So I have a buddy who loves music, and even maintains a lossless (mostly FLAC) library. “Problem” is, he’s rocking HD598 just off the 3.5mm on his laptop/dock in his home office. Listens to mostly guitar driven stuff. (Prog Rock, Death Metal, Classic Rock)
I was thinking of getting him an amp/dac combo unit as a birthday gift for him. We’ve talked, and he prefers to get a single unit rather than have 2 discrete boxes. He sometimes listens/games from his laptop in his living room, so something that isn’t a pain to move from his office to the living room would be a plus. I haven’t explored a ton in the portable realm, but if we go that way, I think something with bluetooth capability might be a plus for when he travels to client sites for work (once I convince him he needs better IEMs than the $30 Bluetooth guys he’s running now).
My question is: would a dac/amp combo even make much difference to the sound on the HD598s? I know they aren’t that demanding of a headphone, but I’d imagine they would come alive some when compared to the garbage Dell internals. Just trying to get a feel for how much of a change it would bring. Would the money be better spent on new headphones and then an amp/dac combo to power them? Was thinking around $200ish budget for the dac/amp combo, and if new headphones come into play, I can con his brother into helping me get them.
Been looking at the following amp/dac combos:
ifi Zen DAC - I like that it doesn’t require external power in his use case. Are there other dac/amp combos that also power and signal off USB? Would this be enough to power upgraded cans like 58x Jubilee or 6xx? Can’t really get a good feel from what i’ve read where the limit for this unit is. Seems like balanced it would be fine, but maybe not unbalanced.
FiiO K5 Pro - Looks like it will have plenty of power and won’t require a replacement as quickly due to potential headphone upgrade, but does require an external power source, which makes switching rooms more cumbersome.
Xduoo XD-05/XD-05 Plus - Seems like it would work well for his use case. I think it would have plenty of power as well. Long battery life means he wouldn’t have to occupy 2 USB ports all the time, but would have to remember to charge it.
Headphone upgrade-wise, was thinking 58x or 6xx or similar as he seems to enjoy the Sennheiser sound signature, but am open to other ideas as well.