables do not matter etc. The former is the worst assumption ever, and leads to people legitimately thinking that their phone is a great transport/source. (no phone is, the best are easily outclassed by fairly budget Digital Audio Players (DAPs)- the former compete in a market about low price point and many bullet points, the latter towards simply ‘sound’ (some go for swiss army knife features)) As an example a CT10 DAP is a ‘right gift’ to audiofools (Audiophile roughly translated is ‘lover of sound’). It has the teraton sound module (used in all astell and kern players) in a budget box (eg in australia they are $250 at addicted to audio), and one of these revealed the sheer amount of jitter in all of my music files ripped in apple and microsoft OSs from the last couple of years (The software vendors appear to want CD sound dead/not better than online compressed music)(using a third party ripper for audio files is highly recommended). They might not have enough volume on tap to drive those sennheisers well. well? yes, just because music plays back doesn’t mean it is playing well. I have some Definitive Technology Symphony 1s (most underrated headphone I have ever found) that I use to check source quality. They reveal very quickly whether a source is better than the next.. many headphones do not reveal big differences between a DAP and a phone as an example.. But driving a headphone without the correct ‘reserves’ in the power can make it sound boring or not to the full extent to which it can deliver. Great cans will scale with better equipment. For what you have, better equipment up front will show up .. If you think a phone or basic media player from a computer is serving them well.. Then I can definately guide further. If you have some local classifieds to your place, send me a post, and I can scour the pages and point out any bargains. But I will need answers to my ABCDs above. Or else my advice is generic and not tailored to your needs. As a hobby I find the best way to save money is to buy the right parts in the first instance.Sometimes this means buying bits seperately and over time, using sometimes less than perfect solutions to get by for a period of time. Lets plan accordingly and save the coin appropriately, whilst delivering sound equal/better than your expectations, yes?!
Nov 20, 2020
What is your current source? If it's something like the LG phones then it should be good enough
Nov 16, 2020
another option is like getting a ifi zen dac which comes with headphones amp. then next you purchase the ifi can to complete the setup.
Nov 9, 2020
I would usually start my investment from the speakers/headphones to amp to dac but others may have different approach. If you can, get a decent amp first then think about dac later.
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