DAC/AMP for DT990s & Microphone questions for a beginner

Hi guys!

I’m looking at upgrading my current setup with just a PC373d and am currently thinking of buying the DT990’s for competitive gaming (75%) and listening to music/watching videos casually at other times (25%). Just looking for some guidance!

  1. Is there a significant difference between the 250 ohm & 600 ohm versoins & is it worth the extra cost? ($239 AUD vs $329 AUD) Most online stores in Australia atm only have the 250 ohm.

  2. I was also wondering what DAC/AMP combos are recommended.

I’m very new to audio setups and i’m based in Australia. I’ve had a look around on some forums, and I’ve seen the soundblasterX G6 being paired up with the DT990’s quite a lot. What do you guys recommend? I don’t necessarily have a budget because i’m not too sure what the price range is for DAC & Amps; but I guess <$300 AUD atm given that the G6 is $229.

I’m happy to buy AMP/DACs separately if that provides an increase in audio quality but otherwise i’m okay with combos.
EDIT: I’ve also been hearing a lot about Schiit stacks (Modi + Magni) but unfortunately the only site that I have found for them sells them at $260 AUD each, which is total $340 USD… is there viable alternatives?

  1. I’d also like to have a microphone paired with the DT990’s. I was thinking of getting a modmic, as opposed to a desktop mic. I don’t care too much for mic quality as i’m just using it to talk over discord.

Sorry for the long post, any help and recommendations would be greatly appreciated as i feel quite lost with a bunch of information overload haha.

Cheers,

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Hey there, welcome to HIfiguides, So I may be able to offer some help or information in some sort but I would have a few questions before I can do so. Got a bit of a wall of text here sorry about that but quite a bit to cover and ask on this one lol. Hope that’s ok.

I would first ask, is this your first brighter headphone purchase? The DT 990 is extremely sharp on treble and very bassy with vocals pushed in the back due it’s recessed mids. The SSS sounds people make can be extremely uncomfortable for a lot of people. If this is your first bright headphone and your set on the 990 I would highly encourage making absolutely sure there is a good return and refund policy just in case it is too much. I would hate to have someone pick up a headphone, have it be painful to the ears, and not be able to return it. Keep in mind, since this is for competitive gaming, that the dt 990 is very bassy which can get in the way of fps sounds as footsteps and the like. It’s still good but there are better options in this area and it’s definitely not the best Daily driver for casual use so to speak.

If its literally $100 more? No, it’s not particularly worth it. While you do stand to gain better sound from 600 ohm and more refinement in the highs, it’s not particularly required and you will need a strong amp to power the 600 ohm much more than the 250 ohm.

By combo do you mean a Combo unit like a 2 in 1 unit? For this kind of headphone you would want something that can roll off that treble peak. Something clean and neutral is fine if you aren’t treble sensitive otherwise you definitely need a particular amp as 990 is pretty particular in this regard.

So, my question would be is this for Consoles? If so, that limits the choices you have at your disposal by quite a lot as you need an optical port for console use. You can get away with seperate units as there’s quite a few dacs that have this port but for combo units G6 and a small handful of others are the main ones for choice. I don’t particularly think the G6 is good unless this is console gaming… its decent but not really all that great honestly. If it’s pc gaming I would definitely have a completely seperate recommendation.

Generally, dedicated units(meaning seperate amp and seperate dac) will provide better results, sound, and power. Granted they generally will cost a bit more than a combo unit.

So, schiit is a bit of a strange one. They have good equipment but they are hard to get outside of the USA. There are viable alternatives if you are looking at seperate units. If we are bringing the Magni 3+ into play thats a $100 amp… the alternatives to the magni are JDS Atom, Topping A30, and Monoprice Liquid Spark granted I may be forgetting a couple but those are the ones that come to mind immediately with the Spark over there being the best for brighter headphones such as the 990 followed respectively by the magni with atom and a30 being the more neutral clean sounding amps.

Mics have multiple options. Modmic is one of those. DT 990 and its brothers 880(semi open back) 770 (closed back) can actually be modified to have a detachable cable allowing use of 3.5mm attachable boom mics such as v -moda boom pro provided you can do the mod yourself or find someone who can do it for you. Other options are like you mentioned a desktop mic or a lavalier mic which is a clip on microphone for your shirt, cable, etc.

Lol, it’s quite alright. There’s a lot to understand in audio. Take your time find what works best.

As far as further recommendations… I would have to ask for answers to the previous questions listed before I can actually further recommend anything… I do have a guide on here over in the competitive forums if you want to take a look. Falenkor's Competitive Headphone Write Up. Now with added Hardware explanations! it may help explain a few things, provide some extra guidance, and also have explaination to the ideal sound for a competitive gamer headphone and why it is that the style of sound is more ideal. You of course have “all rounder” headphones which may be what your looking for instead in this case due to regular video watching but I feel it’s worth mentioning that… Note that guide was written a bit in a hrry and should be taken with just a general sense of minor recommendations.

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Hey Falenkor! Thanks so much for this response very much appreciated!

So yeah i’ve actually had a look at your guide & it was one of the first few things I looked a few weeks ago before I just made this post. Not too sure how to reply to your blocks of text like you’ve done for me so hopefully this will still be relatively readable.

The DT990’s are going to be my first brighter headphone purchase and i’ve defs been hearing about how it can be quite uncomfy for some people. I haven’t had much experience with actual headphones in the past, so I’m not too sure how i’ll handle it. The site i’m looking at does have a 21 day return policy, so I’m not too fussed about that.

Before I decided on the DT990’s I was also looking at the HD58x’s & HD660s which I’ve heard pretty good things about. But I ended up leaning towards the DT990s as they’ve apparently got better imaging which is good for positiong? (and also because of the cost of the 660s) I also prefer open backs.

I’m going to be using this setup on PC so i’d be very happy to hear you out for any recommendations you’ve got. I don’t mind either the 2 in 1 units or having a stack. At the moment i’m leaning towards a stack just for convenience, but if having a stack at a little bit of an extra cost will provide noticeable differences then i’d prefer that.

I can find the JDS Labs atom for $240 AUD, but would I need the DAC as well?

Can’t find the Spark online from Aus retailers :frowning:

I’ll have a look into Modmic options!

Thanks for your time again :slight_smile:

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I would typically recommend something not as severe, such as the dt 880 in this case while yes it does lack a bit in the bass department(it falls under neutral) it’s a bit more well rounded as a daily driver and more neutral just with brightness, granted not as bright as the 990 or 770. It’s also better than the 990 for competitives due to less bass. With the 880s though you can equalize it or change the pads to a suede or leather and it will have quite a bit more punch to the bass.

In this case, considering the 990 was my first beyer and bright headphone, it’s worth a shot. Will definitely tell you if you have any sensitivity towards it.

So, all three of those are open back headphones. In the case of the 990s the imaging is very laser accurate and tends to be a specialty of the lineup from beyerdynamic. Imaging is indeed your audio positioning in games without it you cannot accurately pinpoint where the sound is at but it also goes hand in hand with seperation which is the headphones ability to seperate sounds from one another for better placement as well as soundstage which is your range of sound around your head. In the Sennheisers case they are extremely neutral in sound signature with both having good imaging however the drawback is the soundstage. 660s has a very narrow soundstage while this is okay for games like cod, sometimes cs:go, etc the more smaller battlefield scenarios it suffers in larger games like tarkov, valorant in some cases, battlefield, etc. 58x is your fairly average size soundstage and very neutral sounding headphone… it really doesn’t fail in anything but it’s not particularly fantastic at anything it’s just in generally really good meanwhile the 880(semi open) and 990(fully open) both have larger soundstage, better imaging, and a signature thats generally better for competitive gaming outside of the 990 having too much bass.

Ah okay so a few things then. One of which is I highly encourage looking up and downloading a free software called Peace APO it’s two downloads takes some very minor setup(you have to go in and choose to install the driver software to whatever amp your using and restart the pc). Once done you can use it as a sort of pre amp if the amp itself is just a bit too quiet but you can also freely change around the sound such as less treble, more vocals, more or less bass, etc it can also work on your microphone connection if you so decide to implement the software into the mic to give you voice a bit more depth, bass, some clarity, etc.

As for amps, its extremely unfortunate that you cannot find the spark. To save money though and go with combo unit I would high encourage trying to find an Ifi Zen Dac while it’s warmer so the bass with be a little more present and vocals will have some nice sound it has rolled treble which will allow you to deal with the present sibilance. It’s also cheap at around $120 over here so it should be obtainable. The biggest issue is the extra cost to the power supply while not needed it can help the dac if you have any distortion sounds and can also help the sound be a bit better(though granted the power supply is like an additional $100 at that point your better off with seperate units). As for the JDS atom speaking generally you stand to gain benefit from using a dac as it will clean up the sound… though it’s not particularly a -requirement- so to speak. Dacs are good for if your pc is generating a background buzz or distortion due to the inner workings such as the processor or graphics card introducing electro interference through the lines which is fairly common without a good motherboard and even then in some cases you just need a dac. The only other combo unit I can think of would be the Schiit Fulla 3 not the strongest but works fine for 250 ohms and below(less you plan to pick up a planar or 600 ohm headphone later down the road this one can work fine). Amps listed will suit you just fine. Stay away from THX amps as they will make your headphones even brighter.

Uni runs a bit -hot- so to speak or rather I should say just very sensitive… it sounds decent for the price but without some configurations it may pick up a bit of background. USB is the more well rounded one sounds good. Wireless is most expensive but only has like 10 hours battery life. So choice is yours the wired variants have cable clips allowing you to just clip the headphone and mic cables together… you can get some wire mesh tubing for a bit more secure wire combination and it looks better in my opinion.

Edit:

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Yeah defs thinking of giving the DT990s a shot just to see if I’ve got sensitivity issue & what not.

Yeah haha that’s what i’ve been hearing too & is what is really driving me to lean towards the DT990s considering most games I play are fps and have been getting into Tarkov recently too. Funny enough, Tarkov is actually one of the reasons why i was looking to upgrade.

What do you mean by the need for an additional power supply? Would the Zen Dac require an external PSU? Haha sorry if that’s a stupid question

What DAC would you recommend to be paired with the JDS atom?

I’ve also been looking up reviews between the Zen Dac & the JDS vs the K5. What are your thoughts about the K5 paired with the DT990s?

Literally sound placement the video game right there… makes sense to want better sound.

Well, it comes with a usb cable that plugs into the pc for power. The power supply aka iPower or iPower X can give the ifi zen dac a bit more amperage power, cleaner sound more so if you have any sort of buzz from the dac being directly connected in the iPower X’s case this is increased further but is the more expensive part… (This isn’t required… but it’s an option later… granted you can probably find these power supplies cheap at some point or through bundles from time to time through ifi’s later units)

E30. Not even going to bother mentioning another Dac considering its the 990 with this one. 990s a picky one wrong setups cause discomfort. Cheaper? Topping D10

Tried it, didn’t like it and not the best for driving a 600 ohm either. While clean I felt the atom as better by a big margin especially in backing power only issue is that the Atom has a slight edge to it which is yet another reason I say… e30. K5 is also an amp/dac combo as is the Zen Dac.

Since you cannot get the spark yeah… you may be alright with the atom + e30. Otherwise 990. 250 ohms + ifi zen dac as it rolls off the treble. If you had the 990 600 ohm balanced or the power supply you could probably just run the 600 ohm on the ifi zen.

Atom can run 600 ohm easily as its a dedicated unit with a lot of power behind it.

Ok perfect, so at the moment i’m now tossing up between

DT990’s 250 ohm paried with either
a) Zen dac ($199 aud)
b) JDS Atom ($240) + E30 ($209) or D10 ($180) = $449 or $420
c) K5 ($309)

I’ve actually had a look on their website and found that they do offer international shipping… it’s just that it is $66 USD. Not sure if thats worth.

d) Spark ($166 USD) incl. shipping = $231

So between all these options i’m leaning towards the Zen Dac. What do you think? Are the higher prices for any other the options worth it for any noticeable increase in quality overall? (in a gaming context too)

Will the effects of a lack of power supply be very noticeable if i’m just plugging the Zen Dac straight into the PC?

Back the the microphone discussion - i’m thinking of just getting one of the modmics, either Uni-directional or USB. Would I be plugging the Uni into the Zen Dac, or directly into my motherboard?

Thanks so much for your advice btw very much appreciated!

The prices sound about right… over here a zen dac is slightly more expensive than a spark or atom and of course the dac is about the same price as those amps. I think you will be just fine with a zen dac. Otherwise seeing how the spark is slightly cheaper than the atom you listed I would recommend that route + d10 if you were to go the more expensive route and cross off the K5 as I do not feel at all that it’s worth it for brighter headphones.

To some people it’s night and day, but it also depends on the pc. You gain more amp power, to me its slightly better overall quality in sound and it sounds cleaner, and if any buzz sound was coming off the direct connection to the pc well that becomes resolved due to now using a actual power adapter. I do think it’s worth it if you plan to just stay with zen dac for a very long time… but as a potential later on purchase otherwise skip it.

zen dac does not have a mic input. Most amp/dacs will not have that. Uni runs hot as in very sensitive. while it’s cheaper I would definitely recomend the usb as it sounds much better in my opinion and both plug directly into the motherboard. USB is also better if your pc 3.5mm has any feedback coming through much like your headphones when you need a dac…

I used the 990 two years for gaming i was really happy with it as amp i used the sxfi amp dongle it has a preset for the 990 and it sounded great

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Yeah I reckon i’ll just get the Zen Dac for now, and maybe in a few years time get an upgrade! Where oes the Zen Dac sit in terms of if its an entry level dac/amp or mid?

Think i’ve decided on the Zen dac + DT990s 250 ohm + usb modmic :slight_smile: Cheers for the help.

Are there any things I should be watching out for when setting it up aside from the Peace APO?

It’s fairly entry level as a combo unit. Sounds alright. I personally think dedicated units do sound better but as a combo unit it’s definitely not bad at all better than syba sonic, fx audio x6, and creatives amps but I wouldn’t particularly call it better than the dedicated $100 units like spark, atom, magni, etc as they sound better and are much stronger

sounds good

Not that I can think of at this point in time? setup is simple as it gets. plug it all in, install peace apo(you do have to go into its configurator to make sure you enable actual installation to whatever which is when it tells you to reset the pc). Only other thing would be like dolby atmos / hesuvi which are essentially your 7.1 surround sound audio software.

I wouldn’t say it has a preset specifically designed for a 990 but it does have it to where you set what headphone your using due to the 3d holography or rather… essentially whats a better designed 7.1 surround sound software as it takes your ear design with that software as well as the design of the headphone… Honestly sounds better than most 7.1 trash and I would call it dolby atmos - lite except it works on like everything. My only issue with it is that… they want to sell these units with such a software for well over $100 instead of selling the software itself for implementation to other setups. Sound wise creatives amps are… decent. Only one I would remotely recommend from them is the G6 and only for consoles. If anything I would say their dacs are quite alright… amps are meh, sound is meh, sxfi is a bit of a gimmick

The preset equalizes the headphone you choose you can hear the change also with sxfi disabled. I would love to see how the eq curve looks. Definitely less treble more fordward mids more mid bass and less subass. It was a really good eq preset But the dac/amp it self is really meh.but I still use this combo with my laptop on lan partys

The zen dac with apo and hesuvi will definitely have better results.

oh easily as you can just freely customize that as well lol.

I mean, it’s nice but that little dongle being used at over $100 just for its sxfi software? I mean, I would definitely say yea use it if you have it otherwise man thats rather overpriced as hell.

Of course yes its overpriced you just pay for the software it was togheter with the dt 990 my first real audio purchase i would not buy it again. I didn’t know about apo and hesuvi

Oh man been doing more research in the past few hours and really leaning towards the Spark now, because I’ve also just checked that it’ll be delivered by the 20th too.

Whats the primary difference between the Topping e30 & d10 if I were to get a spark + one of those?

I’ve also been hearing that with the spark, you’d need an RCA cable or something? I’ll do a bit more looking around with how to set it up, but do I need any additional wiring to connect to my PC with a Spark + D10/E30?

Cheers

E30 and D10. Theres differences in their respective forums however I noticed instantly it was quite a bit cleaner bit more detailed potentially a bit warmer. E30 uses two usb cables 1 for a wall wart cell phone like connector the other to connect to the pc. Spark is just spark. it has its respective sound which is warm with rolled smooth treble

Cheap rca cables yea https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003L1717K/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1 like those there is what I had ordered. It connects the amp and dac together.

not particularly outside the wall wart(less you want to just plug both usb’s running off the pc which is fine but you use two ports on the pc) and rca cables… e30 comes with both usb cables but not a wall wart. They do not come with RCA cables which is honestly pretty strange.

Setup is simple. Spark has it’s own power supply for the wall connect the rca cables between e30 and the spark. E30 has to use its power supply connector that has a usb on the other end to either a wall wart or the pc usb slot… then connect its other usb - usb to the pc for the connection. Afterwards it will all be able to be used so then you just plug your headphones into the spark

Was this for the E30 or D10? The E30 is about $30 AUD more expensive, do you reckon it’s worth the upgrade?

Ok sounds good. Would literally any RCA cable work?

I’m havign trouble visualising this ahaha. Is this wiring the same for D10 btw?

E30. Yeah, over here D10 is $100 while E30 is $130. Do I think it’s worth it? I mean, if you have that extra cash… sure otherwise no

haven’t bothered to try changing cables so can’t really comment on that.

lol it sounds a bit more complicated than it is. No D10 is a single plug that goes straight to the computer. E30 keeps that plug but adds a power supply plug cable.

Yea alright haha yolo think i’ll go the spark route + E30 now because seems more worth it in the long run & Sparks got good reviews.

I’ll just cop the same cables as you because I can find that on the amazon au too.

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Fantastic unit…

990 + spark + e30? Grab 600 ohm 990 then as spark can easily run it. Also, that was my starter into this hobby lol.

Suit yourself.