Desktop Audio Upgrade (Zen Dac + Cans)

Greetings !!

Hope you are all doing well. First post here, if in the wrong section I am really sorry. Mods may delete or move as needed.

I am looking at upgrading my desktop audio setup. I use my current setup for gaming (Semi Competitive FPS) and music.

I am considering getting the Zen Dac/v2 and was wondering if this kind of DAC/AMP would work for gaming purposes as I know it will be perfect for music. (wondering about positional audio and sound stage)

The next question is would this DAC work for something like the DT880 600ohm cans ? … Or would you require something that can provide much more power ?

I really am not sure which headset to go with, I listed to pretty much all genres of music, if you guys have a better suggestion I am open to suggestions. (Budget around 200 USD, slightly flexible)

All advice much appreciated.

Welcome to HiFi Guides!

The zen dac is a fine dac. its a decent amp. It wont play dt880’s 600ohm very well. its a bit much for the amp.

is your total budget around 200$?

Thanks for the reply. :slightly_smiling_face:

$200 for the headphones alone (slightly flexible), the DAC budget is separate. ($150, less flexible unless we have spare cash from the headphone budget)

Is there any advantage for my use case to look at 600ohm headphones, or will the 250ohm range be fine ? … For example 990 Pro 250ohm vs 880 600ohm.


PS: pretty new to this side of the hobby, please expect stupid questions. haha

200 bucks for headphones? HE400SE

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there are advantages in your use case to go with the 600ohm. but not in your budget tbh. the variations of the dt line(770/880/990) have different tuning. they also sound different depending on sensitivity. the higher sensitive ones tend to have better control and a cleaner sound.

i love my zen dac. but i think your budget and use case, might be better buying an amp and headphones for now and using windows dac for the time being. your headphone options will increase a lot. good headphones paired with an amp, will make more of a difference then a dac at this price point by a decent chunk.

edit: skipping the dac will let you get an amp to power the dt880 600ohm for instance.

edit2: alternately, if you are in no rush, check for used stacks. people sell them all the time. you can usually get a used stack for around 150$ or less for the 200-250$ stacks.

Thanks for the good info. The only reason I was looking at a DAC/AMP combo was due to my sound card dying and I wasnt sure how well windows would handle things.

Which amp would you suggest for the 600ohm range of headphones. (keeping as close to budget as possible, I can definitely save up a little bit, not in the biggest hurry)

you could get asgard3 from schiit for 200$(you may have to save for a few, but its all the amp 90% or more, of people need for most headphones)
xduoo’s new mt line is nice, the mt-602 is 99$
monoprice liquid spark for 99$(monoprice sells for 109.99 on their site, but sells it with faster shipping, for 99$ on walmarts site)

those amps should all pair well with dt880 600ohms. the 880 600ohms are very neutral, i found using neutral amps with them made them to clinical and lifeless for my tastes. throw in a touch of warmth, like the amps above have, and it is a much more enjoyable experience listening to music. but thats me. if you think, or know, that you like the clinical sound, we can recommend amps for that as well.

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Thanks so much for answering a noob. This information is greatly appreciated. :slight_smile:

I will look at all options mentioned.


I just upgraded from a liquid spark to an Asgard 3. I was going to put the spark up for sale soon once I dig out the box from my storage unit. I also have a topping E30 dac laying around not being used. If you were to up your budget a bit a could let them go as a stack, or just the liquid spark if budget is tight. Both are less than a year old and in like new condition. Still do some research and see what you really want, if these are of interest we can talk when you are ready :v:.


Sorry for the super late reply, life got a bit rough. I would love to take you up on your offer but my budget has sadly changed and shipping to my country would most likely bankrupt me. haha.


So it seems I will be going to the Zen Dac and then pairing it with a Zen Can later or possibly a different amp, the main thing I am stuck with is:

HE400SE vs HE400SE V2 (what is the difference, only Linsoul seems to have the V2)
HE400SE vs DT990 Pro 250ohm.

So far I am leaning towards the HE400SE, how would these fair on the Zen Dac, would it still have a decent sound stage and imaging (think this is the right term, accurate placing of sounds)

hey WLCEB, just make sure you buy the Zen DAC v2 and not the Signature DAC, as it doesn’t have the headphone amp portion. :slight_smile:

No worries at all, didn’t really think to ask if you were outside of the U.S. shipping can definitely be a pain and expensive. Good luck on your joirney!

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I almost made that mistake when I started looking originally, thanks for the heads-up though :slight_smile:

Any dac amp combos with a output switch and mic compatibility?

I want to run my powered monitors and headphones+mic off preferably one device (not completely opposed to a stack but space is limited) with a switch to go between the 2

Headphones will be sph9500, k361 or m40x I haven’t decided yet

Mic will be something from vmoda probably the boom pro

Powered monitors are from harmon/kardon and only have 3.5mm as the input

Source is my desktop I have line out usb and optical to choose from

Not sure if all the extra info was needed thanks in advance

hey Scott! firstly, welcome to HFG! secondly…I suggest a mod move this into the gaming forum where it’s more in tune with the help you’re asking for.

also, if you’re starting from scratch, which it sounds like, let us know your budget for EVERYTHING, including headphones and see what we can come up with suggestions that fit…cause if you plan on gaming with the three headphones you mentioned, none of them are a good start.

I thought this was the gaming section, budget isn’t much of a issue but I don’t want to spend a absolute fortune either

my bad…you’re right…it is under the right forum, just it should be it’s own thread to discuss your particular set of needs. :slight_smile:

Ah, I just picked here cuss it’s recently active lol, I’m curious why you say my headphones picks aren’t good for gaming? Sph9500s are highly recommended for gaming audio