Budget Dac/Amp or Stack - Zen vs Heresy?

I’m sure there are a lot of questions like this so I’ll try to be detailed and to the point: I’m looking at something like the Topping D10 and Schitt Heresy or the combo IFI Zen for a desktop headphone setup.

And a main question is other than budget or the benefit for future upgradeability if I will notice a significant benefit from the stack. I expect the stack to be cleaner but not sure if I would actually notice. And I’m not very concerned with balanced output, but it’s an option.

Currently I am using the 58x and Sivga 004 from an AD18 (primarily for the Micca RB42 but which might not be ideal for headphones) and the built in DAC of the MH751 for my desktop. At work I have a K3 and the Sivga 006 for a cheap but decent work setup. I don’t really need anything super high end or anything for hard to drive headphones, I’m mostly using spotify as a sound source. I think the most I’m going to upgrade to in the near future would be the Sivga P-II/Sendy clone or the M570.

So personally I would say the stack because imo it’s more flexible in the future and has a better amp which would matter more in this case imo. The zen dac is pretty nice but unless you run it balanced it’s not the best choice (the fiio k5 pro is my pick for amp prowess for a combo unit in this price imo). I would say if you have the extra budget you would be better off getting the heresy and the d10

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Thanks M0N! I was leaning that way, but didn’t want to spend the extra money if it wasn’t noticeably better. On the one hand there is a lot of good products competing right now so it seems very incremental, but the individual experience and perspective is nice to have.

And the budget is more of a justification then any hard cap honestly. I was talking myself down from the THX 887/789 knowing full well it would be good, but completely overkill so the recent z reviews have improved on that a bit.

I’m just going to say that I prefer the jds atom (and by extension the heresy since they sound so close) to the thx amps. I am personally not the biggest thx fan lol

I’d get the Zen dac through Amazon and save over the stack, if you don’t like it send it back. It shines balanced.

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You so also have to take into account for balanced cables though, so it ends up being a similar price

It sounds good on my HD660s.