DT1990 Pro - Amp/Dac help

DT 1990 - What amp/dac combo to get?

Hi ya’ll I was wondering, would the DT 1990 work well with the monolith thx 788? If you guys have, how is your experience thus far?

What other amp/dac combos or stacks would you suggest?
Will mainly use these while listening to music, gaming and movies.

Budget roughly around: 500 usd below.

Side note: I’m having my DT 1990 modded to cater a balanced connection.


Hi! Welcome to HFGF!

The direct answer to your first question is yes. The THX788 will drive a balance-modded DT1990 just fine. However, I (and many on this forum) will argue that THX amps and Beyer headphones are not a great sonic match. IMO THX is a bit overrated. Here are some options to consider:

For amp/dacs: JDS Labs Element II or Schiit Asgard 3 with Multibit dac module. The Asgard 3 also has a $99 AKM dac module option but from my understanding the multibit module sounds much better.

If you’re willing to look at a separate amp and dac stack, IMO the Schiit Asgard 3 amp (with no dac modules) is going to be really, really hard to beat for your needs at this price. You can pair it with any dac you want $200 and under and beat $500. Schiit’s Modius dac is a good aesthetic match and sounds really good. The Topping E30 is becoming the standard recommendation for budget dac.

Finally, if balanced is really important to you (I personally wouldn’t worry about it yet even though modding the 1990 is a good future proofing step) you can look into the Schiit Magnius amp. Others I trust still say the Asgard is a better sounding amp but that the Magnius gives you THX-level measurements and sound for far less money.

Enjoy! Looking forward to hearing what you decide on and how it sounds!


I agree with what @WaveTheory says too, with your $500 budget, you could get an a3 and e30 and have some money left over for other goodies :+1:


What other headphone can you suggest that’s 600 and below. I really prefer the monolith since, it’s an all in one solution, great performance per reviews and really eye catching lmao. I heard tube amps work really well with the beyer’s? What are your thoughts?

Quick sidenote for why I want a thx amp: Coming from a Sundara, I paired them with the smsl sp200 and zen dac, thats what made me in love with THX, but I understand sound can be really subjective.

2 quick questions before I can start doing any recommendations:

Are you still running the Zen+SP200+Sundara chain?

What are you looking for in your new purchase (more/less bass, more Soundstage, better match for a style of music, etc.)?

Nope sold the sundara and smsl. Reason for “upgrade” I want more soundstage and more detailed. Zen is still me though, but will eventually sell. These are the music i listen to: Jazz, indie, hip hop, rap, rnb, electronic, house.

FWIW One of the oft criticized aspects of the THX amps is there extremely flat staging.

Ok, more detail and more soundstage and a variety of musical styles. I need to ask one more clarifying question. You’ve mentioned $500 for amp/dac and $600 for headphones. Is it safe to assume your total budget right now is in the $1100 range? If so, I have an idea that if you go for it, will give you everything you’re looking for and likely rock your world, if you’re willing to give it shot.

Well my budget in totality:
Amp/dac 500-550
Headphones: 600-700 (Can also buy used to make it cheaper)

Sure go ahead. What is your suggestion. Hehe

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OK, the biggest changes to sound come from the headphone (or speakers). The magnitude of changes goes headphone > amp > dac, with rare exception. For headphone I would recommend you look into a used HiFiMan Edition X V2 (HexV2 for short). They have a huge, spacious sound, excellent detail, good timbre, and some really good bass extension and slam to go with it all. They can typically be found for $600-800 depending on condition. Recently there was a HexV2 for sale on Reddit for $600 I think with a little bit of cosmetic scuffing. There are rumblings - though nothing confirmed yet - that a couple of HFGF members have sets they might be selling soon. Point is, these HexV2s are out there if you’re willing to look for them.

Amp/dac I need to explain a little bit more. Moving from Zen + SP200 to Monolith 788 is not an upgrade, it’s a lateral move at best. The amplifier section of the 788 uses an older generation of THX amp tech and provides less power than the SP200 to boot. The DAC section will sound more clean and analytical than the Zen but isn’t going to give you any better performance from an objective standpoint. It’s also in the price you pay, the list prices of the SP200 + Zen is ~420. Monolith 788 is ~500. In audio that’s a difference that very rarely translates into technical performance differences you can hear - they can sound different but it’s unlikely the $500 is better.

With that explanation, my recommendation is you keep your Zen for the time being and invest in a Monolith Liquid Platinum amp. Connect those two via a 4.4mm to XLR cable. Buy the HexV2 and get a balanced cable for it (the Liquid Platinum sounds leagues better via its balanced headphone out than single ended). The Zen + Liquid Plat + Hex V2 can be a stunning combo. Trust me, I know first hand:

I also used to own an SP200. I don’t miss it. The THX amps are measurement beasts, no doubt, but they struggle in an area that we don’t have a good way to measure: soundstage and imaging. We can measure watts and distortions and such, but we can’t measure an amp’s spatial performance yet. No one has figured out how to reliably do so. Since soundstage is high on your list, I encourage you to look at other options. The Liquid Plat is very good at spatial re-creation and pairs very well with the HexV2.

Alright, Liquid Plat runs ~$516 brand new direct from Monoprice right now. Amazon is listing “used - very good” units for $444. And don’t forget if you go this route you’ll need a balanced cable to connect Zen and LP and a balanced headphone cable for the HexV2. You lose the all-in-one-box option with my suggestion, but IMO it’s worth it. “Worth it” is of course up to you. Lastly, the Liquid Plat will need time to burn-in its tubes. Let it run for 48ish straight (it’s safe to leave it on for this amount of time at first) to get the tubes burned in before you develop any impressions.

Alright, that’s long, sorry. Whether you choose to go 788 or Liquid Plat or whatever, I’m excited for you. New audio purchases are always fun. Please let us know what you decide and how it sounds!

Cheers :grinning:


Thank you for this informative suggestion. How much does the hex cost brandnew? Will watch reviews of that

Also these look similar to the Ananda’s? Which one is better?

From memory the Hex V2 launched in 2016 for $1600. It was discontinued in 2018 (I think) in favor of the Arya. Somewhere in that timeframe HiFiMan dropped the Hex’s MSRP to $1300 to liquidate stock (again, memory, this may not be 100% accurate but it gets the point across). Last I checked HiFiMan’s website listed the Hex at $1300 but sold out. Upon its launch, the Hex was the second-from-the-top model in the HiFiMan lineup right behind the HE-1000 and used trickle-down tech from the HE-1000.

The Hex and Ananda do indeed look similar. In the second half of the 2010’s HiFiMan hit on that egg-shaped cup design with that suspension-strap headband and made a whole lineup of models on that frame. Disclosure: I’ve not personally heard the Ananda. I know it only by reputation based on the descriptions of people whose ears I’ve learned to trust. That said, my understanding is the Ananda is closer in tuning to the HiFiMan “house sound” than the HexV2. That means it’s going to be neutral-bright in sound signature and be fairly wide and detailed. You can probably expect a sound similar to the Sundara but with better technicalities; a little wider, a little more detailed, more refinement, etc. The Hex V2 is about 2 performance tiers higher than the Ananda. So it will improve on all those technicalities yet more AND HiFiMan tweaked the signature to be more of a gentle U-shape, adding a bit more warmth and body. From a technical standpoint the Hex is better than the Ananda, because again it’s higher up in the model line. That doesn’t mean you have to prefer it to the Ananda though because it is tuned a little differently.

Good luck in your search.


There is a good chance I am selling a liquid platinum and edition x v2 soon. Hmu if you are interested.

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Thank you for this. I shall do more research. Pretty excited to get these products!!!


Quick update:

I recently got my “endgame” setup. Bought HD800s and Monolith Thx 788 and couldn’t be any happier. :slight_smile: