Your suggestions: Headphone + DAC/Amp combo?

I was recently banned from Audio Science Review.

The reason you ask? - Because I simply shared my experiences after visiting an audio shop. In my post, I compared what I heard at the audio shop vs brands I had previously owned or auditioned: Sabaj, Topping, and various branded dongles
I was drawn to ASR because of the supposedly “objective” reviews of audio gear with measurements.

But after the experience at the audio shop with high-end brands, my outlook completely changed. The main thing that I noticed was each of these headphone amplifiers/DACs have an unpleasant sound signature of their own. Either midrange forward, treble forward, recessed in the bass, or all the above. There was also a sterility to the sound where most music sounded dry and uninvolving. Sure, we could blame bad recordings/songs, but the same CD-Rs/.wav files were played at the audio shop…

At the shop I auditioned systems from dCS, Esoteric, Luxman, and Accuphase. Live recordings had a certain kind of "presence.” And it made me believe I was there in person. The music was all around me. Everything just sounded "real" it’s hard to explain. Even regular CD-Rs had a kind of liquidity to them…like flowing water. There was detail, clarity, and midrange tonality that my previous systems just couldn’t resolve.

I brought my AKG K872 (reference) headphones with me and tried a bunch of others at the shop from Grado, Audeze, and Focal. I have a working memory and notes of what each track was like with the K872s.

In every case I would imagine the headphones would be served better by high-end audio systems. I don’t currently own any other systems (sold the Chi-Fi)…reason I got the K872 (saved up for it) was because it helps me discern between different headphone amps and DACs. (ultra-transparent and morphs the sound with each new rig)

My question for you experts is…what does your headphone system look like/comprised of? I’m looking to achieve audio nirvana with headphones – perhaps a little less costly than the high-end brands, but with some of the same sonic characteristics.


Please help point me in the right direction. I’m a junior audio enthusiast.


Kind regards,



What was your handle on ASR?
(I did attract a 2 week ban a while ago, and their use of banning and suspension, can be a bit intolerant.)


I got an RME, but most DACS are also about features… and I am not really a DAC guy.
I suppose if you use the PEQs than an RME or other DAC with an EQ feature would be handy.

If you are trying to power low impedance headphones, then a DAC which can do that is best… one with a lower output impedance and can power the worst of headphones.


A lot of people like the SMSL and iFi DACS, which may not have the highest SINAD, but ASR also is mostly a list of SINAD values… when it comes to DACS.

I am sure you;ll get a list of noice sounding DACs, but I wanted a single unit I could plug into. And one that also allowed AtoD, so I did not think about it too hard.
If it was for listening then it likely gets harder.

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