Picking up HE4XX's which DAQ/Amp or DAQ and Amp combo?

I’m looking for a new setup and I “think” i’ve decided on the HE4XX’s. Now I need to figure out what to run them with. I’ll be using my PC and mostly playing games with some Spotify, and the occasional video. I’m not a audiophile by any means and prefer a warmer, fun sounding pairing. I’m looking for something(s) in the sub $200 range for a DAQ/Amp or discrete DAQ and amp.

I was thinking of the following:

  1. Schiit Fulla (2 or 3) $49 / $99 (might not be enough power for future cans?)
  2. Schiit Stack: Magni (3 or 3+) & Modi $148 / $198 (the 3+ sounds like it might be great or the 3 for cheap)
  3. FiiO K5 Pro $150 (sold out?)
  4. Topping MX3 $110 (“looks” cheap?)
  5. Liquid Spark & ??? $110+ (hear it’s “fun” but would need a cheap DAQ for it)

After reading reviews and just recently the Headphones.com review of the Magni 3+ i’m leaning Schitt.

Again, i’m not an analytic listener and am most concerned with a quality product that will last me a while, sound “decent” with the HE4XXs (most likely), feed them and future cans enough juice and sit nicely on my PC desk.

What do you all think? Am i on the right track at least? Any pair stand out or anything i didn’t list that i should consider?


1 Like

I mean the new magni 3+ or heresy looks pretty nice, and you could get a schiit dac. I personally really like the liquid spark and the topping d10 or smsl m100 with the 4xx, as I find it adds a little more body and smooths out the highs which is pleasing. I personally wouldn’t go with the mx3 unless you need a speaker amp. I also wouldn’t suggest the older magni 3 as I don’t think its that great. The Fiio K5 Pro has great bang for the buck if you can find it in stock and want an all in one.

I think a schiit stack with the 3+ and a schiit dac, fiio k5 pro, and a liquid spark and a d10 would last you a long time and really wouldn’t need an upgrade until you started to reach above the 600 dollar a pair headphones


Thanks for the feedback!

Is the K5 Pro out of stock or not fully released? I cant find it anywhere but i know people have purchased it. Id take an all-in-one for sure. Are there really any major drawbacks? I’m new to “decent” headphone amps etc. outside of old FiiO portable stuff.

Is the old Magni 3 “bad”? In his review of the 3+ and Heresy Ian seemed favorable of it? Saving $50 for 90% of the sound is something id be into… unless there really are some big improvements in the 3+.

I have no need (at least right now) to power bookshelves or monitors etc. so the Mx3 i can take off my list.

A friend of mine who seems like he knows his stuff to me (runs a topping DX7s + Aune S7 Pro with his LCD-2’s and HD800s) says to avoid the Liquid Spark as he’s “heard it has issues”… just in casual conversation today. I haven’t heard anything… but then again i’m only JUST researching. Anything i should worry about? Should i wait for the Liquid Spark DAQ as well… that looks nice and matchy :wink:

I’m for sure 100% never going to be going into anywhere near $600 headphones… just not my thing. (i say that now right… though i’ve been buying audio equipment for 25+ years… i just know my place lol) So something that’s decent, solid and lasting will be my priority.

The K5 Pro has been in high demand seems to be out of stock. It was already released. The main downside to the aio design is that you can’t upgrade the components separately, otherwise the k5 pro doesn’t really have anything to complain about at it’s price imo

The old magni 3 doesn’t compete with more modern amps like the new schiits, the atom, the liquid spark, the archel 2, k5 pro, etc. imo

The magni 3+ or heresy would be worthwhile imo over the traditional 3

The liquid spark hasn’t really had any issues to my knowledge. Yeah if you like the stack the dac is worth waiting for imo

Lol well that’s pretty impressive you can resist the temptation lol
If you want to see what I currently own you can check my profile

All great info thanks again! I might pick up the Hifimans and wait and see about the K5 and Spark DAQ… Keep researching and decide when they’re all available for purchase.

Any other DAQs or Amps I should be looking at in my sub $200 total range?

You kinda already picked out the cream of the crop for desktop dac amp setups for the 4xx tbh

Also yeah the 4xx should be fine without a dac and amp for the time being, great pair of headphones :+1:

1 Like

Awesome good news!

Also - I clicked the little flag on your post I think it’s bad and can’t undo it? Lol sorry

1 Like

If you did that it would have come up with a pop up I believe, nothing to worry about lol

I like the Liquid Spark and He4xx combo. The liquid spark is more forgiving with other headphones. Especially with headphones like Grado and IEM like the T2 Pro. I’m using the Modi 3 as my DAC for now

The Magni 3 has a very little more bottom end impact. The sound stage/ imaging seems a little larger compared to the Spark and Archel 2 Pro. It can sound compressed. I’ve noticed it in vocals and some treble.

The Archel 2 Pro is what I think I prefer right now. It has a lot of clean treble the Spark rolls off. I think it also has a slightly more resolution compared to the spark.

1 Like

Side Note: I want to say headphone pairing again is way more sensitive if you don’t eq on the Magni 3 and Archel 2 Pro.

The compression just bothered the crap out of me with older schiit products, but stuff like the new Asgard 3 and the new magni 3+ and heresy make me want to recommend schiit again


What does one use to EQ on a PC set-up with DAW and Amp?

So that’s why you can’t recommend the regular Magni 3? The compression? What exactly does that sound like?

I use Equalizer APO with the Peace skin on PC.

The best way I can describe it and it’s not that bad, but like in some vocals as the singer harmonizes… Like goes to a higher or lower note you get like 20 levels of tones on the Magni 3, on something like the Geshelli you get like 35 levels of tones. So the sounds fuller, like more complete.

It’s like listening to a song on Spotify in low quality vs extreme quality. You lose a little bit of the music. A lot of people won’t notice it. If I could be bold in saying this, Mon has trained ears, he probably picked it up because he is used to how a song sounds uncompressed…

The compression only became apparent to me because I’ve been A/B testing a few amps this week for a review and comparison for a TLRtechnology.com The review of the Archel 2 Pro will be up tomorrow.
Jumping back and forth I could pick out what I said above some vocals and treble seem to be about 85% there with Magni 3. The last little tingle seems to be missing.

At the $50 value, I say it’s a fantastic deal. Especially if it’s your first amp. If you have the extra $49 I’d go for the 3+ or Heresy if you want a Schiit amp.

If you plan to buy some other budget fun headphones like any Grado or T2 Pro… anything that is known to be really “sparkly” treble heavy the liquid spark knocks off the ruff edges. It makes them less sibilant or removes it altogether. Plus I think it would sound good on most other headphones.

The Archel 2 Pro give you back the 15% or so of detail the Magni 3 compresses, and it gives you a little more sparkle the Liquid Spark removes. You might come across a few songs that could become harsh in the treble range, but I haven’t really found one yet that I felt the need to skip.

Last thing if you are willing to EQ you can probably add extra treble to the spark and take away some on the Archel 2. You can’t EQ the compression out… Not that I know of.


Compression is a reduction in dynamic range, it makes quieter and louder sounds sound closer to the same volume. It’s a common studio tool.
When it’s used as a criticism It usually implies that the component over emphasizes detail, and can make things sound artificial.
I personally don’t hear that from the older Schiit components, but they are not neutral in the same way as some SS components.


I have the K5 Pro and I love it. I upgraded from a creative soundblaster omni and that one had a lot of noise on the headphone output, I tried the topping MX3 and it too had a lot of noise on the headphone output AND on the speaker output. The K5 Pro on the other hand I can’t hear any noise even with IEMs.
As for availability it seems to come up on Amazon now and then for a few hours but it sells out almost instantly.

1 Like

Yeah, it’s just really popular for the price

1 Like

I’m really leaning towards either a Schiit stack with the 3+ or K5 Pro. Is there any release date ETA on the Liquid Spark DAC?

1 Like

It should be in January according to monoprice

I just saw on their site… Jan 28th… oof. IDK if i can wait that long lol.

What would you guess the difference between a 3+ Schiit stack vs Liquid Spark stack would be? I’m guessing “pretty close” overall?

Edit: I see its AKM4493 (monoprice) vs AKM4490 (Schiit)