Is it worth it? (Help requested chasing "end-game")

Hello everyone,

When I got into this hobby, I targeted “best for the money stuff”. Over time I’ve realized that I’ve accumulated a good amount of assets that I may be able to parlay into an end-game headphone.

I have the following:

Modhouse Argon $300
Emotiva BasX - $200
Project Pre Box S2 Digital - $250
Thieaudio Phantom - $300
Magic Card Money - $300
Total $1350

Replaced with:
Topping DX3 Pro - $220
SMSL SA-98E - $115

Net $1015

So my question is there any $1000 used open back headphone that I can pair w/the DX3 Pro that would be an upgrade worthy of selling all of that stuff?

As far as headphone, contrasting the two major cans that I have, I have learned I enjoy detail and sound stage the most. I do love the bass of the Argons, but not as much as the detail and sound stage of the Phantoms. I’d love a combo of the two, but I don’t think it works that way. :slightly_smiling_face:

Anyone have any thoughts on an end-game path or if it’s even worth it over what I already have? Any time taken to read and respond is greatly appreciated.


I think you will find great gains from moving from mid-fi to a more high-fi setup. For detail and soundstage the HD800 come to mind, they are a lot of people’s endgame and can be found for around $800 used or less if you’re lucky. Bass is more “controlled” on the hd800’s, something I used to hate about the sennheiser sound but something I’ve come to really appreciate after years of playing around with more “fun” cans. The DX3-pro is going to be the bottleneck in any setup with higher end headphones. Not a problem if you end up upgrading it down the line but it would keep the hd800’s from getting to their full potential in the meantime.

1 Like

Thanks for the advice. So until I’m ready to upgrade to a much more expensive DAC, I should stay where I am headphone-wise?

Appreciate the response!

Yeah, I would hold onto the stuff you have for a while until you can afford to get a next level setup. It will be costly, but you will notice the jump in quality over the gear you have now. What DAC are you thinking about getting?

1 Like

I hadn’t thought about the DAC being the bottleneck, but this is good information to plan out a next-level course. I’d have to research, but I thought if I bought a higher-end DAC I’d look at the Mytek Brooklyn. I’d have to research more. I hadn’t considered anything in that price range yet. It will be a while before I can afford/justify it.

This is good to know. Maybe that will calm me down a little from headphone chasing. Once I can afford a higher-end DAC, I’ll worry about the headphones.

Thanks again.

If you’re looking at that price range you should check out Soekris DACs. I just purchased a 1321 and I’ve heard that the higher end models are phenomenal and truly are endgame R2R dacs. I can update you when mine comes in and I get my new asgard 3 from schiit.

1 Like

Holo audio spring 2 kte ftw

1 Like

I’ve always liked the look of them but couldnt find many people who actually own then

Really like mine alot for my living room speaker setup. Really great sound that I can actually hear the benefits fairly clearly.

The soekris stuff is really solid as well

I would honestly say that you need to have multiple 2k headphones to benefit from a singular dac that would cost 1k. I think your desktop dac amp setup should be under 1k and a portable dac/amp under $500. You should prioritize your actual headphones or iems first. And personally I feel that you shouldn’t have a dac/amp setup over the costs of your headphones, and to go a little further, it should be 1/2 the price of your headphone collection. It’s just not worth it for a 1k dac only even with a couple 1k level headphones

In terms of importance I would say that the actual headphones or iems are where you should put the majority of your money if you want to upgrade. Next I would say the quality of your source files/music or other media needs to be at a reasonable level of quality. Then I would suggest the amp as the next upgrade, because imo it will give you a bigger improvement in sound. Then your dac is next, because even with higher level dacs, the changes are fairly minute to a decent quality dac. And then comes stuff like cables, software to play the media, other stuff I can’t think of right now because I’m walking, etc.


I should also clarify that this is pretty generalized. If you absolutely love a particular headphone and only want to upgrade that, then go ahead and give it a better amp and dac. I’m mainly speaking in the terms of what makes the most difference and what is really the bottleneck for better quality.

You will hit a certain point where I would say this hierarchy of change is no longer valid, but TBH I would say you currently can’t hit it without spending 3-5k on multiple headphones. And speakers are a different story.

Also yeah I would agree with this, it’s hard to beat the detail and soundstage of the 800s for what you can get it for. Also the hifiman Arya are also a good option in that regard if you dislike a brighter headphone like the hd800s.

I do think that he would be just fine with the dx3 pro for the time being until he decides to upgrade

I appreciate the response.

I’m confused now. The original question was I listed what I have and wanted to know if there is a used open-back headphone for around $1,000 that would be worth selling all of those items for.

The other advice I got was that my DAC would be the bottleneck and I should focus on correcting that first . This is the opposite of your advice. :slight_smile:

I thought the DX3 Pro would be sufficient in tandem with a headphone upgrade. I appreciate you taking the time to respond. Sorry to make this complicated. Really just wanted people’s opinion if there was a used closed back headphone that was worth selling off all that stuff for.

Thanks again.

Let’s take your example of the Arya. I have been researching that headphone. Do you think it’s a big upgrade from the Modhouse Argon? And if so, would it (or something else in that higher-end class) pair well enough with the DX3Pro? I guess that’s essentially what it boils down to.

Thanks again.

Well sorry about that lol. I didn’t really read the first post and was mainly responding to the claims about the dacs and order of upgrades. My bad

I personally in my experience don’t find this to be true. I would say out of the major components, as long as you have a good dac, even something like a topping d10, upgrading the dac will make the least amount of difference if your other components are priced similarly. If you have an insane setup with a cheap crappy dac, then yes do upgrade, but for most people, this should not be a priority.

Regarding the dx3 pro, I would say if you do end up taking the step to a higher end headphone, I would just put your money towards the headphones, and see if you need an amp upgrade later. The headphones are one of the most important parts of recreating sound, and getting a quality pair with a mediocre amp vs mediocre headphones with a quality amp, most of the time the better headphones will be a better choice. Of course there are exceptions, but it all depends on what you want.

For closed backs with detail and soundstage, how much isolation do you need? And does sound leakage pose a big issue?

I would say so yes. More detailed, very different sound presentation, and generally a good all rounder. I think you could reasonably use it with the dx3 pro and be satisfied. You could get more out of it with a higher end amp, but you could do so for under 500 with a quality amp, and just use the dx3 pro as a dac

I am fine using the porta pros or my modded Retros when my wife is watching tv or I’m around other people.

For my main pair I was looking for a used open back in the $1,000 range. I don’t care about leakage or isolation at all. It would be just for my own listening pleasure.

In contrasting the two headphones that I have (Argons & Phantoms), I noticed I prefer the sound stage and detail of the Phantom. Wider the better (without sacrificing detail if that’s possible). I do like bass, but I’ve learned through the A/B comparison with the Phantoms & Argons that sound stage and detail are more important to my ears.

Thanks again very much for your helpful responses.


Is it a closed back or open back you are looking for

I’m an idiot. Not sure why I wrote close back. I meant open back. I’ll edit that. Sorry!

Np, I was just getting seriously confused and thought I had missed something

1 Like