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Audiophile Beginner! HELP

Hey everyone!
So I'm very much new to the whole audiophile scene. I've always bought high end headphones, but never dabbled in anything of this caliber until now and I must say I am excited to explore this new hobby because it really interests me! I just need to get my ducks in a row before I make any purchases.
To start, I plan on buying the Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 6XX Headphones as my first audiophile headphones! Based off my own research and what everyone on the internet is saying, these are definitely the move. It was a toss up between those and the Massdrop HiFiMAN HE-350 Audiophile Headphones because of the price difference. However, from what I can tell the HE-350s seem to have some flaws so I suppose I will go ahead and spend the extra money for the superior headphones. If anyone has any input on my choice of headphones or has any other alternatives that I should consider, please let me know!
Most my questions have to do with the DAC/Amp as I am completely ignorant when it comes these. First off, I don't even know which is which so if someone could possibly give me a quick run down on the tech, I would really appreciate it. All I know is I need these two components to get the most out of the headphones so I need help figuring out what I need to get while managing to save as much money as I can. Im hoping to get a versatile DAC/Amp so I can use them as time goes on with many different headphones that I pick up along the way. A friend suggested to me that I check out Schiit Audio and I did but I don't know how to choose what product is best for me. I was led to believe that I should get the Modi 2 DAC and pair it with the Vali 2 Amp. Is that something that would work well for me? I just don't know. So if someone could please show me the way so I can get the knowledge I need to really sink my teeth into this hobby.
Thanks in advance for all your help, and I'm super glad I found this community and this awesome service.
Nixima :)

Mar 28, 2021
A good place to start would be with the offerings from THX. THX stands for Tomlinson Holman Crossover (X = Crossover in electronics short hand). Tom designed the THX sound system for Lucasfilm. Tom's work was based on the type of component used as well as designing elegant, simple circuitry. I know this because Tom and I used to share an office at the Ranch at Lucasfilm and he'd show me the drawings he made in his notebook. Tom's circuits produce extremely quiet and dynamic results. It's worth your time to investigate.
Sep 14, 2021
cornerstonetomTHX gear is a good suggestion for amps. Although can be a little pricier. That said, the single ended THX AAA One is hard to beat. All the power you would need and tests very well. Another way to go would be the new(ish), version 2 of the iFi Zen Dac. That is a combo of a DAC and an amp all in one. It reviews very well. Don't worry about having a bit less power than things like a Schitt Heresy or the AAA mentioned above - it drives things like the 6xx very well. And you can always add a dedicated headphone amp later on. The iFi looks good, easy to use and sounds terrific. It is where I'd start if I were the OP.
May 18, 2018
DAC turns the sound file on your computer into the audio signal that your speaker/headphones/whatever require. Amp takes small sound and makes it a big sound.
Tube amps are for suckers who prefer distortion to accurate sound reproduction. Fight me.
The set up I can recommend with no reservations at all is some version of the O2 amp (you need an amp for those headphones) and the O2 dac.
People say good things about Schiit, but I have also heard less than good things. I don't know. Never tried it.
Fiio makes some fairly good stuff on the lower end that provides pretty neutral and accurate sound. I have experience with the K5 e17k combo, and I think it is hard to beat for ~200 dollars total.
May 21, 2018
fhoodThanks man! I'll look into it!
May 18, 2018
\I'm am audiophile noob too! I dont really understand what is good or any terminology! pls help! also I have a post for recommending headphones pls hop on over there!
May 16, 2018
Hello ladies and gentlemen. Like Nixima, I'm getting the Massdrop HD 6XX. I'm not looking for a separate AMP and DAC. I need helping sorting out a good portable HI-Res audio player that can power these 300 Ohm headphones. I'm iffy on my price point. I can happily spend $200, or I can very cautiously spend $600. I'm looking for any recommendations that you may have. In addition to excellent sound quality, I would like good battery life, and expandable storage. Any help/recommendations are appreciated.
Welcome to the hobby... sorry about your wallet!
A DAC is a Digital-to-Analog Converter that takes all those 1's and 0's that make up digital audio files and converts it to an analog signal that can be amplified and played back by traditional speakers and headphones. DAC's are typically connected to a PC, CD Player or streaming box via USB, Optical, Coaxial or AES balanced connection. The DAC would then be connected to your headphone amp via RCA or XLR balanced outputs.
You can find many varieties of DAC's and I generally recommend focusing on the budget and feature set before worrying over chip implemented. I for one use my DAC for both headphones and my stereo. I also switch fairly regularly between headphone amps. I like DAC's with two or more outputs as it facilitates my listening habits. Schiit and Topping make good budget DAC's. If portability is needed Audioquest makes the Dragonfly Black/Red. For someone new to the experience I don't know if I could recommend you spend more than $500 "all in" for the amp/dac AIO or a stack with cables. I have personally used DAC's and headphone amps from Fiio, Emotiva, Schiit, Gustard, Teac, Cayin, Audioquest, MD O2.
My favorite chain would be the Teac UD-501>Cayin IHA-6>Focal Elex/HE500/T1 but I also get a ton of enjoyment out of the Dragonfly 1.2 (my cheapest combo). The Schiit Stack of the Modi2 Uber and either a Vali or a Magni (Magni being more versatile but lacking that tube charm) is a good deal for $250-$300. I personally wouldn't recommend going Multi-bit for anything less than the Gungnir but that's just me being overly cautious.
May 16, 2018
im looking in to the Fulla 2 from Schiit. Looks like it's exactly what i need because another HD 6XX owner said that the fulla 2 powers the headphones just fine. I might just go ahead get that because it's only $100 and seems very simple to use.
NiximaI'm a bit of a separates proponent but I must say amp/dac combos have greatly improved over the last 5 years or so. I just like the flexibility of separate devices and since most of my gear sits in a rack I'm not pressed for space. The Fulla 2 would be a good start for minimal investment. You can technically get sufficient volume from the HD6xx from an iphone so the Fulla should have no issues. The HD6 series do scale well with additional upgrades so it really is a good HP to evaluate amp & dac purchases. Owned it for almost ten years and it just keeps sounding better and better.
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