[HELP] HiFiMan Sundara + ONLY iFi ZEN DAC v2 = good?

Hello everyone. So the situation is as follows: I plan to get into higher quality music experience and I want to start my journey by buying a bundle of HiFiMan Sundara and iFi Zen DAC v2 OR Sundara + Zen CAN. Eventually I want to have the Zen stack, but for now I have to choose which one I get first. So my questions are:

  1. Will this DAC alone, without an amp or buying the additional iFi power source for it (only being run from usb) be enough to drive this headphones?
  2. Is it better to go for Sundara + iFi ZEN CAN combo and run the ZEN CAN from my pc/ macbook pro?
  3. If I go with the ZEN DAC v2, is it a noticeable difference going with a balanced connection?

Thanks a lot in advance to everyone helping me. :slight_smile:
Ideal I would’ve gone for Schiit stack, but its not available in my region of Europe and I have access only to iFi.

I’ve been looking at least theoretically for an amp or stack for Sundaras too, and it seems Zen DAC + Zen Can might be among the nicest solutions in its price range. Other options available from Europe could include all sorts of Topping (there’s a mindboggling variety of them to me as a n00b to this). I can’t tell you which ones, but one of the Topping combos have been praised as being good fits for the Sundara. By contrast, I’ve seen people agree that the Atom amp from JDS Labs, although a great unit in general, is not sufficient or at least not ideal for the Sundaras, just in case you find a good price somewhere in the meantime and get tempted to buy it.

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I would start with the Zen DAC and a balanced cable for now, as it can at least run them from an all-in-one. More power down the line will be appreciable, but for now…

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Thank you for your input! What models of balance cables would you recommend?

I ve seen the Atom but only at 150 euros, which seems overpriced in my opinion.

If you’re budget-limited to not be able to to procure both pieces now — regarding the cable: I would go cheap. It will also probably be very dependent on your location. New Fantasia is often a source of solid cables that don’t cost an arm and leg.

Just looking for you, I ran across this XLR-based cable which I thought seemed impressively affordable. Amazon.com: Youkamoo 4 Pin XLR Balanced Male Compatible for Hifiman HE4XX, HE-400i Headphones 8 Core Braided Silver Plated Replacement Audio Upgrade Cable (2 x 3.5mm Version) : Electronics

If XLR is that much more available, I wonder if one could get an XLR cable + 4.4mm adapter for the same price as some of the 4.4mm cables.

Anyways, look around what is available regarding cables! I love Hart Audio, but I’m unsure what cost they’re available to you at.


Glad I found this page!

I am interested in getting into high quality audio and currently I listen to music on airpods pro, bluetooth speakers, my cars audio system. If I were to get the zen DAC and Sundaras, will I be able to run them? Will the listening quality be a genuine step up from the way I listen now?

The prices on the equipment seem reasonable to me so I guess I just want to know if my virgin ears will be impressed?

They will work. You’ll want to run them balanced, so cable expense required with this.

There are decent balanced Hifiman cables on AliExpress for only $10-15. Or if you happen to be in SE Asia, for even less on Lazada/Shopee. I have one from OpenHeart (IEM style) and two from FAAEAL (fabric type).

I run my sundaras out of Zen Dac + Zen Can, full balanced setup. I don’t use the bass boost from zen dac, as it sounds a little bit too bloomy for me (I love it on my Hd6xx though) but I really like the magic button on the zen can. It just makes the sundaras better to me on the low end. I made my own cables (bought connectors from Aliexpress), so I cannot recommend what cables to buy, but I can for sure confirm the Sundaras sound delightfully out of this setup. You also get the added bonus to not use your amplifier all the time. I power it up only for music as the zen dac is more than enough for everything else (it’s also enough for music but the zen can pushes the headphones better).