Looking for a 'cheap' amp and dac for my hd660s

My poor Q1Mk2 just doesn’t reproduce the sound i quite want, with even some distortion when i try and push them hard. I am looking for something balanced (preferably 2.5mm, but i can get a adaptor if xlr) and i do not mind if it is a combo or not, it can’t take up too much space thought.

And it has to look cool of course

Does it have to be portable and what price?

I don’t want it to be portable, the only reason why i have a portable is for iems, i would like both an amp and dac within the $100-$250 mark.

so total max $250? And it has to be an all in one unit, or can it be separate components?

Well, because of the requirement of balanced, the loxjie p20 and topping d10 combo comes out at around $200 usd, so that’s going to be the best you can do imo, because most headphone amps in this price range are single end.

The fiio k3 also has balanced and is around 100 usd, but I think the setup above would be better

You should feed the loxjie with a balanced dac. At least thats what i read if u wanna take full benefit of balance from the loxjie. If u can the geshelli balanced dac.

I don’t mind at all, i just want something that sounds better than my q1…

Yes, but that would go over his budget, and that’s the issue. And to be perfectly honest, I bet most people would have a hard time telling a volume matched signal using a dac with both balanced and unbalanced outputs from each other. The main audible benefit from balanced is lower noise floor and more power to the headphones. I don’t think the d10 would be causing any problems or not taking advantage of the balanced output, because you are still getting the extra power and lower noise floor.

I would say the p20 and d10 is probably your best bet unless you want to raise your budget, in which I would still suggest sticking with the d10 and getting a better amp

What better amps would you reccomend? I wasn’t expecting all this stuff to be so cheap in the uk.

You could get something like an aune x7s or SMSL SH-8

Higher up the range you could consider an all in one like the monolith thx desktop

Are there any without balanced? I could always just buy a new cable.

Well then something like the new schiit asgard 3 has a ton of power and really beefy for $200, but I don’t know what it would be in the uk

For a more budget option but still great, the jds labs atom is around $100 and has super transparent output

If you wanted insane power for your headphone, the emotiva basx a100 has crazy power when you take the jumpers out, and you can also use it to power speakers, for $220 usd

If you want to step into tubes, the DarkVoice 336SE or Little Dot mk2 are a good entry point

You would just again get a topping d10 with these setups.

The atom looks great and you can actually get it in the uk, wheras the asgard 3 isn’t out on the eu website yet. The basx is twice the price here though…

The atom is a really good amp, with some claiming it to be a single ended 789, and while I don’t fully agree, it is really transparent and nice. I would personally take the atom over the basx in your case anyway, as I don’t think you need the power of the basx

I’d second the JDS Labs Atom + OL DAC. I doubt you could really do better within a $250 budget. I personally wouldn’t get the Loxjie P20 as a main amplifier, especially with stock tubes. I like the sound a lot, but it’s fairly colored.

Personally wouldn’t go with the oldac. Topping d10, khadas tone board,sdac, d30 are all kind of better

Yes the d10 is probably the best value

you guys are definitely right, D10 or D30 for sure. SDAC seems alright too. Personally not a big fan of bare-board only Khadas… but it does measure well I suppose.

TBH there really isn’t that large of an audible difference, if any between the d10 and the tone board