$100-$150 DAC/AMP Options

Tobit

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Looking at some budget options to drive 250-ohm DT 990 Pros, usage will be mostly gaming and TV/movies. The motherboard I'm using in my new build has some pretty crappy audio from what I can tell, ASUS TUF Gaming B550 Plus uses the Realtek S1200A codec (without additional amps).

A Schitt Fulla E would probably be ideal but I'm not sure I want to wait 4 to 6 weeks, current lead time, to get one direct from Schitt. Amazon doesn't have any listed at the moment. What would some other options be, FiiO E10K or K3 maybe?
 
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michalrz

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All I can say is - I have the FiiO E10K Olympus 2 with ATH-AVC500, and I think I'm set for a long, long while.
Your headphones are beefier, but the Fiio has a two-level 'gain' switch on the back.

Not sure what else to say, as I have limited experience with stuff.

I definitely don't experience any latency issues with this setup, which was a royal pain in the ass with Bluetooth audio I had previously.
 
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Tobit

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I was just reading a review of the E10K and the gentleman recommended the headphone impedance level to be between 16 and 150 Ω.

I'm now thinking of spending a bit more and going with a Schiit Modi/Magni combo, these are in stock and don't have the long lead times of their two "gaming" DAC/amps.
 

jmilcher

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I was just reading a review of the E10K and the gentleman recommended the headphone impedance level to be between 16 and 150 Ω.

I'm now thinking of spending a bit more and going with a Schiit Modi/Magni combo, these are in stock and don't have the long lead times of their two "gaming" DAC/amps.
I was just going to suggest the Modi/Magni combo. I personally use a Magni 3+and Modi, and it has driven everything I’ve used with the combo very easily. I’ve had more expensive gear prior but this looks good and just works well imo. It’s a proven combo and readily available.
 
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Archmage

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I like Topping. I find them hard to beat in the headphone amp and DAC space unless you want multi-channel, ADC, or processing (in which case: Okto, motu, RME, etc). Topping also has some higher-end products, but they'd be too far out of budget:

I'll be pointing out the power at 300 Ohms because that seems most relevant for this discussion:

Combination DAC/AMPs (my preference):

Topping EX-5: $350 for Balanced XLR (nice for studio monitors). High performance, and 134mW at 300 Ohms. Nothing wrong that stands out, seemingly no weaknesses other than that power figure.
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...ex5-review-dac-and-headphone-amplifier.24341/

Topping DX3 Pro+ (The PLUS (+) in the name signifies the latest generation. Non-plus is older and not as good) : $200, unbalanced, negligibly lower performance, still audibly transparent. Interestingly, this thing seems to provide more power at high-gain at 300 ohms than the EX-5 (257 mW vs 134mW)
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...pping-dx3-pro-review-dac-headphone-amp.27148/

Standalone DACs:

Topping D10 Balanced: $139, Balanced 1/4 TRS and bare-bones feature-wise. Better performance than the older e30 (not listed here), more comparable to the EX5. Unsure what the downside is other than USB-only (no optical input, only output).
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...ds/topping-d10-balanced-review-usb-dac.25094/

Topping e50: $269, Balanced, a little above the performance of the EX-5 and D10B DAC section
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/topping-e50-review-balanced-dac.26219/

Standalone Amps:

Topping L30: $129, Unbalanced, but a very clean amplifier (similar to the L50 below) in all tests including the low output 50mV test. You're giving up a bit of power at 117 mW at 300 ohms, but that's still plenty for most headphones.
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...topping-l30-headphone-amplifier-review.15226/

Topping L50: $229, Balanced, but the rear connectors are different from what you'd expect, and uses 1/4" balanced instead of XLR... also a USB-C port for Firmware updates... neat. Very high S/N ratio on low 50mV output test. Very high power capability at 636mW at 300 ohms. Higher performance all-around than other amps here.
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/topping-l50-review-headphone-amp.26210/

Competitors (Maybe some honorable mentions to products from SMSL (m200-500, su-9), JDS (atom+), Sabaj (a20d has bluetooth), Soncoz, etc... but I don't feel like digging up everything, and Topping tends to come out on top):

Schiit Magni 3 and Hersey amps: $100, Unbalanced, Looks like the Hersey is good. 274mW at 300 Ohms. Plenty of power. He noted a channel imbalance issue in the volume control. This is pretty common in lower cost headphone amps. I had it in my earlier version of the JDS atom amp as well (they've since updated their design).
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...gni-3-and-heresy-headphone-amp-reviews.10311/

Geshelli Archel2 amp: $150, unbalanced, also very clean. 165mW at 300 Ohms.
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...hel2-headphone-amp-review-another-champ.9438/

*Note that I have seen some complaints of XMOS-based DACs having USB dropout issues: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...windows-10-issue-possible-driver-issue.15249/ - I've seen this issue reported for other XMOS based devices... I don't know much more about it, but something to be aware of.

Update Edit: I checked out the impedance curve of the DT 990 pro 250 ohm. It looks like it peaks just above about 350 Ohms in the 75Hz to 100Hz region, and 250 ohms is the minimum - so I'd subtract a little from the amp power figures measured at 300 ohms. The 990's spec sheet suggests a 100mW max power-handling, which, when looking at various sensitivity figures I see for those cans (93 to 96 dB/mW), should be plenty for well over 110+ dB peaks even in that 75Hz - 100Hz region. If you want extra headroom, some of these amps have it.
 
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Mad Maxx

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+1 for the Schiit Fulla. It packs a lot into a $109 device. In use it for my iPad Pro audio.
 

grumperfish

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I'm now thinking of spending a bit more and going with a Schiit Modi/Magni combo, these are in stock and don't have the long lead times of their two "gaming" DAC/amps.
Agreeing with jmilcher above regarding the Magni/Modi. I have the Modi 3+ and Magni Heresy on a shelf connected over optical. Should have tons of power (410mW at 300ohms) for your 990s even in low-gain mode. The Schiit Hel looks like a neat product but it has the same posted shipping time as the Fulla right now.
 
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StoleMyOwnCar

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Kind of a necro at this point considering this is about 2 weeks old and I'm sure OP made his decision, but I'm surprised no one suggested the Objective 2 stack. I think they're still out there being produced by Mayflower, and I would give it a try if you're looking for very neutral sound. IMO amp is more important than DAC, so go for that first since you have a low budget.
 
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Tobit

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Kind of a necro at this point considering this is about 2 weeks old and I'm sure OP made his decision, but I'm surprised no one suggested the Objective 2 stack. I think they're still out there being produced by Mayflower, and I would give it a try if you're looking for very neutral sound. IMO amp is more important than DAC, so go for that first since you have a low budget.
Yeah, thanks. I ended up buying a Schitt Fulla, the wait time wasn't as long as they stated on the website.. it shipped today.
 
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