DAC for Hifiman XS and speakers

I’m looking for a new DAC → headphones / passive speakers solution. There are so many devices out there, I’m not sure where to start.

I currently have an all in one Topping MX3. Sources are Macbook w/ TIdal, PS5 and Nintendo Switch. I switch between sources with a USB switch. For the Nintendo Switch I use headphones or the Topping’s Aux In.

I mainly need the Topping as a speaker amp to power my passive Jamos. Honestly, I don’t care too much about the speaker quality since I’m in a townhouse and I can’t do any critical listening anyway.

However, I’ve bought the Hifiman Edition XS, arriving tomorrow, and I do care about the headphone output. I will not use them with gaming, just music via Macbook.

I would love to stay well under $200-$300 max and I’d love to have a single device or matching stack to do all of the above. Having done music creation in the past, I can hear how bad the Topping is and I can hear the difference between balanced and unbalanced, so if these headphones can support balanced, I’m interested in going that route.

My first thought is one new DAC with a balanced headphone output and a digital out or analog out to the Topping. Other option, one or two new devices, sell the Topping.

Lastly, I like the idea of adding a tube amp to the mix, thus the modularity aspect, but I’m not sure if I’m ready for that.

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Kind of loving this…

Try to get used EF400 as it will be in your budget

I was using Edition XS with Topping E70V and Singxer SA1 stack, it was an overkill

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The Hifiman EF 499 is also an option at $300.

As far as tube amps go, I will be taking that plunge myself next month starting with the Schiit Audio Vali 3. It has a lot of buzz right now over on Head-fi, and it is supposed to have incredible sound quality and tube flavor at its price. I have already been asking for tube recommendations, and there are a lot of good options.

If you are willing to spend a bit more on the DAC and Amp then there are some good offerings from Schiit Audio. Granted that they have a house sound, so I guess it would depend on whether or not that suits your tastes/needs.


This is a best bang for buck setup in that it will power nearly any headphone. I have been told by Modhouse Tungsten owners that it competently powers those as well. Similarly powers the Hifiman HE6SE v2 which are also notorious for being harder to drive to their max potential. Like I said earlier though, it depends on your ears as to whether or not this combo suits you. If you have any other questions feel free to ask. :wink:

Good luck to you, and Happy Listening!:grin:

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Thank you all! I ended up with a Topping E50/L50 stack because of a ridiculously low price of $250. I’ll probably just replace my MX3 with something super simple.

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