It may seem odd but I want to request suggestions specifically based on the Abyss Diana V2 as the final output device. I have recently joined Roon and respect the knowledge and helpfulness I see in this community.
My current headphone listening is through a THX DAC Amp from Monoprice. I use a balanced connection via Periapt cables going to Drop HD6xx and HIFIMAN Sundara headphones. All told we’re at about $1000 for the whole setup.
I am starting to consider a serious step up in audio quality. After listening to endless reviews by John Darko, Joshua Valour, MidfiGuy, Currawong etc., I have decided to go for the Abyss Diana V2. Previously I had favored the Meze Empyreans. But for my musical taste and audio preferences, the Diana V2 seems perfect. At $3000 they need a better amp and dac.
Here is where suggestions are much appreciated. I have five options I am seeking feedback on:
Under $1500: RME ADI 2 FS DAC AMP combo.
Under $2000: Topping D90 + A90 combo
Under $3000 Option 1: Topping D90 + HeadAmp GSX mini
Under $3000 Option 2: RME ADI 2 FS + HeadAmp GSX mini
Over $3000: Chord Qutest + HeadAmp GSX mini
If you can refer to these options in your responses I would appreciate it. If option #1 can drive the Diana V2 it has an advantage due to the option 1 to option 4 migration path if the amp falls short.
I’m going to give the V2 a listen as well as the Empyrean. As far as dac amp combinations, from the Abyss video here (https://youtu.be/-AaksT4vqA4), it seems unless the sky is the limit for the overall system the RME and V2 is a very good combo for excellent sound.
Just read that thread. Man!, do they seem like an awful choice based on that data and impression. Thanks for the heads up. I’ll still give them a listen but my expectations are seriously reduced and nowhere near what they need to be to justify $3k. I might as well add the Rosson Rad 0 as well.
Thanks for that link and the sound advice. Still can’t wait until the pandemic recedes enough for the current lockdown in LA to be lifted. I have dropped the Diana V2 from my audition list. Now I’m looking at the Meze Empyreans and Rosson Rad 0 headphones to try with the Denafris Ares II going into a Rupert Neve RNHP amp. I still want to try the Topping D90/A90 combo and the RME ADI 2 with both headphones. Also might want to try the Bryston BHA-1 as a more expensive option.
Plenty of gear to look into on forums and reviews during the stay at home period. Thanks again.
Headphones are weird things. Some people seem to get on with all sorts of shapes and weights. I rejected most just because I couldn’t imagine wearing them for an extended time. I also wear glasses as another complication.
I can get along with any but the genuinely uncomfortable. Wearing glasses and listening to music for 6 to 8 hours a day makes comfort a serious issue for me as well. I also find that some people are more impressed by things that matter less to me. Resolution being a big one. I’d take a bit less resolution with better imaging and sound stage presentation any day. Most I reject because of the V shaped response curve I hear.
I’m going to try as many of these combinations as I can but I expect I will end up with the Ares II, RNHP and the Empyrean. They are consistently cited for overall balanced response and better imaging and sound stage. I would choose the Empyrean over the Rad 0 just for the superior comfort (if they feel to me like they feel to most reviewers I’ve run across.)
Almost forgot. Be sure you can use whatever you get with Roon. Sounds obvious, but to my knowledge many of the DAC/amps you mention (Topping, for example, and the RME) are great gear but are not Roon ready.
Awesome. I wish there was a way to put a deposit in escrow and swap headphones with others. Because that’s $12k worth of gear to check out. And my headphone auditioning playlist is 2.5 hours long. Doing that in a store or at a show is impossible and anything less and you’re leaving yourself open to ugly surprises even from $3k headphones. If there was a secured swapping system a person like yourself who has made the investment could even recoup some of your costs. And needless to say, if the equipment is in any way damaged you get the deposit. But until then I guess it’s take your best guess, buy one you think you’ll keep, and order and return the alternates. Which just feels wrong to me.
You should add it back in if you dropped because of that ASR “review”. Amir screwed that up big time - see SBAF forum for a review of ASR in general, or Jude’s (HeadFi forum owner) correction/critique of Amir’s review of Diana V2 in particular and general measurement methodology (if you can call it that).
Also, see if you can’t find a DAC other than Topping to consider, as well as other amps other than Topping and HeadAmp. Look around and see what else you can find…
I currently have the Stellia and Utopia, have had the Verite in the past, and of course the various Sennheisers.
@Douglas_Powell - what are your sound preferences? Do you have a widely recognized “reference” (a reference is just that - something well known that is used as a baseline to everything else) like a Sennheiser HD6xx series (e.g. HD650), and if so what do you like about it, and what do you not, and how is your next HP going to get you more or less of what you are looking for compared to your reference? The same questioning/process should apply to your DAC and amp.
How confusing. I don’t know “MidfiGuy”, but I have listened to the others and they all have different preferences, and besides maybe Currawong are rather inconsistent - one day liking/emphasizing this, another day that. These sorts of reviewers tend to add to the confusion in my experience, unless they are consistent and very transparent with what is important to them and why.
The pointer to headphones.com solves my trial period issue for the equipment they carry. The 365 day return policy is exactly what I was wishing for.
As far as preferences, What I enjoy most are combinations that clearly present the position of instruments in a detailed way. While I enjoy resolution the WOW moments happen for me when I hear different instruments coming from different places in the soundstage. I have a couple pieces of music that require deep bass response to present the low end of classical and electronic instruments. I am not of fan of lots of treble. Several pieces have turned me off as the sound just seemed too bright to my ears.
The reason I am tending towards the Ares II DAC is the reviewers noting the sound separation. The same reason applies to the Burson amp. all the reviews I have read/seen emphasize this characteristic in addition to solid audio reproduction overall. Several reviews of the Empyreans highlight the sound separation characteristic in addition to the comfort for long listening times (a big thing for me as I cannot crank up the volume during the week while neighbors are in work from home mode.)
I wish I had a top tier reference headphone. As of now I have the Sundara for desktop listening and the B&W PX7 for mobile listening. I enjoy both of these. I intend to get the HD6xx soon. In a couple months I’ll have a good answer for MidFi favorites. Maybe I’ll try the Drop Meze 99 Noir as well.
I see the Empyrean and Stellia on headphone.com, so I can try them both and keep the pair I favor. They don’t seem to carry the Veritas or Diana V2. This thread has given me a path forward. Thanks everyone. Keep the replies coming.
I tend to favor Currawong. Darko has such specific musical tastes that his reviews always have to be taken through that lens. But he does do a good job of comparing equipment characteristics. Which is all a wash if you haven’t heard any of the high end pieces he references. I also listen to the Passion for Sound reviews regularly. But overall, I have started ignoring most of what they say and just listening for their impressions of certain characteristics like imaging and soundstage. Valour I am just ignoring at this point.
I think you are on the right track looking at R2R and multibit DAC’s. Be sure to check out Schiit’s multibits - the Bitfrost2 and Gungnir MB are right in the price range of that Denafrips. ASR does not like Schiit because they/Amir are too reductive with measurements, but the Yggdrasil is a widely recognized standard.
For Amps you might want to consider tube hybrid (i.e. solid state combined with tubes) amps if not outright pure tube amps (though this is a harder market to figure out). Tube designs generally (there are always exceptions) get you the soundstage and warmth (i.e. non glare trebel and downward FR tilt) that you like. Hybrid designs also tend to get you the current you need for the low end, particularly with the orthodynamic HP’s you are leaning toward right now.
My the way a ZMF Verite (open back or closed) gets you all 4 of those preferences in spades. That said the ZMF’s are hard to audition because it is a small boutique company and they don’t have many dealers - Zach (the owner) mostly demo’s through trade shows like RMAF, but those are not happening right now because of this wuhan pneumonia. The ZMF’s are also high Z dynamic HP’s, so you will have more choices with amplification (e.g. low current tube amps)…
I’m glad the description of my personal tastes was good enough to get a clean clear reply.
The only ASR review I have read is the one mentioned earlier in this thread. I will definitely expand my options on the amps. If I can do that through headphone.com great. I really want to listen to the Verite.
If I read the Roon documentation correctly, the signal path is designated High Quality because there is no Roon Ready software on my Monoprice THX Balanced DAC Amp confirming an untouched data path. Not that the signal is degraded but just unconfirmed as lossless. Correct?