Hello! Looking for advice of whether an amp and/or DAC are really needed.
Currently running with headphone pairs ATH-M50x for EDM/Dubstep/etc., ATH-AD700x or less bassy music and gaming. Likely to step up to Massdrop 58x and/or 6xx in the near future, though still scoping out what. Headphones are ran through an Apple dongle from PC (Gigabyte B650 Aorus Elite AX mobo, fwiw in terms of audio tech).
Music is largely streamed through Amazon music, most often HD (16 bit) or Ultra HD (24 bit). It plays plenty loud with these headphones, and wouldn’t expect not to with some higher quality headphones. So this poses the question of whether an amp and/or DAC are needed for my situation. What will I gain?
I’ve considered getting the Schiit Magni+, and if a DAC would be beneficial beyond the Apple dongle, possibly the Magni Unity w/ the built-in DAC. But, of course, then unsure whether worth getting the Magni+ & Modi+ as separate, or no gain vs. the Unity.
Getting into this audiophile game is tough - a lot to take in.
There really isn’t a need per se and I would try your mobo’s 3.5mm headphone out first.
When it comes to hardware there isn’t a hard and fast rule as to what is good. Besides my personal bias that apple dong is dog water it really comes down to how you want to colour your sound.
Hopefully someone with experience with the unity will drop by and share.
Personally I’m biased towards recing the Fiio K7 since imo it has a ok internal dac and a very good amp.
As to what you would gain generally it’s better control over stopping the driver which leads to better imaging and sense of air along with a cleaner less messy signal from your dac leading to a cleaner sound. But this is all very much generalisations and varies from product to product.
My fav thing to recommend for starters is the iFi ZEN DAC or the iFi ZEN AIR DAC, which is a budget version of the ZEN DAC. both are a DAC / Amp combo unit with the biggest difference between them being the ZEN AIR uses a ballistic plastic enclosure while the ZEN has aluminum. the ZEN AIR also drops the 4.4mm balanced output. I have the og ZEN DAC (w/o MQA) and an og ZEN CAN. The ZEN DAC has an amp, but by adding the CAN I have a bit more power and it introduces the iFi’s 3D tech with the XBASS that the ZEN DAC.
that said, if you’re not against buying used, I’d check if you can find yourself an Schiit Asgard or perhaps the new Midgard that replacfed their Magnius. those are amps…for a DAC, the Modi, Modius or, if you can swing it, the Bifrost…which is my dream DAC.