Gaming iFi Zen Dac/Amp v2 - Do I need anything else

Hi All, Apologies this is my first post and over the last 2 months I have been driven mad with conflicting reviews and information.
I originally need a way for my visually impaired 11-year-old to switch between headphones and little amazon basic desktop speakers. Not in software. The additional ask was manage the microphone and if possible bring in a phone call that is used for an additional game chat. She plays Fortnight and Roblox.
So, the Audio quality was not something that I was aware of and not something that I was looking at until I came across Z reviews.
I went to the local music shop to ask what to buy and ended up buying speakers (Eris E3.5) not sure if this was a good purchase but they look better than the amazon basic speakers.
This is a long intro and background to my question:

  1. Ifi Zen DAC v2, would this be a good purchase for the sound as my daughter also listens to music?
  2. Do I need anything else like an AMP (I got so confused)?
  3. Looking to get some headphones for the setup not gaming headphones (this is a painful question as this is how I found this forum)?

I lost a large part of my hearing so I am unable to tell the difference, my daughter has the opposite in that her hearing is exceptional and I would like her experience better audio for music and also gaming.

Looking for some advice and thank you in advance.

The IFI zen dac is a solid choice, the name is a little deceptive because its actually a DAC and AMP combo unit, its overall very solid performer, you can upgrade easily down the road ( by hooking up a better amp to it) and the cherry on top is the Xbass button which awesome.

As for headphones, 2 questions

  1. whats your budget?
  2. Are you looking for a closed back or an open back - in general open back sound better but dont isolate the sounds so that means if you are a noisy involvement or you dont want the headphone to leak out (its not speakers but you can hear it)

P.S why not use software to switch between speakers and headphones? , something like soundswitcher you can set up an easy key combo that switchs between your output i use it for my setup

Thank you so much.

Apologies I did not know that the Ifi Zen DAC v2 was an Amp and DAC that’s great.

I just watched the Toppings L30 and E30 mark 11 reviews how will they compare with the Ifi Zen DAC v2?

My budget I would say for good Headphones possibly around £200?

Possibly closed as I hope my daughter would use them with her iphone

I will look at the soundswitcher software, I have downloaded Voicemeeter Banana in the last 30min but OMG it looks difficult.

This Audio stuff is so complicated…

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Ya it can be a bit of a headach :smiley:
I would say try soundswitcher its fairly simplistic and you dont need much more (unless you need other features)

As for L30 and E30 VS ifi, i still say stick with the IFI for a two (and a half ) reasons
1.Greater cost
2. they have a lot of features they you wount use

The last one is Taste, Topping have a very clean sound while IFI is a lot warmer and a lot more “fun”, now sometimes its a good thing sometimes you perfer clean - in your case i think a warmer and simpler setup would work better ( I actually own and use both topping and IFI, just depends on my mood/taste at the time)

As far as headphones, i think the AKG 361 is a solid option its durable, its portable and sounds overall great.

Also with that kind of budget you could also buy your daugher a Koss Porta Pros utility or KPH 40 (the koss headphones you can get it with a lighting connector). So you can keep the main headphone at home and if it gets lost/breaks its not a big deal - just make sure you buy aftermarket pads (Yaxi are great)

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Thank you for the advice, greatly appreciated.

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The other one I will throw into the mix is the Topping DX1. It uses the latest AKM DAC chips, and is warmer than typical Topping house sound ( which is a good thing for most people ). It is under $100, and pushes 280mWx2 @32Ω and 51mWx2 @300Ω of power. The DX1 is my current “getting started” desktop recommendation since it can be used as a DAC and/or headphone amp, so there are upgrade paths where it is still useful. It is small, runs very well on USB only.

The Zen Dac v2 is also 280mW at 32 ohms. The upside is that it is balanced, has the best bass boost I have heard, and has the 4.4mm on it, but it runs nearly $200.

An interesting middle ground might be a portable DAC/Amp like the BTR5. It can even be used over Bluetooth with your phone. It manages to push 220mW output at 32Ω, despite being. I think these are around $130 these days.

I agree with @Naturallymorbid , the AKG 361 is a good closed back pick.

Thank you to everyone for the help…I bought the The Zen Dac v2 and got a free ifi usb dongle thing.

With regards to the headphones, I will take my daughter to the music shop to try them on (AKG 361).

Thank you so much.

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I’m a little late here, but the PreSonus Eris 3.5 speakers you picked up are leaps and bounds better than the amazon basics stuff. I just got to listen to them a while back at someone’s house and I was really impressed with their sonic capabilities for $99. I just wanted to add that so you’d know you did well with that pick. I don’t know of anything better that I have heard for the money.

Your daughter is very lucky to have a parent that’s so supportive and dedicated to getting her an awesome audio setup. I wish both of you the best! :+1::sunglasses:

So this might not be a popular recommendation but starting out I would grab a pair of koss kph30i with the inline mic and a split where one side goes to ifi and the other side goes to the microphone input on the PC/console. This setup would be well under $100 and actually very good sound quality that gets better and better as you upgrade amps.

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Thank you so much

This kind of setup messes with the ground (Ifi and pc mic have different grounds, but the ground wire is shared on the kph40i) and can put a hit on audio quality.

With that said, if you let the Ifi plugged only with usb, it could be that the ground is the same :thinking: have you tried this config before?

I’ve tried it mostly from my portables and from the HP jack on my PC.

Ok all is bought Daughters birthday is Monday.

Had a real problem getting the AKG 361s bought the Bluetooth tooth version. I hope they are the same.

Thank you all for your help.

Ya they are pretty much the same dont sweat it

Thank you…

It was my Daughters birthday today and I must say the sound is vastly improved and impressive.

Thank you for your help.

I hope I have set everything up correctly but the speakers and the the headphones play at the same time…its not an issue as I can turn the speakers down via the volume on the speakers.

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Sorry another daft question the USB B cable is really short. Do I need a specific cable or a standard cable?

Happy to hear everything worked out

The volume thing - there is a way but its a bit messy so i’d just keep it the way it is. one of the things i’d upgrade next is the speakers, get ones with a remote so its just a little click to turn them on and off

As far as the USB B - No, nothing special, just make sure its a usb B 3.0, you’ll see the the connector has a bit of a “extra” at the top then your regular usb B cables that printers and other stuff like that use that cable. something like this should work just fine

Brilliant thank you

Okay I had an existing longer USB B to C version 3.0 but it is not being picked up in Windows but the original small cable is … this is nuts, why have a 6 inch long cable? I will buy the one recomended by Naturallymorbid. Any suggestions on the stereo RCA plugs as I will need longer cables?