Focusrite Solo (3rd gen.) as dac

Hello. It’s me again. ;D

My setup compared to almost everyone is rather unusual. I started this hobby with my Focusrite Solo 3rd gen. because it was one of the good setups for a beginner looking for a mic port and amp/dac combo. However now I own an amp Aune X7s and I was afraid that the dac of Solo wouldn’t be enough. Should I upgrade and buy a new dedicated dac for my X7s or is the Solo good enough? I have DT770 80ohm and HD600. I’m not familiar with the audio numbers or dac chips.

If it helps I have found some dacs here in my local shops like Pro-Ject Head Box S2, Topping D10s and Aune X8.

Thank you for reading.

If you’d like raw numbers: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Audio Interface Gen 3 Review | Audio Science Review (ASR) Forum

If you’d like an opinion - I think it’s not worth it to upgrade. You might buy something that is marginally more accurate but you won’t hear this difference.

I might be biased as I come from audio interfaces first too :smiley: but I own quite a few DACs now and “sound quality wise” - i regret every one of them.

Some of them are great for its portability, features and whatnot, but there was no sound quality benefits I could justify paying any money for.

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Is Solo almost identical to 2i2?

Thank you. I guess I can stick with my Solo. Honestly I have no idea what dac does except being a convertor, some converts better audio formats and some don’t I guess. I just don’t get how some of they are as expensive as amp.

they are expensive because people are ready to pay for them that much.

solo and 2i2 have the same dac (in same generations)

I see. I also noticed that in some stacks the dac is more expensive than the amp so that left me scratching my head. I was just worried that there would be some incompatible “power” connection between a really cheap dac (my Solo) and a more expensive amp (Aune X7s or any other amps in the same price range).

Unless you have an issue that a DAC would solve (no electrical interference noise, better decoder support) then what you have is fine.

In the future if you want to spend more money upgrading the amp and to get the most out of it then getting a dedicated DAC would be an option. For now if you don’t have any need for it then it’s best not to go down the rabbit hole of more equipment.

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In the future I might get into headphones of 600 ohms like DT880 (600). Would the Solo still be fine then? I would only use the SE port.

With those headphones you would need to upgrade to a more powerful amp.

Others in the forum might know what works best with that particular one, or you could take a look at the DT 880 page. There should be plenty of discussion on what will best suit it.

Understood. I would probably prefer the 250 ohms for maximum assurance.

If you have the aune, if you balance the 880 600 ohm you already have an amp that can power them well, so I would stick with that if you like that sound signature. Dac wise you could upgrade and get noticable benefit from it, but you would want to move to something like an allo revolution or the aune x8 if you wanted the stack. Otherwise I would skip most of the 100 buck dacs and stick with the focusrite if you aren’t willing to spend that much

I’m still a beginner and afraid to mod headphones. I have made so many e-mails and threads about this topic I’m a bit embarrassed about it. Aune told me that X7s would be able to drive them, YT reviewers told me the same thing but then again I got opinions from other perspective that X7s wouldn’t be able to drive them. The only way to decide about this is to test the headphones myself but in this pandemic time that option is not viable anymore.

That’s fair

It will be able to drive them single ended, but you just won’t be taking full advantage of your amp and will be missing out on a decent amount of performance iirc last time I tried this amp

Would changing the ohm version be better? 250ohm vs 600ohm. I have seen many threads about it and as usual it is a controversial topic. Some people say 600 is better in details and more lively and some people say they are almost identical.

I personally think the 600 ohm is both more capable and more refined, but it also is more amp picky and harder to drive. You would be just fine with the 250 ohm se (still would benefit if it was balanced though)

About the balance thing. I just bought a balanced cable for my HD600 and my ears didn’t pick up anything different from when I used the SE cable. Is it because of the brand? I read somewhere that Beyers are different when using various sources/amps/cables.

Hm I’d be surprised if you didn’t notice anything, it shouldn’t be a massive difference with the 600, but it should be noticable over time, perhaps listen to it balanced for a day, and swap back to se and see if you notice anything different

I mean it depends on the beyer, the 600 ohm beyers are very amp demanding so they will sound pretty different depending on what you drive them with, whereas something like a tygr or mmx 300 aren’t really all that amp picky or demanding

It could be my ears. Hypothetically how much % of potential quality do you think I would lose if I just used the SE port with the DT880 600 vs using balanced DT880 600?

Hm it’s hard to put a number on it realistically, I mean perhaps like 20%? But that’s somewhat just spitballing

I have found an alternative, which is the HD560s. It is neutral and has great soundstage. Do you think these would be worth if I already have HD600?

It’s fairly neutral yes although more neutral bright leaning imo. It’s very easy to drive as well, and can actually be balanced through a cable swap. Personally my preference leans toward the 880 600 but in this case the 560s should be more compatible with your amp imo. The 560s and hd600 are pretty different overall, although both are going for a more neutral referencing tuning but executed in different ways