Headphone + dac amp

Hello everyone!

I have a pair of Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro (250Ohm) and in search of a good Dac/amp or a Dac + Amp Combo with a maximum budget of around 200€.

From what I found the Topping DX3 Pro + and Ifi Zen Dac V2 are the best choices, but now which one should i choose, and why?

If you have other advices, feel free to tell, since I’m new to the HiFi World.
Since I can still return the 990, if there’s something better even with a change of headphones, so like 300-350€ budget for headphone + dac amp (or only headphones if dac amp isn’t needed, I don’t know), but with comfortable ones.

I would buy from amazon.it

Thanks in advance!

Let me just ask what you’re using the headphones for, and why you decided on the DT990-250?
Once we confirm that is the correct headphone for you, then we can address amp topic.

I’d be concerned that a ZenDAC run single-ended may not be a great amount of power for a headphone that while not as hungry as the 600 ohm variant — is still fairly high resistance and not super efficient.

Thanks for the fast response, I would use them for gaming and listening to music at home, i chose the 990 pro since I tried them at a friend’s house and found them pretty comfortable and sounded good paired with the ifi zen dac [atleast speaking about power, (since I never tried other good headphones), in fact with the power match enabled with the knob at 9-10 it had already a great amount of volume for what are my listening levels, same with the power match disabled with the knob at 12]
In case I shall choose another headphone, something comfortable (not leather pads (?)), since i have glasses.

if you can find a zen dac V1 for cheaper (unless you care about the MQA upgrade) I’d go with the V1
stock pads can be hit or miss for people with glasses no matter the material as I find the foam they use matters more, Dekoni and ZMF pads are stellar options if you want more comfort

the zen can run them fine. and its a good pairing with dt990’s to tame the treble murder. the zen dac will roll the treble off a little, and has a boosted midrange to make up from the dip in the 990’s.

edit: one thing though. the zen dac has a smaller soundstage then other dac/amp combos in the same price range. only really noticable from my experience, with some FPS titles. but its not a huge difference. just like to make peeps be aware.

1 Like

“Treble murder” – that’s a great line. I may borrow it, with full royalties paid to you, sir. :slight_smile:

1 Like

Actually I saw that in the post i wrote Topping DX3 Pro, instead of Topping DX3 Pro +, does that change anything in the choice?
I tried them both but I just can’t find differences.
Thanks in advance for the response

If you’ve heard them both, and can’t tell any difference, then logic would dictate to go with the less expensive option yeah?

That’s not a joke, and I’m not poking fun. This rabbit hole goes REAL deep, and you can talk yourself into spending WAY more $$$ than you set out to do well before you know what happened.


Yeah, but maybe the 40€ extra are worth for the extra features? (BT and (?))
What about the preamps for speakers, which one between the two has better ones?

I would wager the + version probably has the better preamp if you’re going to run it that way. The real question is “are any of these extra features something you’re going to use”? It’s got an upgraded BT chipset - is that something you see yourself using? Same with the preamp - your OP specified headphone amp, but if speakers have entered the picture then your use case is expanding. If speakers are in your use case, maybe a seperate Dac and amp will serve you better? A dac with output selection so you can feed seperate head amp and power amp?

Realistically speaking, no, i don’t think i would use the BT, since i use it on the Desk with my PC. Talking about the Preamp, i don’t know, for now i dont have any speakers, but maybe in future i’ll buy them, so to be prepared, it may have sense (?).
Right now i’m thinking if it isn’t worth returning the 990 Pros, to buy better headphones (200E) and a cheaper dac / amp, since the headphone should be more important, right?
You think it would have sense? In case what are my possibilities with a budget of 300-350 EURO Max?

The general consensus does say that upgrading your headphone tends to have a bigger impact overall. As to what to upgrade to, I’ll have to leave suggestions to others. However, there does seem to be a point at which better headphones won’t sound any better until you feed them a better signal.

What are you plugging the 990’s into right now?

Topping DX3 Pro plus while speaking, but i’ll change it to something cheaper (since i dont hear differences) swapping headphones

HP’s will almost always give you greater impact then source in the same price range. Are you happy with the 990’s? cause thats all that matters. its as good as any sub 200$ HP. the tuning is mostly what changes in the 100-200$ price range.

Yeah, i actually like them (even tho i tried only 3 good headphones in my life, the 990, the HD 599 and the WH1000XM4 and i prefer the 990).
While with a pair of planar magnetic headphones would the situation change? Or in general with a 300euro budget headphone [without a dac/amp or with a cheap one (Under 100E)]

Planars have a unique sound. I dig them. Your mileage may vary.

But there is one truth about planars: They’re power hungry. Nearly all of them need an amp to reach proper fidelity and volume.

Ok, so would a 100$ amp (or less) be ok?
Alternatively with my budget what would you advise to me?
I can spend 300euro for headphones (or 350-370 if amp isnt needed) and up to maximum 100Euro for the amp (or dac/amp)

i would advise putting that budget to a separate dac and amp. you have headphones you like. you can worry about the rabbit whole and getting different headphones once you have your basics covered.

edit: and 250ohm dt’s scale up with most gear under 500$

So you think that’s more worth buying a better dac/amp now with worse headphone, and later buying better headphones instead of, buying better headphones now with a worse dac/amp and after buying a better dac/amp?
I don’t know if that matters, but the volume i listen to music is generally low, so it shouldnt require that much power.
thanks for the response

Headphones matter most. They are the base of any system. You can pump the cleanest, most powerful DAC and amp into shitty cans, and chances are they’re still going to sound pretty shitty.

1 Like