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Good DAC and amp for HD598/598CS

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post #1 of 63 (permalink) Old 01-22-2020, 01:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Good DAC and amp for HD598/598CS

I haven't used my HD598 headphones for years and just tried them back yesterday on my PC using my Xonar DX soundcard like I used to, at first I got no sound and had to jiggle the cable a bit for them to finally work (never had to do that before). Maybe my memory is playing tricks on me, but they don't really sound the same as they did before, especially when listening to someone speak, it sounds kinda metallic and not as clear as i remember, and I had my Corsair speakers die on me using that same soundcard a few years ago (implosion-like sound in the subwoofer when turning them on then poof no sound) so I don't completely trust my Xonar DX anymore and thought it's maybe time to invest in a DAC and amp combo.

Problem is I'm a total noob when it comes to sound and I'm not sure what to look for when choosing this type of device, I'll be using the HD598 on it and a pair of close-back HD598Cs (I don't like closed-back but need silence for late night listening), can you even use those DAC and amp combo with regular PC speakers because of the amp part ? If not can I use the Xonar DX for my speakers and switch to the DAC for headphones in windows without any conflict ? What gain settings would you recommend for the HD598 and HD598Cs ?

My budget would be around 100 to 150 euros/dollars, thanks in advance for your recommendations.

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post #2 of 63 (permalink) Old 01-22-2020, 02:23 AM
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Topping DX3 does the job fairly nice as a small very versatile desktop unit. It has a very melodious sound. Less clinical than the ES9038 chips. I have tuned it further myself by replacing resistors, opamps and capacitors inside further but out of the box it's already pretty great. I've got 3 of em. 1 tuned, 2 stock. 1 Tuned and Stock on my desktop and 1 at the TV upstairs connected to 2 active speakers.

The amp is really powerful and transparant. More than you'd need for your headphones. I drive 600 ohm Beyerdynamics with it and my Mr Speakers Mad Dogs which are both power hungry and the amp has quite some room to spare.


I also have a Khadas Toneboard with ES9038 which would be a bit better for gaming since it's more clear and bass it thicker but less musical for sure. But it's a DAC only type. You'd need to find a cheap amp with it. I also have custome completely redone Lehman headphone amp and a Custom build ES9018 DAC with class A output stages etc etc.

All pretty premium stuff. I tell you the DX3 will compare nicely and give you bang for buck with that headset.
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post #3 of 63 (permalink) Old 01-22-2020, 02:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice but ouch the price is a bit too much for me, they seem to sell for around 220€ here in France. Also total noob question, what does the knob do on those DAC+amp, is it just controlling the volume or does it makes the sound better/clearer too ?

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post #4 of 63 (permalink) Old 01-22-2020, 03:39 AM
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Check out Schiit for AMP/DAC models, or Massdrop as well.
Lots of good choices there

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post #5 of 63 (permalink) Old 01-22-2020, 03:40 AM
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Quote: Originally Posted by Telimektar View Post
Maybe my memory is playing tricks on me, but they don't really sound the same as they did before, especially when listening to someone speak, it sounds kinda metallic and not as clear as i remember
You probably got used to a flatter frequency response from your speakers. The HD598's have no bass to speak of, especially when the seal is not perfect, so they'll sound thin when coming back to them.

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post #6 of 63 (permalink) Old 01-22-2020, 04:06 AM
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Quote: Originally Posted by Telimektar View Post
Thanks for the advice but ouch the price is a bit too much for me, they seem to sell for around 220€ here in France. Also total noob question, what does the knob do on those DAC+amp, is it just controlling the volume or does it makes the sound better/clearer too ?
Ouch! Yeah I'm in China. I order them straight from the factory in Shenzen... for half that...
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post #7 of 63 (permalink) Old 01-22-2020, 04:41 AM
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AIM SC808 from ebay, they're new and on newest revision.

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post #8 of 63 (permalink) Old 01-22-2020, 06:17 AM - Thread Starter
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What do you guys think of the Fiio K3 ? It's available for around 100€ here in france.

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post #9 of 63 (permalink) Old 01-22-2020, 08:21 AM
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Quote: Originally Posted by Telimektar View Post
What do you guys think of the Fiio K3 ? It's available for around 100€ here in france.
SINAD is not great. You're better off buying the $9 Apple USB-C DAC instead.

https://www.apple.com/fr/shop/produc...0%91jack-35-mm

It beats much more expensive products in most important metrics, and it's plenty powerful to drive your HD598's and even headphones with higher input impedances.

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Last edited by ToTheSun!; 01-22-2020 at 08:32 AM.
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post #10 of 63 (permalink) Old 01-23-2020, 05:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote: Originally Posted by ToTheSun! View Post
SINAD is not great. You're better off buying the $9 Apple USB-C DAC instead.

https://www.apple.com/fr/shop/produc...0%91jack-35-mm

It beats much more expensive products in most important metrics, and it's plenty powerful to drive your HD598's and even headphones with higher input impedances.
Well crap, I ordered a Fiio K3 yesterday after reading quite a few positive reviews (only downside I've seen mentioned is that the 3.5mm headphone jack doesn't deliver a whole lot of power while the 2.5mm balanced one does(I don't even know what a balanced port/cable is) but thought it wouldn't be an issue with the 598 and 598Cs since they don't require much amplification if I understand correctly).

Seems like i can use my regular PC speakers with the line out at the back at least, so that's a plus, no need to switch between the DAC and my Xonar DX soundcard but the manual says to disconnect the headphones before plugging in powered speakers.

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