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Using a DAC with both headphones and speakers

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I've just got myself a pair of Sennheiser HD600 as my first audiophile equipment. Right now I use a pair of HD280's and Focusrite Saffire 6 as an interface - my headphones are connected to the front headphone output and my speakers are connected to the line outputs. As far as I understand, Saffire 6 won't be enough to drive HD600 and I would need to use a headphone amp. I have two questions:
  • Since Saffire 6 has 4 line outputs, can I continue to use 2 for my speakers and connect the other 2 to my the HD600?
  • Most DACs I've looked for have only one pair of outputs - so naturally I need to connect it to my headphone amp. If I were to use a DAC/amp combo with a dedicated headphone output, can I continue to use my speakers simultaneously with my headphones without needing to plug/unplug any cables? Basically I want to have a constant cable setup for my headphones and speakers without needing to unplug anything.
Hope these questions are not dumb as this is my first DAC / amp / audiophile headphone etc. experience.
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RayF
22319
Feb 3, 2021
To answer your question of the first part--yes, you can do anything that works and doesn't break your shit. Nothing you've mentioned so far places you at risk. As to your point, permit me to speak (metaphorically of course--obviously I just typing) from my own experience. I have a pair of HD6XXs, which as I understand it, share a portion of the same gene pool as your Sennheiser HD600s. Let me state unequivocally, they can be driven nicely with nothing more than a bare naked iPhone and/or iPad. I have written extensively on that that subject here: https://drop.com/talk/9773/talk/2208696?utm_source=linkshare&referer=B2BDHC Regarding the second part of your question, I have a combo DAC/Amp (a Jotunheim--and as far as I'm concerned, combo is the route to go). The Jotunheim is my headphone amp, and is also the interface between my iMac, and a pair of JBL (powered) Series 300 Linear Reference Monitors (also highly recommended). From the day I connected all of that to my iMac (perhaps two or three years ago), at least one pair of my headphones (I also have the HE 4XXs) have been continuously plugged into that headphone amp--and very often both. The only reason both of them aren't connected full-time is the mess two 6 foot cords create on my desk! To state it plainly, I don't disconnect my headphones, and I never turn off the Jotunheim. The results have been this: everything still works fine and sounds fine--nothing has caught fire or exploded in all that time. There are times, however, when I don't care to have those two JBLs blasting away whilst I use my computer for things, not music. Of course they can be switched off at the back of each speaker, but I have cleverly connected both power cords to a single, Alexa enabled plug. When I want to turn the speakers on or off, I tell Alexa to do it for me! And she does--it's quite handy. So, in conclusion, buy a combo DAC/Amp, connect your speakers and your headphones to it, and don't worry about turning any of it off or on, other than to suit your own whims!
noscho
2
Feb 5, 2021
@RayF thanks so much for the detailed answer! I've one final beginner question: Does it really matter if I change my Saffire to another DAC, audio quality-wise? The thing is I'm on a pretty tight budget after the HD600s -- I want to decide whether I should invest my money to a better DAC or buy better speakers.
RayF
22319
Feb 5, 2021
DACs are a moving target--you could buy the best there is today and somebody will claim to have built a better one Tuesday! Given a choice I spend my money on speakers; they make a bigger difference to sound quality and tend to evolve more slowly.