DAC Recommendation to pair with Beyerdynamic A20 and DT880 600 ohm

Hey everyone, long time lurker, first time poster.

I just purchased a well priced Beyerdynamic A20 amp to work alongside a pair of DT880 600 ohm. I’ll likely get another amp down the road for lower impendence headphones, perhaps something like an El II Amp or maybe an archel 2.5, and so I’m thinking of going with the El II dac or the Jnog now as possible contenders to stack later on. I’m also thinking about the E30 and in general am open to any suggestions that anyone has for pairing with the Beyer a20, albeit I’m sure the future amp pairing is more important since it will be used with a greater variety of headphones.

As far as future headphones, I’m definitely am thinking about the Focal Elex, Blon B20, Senn 660s or 800s. I’m not sure if the El II stack or the archel 2.5 with a jnog can run all of those well or if I’d be better off with a different pairing. Currently I’m a bit worried the 880s will end up being a touch too bright, although from what I understand it seems to have a natural sound signature otherwise. I tend to favor a natural timbre and just a tad bit of warmth, if that helps.

Any suggestions or sage wisdom would be much appreciated!


I too bought an A20 (about 3 months ago) to use with my 880 600s. I have a few DACs lying around, but the one I use in my main setup is the Denafrips Ares II, a gorgeous balanced R-2R DAC. Supposedly you shouldn’t have its XLR and RCA outputs connected at the same time, so I send its XLR out to a preamp/switch, and push the button for XLR if I want the Liquid Platinum amp and push the button for RCA if I want the A20 or Archel 2 Pro. Here’s the switch:

I agree, I find the 880s to be on the natural side. I’m not particularly sensitive to brightness, though. Definitely get the Elex. They’re the best headphone I’ve ever heard. They’re so immediate. Music through them just makes so much sense to my musician’s ear. The sound is huge, open, and detailed.

Anyway, since I’ve only ever used my A20 with the Ares II, that would be my recommendation. That DAC has gotten a lot of good press on YouTube lately, including Passion for Sound. Otherwise, the Schiit Bifrost 2 has been very popular here on HFGF. Also since the A20 is RCA in only, you might consider a Schiit Modi or Modi Multibit as well. My Mimby is a solid, appealing little DAC that has served me well. If not for all the recabling, I would try it out on the A20 to compare and contrast the Ares II, but I’m not ready to rearrange multiple rigs at the moment. :wink:

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Thank you for the detailed reply! That Denafrips sounds like it would be amazing, I will have to keep it on my radar if they sell used at a good price. And ya, the Elex has sounded wonderful from the demos I’ve heard online - to me that’s as close to end game as I think my wallet is willing to consider at the moment hah. I’ve heard it’s enough of a sound sig change where I feel like having both the 880 and Elex within the same collection would make sense, especially since it seems like the Elex would be easier to utilize with a pocket amp of some kind. I hear the used market for an Elex isn’t too bad as well, so I may go that way after the budget replenishes.