NEW to Audio World. Need Help!

I’m new to audio and need some help. I would like to buy a $1000 setup (headphones, DAC, AMP). I know nothing about DACs or Amps I just watched a few YouTube videos and figured out you need them lol. However if you don’t need them, then I have $1000 to spend on just headphones.

I will be using these headphones for work (video editing), watching movies, and music. I can’t get speakers where I work, so I need to great headphones that will do the job. As for closed or open. It doesn’t matter to me. And I want sound quality over everything when editing, so no noise canceling headphones. And due to my job I’ll be wearing them for long periods of time a day. Thanks.

So far I’m leaning toward the Beyerdynamic dt 1990 Pro based on some YouTube videos I’ve watched. But idk.

Any help will be greatly appreciated!



welcome to HFG, Paul!

$1000 is a very nice budget to work with too! and yes, a DAC and amp are needed.

for video editing, I suspect you will want closed backs so that no outside audio can bleed in and mess up what you’re working on. sounds could bleed in that you think are in the video when they aren’t.

what kind of music do you like to listen to? do you have any audio / video hardware you use for your editing already?

I’m currently using Meze Classic 99 headphones, plugged straight into my computer.

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well, I’d say get a DAC and amp and pump up the volume! well…more like experience them stretching their legs as those are some fine headphones.

where do you live? that will help us with recommendations.

oh, and your music preferences, what do you listen to primarily?

I listen to everything, but a lot of Bruce Springsteen and the like. I’m in North America.

Do you have any DAC and Amp recommendations?

Also, would you only recommend open back headphones in a studio environment? (I’ve never used open back headphones.)

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I only listen to music…no experience with production.

while you have budget, audio is an experience and has a learning curve. the path to find your preference is half the fun…and the used market opens a lot of savings for you to try out the flavors out there.

the Schiit Asgard 3 is a very popular combo DAC / Amp. the ifi micro iDSD Black Label or the higher end iDSD Signature combo units. or a stack like the JDS Labs EL DAC II with the EL Amp II or the Geshelli Labs Erish DAC and Archel 2 or 2.5 Amps.

these are higher than entry level solutions but not crazy expensive either.

Forget noise canceling - those types of cans are good at canceling noise but the sound quality is generally not considered reference level. If you need noise isolation from your environment, then you need closed backs. If not, open back headphones in general are better.

A headphone that’s recognized as reference level is the Sennheiser 6XX and it’s relatively cheap ~$220.

That and an Asgard 3 with a multibit DAC card for $400 and you’re golden.

But because nothing’s perfect, the HD6 series are bass light and have a narrow stage. If one or both of those are critical for your work then this isn’t the right can.

@A_Jedi Thanks. Do you have any other headphone recommendations other than the 6XX, that have a wider sound stage?

@Marzipan Thanks! I’ll probably go with the Asgard. Is there any benefit to getting a DAC and AMP separately? Like, the modius and magnius, instead of the Asgard?

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A few of the 5 series Sennheiser cans are better in that department but I haven’t listened to them so I can’t make a suggestion. Beyerdynamic are good cans but they have a massive peak around 8K that a lot of people find sibilant - I mention this because if you’re wearing these all day for work they may become fatiguing for you.

Hifiman Sundara might work for you but someone else needs to chime in for details on those.

There’s no perfect can unfortunately at any price - so you need to wade through the pluses and minuses and triangulate what works for you. Unless you have the ability to demo some then, get to it lol!

As for separates vs all in one, the differences in electronics are much smaller than the differences in headphones so I wouldn’t sweat it too much. Separates in general should be better but that’s not necessarily the case. If it were me, I’d do the Asgard with the multibit DAC card.

having dedicated DAC and amps allows you to mix and match to play with sound profiles.

Are you going to be listening for pleasure? or just using it for work and and passive listening?

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They will primarily be used for work - video editing 8 hours a day. Now and then they will be used for watching movies or music.

I don’t video edit. I assume the sound only has to be clear. You can get away with 150 dollar DAC amp combo. Spend the rest on the head phones.
A very basic set up with lots of cash to spare:
I recommend HD 600,660s or 6xx or 58x. These are open backed, since you don’t care about open or closed.
topping DX3, D50 and A50, Schiit fulla, modi and magni, iFi zen DAC amp

Again I dont know what you need for for video editing. These are just very simple audio set up

If I were just starting out I would probably pick up the Asgard 3 and the Modius stack. Leaves room to experiment later on if you want to swap components and you get the advantage of more inputs on the Modius plus Unison USB implementation. Then I would start by picking up 3 or 4 reputable sets to try and figure out my preferences. 6xx seems like a good option as well as the Sundara, maybe look at the lower end Beyers like the DT770 or DT880 to get a feel for their house sound (The 880 600ohm should be really good on the Asgard 3, and it would be a very different experience from your Meze 99). If you hunt on r/AVExchange, ebay, or HifiShark those all get traded around pretty regularly. If you buy used you can typically try stuff, keep it for a while to compare to others, then sell off the ones you don’t want for minimal losses. Then once you have some more experience with the differences between headphones you can better guage what headphone to go after in the $600-$1000 range. Not everybody does it this way, but knowing what I know now, this is probably how I would start my journey into the world of headphones.


And if you would rather not mess with the lower end headphones you could jump straight to the Focal Elex or the Elegia (great deal used), or maybe the DCA Aeon 2 Closed. One of those plus the Schiit Stack should come in right around your $1k budget.

Of that’s the case I suggest spreading your budget. The dt880 plus asgard and a dac for editing. Should leave you with 400 dollars or so left and you could get a decent headphone for pleasure. Or even 880, Liquid Spark and a 100 dollar dac and leaves you with a slightly bigger budget of 600 or so

It’s funny you say that. I was searching for headphones and thought it was crazy when I came across the Focal Elegia. They are $900 new. Yet I’ve found open box pairs, brand new still, to be $400. I thought maybe it was this cheap because everyone hated them or something lol

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No they are a solid headphone. I use them daily at work and I absolutely love them for that purpose. Seems like they would be a really good option for what you are looking for as well. The reason they are cheap is because they were recently discontinued and Adorama ran an insane sale to liquidate stock a few months back. They were selling them for under $400 I believe. That drove the price down on the used market as well and it has tended to hover around there ever since.

I didn’t read carefully enough and don’t know if someone has answered this question for you.

Typically, people prefer separates for two reasons. One, you can upgrade separately and control your variables and secondly, each component is built with that one function in mind and has its separate power supply. Most of the time better performance is dependent on how well the designer gets the power and output correctly without too many compromises.