Looking to get my first audio setup

I am completely new to this community and to even considering true high quality audio. Let’s just say I hadn’t even heard of some of these brands until recently.

Use case: I play a lot of casual games, nothing really competitive. I listen to a lot of music - mostly rock, some EDM and electronic stuff, metal. I can’t say exactly if I like bright sound or warm sound etc. because after reading many posts and seeing a few videos I have realized I don’t have a clue what that means…I think maybe warmer because I like a little more bass? My crappy stock stereo in my car is set to +1 treble, +2 bass and svc mid if that means more to you than it does to me…

I want to get an amp/dac or an amp and dac for headphone use for now. I want it to be versatile and powerful enough to maybe power a set of speakers down the road. Right now looking to spend about 500$ total plus or minus.

The reviews and posts I’ve seen so far make me interested in the DT880s for headphones though I’m not really sure why, they just keep popping up in posts and reviews - which makes me think they are good.

I saw a review on the Element II and that looked cool since it was a combo amp/dac but I’m not sure that’s the way to go. I also keep seeing the Atom for a good but cheap amp recommendation.

Is this a good place to start or do I need to rethink entirely how I am approaching this new hobby? Also any and all recommendations would be appreciated and pointers to figure out what I do like without breaking the bank by buying everything would be awesome.


So bright typically means a more treble oriented signature, while warm tends to focus more on the bass and lower mid-range. Do you think you would like a bit more detail oriented signature, or something a bit more warm and relaxed. Also do you enjoy a wider more spacious sound, or something more intimate and close?

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I’d say generally warmer, but at the same time I like clearer vocals which is why my treble is boosted a little on my car stereo. I have no idea if I like wide or close though. Does that mean it feels like the music is farther from my head?(wide)

It would mean that music would be able to feel farther out from you, compared to something more intimate

I’m not sure. I’m used to in ear headphones and closed backs. Are those generally more intimate? But since I don’t think I’ve experienced a wide sound I’m not sure if I would prefer it

Generally those are. I think you could meet in the middle then, I would say an hd58x would probably be something you would enjoy imo. It’s smoother, warm, and still well extended in the bass and treble. Works with the genres you mention and also pretty great for gaming too. Very comfortable as well. Overall just a great bang for the buck that you really can’t go wrong with imo

Amp wise, you could either go a desktop amp, or a portable amp depending on what you want to do


Well like I said I’d like to expand into a set of speakers down the line, and maybe that should get it’s own dedicated amp at that time too. I imagine a desktop amp to be much larger so for now let say portable for the sake of desk space

Edit: do the ones I mentioned count as desktop cause they actually looked pretty reasonable in size

Yeah the ones you mentioned are desktop amps, they aren’t large, but they can’t be used on the go. So you want to go with passive or powered speakers? Because if you wanted to run speakers later on, I think a desktop setup would be more appropriate

You could get a topping d10 dac and a jds Labs atom amp, and then when you expand to speakers, connect it to the current desktop stack

I’m thinking entry level to begin with. And probably not for at least a year. Not sure if that means passive or powered but powered sounds more expensive to me lol

Passive speakers require a separate speaker amp (see the micca rb42 for example and the topping pa3 for example) where a powered speaker has an amp already built in (see something like the Kanto yu4). They come out to about similar cost wise most of the time. It just depends on what you want

So powered speakers have their own built in amps? So they wouldn’t need to be hooked up to the amp? Also an aside about the 58x - were talking the ones on drop right?

The 58x are exclusively on drop

So with powered speakers, you don’t need to get a separate speaker amp for them, and for example you could chain them into your setup by connecting them to the atom amp and control the volume of the speaker from the atom amp. A passive speaker would require another amp specifically for the speakers, and that amp would need to be connected to the dac

Hmm powered sounds easier to start off with at least. I didn’t even know I needed to know that lol…

So you think the atom is a good place to start? Powerful enough to expand in the future but cheap enough to start off?

Yeah, powered speakers typically save space on a desk and are simple to work with too

Honestly I think the atom + d10 combo would last you a long time, up until you start to reach into the 500 dollar or more headphone range imo. The d10 is a great dac for the price, and the atom is a great amp for the price


Awesome. Thanks for all the info and recommendations. I still have a lot to learn and plenty to discover. I’ll look into all of these specifically and I’ll be sure to ask if I have more questions.

Sure thing, if you have any questions just hit me with them

Also just curious but what have you heard headphone or in ear wise so far?

I currently use a set of Logitech g933s for over the ear. My bose soundsport in ear headphones recently died in 1 ear :frowning: and I have a pair of jbl free true wireless buds I picked up last year on black Friday for 20$ cause my phone doesn’t have a headphone jack. I liked the Bose for the most part and the Logitech are ok too. The jbl are the weakest by far but their functionality is great…mostly just used for hands free phone use while driving or the occasional YouTube video in public places

Edit: the worst thing about the Logitechs is how hot they get for extended use…

That is unlikely to be a problem with how open the HD58X (or other open back headphones) are.

The Logitech’s have a Bass heavy sound, with recessed mids. The 58X won’t get hot at all since they are open and use velour pads.

In terms of sound between the Logitech’s and the 58X, you can expect:

  • much better mids so vocals and instruments will sound much better.
  • a more open soundstage but not wider since the Logitech’s already have a pretty good soundstage for a closed back.
  • bass will be not as strong since the 58X do not boost bass but should be more dynamic and natural and will fit better with the rest of the music.
  • and the treble will be pretty much the same.