Should I upgrade my DAC?

Hey all first time posting!

So after watching Z Reviews for a bit I upgraded my audio setup for the first time in a few years. I started with a Schiit Stack (2 Uber for both units) paired with AKG 7xx and Kanto YU2 for speakers. Recently I have acquired a pair of Sennheiser HD 58X and a JDS Labs El Amp 2. So far I’m really enjoying both; never realized how “flat” my 7xx’s sounded in comparison to the 58x.

So, my question is should I upgrade my Modi 2U DAC or keep it? With an untrained ear am I going to notice much of a difference? I mostly use my headphones for gaming and either Spotify or FLAC for music listening (no particular genre preference).

a more modern DAC will likely improve your sound, but it’s not going to remake the 7xx. while I’ve never heard the Schiit Modi DAC, they are known to have compressed sound. what about pairing your El Amp 2 with it’s El DAC 2 it’s meant to be paired with?

Ah see that’s what I was wondering. I’ve never seen a DAC review so I’m not familiar how you tell the difference between DACs “sound”. I was definitely considering the EL DAC when I was ordering the amp but I didn’t know for sure if I needed to.

DAC can affect sound like amps…but they tend to be more nuanced. :slight_smile:

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Gotcha, I appreciate the insight! But, based on your experience do you think the EL DAC is going to sound best with the matching amp or is there something else you would recommend ?

well…u can definitely go with other options. what genres of music do you listen to and what headphones do you have? and, how much are you open to spending?

So currently I’m using Sennheiser HD58x as daily drivers along with Kanto YU2 as desktop speakers. For music my genres are all over the place, top ones being : Underground/Hardocre Hip Hop (Kendrick, Danny Brown, RTJ etc) Garage (Ty Segall, Jay Reatard, King Tuff), Dark Synth (Gost, Perturbator), Indie (Mac Demarco, Courtney Barnett, Alvvays) and Chill/Synth/Vaporwave (Neon Indian, Washed Out, Com Truise, Toro y Moi). With regards to price I think $300-350 is the max I want to spend .

Also new to audio stuff. Currently have Sundara’s and an SMSL SH-9 is on the way.
Looking at pairing it with an SU-8 or SU-9. Think I’ll hear a difference?

Personally, I am a huge advocate on the importance of electronics and chain. That being said, I think you are fine where you are at right now.

If you are thinking about upgrading, I think you should aim for the $650-750 range. You will notice a significant upgrade and there are many good choices there. Before you do so, I would reflect if you enjoy this hobby enough to have the desire to upgrade more in the future. Once you have either 2-3 midrange headphones or one that you really love and want to improve upon, jump for the DAC. As a comparison point, when I got my Bifrost 2, I was using ZMF Auteur, Nighthawks, and HD600s at the time.

If you still enjoy Schiit products, I’d aim for the Bifrost 2. Otherwise, Denafrips Ares II DAC gets a lot of love too.

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So I decided to go with the JDS Labs EL DAC. From what I could find in reviews of the other DACs I was looking at (Schiit Modius, Aune X8, and Topping D50/E30) is that there may be some that measure/tested better than the EL DAC, but they don’t pair as well with the EL Amp. At least that’s what I could find when searching around, hopefully I made the right choice ¯_(ツ)_/¯

the EL DAC or EL DAC II?

The 2. I got weirdly lucky with it; JDS emailed me saying they only had B Stock models and the rep sent me a picture of it and it looked super clean. Saved $50 and it still has the same warranty.


I like B-Stock. The packaging is whatever anyway, so if it saves me a handful of dollars.