Headphone amp/DAC for powered speakers?

Hey all,

I had a quick question as I am somewhat new to DACs, pre amps, and other bits of audio gear past a receiver and bookshelf’s.

I have a compact desk set up with Kanto Yu2’s running off of their built in USB DAC. I have invested in a Hifiman HE4xx headset and a little bear p2 head phone amp. I am also currently looking into a budget DAC for this setup, possibly a Fiio k3. No audiophile but want a nice little setup.

So my question would be, can I run this as
PC—>DAC—>pre amp—> powered speakers? Will it sound horrible/cause issues running this through a headphone DAC and a “fake” tube headphone amp via the aux on my Yu 2’s?

I would leave it set up like this and then just swap the headset into the headphone amp when I wanted to switch. I realize there may be little to no audio benefits here but as long as it doesn’t detract from sound I already get out of them I would probably go this route.

Thanks in advance.

What if you got a fiio k5 pro and bypassed the little bear? I think the k5 pro is a great dac and amp for the money, and has pre outs so you can control the speakers with them

That’s a good option as well, I’m definitely still open to DAC suggestions.

I guess I have two answers, the adult side of me is hoping to have the little bear add some color and the childlike side of me just likes to watch the VU lights lol. Even if using the little bear should I still be looking at a dac with preamp outs? I was also wanting to mount the unit with Velcro on the underside of the desk.

I realize that this probably isn’t the best or most practical setup but am curious as to if it’s even possible without being detrimental to the components or audio quality. I have my little Bear front and center on my desk and was hopeful to use it as a volume control for the speakers as well.

I mean, I think the k5 pro is a great dac, and a better amp for the 4xx then the little bear imo. The little bear does not have a passthrough so you would be double amping which isn’t the best but it isn’t the end of the world.

That K5 may be the way to go, not too different in price. Would it be correct to assume that since it has a preamp I could technically still run it through the little bear prior to the powered speaker, so at least I’m cutting out the amplifier in the DAC and not effectively running two preamps? And worst case I can always cut out the little bear if it just doesn’t sound great in the end.

I guess the secondary question would be if it came down to running the K5 straight to the Kanto 2’s would it even be an improvement over the internal DAC?

Yeah you could max the little bear and run the variable output of the k5 pro, using that as a preamp but still having the little bear in chain (or you could use the little bear as the volume control and max the k5 pro). You at least are not triple amping in that setup lol. I just think the k5 pro would be an upgrade overall compared to just a dac like the smsl m100

One option is to get something that has everything of course.
PC -> MagicBox -> speakers.

Yeah once I realized it would be triple amplified unless I got a DAC with a preamp I was kind of turned off from the k3 anyway. I would probably run the K5 at max and control volume through the little bear.

So in sticking with this plan, either way the audio will run through the little bear amp, so I guess I don’t really need the amp in the K5. Is there a cheaper and/or better option for a DAC without the amp for my purposes?

Also thanks for all the help!

You can get a smsl m100 for a cheaper and good dac, pretty nice

Also if you have any other questions just ask :+1:

Looked into the SMSL M100 and I think it should fill the roll nicely! Hopefully it will play well through the little bear and Kanto yu2’s as well as my he4xx.

Thanks for the help, that looks like a good unit to have on a nice compact desk setup!

It should do the job just fine :+1:

In the future I would suggest looking into something like a liquid spark or whatnot to give the 4xx the power it wants lol

Yeah if I’m being honest the little Bear was just a cool desktop piece more than a pure performance piece lol. Seems to be doing pretty well so far but I could def see an upgrade in the future. I’m trying (unsuccessfully) to stave off that audiophile bug lmao.

The smsl comes in tomorrow so I’ll really be able to see how well this will work on my modest setup. Even though there’s better options out the for the aspiring audiophile I’m convinced that it’s still probably better than what 98% of the general public are used to. I don’t think I know anyone who even knows what a tube amp, DAC, or planar magnetic speakers are.

So it looks like you were right about the power requirements on the hifiman. The little bear doesn’t seem to be quite enough for it. Looks like I’ll be back in the market for an amp!

A monolith liquid spark is a bit smoother and warmer amp if you liked what tubes did

If you wanted something more analytical the jds labs atom is a good choice imo