Amp/dacs for clarity, imaging, and soundstage(high end recommendations?)

Hey guys, normally I would put this in a gaming topic but I feel this is also a more broad aspect that can go into regular music and studio as well.

Pretty simple question here but what amps and dacs have you guys found that are exceptional in terms of clarity, imaging accuracy, and soundstage/spatial recreation? A range of budgets would be appreciated if you have quite a bit of knowledge into such a subject but it has me rather curious myself. As I know the asgard 3 for instance has very good spatial recreation just as an example.

Any help would be appreciated as I am going to go ahead and start trying out new units as well… I might also grab a burson soloist and singxer soon as well to check them out

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I’ve been trying to improve my gaming audio with source gear for a while and there’s just something going on with the stupid Gustard X16 with it’s imaging and depth accuracy that I can’t get away from and going into a Soloist for some reason it gets even tighter and more well defined. I’m sure there’s better options eventually but I haven’t been able to find any up through $1500ish DAC wise and even much more expensive delta sigma DACs (like ones with the “better” 9038pro vs the 9068as in the X16) didn’t really seem nearly as precise as the X16 for some reason. The supercharger on the Soloist added a clarity to the depth that made distance just seem so natural that it stopped being guess work and just started being a reaction, which I wasn’t expecting. I think there’s something going on with how the opamps that come in the soloist have a really quick attack to them and it makes initial sounds really well defined in the soundstage because after swapping them into a couple more amps it seems to have a lot of the same effect but without the total refinement that the soloist has.

This topic has needed to happen for a while because people can rant all they want about imaging and soundstage recreation in songs but when you have something visual to reference for what you’re hearing like in games it really shows flaws. I still can’t get over burr brown DAC chips and their odd front imaging but people never have an issue with it in songs so it never comes up. I’m super interested to hear what people have to say on this topic.

Also DDCs for some reason improve soundstage accuracy like crazy too. Still need to dive down that hole deeper eventually myself.

^ this, im not sure why I haven’t bothered to make this thread… as for gaming its quite important but in other music and studios it also can be of importance… it has me rather curious.

It is due to this problem, that I do not use burr brown chips when I am competitive gaming… under no circumstances do I use this as it drives me insane. I love the sound… hate the imaging

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tube pre-amp?

I never really used tube pre amps honestly outside of one special occasion and that was under a recommendation I seen with the thx amps with a cheap tube pre connection… of which I had hooked up to asgard as well… it was alright.

Though for what I am searching for… maybe not the best of choices? Dunno, I don’t have much experience with actual pre amps to begin with.

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if you’re using a peaky treble headphone than the bit of warmth a tube pre-amp would have would likely not be an issue and just tame the hurt and ear bleeds. but tubes are known for creating soundstage, so if you pair it with a DAC and headphone amp that are good on imaging, win?

Check out the Vioelectric/Lakepeople amps. I had the G111, and would argue the soundstage with that with a Zen DAC is still a bit bigger than my Soloist with Merason Frerot. The Burson is a better all rounder for sure, and I thought I wae crazy, but MON said that I’m not, and those Germans know what they’re doing. The clarity and imaging was also very good- the only thing is it didn’t play well with planars hence why I upgraded. Maybe the Vioelectric amps with more power don’t have that problem. I don’t game so I’m a big fan of the Burr Brown chipset. Synergy is important, too, so the idea that “this DAC is great at all these things” may not be true depending on the amp pairing, though I assume this becomes less true the higher you go up the DAC list. My understanding is that you would need to spend thousands on an R2R discrete ladder dac that would give you all of the things you want.

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That is an interesting idea, especially if they can bring up more of the sub bass since many headphones sub bass dips quite a bit instead of being neutral.

May be a good idea to look into for later.

I own a vio alongside a soekris, definitely aware of that setups capabilities for sure.

seems that a lot of german products excel in things such as imaging

Planars? Nah, I don’t have that issue really with any of my own using my vio.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the burr brown chip… its just not a good idea for competitive gaming in particular. Everything else, it’s great. Just that imaging, soundstage, and clarity become even more important…

Seems they become even pickier the higher you go.

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Ive also heard exceptional things about Chord products when it comes to imaging and soundstage, at least with the Qutest- though I steered clear due to the fact they’re not balanced which was a deal breaker for me.

Never tried any chord yet, mon I believe steered me away from them. Forget why