so i ordered single ended argon mk3s yesterday and need to buy an amp to power them. i dont need a DAC because im on a macbook which already has a good DAC (?). anyways my main targets are the ifi micro idsd silver for $250, monoprice liquid spark for 100, fiios k5 pro for 150, magni 3+ or heresy for 120. now i know that all of these will atleast be able to ouput sound but id like to properly drive the argons. should i just pull the trigger on the $250 micro idsd or do you think it will be diminishing returns compared to the magni 3 or liquid spark?
We are in somewhat of a golden age of budget headphone amps. It can be confusing. I tried to distill some of it down with a budget amp roundup here. For Argons my personal true budget pick would be the Monolith Liquid Spark. Others may disagree but I thought it paired really well with my Dekoni Blues - which are built on the same Fostex T50rp frame and driver the Argon is built. The best <$200 amp is the Schiit Asgard 3, IMO. I’d steer you that way if you think you’ll buy more headphones to try out. If you go the Spark route, though you still have good $ left over for a dac. Really any of the entry level dacs, the matching Liquid Spark dac, JDS Labs Atom Dac, Schiit Modi 3+, SMSL Sanskrit 10th Anniversary Edition, Topping E30, the list goes on, are solid and will be an upgrade over your Macbook’s output. Hope this helps. Good luck with the search!
thankyou. well it is an ebay post, not sure about the listing youre referencing, but i messaged the guy and he said he could do $250 shipped if i sent the offer so yeah. I scoured hifishark and it was the lowest price i could find in USA there was a couple for 200$ in sweden and i messaged them asking about shipping cost but im assuming it will be pricey to ship to the west coast.
So, get opinions on your other options (I dont know much about the non-portable side since I’m just always potable), but talking purely about the going rate for the iDSD $250 for it isnt horrible. You will probably get $175 back out of it in good condition in a year if you change around your setup. I would guestimate a comparable loss to what you could expect from buying a new $250 stack, but its not a price at which you will get everything (minus fees ad shipping) back when you upgrade. If you do go that way, thats just something to keep in mind
thankyou for the reply! the schiit asgard looks very promising ngl. 2 questions: does a macbook urgently need a DAC to go with an amp or is it true that it has a competent DAC in it? secondly, do you have any experience or knowledge with the ifi micro idsd and how it compares to other products?
sounds good. in your experience do you know about how ~$200 micro idsds go up for sale? i dont mind waiting since my argons wont be here for weeks maybe months, and i dont mind checking hifishark every single day if i have to but at the same time i dont want to miss out on this ebay listing.
also, through looking at other posts, i see that you snagged the black label for 275. do you know if theres a difference in power between the silver and black label? or is it just better audio quality?
Technically no. An outboard, standalone DAC will give you performance boost, but it will be perfectly functional and still an upgrade over your current setup to go direct from the Macbook to the Asgard (or any other amp). You’ll just need a 3.5mm to RCA “Y” cable. Many have bought an amp first, let funds recover, and then bought a dac. Nothing wrong with that approach.
Not directly, no. I’ve used the iFi Hip-DAC which is a different thing. For any of those “portable” units though I would worry about the power. The Argon is a hard to drive headphone and is probably best served by an amp that draws wall power instead of battery. I’ll tag @Ohmboy tho because he has experience with iFi’s portable amp/dacs. He’s in UK though so it might be tomorrow before you hear from him.
Micro BL has about 4W output, so should handle the Argons just fine. It’s not super portable, though, as it’s quite a brick. The XD-05 might be an option, though, for something more portable in the price range. I ran my Argons on a Monoprice THX portable when I had them and thought it did okay with much less power than either of the aforementioned.
Which is very fair. its a call you have to make. I typicaly see 1-2/month. Not very often and not always in the US
The same 4W output, just better sound in the BL (and MQA). Just as a heads up though, the BL typicaly stay in the 350 range. i only got mine that cheap because it was missing a couple accessories and one of switches on the side is missing its rubber nub
Lol, true. FWIW, i do carry it arund in my pocket for hours while I listen though. I wouldnt use it walking down the stree, but walking around the house its fine.
Also, only reason it came up is because OP asked about cheap SE power and at 4W for ~$200 it was the best deal I could think of. I think OP is planning on using it on a desk
Hi and welcome to HFGF I agree with pretty much all that’s been said about the Micro silver, yes it’ll power the Argon’s just fine, it’s sorta portable or probably the best way to put it is it can be used away from a power source, It’s very versatile with it’s 3 gain settings 2 iEMatch settings, X-Bass and 3D sound toggle plus a line out which is also useful if you want use another power source ie tube amp etc. I use my Micro silver predominantly for IEM’s so having all the various gain/match options is a real bonus.
So with the Micro you basically have a very versatile, great Burr Brown chipped DAC with the phono out option…as said if you snag one for between $200-250 I’d say do it but again this might well depend on any HP up grades you might make, if you went down @WaveTheory route and carried on using MacBook and got the Asgard 3 which would work just fine for the Argons and waited to get a Dac that would pair well with the Asgard and any future HP purchases.
Either option is solid IMHO it’ll really come down to what your HP progress might be, if you intend on upgrades then the Asgard would scale better with higher end dacs so is more future proof in that regard.
Also, to note, ifi uses analog volume pots so there is some imbalance on the bottom 1/5th of the range in most units. If you like listening real quiet (like I do) you may be required to turn your digital source way down on more sensitive headphones to get the desired volumes. I have to do thus on my LCDs for example
thanks for the info. I do plan to experiment more past the argons, probably up to the $600 price range. I was eyeing the DT1990 pros but i probably wouldnt go past that price point (of course i say that now but who knows). And as for DACs, the first stand alone dac i buy in the $150-200 range will likely be the last DAC i buy atleast for a good while. I was looking at the schiit modi 3 and the monolith liquid spark for if i went the asgard 3 route. thoughts?
I didn’t completely follow your last bit about DACs there. Are you looking to spend $150-200 right now? Your mention of Modi 3 and LS DAC suggests $99. Either of those 2 dacs will be more than competent. If you went to $200 for the DAC I’d say go for the Modius. The next sound quality step up from there will cost you around $700 right now so you’re right that you might have it for awhile.