Best AMP and DAC stack for Sundara home use

There are many posts mentioning great portable AMP/DAC combos for the Sundara but what I’m looking for now is a clear step up if there is one.

I’ve been using the ifi hip-dac and Drangonfly Red so portability not much of an issue.

But for desktop general use. What is the end-game for the Sundara if price isn’t much of an issue? Is there a consensus on that?

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where do you live and what is the budget you have?

Dangerous question, haha…

What elements of the DFR/Hip do you like and what would you want to change?

So in the Sundara chat I talked about how adding the Zen Can to my Zen Dac (which is similar to the Hip Dac) improved the sound, and it sounds pretty great now. I’m waiting on a backordered Schiit Asgard 3 though which is supposed to sound even better, but I’m going to compare them and see.

However, the DAC/Amp universe is a deep well indeed and you could go and spend over a thousand dollars on a NuPrime Alita or something and it would probably sound spectacular but do you really want to spend that much money?

I could imagine that it would harmonise very well with the Singxer Sa 1.
Little Dot 1+ as a hybrid amplifier could be an insider tip as well as the Darkvoice 335se.
Xudoo ta30 would again be a dac/amp combination but also useful.

Since you already know the Sundara a bit, I would look at what you are missing about it, or what you are still missing.
And then my suggestion to you would be to add to it.
Whereby you are actually not even wrong with the Hip dac with its Truebass function, there should be nothing missing.
Zen Can is certainly not wrong, supposedly both can be boosted with the Truebass if you activate them.

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Given the Sundara is a low to mid end headphone I imagine that it gets to a point that no matter how good the DAC+AMP is it won’t improve it much further.

So two budgets.
One that is the best mid range DAC+AMP stack or combo. Would 700 € be enough for that?

And the true end game for the Sundara if 700 € isn’t enough.

I equally loved both the more neutral and clear sound of the Dragon Red and the warmth of the ifi hip-dac with Truebass. I use the hip-dac more often since it’s more relaxed.
if I could have a DAC+AMP combination that allowed me to switch between both the Red and the hip-dac that would be great.

I’m looking for a clear improvement in my listening experience. Even more detail without sacrificing the awesome bass the ifi hip-dac provides if that’s at all possible.

I’m in Europe.

If the Sundara is as limited as you say then the next logical step would be the Lcd 2C or the Dan clark Aeon 2 open possibly the Noir still from Dan clark.
This will also cover the headphones for later when your dac and amp or dac/amp combo is better.
Even though the Lcd 2C may be expensive it is worth the money if the amping fits.
Alternatively, there is the quad era 1 which unfortunately only allows a certain head size.
It is supposed to be somewhere between the Sundara and the Lcd2 C. It sounds similar to the Monoprice M1070.

I think he’s looking for amp recommendations not headphone recommendations.

Not sure.I mean yes :grin::see_no_evil::v:

I feel with this kinda of question we need to ask @M0N lol. What are one of the best setups for a planar like Sundara (I am careful not to use phrases like end game or the best as I believe there is none)? A Formula S with a 5k DAC or sth? (been lurking in the Abyss thread lol)

Also I probably agree with OP that with a entry to mid range planar like the Sundara perhaps there is a point that it won’t scale much better with better gear

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You could, but should you? Probably not lol. I think the max I would ever personally spend on a sundara would probably be about a grand, pairing it with something like a monolith liquid platinum, flux fa-12s, or lake people g111, and then a nice dac like a bifrost 2 or ares ii for the platinum, a bifrost 2 or actually a chord mojo acting as a dac for the flux (a mytek dac works well here too), or a soekris dac1321 or ares ii for the g111. For some of these dacs that are pushing into the 700 range, you could drop down to something like an allo revolution dac with the nirvana smps and honestly be set with that too which would be more reasonable

Realistically I do think the sundara sounds quite nice off something like an asgard 3 or g103s + allo rev and would probably do it for most people, but it isn’t going to be as accommodating for upgrades later on, and the aforementioned setups still would offer performance that could be worthwhile over the asgard or 103.


Of course you shouldn’t lol. Thanks for the input tho, I got the impression that before setting a budget OP wanted to know what the limit can be for the Sundara with the caveat that it probably won’t scale much further beyond a certain point, and I was curious too, looks like the limit probably is the stuff suggested at over 1k then (depending on local currency)

It can scale higher, but you really start to get the sense of the headphone being a significant bottleneck and little enough difference that it can’t justify the cost. So it’s not a hard limit, but a reasonable stopping point (since you still can hear some difference)

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That’s a very good way to think about whether a gear should (not can) scale further, you don’t want any part of the chain to become the bottleneck

Actually also a question from me if you don’t mind as I have some planars incoming (LCD2), I thought G111 is more of a voltage amp and not a current amp? Or is there such a difference and if so, do planars pair better with current amps (like the Class A flux stuff)?

I would say that with the 1k ish setups you are starting to get the sense that the sundara will need to be upgraded, but it’s bringing enough benefit from the previous tier that it can still be worthwhile (mainly because there isn’t exactly a direct upgrade to the sundara, outside the ananda but that is somewhat different, so it makes more sense to move a bit farther source gear wise since you don’t have a more simple direct headphone path. And moving farther with source gear also sets you up nicely for what you will need for that future headphone upgrade given it has similar synergy requirements and you stay in a similar vein)

G111 is more voltage, but keep in mind that the lcd 2 fazor is higher impedance than normal for a planar so that actually fits into the g111s power curve quite well

Typically planar like current more, the g111 has enough current though that most planar end up being in it’s power band quite nicely. Although something like an aeon 2 doesn’t work well with the g111 since that’s more outside it’s power band

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Thanks, that makes sense. Is the MLP and V200 voltage amp as well, but suitable for high impedance planars? Is there a way to tell if an amp is voltage or current oriented?

The v200 is a bit more voltage focused like the g111, but is still solid for most planar, the mlp is very current focused

So you can tell if an amp is current limited if the power doesn’t double into 1/2 impedance. So for speaker amps if it delivers 100w into 8 ohms, 200 into 4 ohms and 400 into 2, that’s a good indicator of an amp having lots of current on tap. If an amp is more around 100w into 8 and 150 into 4, that typically means it’s somewhat current limited. More voltage focused amps will typically have a power band that more favors higher impedance or has less significant or linear drop off in the higher impedance (like how with the g111 it makes the most power at 100 ohms but still a healthy amount at 32 ohms, but also has more on tap for 300 and 600 ohms than other amps)


Yes. That’s pretty much it.

I’m considering getting the most out of the Sundara and staying there until eventually I might consider buying new headphones.

So your proposals are pretty much what I’m looking for. An AMP and DAC to reach the spot where its not worth to spend much more on it unless I’m willing to upgrade to higher end headphones.

Thanks a lot for the suggestions.

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Just to check, what aspects of the sundara do you want to focus on? Like any specific signature you are after, and what do you like about the sundara and what would you want to change for the source gear upgrade?

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