Headphone AMP and DAC for 3000USD

I have a budget of around 3000 USD which I m planning to buy a headphone AMP and DAC
I not too pressed for AIO or separate components.

any recommendation would be appreciated

What are the headphones you’ll use with this DAC-amp combo?

at the moment I have

HiFiman XS edition and
DanClark Aeon Noire V2

soundstage and precision is what I m seeking

Do you have any plans to move up to something higher end, headphone wise? And if you do, what are you leaning towards?

have not decided yet…
heddphone v2

for now, I want good return for my money in terms of sound quality
I looked recently at
violectric dha v590 mk2 pro
Burson Conductor X3GT 2023 edition

With those cans you could go gustard R26 and burson soloist 3xp…or a used gsx mini.
That stack would work really well till you get into the top end of hifi.
If you don’t plan on getting higher end cans I’d still go R26 but get an SA1 as an amp.

This will sound like a dick response, and my intention is sincerely to help, but paying $3,000 for a DAC/amp combo for $500 and $800 headphones, respectively, is like putting 94 octane gas into a Toyota Camry. It’s unnecessary overkill.

I would invest half of that $3K sum into a kilobuck-plus pair of headphones. You will find the soundstage and precision you seek more easily and probably less expensively with better cans.

Better headphones are the foundation of any improvement in sound. Once you’ve found your Goldilocks cans (or close to it), then invest in improved gear.

What DAC and amp are you using now?


This is probably the wiser route to go, since you are undecided on whether you are going to move up headphone wise.


I kind of agree with what @pk500 said…I usually follow this upgrade path Headphones/speakers>Amp>Dac…Most of the time your biggest gain will come from upgrading your headphones…One pairing that would cost you about $1700 would be a Violectric V222 and a BF2. You would have $1300 left to get a better pair of cans…Just my two cents


that makes perfect sense @pk500
that is the plan is to anchor myself on a good dac/amp then get a matching headphone

maybe I should execute like you suggested.

for my current setup, I m using topping DAC/AMP stack
the sound is not bad to be honest on my current headphones.

now the above suggestion would bring the question what headphone should I consider?

1 Like

I’d jump in on the drop for the Violectric V222 amp that’s expiring in 2 days.

It’s going for $949 and you’ll have to wait until November before it ships. It normally retails for $1299, but it’s never in stock anywhere except for Amazon and they’re charging $1500+ for it. While you wait for the amp delivery, you can research your headphone/dac upgrades.

I personally have the Gustard R26 that someone previously mentioned with the Violectric V222 and it’s pretty much my endgame (likely for a long while).

1 Like

What kind of sound signature do you seek?

If you like the HiFiMan “house sound,” perhaps a pair of Arya Organics? Or HE1000se?

Otherwise, there are Audeze LCD-X 2021 and other models in the LCD family, along with the MM-500. Sennheiser HD 800. Focal Clear. Meze 109 Pro and Empyrean. An entire line of ZMF headphones. And many more.

Need to know what sonic preferences you seek, and I’m sure we’ll fill your basket with suggestions! :slight_smile:

really appreciate the response guys and the support.

when it comes to music I really enjoy blues and country rock.


You have fine taste, my man!

With those tastes, you may enjoy something a bit more relaxed in the sonic signature since those genres don’t dig quite as deeply for detail or air as genres like classical or jazz.

I would take a look at the line of ZMF headphones. I don’t own them, but I lust after them hard.

My kilobuck can is the Audeze LCD-X 2021. Works quite well with your preferred genres, but it really needs EQ to shine. So, if EQ isn’t your thing, you may want to look elsewhere.

the replies above made me pause for a little while to learn discover more about setting up good system to enjoy music.

what I found is the important steps to improve the system I need to start in this order
dac, then

headphones: there is no one brand that will work with all music types. I enjoy Blues, country rock. but I also listen to metal, classics, jazz … etc. I just enjoy any good music in general. I found myself switching between my DCA Aeon2 Noire and Hifiman edition XS based on what track I m listening to.

source: I have Pi2AES Pro 2 Audio Shield with a decent quality COAX cable.

amp: Topping A30 Pro
dac: Toppinng D30 Pro

cables: decent quality USB and COAX cable…

based on my arsenal above and starting with headphones first. I narrowed my selection to
Hifiman Arya Organic,
Erzetich Phobos V2021.
HEDDphone 2
ZMF Atrium

any thoughts?

then when it comes to the AMP:
Mytek Liberty THX AAATM HPA
Violectric dha v226

Mytek Liberty II (get strong recommendation on the web)
I m also considering R2R dacs if they my be better sounding than solid state counterpart

1 Like

If you have the space for it, and the access to it in your area then the Mjolnir 3 might also be an option. It is a limited run though, so you would have to see whether or not it is available when you are ready to make your purchase.
I have yet to demo an R2R DAC, but some people swear by them. My daily driver is a Bifrost 2/64 (Multibit DAC) paired with a Soloist 3XP /w Supercharger (Class A amp). It works well with the Arya Stealth ( haven’t tried the organic). Your amp & DAC combo is going to come down to which headphone you ultimately go with. I am a fan of class A, so take my suggestions with a grain of salt (getting my first tube amp next year). I listen to Rock & Blues for the most part ( I listen to most genres), and I like the combination of class A amp + Multibit DAC. From what I have read R2R DACs (depending on the unit) give a great presentation with Rock and Blues as well. Combinations matter so your mileage may vary, and everyone perceives sound differently. Good luck with your decision, and happy listening!
Just a heads up, if you get the Arya you might want to budget for a better cable.

@brownviper I think you are on the right path to upgrade and I agree with the upgrade path you chose…The Violectric V226 is the dac/amp combo, the V222 is just the amp. I own the Atrium and they are my endgame for dynamic drivers…It was between the Atrium and the Focal Utopia(2022). I am not sure where you live, but check over at head-fi to see if there are any local meets by you…They are a great way not only to meet people, but to listen to gear from entry level to high end stuff in a quiet setting…I am lucky we have a really good meet in the Pittsburgh area twice a year.

Just an update

after some serious research I finally settled on the following:
Erzetich charybdis for the cans
Gustard R26 R2R dac
Violectric V222 SS amp

this elevated my music listening to another level

Also, The Cayin HA-3A tube Amp is on order now.

the charybdis are so amazing


Nice, you got the same DAC/AMP combo! Glad you’re enjoying it.

Sounds like you went well above your 3k budget with those new cans lol.

yes, perfect match for me.
the V222 brings the open sound from the R26.
then when I listened to the Charybdis I had to get them as they reveal the sound even better.

I truly went over my initial budget. but I m fine with that, now I got the perfect setup for my taste.

1 Like