Advice on headphone setup

I’m looking to put together a headphone setup for when working on my PC and would appreciate some advice from those in the know!

Currently I have the PC which has a MPG Z390M motherboard; this has optical/S/PDIF out, though I was thinking of connecting the external DAC via USB.

At the moment my listening setup at the PC is:

PC (XtremPro USB DAC) → generic 2 port audio switch (PC connects to one port, and my laptop connects to another, both via RCA) → powered speakers/sub via RCA (Bose Companion 3 Series 2). The audio switch has a headphone socket, so I can plug headphones in to that and turn off the speakers when I want to listen to music via headphones. Headphones are Sennheiser HD580 Precision.

I recently bought a Cambridge Audio DACMagic 100 (with a linear PSU) which I was planning to swap for the audio switch, and connect to the PC via USB. It has different inputs on the back so I could use that to perform the switching function between laptop/PC.

What I neglected to check when I was buying it was that it had a headphone connector - which it doesn’t! It only has one set of RCA outputs.

So where do I go from here? I was thinking about buying a headphone amp, which I would connect the DacMagic to - maybe a Schiit Asgard, for example. That has RCA input, a headphone out, and also an RCA “pre out” on the back.

Would this be a suitable option? Would I be able to connect my powered speakers to the “pre out” of the Schiit? Is there a better option? Any help appreciated!

A headphone amp, with pre-out, would work well. You’ll probably get lots of advice about buying a high-end expensive HPA, but I don’t think you’ll need to.

If you want to go for Schiit, then the Magni 3+ or Magni Heresy would be a good bet.

As you’re in the UK you might want to go for something easier to get hold of. Amazon stock the JDS Atom+ HPA which is a great piece of kit.

Amazon also stock the Sabaj A10h, which is great value for money. This has a digital volume control so you won’t get any channel mismatching (normally only a problem if you use the amp at low volume).

You can spend a lot more on a HPA, but you’d only need to do that if you were using balanced connectors.

Topping L50 headphone amp is also a good piece of kit at a low price. Good performance for not much money.


Thanks for the suggestions! What about the THX 789?

Agreed. If balanced input is need the L50 would be hovering around the top of my list.

THX 789 is fine, but you can get more for your money these days. It’s not easy to get hold of in the UK, as far as I know.

Everybody seems to love the THX 789. I haven’t heard a word against it. But Topping and S.M.S.L. also have low-priced gear with strong advocates. I’ve got a Topping DX3 Pro, and it’s tremendous.

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Small do a thx amp the sp200.

Thanks @ged_hickman1 , but I require pre-amp outputs (to connect my powered speakers), which that SMSL doesn’t seem to have.

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In addition to my earlier recommendations on Amazon, check out the Topping equipment at

Another JDS Labs suggestion - the El Amp 2 , although it looks a liitle pricey now compared to some of the competition. It’s a great little amp.

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