Headphone and DAC suggestions

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Hi all,

I'm looking to upgrade my current headphone's ATH M30) to the ATH M50X. To be honest I don't know much about headphones I've only just been looking and looked at the M50X as they seem to have great reviews.

I mainly game and listen to music, couple questions -

Is it worth getting a decent DAC to get the full benefit out of the 'new' headphones?
What DAC would you recommend?
What headphones would you recommend closed back is a must?

Happy to spend £200 on headphones , no idea how much DAC's cost.
 
Soldato
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Ifi ZenDac V2 is a good value, and a big step up from onboard sound.

I've always preferred open back headphones, on my PC I use a pair of Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro 250 ohm. Again, very good value at their price point. I have some Sony XM3s for out and about and some old Grados for listening to music sometimes, although they aren't comfy enough to wear all day like the DT990.
 
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In terms of closed-back headphones if looking at the Audio Technica 50X, then the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro and AKG K371/K361 spring to mind as both are very similar in price/performance. I have both the DT 770s and K361 which are really good headphones. Although there is something special about the DT 770s I admit. And I say that as someone that generally prefers open-backed headphones. My understanding is the M50X are very easy to drive, as are the AKG K371/K361s. The DT 770 are available in different ohm versions and therefore *might* require an amp.

DAC/AMPs like headphones can vary massively in price although you'll have choices ranging £60-200 which are all well regarded. How much an improvement over your PC's own soundcard will depend on setup.

Fiio E10K (USB-C) - £61
Fiio K3 - £90
iFi Zen DAC V2 - £130-ish
Creative SoundBlasterX G6 - £120 (but can be had for less, as low as £75 refurbished)
Fiio K5 Pro - £150
Topping DX3Pro+ - £180

Schiit Audio will also be recommended but their stuff can be more expensive/difficult to get in the UK.

All of those will be great for gaming and music and grow with more expensive headphones. Some will be great for working with basic speaker setups too. The SoundBlaster does really require driver and software installation to get the best out of it, although that means it can do more for gaming (virtual surround etc.) but equally not be as plug and play as plain USB DAC/AMPs. Only the SoundBlasterX G6 has a Mic input. Certainly worth doing some research on the above and I may be missed some latest and greatest from this list. If on a budget and going from 'poor' onboard audio something like the E10K & M50X combo might be fine as a starter setup and will have change left over from £200 for both. But the more expensive DAC/AMPs on the list, like the K3/K5 or Zen DAC V2 should be noticeable upgrades.

I'm currently using the Fiio K5 Pro and G6 with my TV Optical Out for console and PC. Both are great and sound wise there is very little between them, the K5 Pro is more powerful and much better to use with speakers where as my G6 has been used with a number of devices as it is slightly more versatile.

Hope that helps.
 
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Soldato
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Schiit Audio will also be recommended but their stuff can be more expensive/difficult to get in the UK.

Massive shortages of supplies at the moment from America to Schiit UK. They've been out of stock for months. :( As I'm trying to get the BiFrost and Jotunheim.
 
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Massive shortages of supplies at the moment from America to Schiit UK. They've been out of stock for months. :( As I'm trying to get the BiFrost and Jotunheim.

:( Good luck - hope it improves soon - seems to be the way with many things now.

Tbh whenever I've looked for Schiit stuff it always seemed to be out of stock even prior to the pandemic (although this might just be me being unlucky with my timings) and obviously at the $ to £ conversion isn't as attractive as US prices.
 
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As mentioned above the AKG 361/371 or DT 770 would all be much better options than the ATH M50X, to be honest I wou8ldnt touch the M50X these days and you wont need an amp for any of them unless you're getting the 250 ohm 770.

The AKG 361 is an absolute bargain, can be gotten for £50 and imo I dont think the 371/dt770 are over double the price better. If you really want a DAC I'd go for the iFi Zen DAC V2 or if you wanna save a bit more cash a b-stock G6 is amazing value, especially if you want the gaming features.
 
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To be quite honest, you're shooting yourself in the foot going budget with closed backs - they're just not as good as competing open back headphones. It costs a fair bit in research and materials to replicate the openness of an open back in a closed back headphone, and 200 ain't gonna cut it.

So unless it is an absolute necessity because the wife will leave you otherwise, I'd look into something else like the HD560s, especially if you're gaming.

In terms of a DAC, you don't need anything better than a USB-C Apple dongle for most of these non-demanding headphones.
 
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To be quite honest, you're shooting yourself in the foot going budget with closed backs - they're just not as good as competing open back headphones. It costs a fair bit in research and materials to replicate the openness of an open back in a closed back headphone, and 200 ain't gonna cut it.

So unless it is an absolute necessity because the wife will leave you otherwise, I'd look into something else like the HD560s, especially if you're gaming.

In terms of a DAC, you don't need anything better than a USB-C Apple dongle for most of these non-demanding headphones.

My only concern and the reason I want(ed) closed back is the fact I don't want others to hear the music, how much can be heard with open back?

What closed back would you recommend?
 
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My only concern and the reason I want(ed) closed back is the fact I don't want others to hear the music, how much can be heard with open back?

What closed back would you recommend?

Open back will definitely leak sound, but it is not a problem if you're the only one in a room.

Personally, there aren't any that aren't absurdly expensive that I'd recommend. All my trials with them have been disappointing compared to open backs.
 
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Little update, talking to a colleague at work who let me have a look / listen to his setup - which consist off Beyerdynamic DT 1770 PRO headphones connected to a Schiit Asgard 3 (DAC model). Speechless is all I can say, the sound was something I've never experienced!

Now this got me thinking, the sound I loved for the type's of music I tend to listen to. Price wise much more then I was going to spend initially £400 for the Asgard 3 with DAC and £370 for the headphones but now that I have experienced sound like it makes me happy to spend about that much.

What DAC/headphones would you recommend similar to the Asgard 3 and DT1770's.


 
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Get yourself down to a few audio shops round you, looks like you have a few.

I'd agree open back is way to go if only person in room, you want soundstage for gaming, and a cooler (heat) headphone.

All the Beyers i've listened to have been great. Still, there are other wonderful headphones from other brands too. There's a reason many people have more than one set.

I wouldn't initially rule out a cheaper setup because your friend's £800 setup was great. I can't remember the setup, but i once listened to a DT770 setup that had me fooled, never thought they could be that precise on all levels.
 

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I stick with Closed back headphones, sure its not going to compare to the openess sound of open hps but at least you have privacy and no sound leakage with closed hps.

Tried K371s, fairly decent but not as good as the Audio technica msr 7bs (detail and clearness), those hps have been around for a while sometimes £230 but sometimes you can find them pre owned around on amazon for £130. Probably the best mid range closed headphones I have listened too over the course of 20 years of Audio listening.

Get a good quality dac, I have the topping DX3 pro, you still get that high quality audio listening and best of all. cant hear anything else around you and no one can listen to anything you are. The AT msr 7bs seal the noise in very well they cup around your ears so no one from 1 meter away could hear you at decent mid level volumes.

So you can fully enjoy music, movies, game at 4am

If you wanted I guess in the future you could add the open headphones to your collection, maybe have them as your daily runners during mid day and then then closed for night time listening.

You don't have to spend £400-800 to get good listening, ebay and pre owned amazon stock have good deals about for both closed and open headphones, for example the msr7bs are £130 pre owned on amazon now normally 230, you also got Sennheiser HD599 a fantastic low price open headphones for 99 quid brand new. Don't forget on these forums we have members market (if you got access), lots of hps come and go there on the cheap.
 
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