Amp/DAC combo for Argon MK3's with balanced output under €250

Just ordered my Argon MK3’s with the balanced cable, as most people say that it’s better but I’ll need a much more powerful Amp/DAC than what I have now. So looking for a sub €250 combo that’ll do the job well. I would be willing to increase budget if i absolutely had to but from the research I am doing myself I think should be able to find something under 250 mark. Also does anyone run these with ifi Zen DAC v2?

Thank you for any advice in advance!

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You don’t need a more powerful DAC; just an amp :slight_smile:
So whatever DAC you have will do fine in combination with a stronger AMP.

As for what amp to get? I’m really happy with my SMSL SH-9, which I got for €269 and shoves a solid 6 watts of clean neutral music out of it’s balanced port!

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i run t60rp argons with zen dac v1. they sound pretty good overall… bass can get a little sloppy at times. probably from the lack of power for tr 50/60’s. if you pair it with the zen amp you should be good to go. anything i have tried with around 1 watt or greater at 32ohms(what most have the rating at), has plenty of juice.

i really like the tuning of the zen dac with the argons as they have ever so slightly recessed mids. and the zen dac has a slight boost in the mids. works out wonderfully imo.

That’s nice to hear. I have ordered the zen dac v2 but I have now seen it is not as well received as the v1. I am considering returning them, or are they actually as good as the v1?

i have not heard the v2 yet. but i do know you dont get the full mqa experience with the v2. v2 only does what your pc does, the first fold. the og v1 zen dac, has the software for the full unfold. i don’t really fully understand mqa lol. but from what i gather its like that. the first one was better at it then the second. if that even maters to you.

edit: maybe @sebastien_chiu_iFi can explain it better.

It shouldn’t matter. MQA is a total fucking scam.
If you wanna go and dive into the rabbit hole that is MQA’s shit look at the great investigative work GoldenSound on youtube has done.


also trying to find the comparison thread we have here. theres a couple forum members that have both. i think there might be a slight tuning difference as well.

Oh wow thanks for all the responses. If it’s a minimal difference then it’s ok. My main concern if they will good to drive Argon mk3’s or if I need to get something better. They recommend the Schiit Magni 3+ or Heresy. Is this a comparable amp in terms of power? I know a bit about headphones but I’ve never needed more than my Fiio EK10 before.

They also recommend JDS Labs atom which is a very cheap option,

all 3 are good options. i would recommend asgard 3 for 199$. a few $'s more then those, but well worth it. its on backorder atm unfortunately. but worth the wait. and the zen dac will drive them decently enough in the mean time.

I need to return them unopened to get my money back. I only just ordered the Argon today so it will be at least 8 weeks until I need the amp. I’m in Europe so it’s harder to get these amps at these prices. I will keep looking and will most likely return them for a refund. Thank you.

Schiit in Europe is very hard to get.
The SMSL SH-9 will provide the same power as the Asgard but is obtainable in Europe.
Topping should also have something in this priverange.

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Zen Dac won’t be powerful enough. Argons thrive on wattage. You should aim for minimum power of 1.5 watts (I think Ryan says this on the Modhouse website). They will scale with wattage.

Keeping close to your ideal budget may be a challenge, so I would take a longer term view.

You could carry on saving, then grab a used Lyr 2 (no balanced option but is 4.0 watts at 50 ohms) for less than €300 and a used Modi Multibit for less than €200.

You could use a connector similar to this to use the balanced Argon -

This will give you a great setup that will go a long way. You can then start thinking about side/upgrades from there to give you balanced options and more power.

Others may be able to offer suggestions about Topping or SMSL (I have owned neither brand).

IMO the Modi/Magni stack may provide a step up from the Zen Dac, however it is not incremental enough to justify cost and power wise. “Spend cheaply, spend twice” comes to mind.


Magni /Heresy will be better than Zen Dac, but Argon are hard to drive (all Fostex T50RP mods are) .

See my other comment, but thinking more, perhaps a Garage1217 Project Ember II (used) and a dac to go along with it

I am willing to put up top €400 if I can get a set up that will be fine for ages, I am not planning to buy any super high end stuff but if I can get a good amp/DAC for my Argons then it should be fine for anything I am ever likely to buy. I am looking into Topping now and the other EU options. I paid extra for the balanced jack so I would like to be able to use it fully. The search continues and thank you.

Unfortunately Schiit has ran out of stock for most of their products in europe since april 2020 and plan to restock ‘soon’ according to a mail I got from customer support back in octobre of 2020… It’s june 2021.

They do not care about the EU market and provide no customer support here, you’re out on your own. I cannot emphasize enough how hard Schiit shits on the EU market. They wanna sell American made to Americans. But hey, keep spreading missinformation and maybe it’ll all come through. (iN sToCk SoOn - no it won’t be)

SMSL, Topping, Lake People, Vioelectric and xDuoo all make products as amazing as Schiit but without a ‘Made in the USA’ sticker on them, in stock in Europe and with local customer support!

Any that you could link me to in Europe. I am struggling to find many combo for around 400 euro or less. The Fiio K5pro looks good but I don’t think it’s balanced.

K5 Pro isnt balanced, and I sent mine back in favour of the Zen Dac v1. I think the Zen Dac sounds much nicer than the K5 Pro.

Yeah I’d heard about the lack of stock in the UK/EU. I have read that Schiit took a massive hit due to a combination of Cali wild fires & Covid-19 related supply chain problems.

I’m assuming at some point when they have their supply chain running at “usual” capacity, then stock will start to trickle back into UK/EU.

I am based in the UK and have read up on some Topping & SMSL kit, but generally I’m not a fan of DS dac’s (prefer multibit/R2R) and I think Modi Multibit is orders of magnitude better in every way than Modi 3 for example. I’d like to own a Lake People/Violectric (same company?) amp one day.

I just picked up a Feliks Echo mk1 here in the UK for £300…which I felt was worth every penny.

I somehow wouldn’t worry too much about DS vs R2R when you’re looking for a €400 combo DAC and AMP… AMP influences the sound much more.