I am loving my newly purchased headphones so much now that I am thinking of getting a second amp to use in my bedroom.
I am currently using a Benchmark HPA4 + Benchmark DAC3B + Sonore microRendu + Meze Empy.
I was thinking a Benchmark DAC2 DX would sound good, but already have a DAC3B and the Benchmarks are not ROOD READY. So I am curious if there is any other small box solutions that has a headphone amp with XLR headphone output, a DAC with volume control that is also ROON READY. It does not have to sound good as the HPA4, I want convenience and small form factor as the most important requirements.
This does not require analog inputs. I am thinking all digital for the bedroom. I guess the ROON READY has to be accomplished my RJ45 Ethernet or WIFI.
I was thinking about your
Mytek Brooklyn Bridge suggestion and it was starting to make more sense to. The fact that it is a neutral sounding DAC would work best with the warm sounding Empy. It is also a 1 box solution.
Looked at some DAC ad's here on A'gon and this ad was for the Mytek Brooklyn Bridge + Meze Empy combo deal. So this must be a good pairing. This DAC actually does everything I asked for in the OP except the XLR headphone connector, which is not a big deal.
@yyzsantabarbara Since you were looking at the Chord Mojo, I was going to suggest that you also checkout iF Micro DSD Black Label. But to be honest, anything less than a thousand will not do proper justice to the Empyreans.
The Mytek definitely ticks a lot of boxes, but you should also checkout the iFi Pro DSD. I was seriously considering it for my headphone listening, but ended up buying the Quicksilver Headphone amps -- by far one of my most satisfying audio purchases to date.
BTW, I am looking for a streamer+DAC for my 2 channel rig. I have narrowed my choices down to either Brooklyn Bridge, or Innuos Zen Mini (with a future DAC update). Just need to make up my mind and pull the trigger in a week or two.
The tubes on the Quicksilver would not work too well with the Empy. On a scale of 0 - 100, with 100 being very warm. I would say the Empy is about 65-70. So a neutral amp like my current HPA4 works very well. I think I am limited in my amp choices with this headphone, though the sound with a neutral amp is perfect for my long listening sessions. I have yet to have a headache or fatigue. I am really shocked by this.
Another option for you is a Lumin T2 which is supposed to be slightly warm and a very good DAC + streamer.
For my main rig, I stick with the Sonore xxxRendu’s. I think they are great and I can use any quality computer (ROON) with these Ethernet-2-USB converters.
For my main rig, the AudioByte stack is also very intriguing as a future purchase. It uses RJ45 Ethernet for streaming into the DAC.
The DACs and amps I have been discussing on this thread are things for a bedroom which will only get used when I sleep. So I am not interested in spending too much money. For the main rig, I am willing to open up the wallet a bit more. At the moment I am very happy with the Benchmark DAC3B paired with the HPA4 on my main rig.
Thanks, @yyzsantabarbara . I'm actually leaning heavily towards the Mytek Brooklyn Bridge. It offers a lot at a reasonable price. Lumin T2 is a bit outside my comfort zone price-wise. I was not aware of Sonore xxxRendu. Need to do some research before making the final call. Thanks for the suggestion.
@arafiq Sonore are leaders in streaming. There is much more info about them on Computer Audiophile web site. They participate in the Audio Forums there. For what it is worth, that web site selected the Rendu’s the Product of Decade.
I said this in another A’gon thread yesterday, and there was some rebuttal to it, but I feel that the USB input on DAC’s are considered the better quality one vs a RJ45 Ethernet input. USB is supposed to be a technically a bad choice vs Ethernet but I think most DAC manufacturers optimized USB over Ethernet. This may change in the future as more Ethernet options because available and issues understood.
Just look at the dealers who demo high end DAC’s. The ones I have heard have selected USB even when an Ethernet was available on the DAC.
I mentioned all of this because the xxxRendu’s are Digitial-to-Digital converters. I like the term Ethernet-to-USB to be more specific.
@yyzsantabarbara Considering that this is a headphones thread, I don't want to derail your discussion. But I definitely want to pick your brain in helping me find a good streaming solution. If you don't mind I will message you directly later tonight. I've narrowed down my choices and would definitely welcome your opinion.
Great to hear that you like the opticalRendu package. When I get the Chord Hugo TT2 for the bedroom I will pair it with my existing microRendu streamer. I will get the same opticalRendu package as you for my existing Benchmark DAC3B in the office rig. Looking forward to lying on my bed and listening to tunes at this level of quality.
Yesterday, I bought a new headphone cable for the Empy. It is the Wywire Platinum. It is copper with some graphene. I got a lot of positive reinforcement to buy it from Empy owners on a Head-fi forum, especially now that they have a 40% off sale. So cost with tax and delivery was $400. It is supposed to have more detail than the stock Empy cable and other positive attributes.
I will say again how amazing the Empy is. It is getting even better after 200 hours. It is the most non-fatiguing headphone I have ever heard. Just cannot praise it enough. This with the stock cable.
I have also been doing a comparison of some new Benchmark StarQuad XLR’s. Benchmark calls them professional grade cables (vs consumer grade). At first I was not that impressed compared to the much more expensive Audience Au24e XLR’s I was using. However, after about 100 hours these cables maybe good. I need to do some flipping back and forth with the Audience, but I do like these StarQuads now. Not sure which is better yet. Though the StarQuad cost $200 for 1 foot and 15 feet pairs. The Audience was over a $1000+ for 1 foot and 9 feet.
Gold Note's DS-10 is a DAC/Roon ready streamer/preamp/single ended headphone amp in a small chassis. Available in black, silver, or gold finishes, and has an upgrade path to an external power supply should you decide you want it.
@gestalt After some more reading on the Gold Note DS-10 it seems like a very interesting unit, especially the ‘Chameleon’ DAC part of it. Gives me some idea of also using this unit with my KEF LS50 speakers and some funky new amp tech such as GAN or Purifi.
I was just thinking headphone amp and now I am already thinking about spending more. Not good.
So I went a completely different way with this just now. I bought a 10/10 used Bryston BHA-1 headphone amp for a little under $1K USD. I will use my Sony SCD-1 SACD/CD player and give my old discs a workout with this amp. I love that disk player but have not played it as much as I should.
I am also first sending it to Bryston to have the gain adjusted so that the volume control will have greater range in balanced configurations.
So no need for a streamer at the moment, but I will have a Sonore microRendu freed up soon. The Bryston also has balanced analog XLR outputs to connect to an external power amp. I will hook up my KEF LS50's this way. Great thing with pro gear like Bryston and Benchmark is that you can run very long XLR interconnects.
There are some new and exciting amps technology coming out that I am interested in getting for this setup, GAN, Purifi or Benchmark AHB2. All under $3K each.