Confused on best options for HD8XX

I have the HD8XX coming from drop soon within a week or two, and I’ve been researching amps, dacs, tubes and wires more than the actual headphones themselves.

I currently have a mayflower arc mini and schiit fulla 4. Some say they’ll be fine, some they won’t. One thing for sure is the included wires with the HD8XX are crap and to definitely switch those out. But from what I saw that’s suggested, is nothing like the 1/4 connector I’m used to.

I see a lot of people suggested the THX 789 AAA amp but then I’ll need a DAC to go with it? My main source of music will be from PC and iOS device.

Thanks in advance!

I can’t comment on what the best amp to use with the 8xx is, but if you get something like the 789, you could use your fulla 4 as the DAC. Just connect the pre-amp output of the Fulla to the 789. I’m currently doing that with a Fulla 3 and Asgard 3 and it works and sounds great.

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You bought an HD 8__ series, so I’m going to aim higher.
Sell or repurpose your current devices.

How about a Schiit Jotunheim 2 with ESS DAC module $499, all in one.

From Hart Audio Cables, get an HC-13 cable with a Multi-Kit 2.

You can now run this from the balanced output of the amp I’ve chosen (XLR) as well as from the SE or a 3.5mm device when you’re on-the-go.

Also, get Peace/APO equalization installed (free)


Just curious, do you think a Loki would be overkill to pair with the J2? I’m more concerned with using it with an iPad or iPhone. Also, how would I pair an iPhone?

In my example Loki is not possible with an all-in-one. Money no object? Pull the DAC card from the Jot2 and run a Bifrost 2 with a Lokius between them. Modius if money is some object.

Is your listening mostly on the go, or at desk?

What is our budget?

I see, thanks for clarifying! I’m pretty content with around the $499 point, as these are my first “high end” setup and I probably won’t know any difference yet.

This setup will be at a desk.

Thanks again!

Perfect. I’d use digital equalization (for free) for now. You’ll want an on-the-go option, I’d check the broader HD800/S thread for thoughts on what are good portable options are for when you need it. I’d like an xDuoo XD-05 Plus with the BT module. It’s bulky for walking around, but it brings power and build.

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For the love of god, please get a nice tube amp and an equally expensive dac. The treble on any HD8xx is awful without something to bring it down and more balanced.

Do you have any recommendations for tubes?

Liquid Platinum? But IMO for something as resolving as the HD8xx series you could easily move up a price bracket or 3.

I’m 99% sold on the Jotunheim, but I’m wondering if it’s even possible to add a pre amp tube to the setup in the future? I’d probably have to get RCA-XLR adapters but does that ruin the “balanced” feature of XLR? Still learning - but been doing nothing but research the past week!

If you’re doing the built-in DAC, no way.
If you’re really into tubes and Schiit, look at Lyr 3.

If you want to add some quirky balanced affordable tube flavor with 4 tubes to roll, add an xDuoo MT-604 out of the Jot 2’s preamp output.

If you’re REALLY into tubes, you’ll try out OTL tubes like xDuoo TA-26 for cheap or Bottlehead Crack. I don’t try to start people there though. Never sure how much people want to mess with tubes.

I love the 2nd idea! I’m trying to piece this together in my head;

MT-604 balanced output - Jot pre amp input - Jot - HD8xx.

So I wouldn’t be able to use the Jot’s DAC if I get the ESS version? Unless I’m picturing this all wrong


PC (via USB) > Jot 2 (via XLR preouts) > xDuoo MT-604

The Jot 2 is your DAC and solid state amp. When you want to try tubes, you have a pure balanced only tube hybrid amp there to try. Because the MT-604 has separate L/R volume controls, you’ll have the nice potentiometer of the Jot2 to control volume after you set the MT-604 perfectly.

The 604 actually has NO outputs.

If you have another $100 (or $600) in the cushions, getting the Modius as your DAC should be a mild upgrade but I believe there’s a long wait time on these. (Or the BF2 if you’ve got the cash and the want). You’ll need extra cables to connect the two units in this case also.

So the headphones with plug into the MT-604? I’ll need just another set of XLR connectors to pair the MT and Jot

Headphones will plug into either amp.
You’ll have balanced solid state, balanced tube hybrid and single ended solid state to play with. Get the Hart Audio cable set and you’ll have adaptability. Have them make a custom color of your choosing.

Yes, you’ll need a short pair of XLR to connect the two amps together.

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Alright so here’s what I ordered from Hart

Along with the linsoul version of the MT 604 and the JOTUNHEIM with ESS module. I think that’s it?

Yeah, USB into the Jot2 and you should be ready to rock!

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Still waiting for my Hart Audio cables to ship, so I plugged the HD8xx’s into my Schiit Fulla just to hear something, and so far I’m pretty impressed after a little EQ’ing! They definitely are very balanced and kind of muddy without any EQ. I also am not using them at all efficiently with the Fulla. One thing I noticed is the ear cups are HUGE! Not sure what’s going on with Hart Audio, they created a label for shipping days ago but nothing since. I’m sure they’re just backed up. Can’t wait!