Upgrade time, Amp+Dac

I’m pretty new to the Audiophile scene and I’m currently looking for an amp and a dac that could make a good combo for my audio needs.
I currently own a JDS Labs Element I AmpDac. I use it to run all my cans (Argons, HD660S, KPH30i, og X2’s) and I’d like to see what’s next in line in terms of quality.
I like a fun and warm sound, love bass, but also like detail and clarity on the higher frequencies.
I use my setup mainly for music and videogames, but primarily music.
In terms of budget I’d say around $700usd total.
I’m still learning about all of this so any input would be appreciated.
Thanks for your time!

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Just wondering, are you planning to also upgrade to a higher tier of headphone? Right now, the element is pretty solid, and it might not make sense to go higher with current cans imo, although you can for sure


similar to what M0N says…you may wish to rather consider buying much better headphones and use them with your very SOLID combo unit. you’ll have a lot more audio quality gain with better headphones than with a newer DAC and amp. :slight_smile:

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To answer both questions, yes I’m also looking forward to go for higher tier headphones, however I also don’t know many options that appeal to my preference in sound (warm, bassy, but keep detail and clarity as much as possible), maybe a post on the Headphones category could help?
Thanks for the replies, I wasn’t sure if the Element was still competent since so much has come out during the last year and a half.

What price range are you thinking for that one?

For the headphones you have it’s solid imo, the 660s isn’t that picky based on amps, neither are the kph30 or the x2’s. The argons might appreciate a bit more power but I feel like it wouldn’t be a massive upgrade going to something with more power imo

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Hmm, as long as the Element can drive 'em then I’d put the $700usd budget there, could also wait to save more for “better” quality, since it’s not an urgent expense as of now.

I see, tbh the Argons sound great on this, so I was curious if more power would make them even better… but tbh I can’t complain on how they sound with the Element.

Hmmm, so what do you like about your 660s and argons, and what would you want to change about them?

Oof, where to begin, lol
What I like about my 660s the most is that imaging and clarity, helps me when I try to be more competitive in games too, but for vocals and just little details I find them quite exquisite, soundstage is great too, pretty fun but detailed cans imho.
And, Argons, well, I can describe them as being the most fun sounding headphone I’ve ever listened to, specially with that low end, honestly I feel they are quite detailed for being so good at bass imo, the pads also are basically two very big pillows, so comfort and the most fun listening experience I’ve had, tbh I’m scared if there are headphones that beat them… I-…I wanna know them…

tldr;; 660s Imaging & Detail (+Soundstage)… Argons the most fun listening experience(so far) and that BASS…

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Also Argons are hard to describe for me as I’m not fluent in Audiophilian, but I love them :slight_smile:

In that case, if you didn’t mind a hit in soundstage width compared to the argons, have you considered something like finding a fostex x00 or emu teak? Those have great detail, very good bass impact and extension, an organic timbre, and also very good imaging imo. It does sound up your alley in those regards, although comfort can be pretty meh imo (and swapping the pads really screws with the sound)

You could also try and find a hp3 for under 700 as that also sounds up your alley imo, similar to the x00 and teak but warmer signature and a slightly wider stage

A beyerdynamic t1.2 might be up your alley, it’s pretty spacious and immersive with great imaging, warmer toned, very good detail, good bass but not as impactful as the x00, but still solid

All of these would work well with your element but could benefit from going higher on the amp later on imo

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Oh yes I’ve seen the x00 before but they’ve been out of stock for a while… The closest thing that I see on amazon is the TH-610 although I doubt they sound similar? As for the teaks, I also can’t seem to find them. They seem to fit most of what I like though, I could sacrifice a bit of width.

That’s a very interesting recommendation, I didn’t know about them, they look great!

Oh nice, I didn’t know about these either, they do seem to be up my alley. If you don’t mind me asking another question, how would you compare the bass between the t1.2’s and the argons?

The 610 is an alternative but imo you would most likely prefer the ebony or teak. Your only option for the x00 is to look used as they have been discontinued by drop, and for the teak you have to order direct from the emu site

The t1.2 is more organic sounding with more of a natural hump where the argons are more linear, the 1.2 actually might have more impact, but the argons have more prominence. The t1.2 might be more quick and also more detailed imo

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Ooh, understandable, I’ll try to look for them for sure and see what I can find, thanks :slight_smile:

Ooh now those are sounding a bit more interesting to me :eyes: :eyes: :drooling_face:

I’ll take this to consideration when looking for them, may just be plan b if I change my mind about the x00s (as for now I am conflicted)

Thank you so much for these recommendations and helping me out, I’ll do my research on both of these and see which ones I pull the get first, thank you again for your help! :smile: :smile:
Maybe I’ll update on which ones I got and my impressions!

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That would be great :+1:

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Heyo, so I have some news, I was looking at the tx00s, but sadly I couldn’t find any sellers that ship to my country… so a bit sad, but I got a nice bonus from work luckily and since I’ve hardly spent any money these couple weeks, my budget has increased.
So I decided to keep saving and was wondering if there are any better options than the tx00s that fit that same/similar sound signature.
Also, same luck with the emu teaks…
And the T1.2’s are still very tempting, but I believe my priority rn is that fun description of the tx00s sound signature…


yes the Fostex tr x00 series is very popular and has become even more popular since Massdrop hired it.
I own one that I don’t give away :smile:.
But honestly, you won’t go wrong with the Emu Teak, which is even slightly above the Fostex.
Emu has the driver as stupid as it sounds much better under control than Fostex.
Emu also offers various wooden cups at a fair price, which can offer you an excellent sound
So you can’t ignore it.
It gives her an extra thread for the Fostex, Emu and old Denon range.
There you can read what is possible.
It called Massdrop discontinue the Fostex line.
At the moment my converted D2000 with a Lwaton mod and Emu rosewood cups is my hero.
So much briefly and briefly about the history of Fostex Emu.
I’m still throwing the Denon Ah D7200 into the room, in case you like it bassy.
If you have never heard the Fostex you will surely like it.
You can hear the Hifiman Sundura over and over again if your amplifier is powerful.
But the structure of the driver is very different from what Fostex does.

maybe something from Focal could still be good.
But I don’t really want to overwhelm you now, otherwise I really don’t know what to buy in the end, although Mon’s suggestions were also very good with the Beyerdynamic.
In which country do you actually live because you wrote that it would not be available there.

Well, rn I’m living in Mexico which makes it hard for me to find good headphones.
Considering your recommendation on the Emu’s, I’ll try to find those too and see what I can find over here.
I’ve seen a few videos of the TH-900 even though they are pricey… from what I’ve seen the sound signature is different but the mids are more recessed, some call them muffled. So idk if it would be a worthy investment. Would have to wait to get em too, I don’t want to go broke over a pair of headphones lol.
As for Focals, idk much about their sound signatures (from what I’ve heard some tend to be clear and crisp, idk about their mid-low end) so I’d have to look em up in further research.
Thank you for your reply! Much appreciated.

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Also the TH-900 I can actually get shipped here for some reason, and not the TH-X00s :sob:


Okay about the Fostex again the Tr xx‘s,the Emu Teak and the old Denon series have the same driver input.
The only difference are the Wood cups and the Rest are the same thing.
The better Wood have Emu.I don’t know what Emu do it,but the signature are better as the Fostex cups.
More brilliance,more low ends.
My mod for example the Denon Ah D2000 with the Lawton mod stage one with the rosewood cups and better Earpads are so much better as my Tr x00 Mahagony out of the Box.
More bass,more brilliance in the Mids,good vibration in the Mids the high are a not to sharp and so shrill.

When you are really interested on this the E-MU Teak are the reference.The modding option is not a must have but a possibility in the bottom line.
When you find later the Phones could drive a bit smoother and better beginning with the Lawton mod damp kit and later another wood cups for example.
The Fostex th 900 have the same driver but with more power and other earpads the rest of the construction is the same for a expensiver price.

Many people like the Focal is not a bad phone.The construction is sometimes questionable.
Have a interesting driver inside.
Another option is the Denon Ah D7200 have a better construction.
A good bass who can is a little too much,good mids range,the highs not to sharp.A good investment when you use an Equalizer for example Apo on Pc you can adjust them all for good sounding.
Reduce a bit the Bass and give more on the highs and all are be fine with them.Is a good phone out of the Box who don’t needing mods and Investment money after the buy.

Hey again, I tried looking for E-Mu Teaks and no luck anywhere! :sob:

I’m thinking of giving the T1.2’s a chance since they seem like a step up from the 660S, so I can wait a bit and try to find either the Teaks or the X00s in the near future, since it appears that they’re impossible to get as of now…

I’ll try to look for the Dennons but I’ve seen exaggerated prices for them here in MX, but I’ll try to keep an eye out