Advise on new stack

Hello everyone!

Been lurking for a little while, and now I am looking for some recommendations.

I started off with a JDSLabs Atom Amp/DAC stack, which worked great. I eventually gave that to a friend, and upgraded to an EL Amp II/DAC II stack, for the aesthetics, no loss in quality, but looks are 10/10. I also have an Asgard 3, paired with a Modius, which is good as well, but definitely a different overall sound.

I come from the world of hi end SQ car audio, and am used to trying out new equipment, and speakers every 6 months or so, but have moved away from that industry as I just do not spend much time in a vehicle anymore.

I have a set of B&W 607 S2 Anniversary bookshelf’s on my desk used as computer speakers for music and media. These are powered by an Cambridge Audio AXR85, and the pairing is quite complimentary. This is where I fell into the headphone game.
Amazing sound, intimate, and the ability to have different sound just by taking a set off, and throwing another on is so satisfying. If I had done this years ago, I could have saved 10’s of thousands of dollars… let’s be honest, it would have gone to HP’s and amps and DAC’s lol.

So I am looking to see where some of you would recommend to go from here in terms of new hardware to try. I should also say, MQA is out. Do not recommend anything based on MQA please. I also do not stream music, I buy every CD I can, convert to FLAC on my PC for CD longevity, I do have some Apple AAC music as well, but primarily use FLAC. I should also mention that the 4 times I tried some CH-Fi gear from Amazon, very highly regarded names, I ended up with a 100% failure rate, all within 30 days of the original purchases. I will not name the brands as I do not gas light, and it could just be bad luck, but, it sets the stage for me in a negative way.

My current, and soon to have HP’s are below:
DT770 Pro - 250ohm
HE400I 2020

Will Have
Focal Elex

Drop Mr. Speakers Ether CX Closed

So let me know what you guys enjoy for hardware, and what you think would be fun stacks to try out. I don’t need a balanced system as I have no noise issues, but, I would try it out if the stacks have the capability. As you can see, I don’t really take cost to performance in to high of consideration, I just like to try new things.

so, if you’re going to get some of the high end headphones you mentioned, you will need to give them a chain of equal quality in order to see what they can do.

so a few important questions that need to be answered are:

  1. what music genre’s do you listen to?
  2. do you have a sound signature preference? warm? neutral? cool?
  3. how much are you willing to budget to do this right the first time? :wink:

I guess I missed some of those points in my long winded intro huh? lol

Music Genre’s: Quite literally, every genre. I know it might sound cliche, but I enjoy all of it, from Tchaikovsky to mid 2000’s Hip Hop

I don’t tend to lean one way or the other on sound signatures, as it really depends on my mood. For example, sometimes I’m in the mood to listen to Yao Si Ting on the my more analytical gear to try and get every last scrap of detail out of the recording. And sometimes I throw on the 400I’s on the Asgard 3 to enjoy the more “lush” sound when I just want to enjoy the song. ( I can see myself having multiple amps to compliment the HP’s lol)

As far as budget, well, I don’t want to go straight to 10’s of thousands, but rather enjoy the journey to that point, if that makes sense? Lets say, current budget for a new stack to try out, maybe $800-$1200 USD (I’m in Canada, so that’s like a million dollars here :stuck_out_tongue:)

Just pulled the trigger on an Rme ADI-2 DAC FS, so will spend a few weeks with that, and see how I like it.