Amp dac combo vs amp dac all in one

Hey yall looking for advice on what to get in terms of a desktop setup. My favorite current pair of headphones are the sendy audio. So whatever works best with those haha. Also I am willing to get new cables for the headphones if that helps pick a dac amp. Sadly havent been able to find anything to work with these haha.

Also when I look for headphones (currently the meze empyrean but finding hard to pull the trigger haha) they usually ask which connector I want and provide what feels like a hundreds of ends. Any illumination on that would be amazing!

Thank you all so much for your help I really appreciate it!


Here is a good article on headphone jack types…

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Really depends what you want out of the setup. I like combo boxes because they are just easier to place in my setup, but I’ve had multiple separate pairs in the past. Separates allow for greater flexibility on what you want which is nice. I currently have a Questyle CMA400i which is a gorgeous all in one unit… but I cant recommend it because the customer service is downright abysmal. Hopefully the LCX+SDAC doesn’t disappoint when it arrives otherwise I’m going to be stuck with nothing

Thank you for the article!

My budget is at a max around 500. I want something that is good and will last. Was going to get the thx aaa thing but wasn’t really sure how it compared to anything else :confused:

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I currently have no setup Haha. I am really new to the amp dac game and would like something that I can use on an every day basis. That probably sounds dumb Haha.

I am also unsure on all that I need to make a dac amp combo work as opposed to an all in one. I try to see what z uses when he does reviews but I am simply to new to catch it haha.

Thank you for your reply!

Setup is pretty simple, plug in the power cables and add data to the dac via USB, SPDIF, COAX etc from your source. I use either SPDIF or USB from my PC to a DAC for example. DAC connects to the amplifier with either XLR(balanced) or RCA(unbalanced). Simply connect the headphones to the amp and everything should be good to go!

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Ok, is that budget including a new pair of headphones? If not what headphones do you have?

I would recommend the JDS “anything” lol but seriously JDS Atom with Schiit Modi3 is great, or the El Stack, or the Element All in one. Another option if you plan to have IEMs would be the iFi Nano Black Label. Also if you plan to use your phone as a source an adapter cable that matches its output usb-c/Apple connector etc…all the options fall under your price point and most allow for a decent budget for headphones as well…as a great intro setup/kit I would go with the JDS Atom Modi3 combo and maybe the (Mass)Drop 58X Or 4XX… which would put you just under your budget of $500 depending on taxes and shipping or if you can find them used possibly much cheaper and well under your budget.

I meant Modi :crazy_face:

Yeah, apparently AAA technology beats anything. Someone tried this with their Audeze LCDs and was like “fuck”.

Oh man thank you for that info Haha hmmm I have a little more confidence now in going through with getting something that isn’t an all in one.

That is the budget for a dac amp setup. I currently have the sendy audio headphones but I am looking into getting a different pair of headphones as my best headphone. I started a thread to figure out what that exactly was where everyone pretty much agreed if its end game the meze empyrean are the way to go haha.

Oooooooooo I’ll have to check those out! My budget for headphones is a more expansive then the dac amp budget Haha was thinking of getting the LCD x headphones but also something else Haha. Thank you all for the advice I really appreciate it!

Haha I really wish there was a audio, headphone, speaker, churro shop where I am Haha. I have no choice but to get the advice of those who know more then me Haha.

Also why does drop take so long on shipping Haha that’s actually the biggest deterrent of me getting the thx aaa haha.

I strongly recommend the JDS Labs Atom as a first amp for anyone. It’s only $100 but objectively measures better than many amps 10x the price. It has enough juice to power 99% of headphones on the market, and it’s one of the cleanest amps around at any price point. It’s also very neutral, meaning it will let your headphones’ sound signature shine and won’t color it at all.

For a DAC, get a Topping D10. It measures very well and is only $80.

That pair will be good enough for 95% of all users.

Once you get more into the hobby, you can start to scale up your gear and find the exact sounds you are looking for.

I would definitely recommend NOT spending all $500 of your budget until you know what you like. Half the fun of this hobby is playing with the gear and comparing it to others. The Atom is an absolutely perfect amp for this and it’s so damn cheap (but American made).

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This. This is important. Just because you can spend $500 doesn’t mean you should or need to. There are tons of offerings in the under $100/piece gear segment that will be more than good enough for years to come. I entered the hobby with an Asgard 2 and Modi 2. They kept me happy for quite a while and even then it took a lot more money to best them.


So much wisdom! Hahaha hmmmm I will get the atom then. Thank you all for your help I really appreciate it!


So I got this

and this

also… if I get the meze emperyean headphones what end works best with this setup

Do I need anything else ;0;

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You’re going to run a $3000 set of heapdhones through a $200 stack? I’ve always gone for the “spend more on the headphones than source components” strategy but this is a whole new level. The Atom uses 1/4" which I’m sure the emperyeans come with

Hehehehe y’all said it would work for 99% of headphones. You would suggest otherwise? hahaha

I mean, they will work together, it just caught me off guard. It would be a good place to start to make sure you like everything, but honestly I’ve never gone up that high into the headphone world. My Ori’s were $1000 new and half of that used, and I’ve got a $250 combo unit coming, so I can’t really comment on how they will mix. You have got really clean and resolving gear coming though with the stuff you picked so it shouldn’t be a problem. It will also leave you plenty of upgrade room in the future