Upgrade time, Headphones vs Dac&Amp

I currently own the Fiio K5 Pro and a pair of dt 880 600ohm headphones.

I was planning on buying the DT 1990 and have been saving up money to do so, but after the z-review on the 880s I’ve been thinking of a new amp/dac.

The issues I found with my current set up is that bass doesn’t really hit the deep lows on a few songs, and bass usually takes a back seat. Additionally my fiio k5 pro is mostly on high gain and with volume practically maxed out. Also when maxed out some songs have a crackling on the higher frequencies.

Budget is around 1000Euro, so should I get the dt1990 or something else? Should i keep the 880s and find a stronger amp & dac? I’ve my eyes on the Aune X8 and the Emotiva basX.

I want to make a good investment so if I need to push a little I’m ok with that.

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The DT880 isn’t a bass can. It has the bass but focuses more on treble, which has that bass taking a backseat effect, as you have observed. The 1990 with balanced pads will give you more bass than the 880, but I haven’t heard them described as bass cannons. How much bass are you looking for? The Beyer T1.2 has a reputation for having a warmer sound signature for not much more than the 1990 as well.

Also, at 1000Euro, you don’t really have to ask if you should go for new headphones OR a new dac or amp. For that much, you can have it all! The 1990 is roughly half that. You could grab a Topping E30 and a Schiit Asgard 3 or the Emotiva and probably still be under 1000. You could also spend more on an amp and use the Fiio’s DAC until you get more money. Most here at HFGF don’t recommend spending more than $200 on a DAC until you get into Bifrost 2 territory.

The A-100?
I mean, it would work arround the issue with the maxed K5 Pro. It is a speaker amp first though.

The LakePeople G103-S says it can push half a watt into 600 Ohms, so maybe look into that?

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Is there any downside to using the Fiio as only a dac?

Not really. You would likely really have to ear squint to pick out meaningful differences between its built in dac and a standalone budget dac. Someone on this forum in the EU picked up the Lake People amp @MazeFrame just mentioned used for a good price. Might be worth seeing if there are any others floating around out there.

Ok thanx for the help guys. Much appreciated.

for what it’s worth I think WaveTheory was referring to me picking up the Lake People amp just a couple days ago. It arrived yesterday and I’m loving it. G109. I’ve seen the G111 that Hazi59 recommended on sale at Thomann for under 400 euros.
All I can say is that from my little experience pairing it with a zen dac it’s and sundaras it’s very very enjoyable. I listen to everything but above all classical and opera so pretty demanding.
The g109 can push my sundaras quite easily. I hardly ever have to go past 12 o’clock. Only some quiet recordings go up to 2 o’clock. Beyond that it doesn’t distort at all, it’s just too loud.

For the DT880s you need a lot of power. Not sure what amps can do it for that headphone. maybe someone can recommend something. if you got the emotiva amp like Zeos you’d have to do the mod on it for the headphone but you would have a amp for speakers too.

Yes! Sorry, I couldn’t remember your username in the moment I made that post. So glad to hear you’re enjoying the new gear!

no offence taken at all, really enjoying it a little too much so I can only thank you, although maybe I should blame you because I should be sleeping instead of listening to music at this time…

Good music played back well is addicting!

I hear ya. But, honestly, listening to music that moves you is restful too.

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too true, it’s Saturday/sunday anyway

Cool. Are you ok with keeping the headphones? Do you like them enough to keep them? Or do you want a new headphone experience?

DT 1990 is good, but it might not be the right step up imo.

Yea, so 1990s aren’t gonna be the play then afaik.

If you are considering getting the 1990s you will need a better amp first if all you’re using is the k5.

Ok. So my recommendations…

1st option => keep 880s (they’re great cans), buy an asgard 3, archel 2.5 pro, rnhp, or gilmore lite mk2 for your amplifier. Wait a week. If the experience is significantly better buy an intro dac. That would be the modius, modi, enog2, etc. This is the most reliable approach to make sure you have a good experience.

2nd option => buy DT 1990 and get minor amp upgrade to asgard or archel. Only thing is there won’t be a lot of budget left to experiment. 1990s are good headphones, but will need good dac/amp to really be worth the money. Quick fix. Better headphones will sound better, but won’t give you the good source system to allow upgrades in the future to be worthwhile.

3rd option (my preferred option) => Buy Elegias on sale ($429 going on sale, will find link in a minute. limited time offer.). They have much better everything, and are super easy to drive. Spend the money on a decent mobile dac/amp (we can discuss which one here if you’re interested). I would HIGHLY recommend buying these. They hit what you want in the 880 / 1990 and they’re better than both in manyyyyy ways. These are ~$1000, but going out of production. Literal highway robbery at $429.

The default stacks to start with would be the schiit asgard / modius and the geshelli archel / enog. If you’re willing to spend more on the amp (which is suggested if you want to keep the 880s) you should grab a gilmore lite mk2 or an rnhp.

Lemme know if you have any questions!

Wow a lot to take in, thanks. Being in the EU and not NA has it’s challenges but I’ll take the idea of new cans vs amp dac into my decisions.

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The Beyerdynamic range specialises in detail, rather than bass. It can do bass, but it’s clean bass rather than what I think you’re looking for.

In my experience, Modhouse Argons and Meze 99 Noir/Neo/Classics do good low end. Of course since Argons have a crazy long shipping time (since they are custom made), Meze 99 would be a good choice which doesn’t need huge amount of power to run. Hifiman HE5SE also do bass though not as great as the Argons, I vouch for that since I was one of the paid chat people who insisted that Zeos got a bad set for his review, which is why he had to rereview it.

From there you’ve got choices, SMSL SU-8 and THX 789 would give you the best bang for buck combo. Caveats are, not that great single ended output and neutral headphones (like Sennheiser HD600’s will sound sterile and boring), but aside from that, it covers 90% of headphones and a good upgrade path.

That said, headphones and source (record mastering) matters over amp and DAC. Try and look for headphones that suit your taste before you look to DAC/amps.

As for the DT880’s, I have just finished doing a tutorial for balanced mods. So you can use it with the 789, but you’ve got to get down and dirty. I personally wouldn’t recommend the BasX A100 because while it can power the Argons and DT880’s single ended, it’s not clean. It’s really more for speakers than headphones, so other headphones won’t sound good on it, which sucks if you plan to change or add other headphones later.

Hi, i came to this same realisation and I’m trying to find an EU alternative to the 789. I could order it but it’ll end up costing a bunch more with tax and shipping etc. So I’m going to try find a good local alternative.

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Lake People G111 is made in Germany, and can be had for under $400 b-stock or open box from Thomann from what I’ve seen. It puts out 600mW at 600 ohms for those 880s, which is as much as the Emotiva, but the quality is going to be much better for headphones.