Home Amp/DAC Guides Top 4 BEST Headphone Amps for the HD600 and 650

Top 4 BEST Headphone Amps for the HD600 and 650

by Stuart Charles Black
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Greetings mate and Welcome aboard.

Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions leading to a beautiful audio experience that will make you fall in love with music (NOT gear) all over again, so…

Before we get into the best headphone amp for the Sennheiser HD600 and 650, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…

You’ve come to the right place!


It may seem like a daunting task in trying to decide on an amp for either of these headphones.

At the end of the day,

It’s not. It’s actually very simple.

So stick around, because I’m here to steer you in the right direction – out of the audiophile fog, and into the glorious practical light. 🙂

I’ve owned an HD600 since 2016 and have used it with countless amps & dacs.

I also own a 58X and have demoed the 6XX and 650 on many occasions with a plethora of different setups ranging from the cheapest to very expensive.

So trust me when I tell you that I’m trying to help you, not cause you to be more confused.

Because in reality,

the process of purchasing an Amp/DAC for these headphones should absolutely not be as complicated as most other websites make it out to be.

So my question for you is this:

Do you want to listen to music, or would you rather venture further and further down the rabbit hole?

The choice is yours.

If it’s the former, stick around and read this article in its entirety.

Now, before we get started,

just input your credit card and personal information into my trusty database.

Haha just kidding.

Come on, loosen up. 🙂

The good thing about both of these is that they aren’t really that picky; most pairings will sound very good!

The dilemma arises when looking for the best amp that pairs well with the 600 and 650.

Thankfully, it’s not really a dilemma.

I did quite a bit of research regarding the best, tested out many pairings, and I have some news for you.

So let’s discuss it.

In the interest of keeping things simple and concise, I’ll go over my top picks and then give some closing thoughts about my reasoning.

By the end, you should absolutely be ready to purchase something.

So get excited because you’re in the right place! 


Hidizs S9 Pro

Amp/DAC Combo

Price: Check Amazon! | Check Hidizs! | Official Review: Here! | Primary Use: Portable

Hidizs S9 Pro Review

For many years I recommended the AudioQuest DragonFly Red because I thought it was a great DAC.

It still is, but my philosophy has always been to recommend one thing until something better comes along.

Well, something better has come along.

It’s the Hidizs S9 Pro containing the same 9038Q2M chip that the DragonFly Cobalt houses, only at 1/3 of the price.

That’s right you heard me correctly.

The overpriced Cobalt goes for over $300, and the DragonFly Red (9018 chip) is now overpriced at $200.

Why would you pay those prices when you can get the same chip for roughly $100 and have the option to run balanced (2.5mm)?

The decision is an easy one, my friends.

The S9 Pro is clean and neutral, has plenty of power, can run DSD up to 512 if that’s your thing, and tops out at 32-bit/768kHz.

In other words, more than enough to run any files you may have.

Don’t overthink it!


FiiO K5 Pro

Amp/DAC combo

Price: Check Amazon! | Check B&H! | Check Apos Audio! | Official Review: Here! Primary Use: Desktop

FiiO K5 Pro ReviewThe K5 Pro is one of the most recommended Amp/DAC combos on this site, and that trend continues here.

Note: Also check out the K7 if you think you’ll be using the headphones balanced.

As far as features and versatility, it doesn’t get much better.

The K5 can be used as a preamp into separate speakers/monitors, as a gaming rig via optical, and it’s even got a coax input for good measure. 

Couple that with plenty of power + the ability to run files greater than 48kHz, and you’ve got a recipe for a pretty fantastic product.

To this day,

it’s still relevant to me due to the sheer fact that I’ve demoed over 60+ Amps & DACS at this point and understand that the differences between them, sound-wise, are almost non-existent.

In other words,

you’ll probably always keep one around and it just so happens to sound great with both the HD600 and 650!



Amp Only

Price: Check JDS! | Official Review: Here! | Primary Use: Desktop

JDS Labs ATOM 2 Review

If you happen to already have an E10K or K3, the absolute most logical step up is to simply add a JDS ATOM amplifier to the mix.

You can also pair the ATOM DAC with the ATOM amp if you want.

This is perhaps the best pairing with the HD600, 650, 6XX, etc.

The reason being is that it’s dead neutral (meaning it has a very low output impedance) and will present to you the music and tonality of the headphones exactly as-is.

So don’t overthink it.

What you’ll need:

Just snag an RCA to mini (3.5mm) and you’re set.

Plug the 3.5mm end into the back of the E10K and the other end into the ATOM’s RCA inputs. 

Because the ATOM is also a preamp, you can snag a pair of RCA to RCA for use with the Eris e3.5s or any other active speakers of your choosing.

In this case,

you’d just utilize the RCA outputs of the ATOM and connect the other ends to the inputs of a speaker.

Just make sure the speakers have 3.5mm or RCA inputs. Most have one or both. 


FiiO K11

Price: Check Amazon! | Check Apos! | Check B&H!

FiiO K11 Review

Just when I thought the value of FiiO’s DACS couldn’t get any better, they came out with the K11; an even cheaper DAC than the K5 Pro with some extra features and arguably a more intuitive design.

The K11 does not have RCA inputs, so if you need them, still get a K5 Pro or K7.

That said, the price of roughly $130 is hard to argue with here and makes a perfect pair with the Sennheiser HD600 series.

Closing Thoughts

Sennheiser HD600 vs. 650

Wait, that’s it?


It’s not that difficult.

What you have to understand about this industry is that the new flavor of the week DAC is the DAC to get, until it’s not anymore.

In other words,

New DAC comes out, everyone tells you to buy it, then it fades into obscurity until new DAC comes out and everyone tells you to buy it.

Rinse and repeat into oblivion.

I’ve been running this blog since 2014.

TRUST ME when I tell you that’s exactly how it works.

Without fail.

Every single time.

Eventually, you’ll catch on as I did. 

So yeah, you could keep shopping, but you’ll be shopping forever because there are thousands and thousands of DACS on the market now, and guess what?

They’re all the best things since sliced bread.

Everyone’s got their hand in the cookie jar because they (companies) know that if you’re brand new to this stuff, you’re easy fodder.

Easy money.

And you’ll keep buying and replacing ’til your blue in the face.

So my advice?

Keep it simple. Get an ATOM Amp + ATOM DAC, grab an RCA to mini, and be done with it.


You just spent around $200 and can now listen to and enjoy music rather than stress about things you shouldn’t be stressing about.

Feels good, doesn’t it?

Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this discussion on the best headphone amps for the Sennheiser HD600 and 650, and are better equipped to make a purchasing decision!

If you love what I do here and want to support the blog and channel in a more personal way, check me out on Patreon and discover all the value I have to offer you.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!

Have I convinced you that it’s not that difficult? I would love to hear your thoughts. Until next time…

All the best and God bless,





Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

Be sure to also check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!

Discussion Video

Keep in mind this was recorded in 2019, so my opinions and stance have changed quite considerably. Do also note that any of the options in the video not discussed here will also work fine. Again, don’t overthink it!

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Gene September 27, 2018 - 1:02 pm

Thank you for taking time to write in this review. It really helped me to decide on buying an amplifier for my newly bought HD650. I saved up money for a very long time and finally i had been able to buy a little used HD650 off the eBay and get it shipped to where i live. It sounds wonderful straight out of the headphone jack of my HP 14-b031TU sleekbook notebook but i know it doesn’t do justice to the venerable HD650. I stumble upon your review while searching the internet and quickly tick few amplifiers which i could afford in coming month or two. I would love to go with Bravo Audio Ocean because you say it has tubey sound and it fits my budget at the moment. I don’t know how wrong i can go with it, but hey! i got your recommendation for the little thing. I am still on the fence of FiiO E10K and Ocean because i also like the idea of the solid state with a DAC. No one recommends me OCEAN so far but you did on your review.

Stuart Charles Black September 27, 2018 - 2:38 pm

Hey Gene!

Thank you so much for the nice comment. 🙂

I guess my question would be: Do you prefer a warmer and more colored sound (The Ocean), or would you rather have a clean and transparent signal? Would you rather hear more micro detail and air within the song? Right now I’m listening with the HD600 through an Objective 2 and the sound is completely sterile. It’s honest and raw, but I really like it. With the 650 you do get a bit of a warmer sound by default, but the Objective 2 is a wonderful pairing with that headphone as well. A friend of mine Craig Boyles has been lending me headphones and the 650 was one of them. I actually kind of prefer it over my 600’s to be honest!

Anyways, let me know what you would prefer. I also have an E10K laying on my desk at the moment and I love it as a budget option to get your feet wet. It’s a great unit and is of a high quality even though it’s less than $100. I’ll have a video review of it coming soon, but in the meantime check out my written review of it here: FiiO E10K USB DAC Review!

I think it’s a great investment but if you would rather save a bit more money, the Objective 2 is likely to be a mainstay in your home for years to come should you go that route.

Also check out my JDS Labs Objective 2 Headphone Amp Review. You may just decide on that after reading, especially given the fact that you liked the idea of a solid state amp with a separate DAC. I would say solid state is more dependable and longer lasting than tubes. Tube amps have a tendency of just failing after awhile, but as far as pure synergy and warmth with the HD650, the Bottlehead Crack is probably the best overall pairing.

I wrote an article on Tube Amp vs. Solid State, so you can also check that out for some good information though it probably does need an update.

Also is the issue of portability. Would you rather take it on the go? Something like an E10K is surely better for that purpose, as well as the Dragonfly mentioned.

Let me know your thoughts and I look forward to hearing from you again!

Warm regards,

Jorge September 28, 2018 - 12:14 am

To Gene:

I own both the Ocean and the E10K and I can assure you, none of them pair very well with the HD650´s (yes, I own those too). The little Fiio e10k, my first DAC and Amp, even though it can run the Senns, it lacks of power enough to make these cans shine, even in Hi Gain, it will struggle a lot to present well mastered albums properly. A keeper for me, but not using it with my 650´s. The Bravo Ocean in the other hand has waaaay more power and the default chinese tube concedes it a distinctive sound, but that power is based only in gain (this amp has a ridiculous amount of gain, like 30 something dB´s ) and that makes it feel fake, artificial… Read some reviews about this Bravo in particular and notice there are many people claiming this has a very punchy sound signature, like it is hitting you right in the face, I can assure this is correct and for that reason I only use it as a preamp for my Monitors and listen to classic rock (that´s where this little bastard shines). I am using the Micca Origen Plus right now and I can tell this is better than the Fiio and the Bravo, but I am still not really satisfied because, like the Fiio, for music with high Dynamic Range, I am forced to switch to Hi Gain and then things can go really bad.

To Stuart:

Hi Stuart, I wanted to thank you for your informative article and tell you this was something I´ve been looking for since I got my 650´s like 7 months ago. I wanted to ask you about the power the O2 can bring to the Senns (considering their 300 ohms of impedance) and if according to your experience this is enough to lift them properly. I am aware of the fabulous low output impedance on the O2 (something like 0,5) and I´ve been digging a lot in the NwAvGuy blog, but the aspect of the output power is what had been keeping reluctant to get this amp. Also, I already has three DACs (the Fiio e10k, the micca origen, the ifi nano iDSD), is it okay if I pair any of those to the O2 or the outputs on the ODAC are specially designed for the O2? I really, really, really don´t want to get another DAC

Thank you for you attention and please excuse my english in case of any mistake


Stuart Charles Black September 28, 2018 - 4:42 pm


I will have to disagree a bit about the E10K. I get what you’re saying, but for me it powers an HD650 just fine especially considering the 650 has a higher sensitivity than the 600’s and thus won’t need as much current. Yes, power wise it just makes the cut. 200mW output power at 32 Ohms is nothing to sneeze at especially considering it’s a $75 unit. I guess that’s why I was really impressed with it. I mean, if you’re trying to blow your ears out I guess it doesn’t have enough power. Lol. I find that for people who don’t want to spend a lot on an amp, the E10K is a great entry level solution to get your feet wet. Now is it the best pairing? Of course not by a long shot, but I just wanted to clear that up. Should someone who spends that much money on an HD600/650 also be prepared to buy a better amp? Absolutely. But… we don’t live in an ideal world and so corners will be cut and people sometimes just won’t invest. As for the E10K? It has plenty of power with the gain switch on. I only have to turn the dial to about 5-6 to get a more than loud enough volume. It’s def not a long term solution for either of those headphones but it still sounds fantastic in my opinion.

As for your other inquiry:
Thanks so much for the nice comment! The Objective 2 has a lot of power. At 33 Ohms it outputs 613mW, 355mW at 150 Ohms, and 88 at 600. More than enough power for 99% of headphones, and for the 650 it’s a perfect solid state desktop pairing. I’m finding myself hearing a lot more detail, air, and a nice sense of space. The sound is crystal clear and very raw and honest. So definitely good source files help a lot. However, I’m finding that even most Spotify music sounds excellent so no worries really. You’ll notice some recordings just don’t sound that great which is fine. That’s the trade off one has to make when deciding whether or not to get this amp but for me it’s an easy purchase.

You should definitely check out my JDS Labs Objective 2 Review as there’s a ton of great info there as well and I think it will help cement your decision.

As for a DAC, yeah I would probably use the ODAC or OLDAC (with optical capability) for this one, but I have tested it with a Cambridge Audio DAC Magic 100 and the results were stunning. Also paired it with a Modi DAC and it sounds great too. I may try to get an ODAC from JDS Labs and see what the differences between the 3 are (Probably not too many). Good DACs are a dime a dozen really, but some may argue that. It will be interesting to see if there are any perceivable differences, but I would imagine it’s pretty hard to discern and could end up just being placebo.

I did an experiment with the E10K and used it as a DAC using an RCA to mini cable with my Schiit Magni 2 and it sounded great. I would imagine it has a similar effect on the Objective 2 as they’re both marketed as being clean desktop budget solutions though you’re getting much more than you pay for with the Objective 2. It’s almost like they’re giving it away haha.

No experience with the Origen though I would love to try one. If you ever want to send me stuff for demo just go here to my contact page. Just use the form “all other inquiries & questions” 🙂

I would imagine both of those would be fine as DACs considering they are better at least in theory.

Hope that helps! Lots of good stuff here from you and great questions so thanks for starting this dialogue.

Talk soon,


Renton October 4, 2018 - 1:21 pm

Heyyy, I have Sennheiser headphones, I feel like I’m part of the club here! I can say that Sennheisers are the best headphones I have used, ever! Very comfortable, brilliant crystal clean sound, excellent design. What more could I ask for?

Before reading this article, the only amp I knew personally was for guitars! It is interesting that such interesting equipment exists out there. I suppose if this isn’t your passion or linked to your career then you wouldn’t really know about it, but I am glad that I found out!

Stuart Charles Black October 4, 2018 - 2:54 pm

Which Sennheiser’s do you have?

Stein October 5, 2018 - 1:26 pm

Hey Stuart! A very broad and complementary article as you have written

I was searching around, and I saw your article. Could you explain how an amplifier works? I haven’t really used any kind of amplifier yet. Is it to boost the quality for a special type of headphone or some another sound device? I will be happy if you tell me more about it or send me some links 🙂


Stuart Charles Black October 5, 2018 - 3:44 pm

Hey Stein!

Thanks so much for the encouraging word.. 

All an amp does is basically take the signal from the DAC (Digital to Analog conversion) and amplify it to a listenable level. That’s why it’s important to have a good DAC capable of the highest quality conversion.

If you weren’t aware of what a DAC does, it’s just your PC making sense out of the digital signal in the form of 1’s and 0’s, and then converting that into the analog sound that you hear (music).

In a microphone recording, a DAC would take the analog signal (your voice) and convert it to digital (1’s and 0’s) for editing purposes or what have you.

So basically these two exchanges are always happening within the computer which is pretty amazing when you think about it.

Hope that helps! If you need further clarification let me know 🙂 Are you in the market for an amp?


Gene October 10, 2018 - 5:33 pm

Dear Stuart….!

Thank you for your reply. I accidentally came across it since I came back to your page. I never thought you’d reply. 🙂 I still haven’t bought an amplifier for my HD650. You might ask me the question “Why….?”

Well sir! Because it is the hardest thing in the world to decide. You speak to ten different people you get ten different answers, and you speak to hundred people they will give you two thousand different answers. So financially disabled people like myself get lost in choosing which to buy. :))

After many many reads on Headfi, Audiokarma and many other websites, I finally thought of getting the Objective 2 from Mayflower or JDS labs. You also recommend it highly. I thought of getting it because I think it is the best choice for my budget and it gives ample power to drive HD650 according to many reviews.

Yes sir…! I love lush mellow tube sound even though it is for audiophiles who can afford higher more expensive gear. I already have cheapo tube pre-amps assembled by myself after getting parts from eBay. They sounds wonderful when paired with solid states.

Reason why I decided to go to Objective 2 even though I love tube sound because i can always use my preamp with it to color the sounds to my liking if necessary. Otherwise I could go with it’s pure transparent solid state sound.

What do you think about my idea….? I still haven’t bought it and I highly value your suggestion.


Stuart Charles Black October 11, 2018 - 4:34 pm

Hey Gene,

I think the Objective 2 is the best choice in the entry level desktop category because it’s clean, neutral, with no coloration and has lots of power that will work for any headphone. It outputs 613mW into 32 Ohms. Yes it will power the 650’s easily. I would say go for it if you really want that clean sound. Here’s my review: JDS Labs Objective 2 Headphone Amp Review.
Let me know your thoughts!

Gene October 10, 2018 - 5:36 pm

Dear Jorge

Thank you for replying my post. I am glad you did enlighten me with your wisdom about amplifiers you have used so far. I haven’t bought one for my HD650 yet but I have been reading a lot and everything you said is true. Both of my previous choices were wrong. Right now I am looking at Objective 2. I think that will probably be a good choice because of my budget etc.

Gene October 10, 2018 - 5:41 pm

Dear Stuart..!

I also would like to ask how Dragonfly is compared to O2. Will it be able to bring out the best of HD650 without lacking power?
Will it work with android phones as well?


Stuart Charles Black October 11, 2018 - 4:37 pm


Yes it will power the 650 very easily as well. Perhaps a bit warmer than an Objective 2, still very good detail. It will work with Android phones with an adapter that can be found here. Here is my official review: Audioquest Dragonfly Red Review.

Hope that helps!

Gene October 11, 2018 - 5:03 pm

Dear Stu…!

Alright i have one last suggestion after reading through so many articles.

“Schiit MAGNI 3” it’s 99$ on their site and looks like a killer amp. Any idea about it….?

Stuart Charles Black October 11, 2018 - 5:09 pm


I would just go with the Objective 2. I have the Magni 2 but haven’t tried the 3. The amps are very similar. Clean sound, neutral, etc. It really doesn’t matter which you go with. They will both end up sounding almost identical. The 3 provides more power than Magni 2 but it’s kind of overkill. I think the Objective 2 is slightly cleaner than a Magni 2.

Let me know what you decide..

Gene October 21, 2018 - 10:27 am

After i went through everything you said and the review you have provided for Objective 2, i am leaning towards it more than magni. There are several reasons for this.

#1. It sounds absolutely colorless, You get what artist had recorded. If you want to color it with a tube pre amp you can do it as well.

#2. Could be battery operated if necessary as well. That means i can just keep it on my bed and enjoy the sound of HD650 without any worries.

Stuart Charles Black October 22, 2018 - 12:21 pm

Yeah I like the Objective 2 a lot. Keep me posted!

Gene October 25, 2018 - 5:20 pm

Hi Stu!

This is to let you know that i found a great deal on ebay for 59.75 with free shipping for FX AUDIO DAC-X6. I heard lot of good things about it (as well as bad) but for this price i don’t think it can’t be beaten. It has ample amount of power to power the HD650 according to specifications and lot of people use it on reddit headphones section. So i already ordered one. I think it fits my budget perfectly. I will let you know how it is once i received it.

Thanks a lot for all your help!

Stuart Charles Black October 25, 2018 - 6:58 pm

Haha no problem Gene! Sorry it didn’t work out with the Objective 2. Maybe down the road! Keep me posted.

John Corney January 14, 2019 - 9:21 pm

Hi Stuart,

You have done some fantastic reviews on products. I am wanting to get into more hi res audio, and by using my desktop pc and my phone I am currently considering the Sennheiser HD 650. I have not as of yet heard these but have read so many glowing reviews. What I am then looking at is a very good portable DAC that i can use with both the pc and the phone. I am torn between the Chord Mojo and the Oppo HA2. But then I would like to add to this set up tube amp if that is at all possible, to give me a more Analouge sound.

My previous true HIFI system was based around Vinyl using the Linn Sondek then eventually the Roksan xerses, partnered with Sugden integrated amp and power amp used as mono blocks and the Ruark Talisman 2 speakers. This set up gave me a very smooth warm sound. I would greatly like to hear your suggestion on if my idea is possible and which dac and tube amp combination may work if any.

Kind Regards,
John Corney

Stuart Charles Black January 15, 2019 - 7:05 pm

Hey John! Thanks so much man 🙂

As for your situation, it seems like you’ve got a bit of a bigger budget. The only caveat with the Mojo is that it’s a bit finicky at first, but once you get it set up it’s probably the best sound I’ve heard out of an Amp/DAC and I’ve tried quite a few (19 or so at the time of this comment).

I still own the HA2 and absolutely love it but the Mojo does outclass it in terms of sound. The HA2 was my previous favorite amp/dac actually.

Comparing the 2, the HA2 does have a gain switch and bass boost while the Mojo doesn’t but that’s pretty much a wash considering how amazing the Mojo’s sound is. Plus it’s a LOT more powerful than the HA2, which only pumps around 30mW into 300 Ohm. The HD600 requires around 20 and the HD650 a bit less considering it’s slightly higher Sensitivity.

The HA2 is a bit more portable but I have no issues carrying around the Mojo. The Mojo has 2 3.5mm headphone jacks so you can compare headphones or listen to movies/music with a friend. The Mojo also has Optical for Gaming which really sold me, plus it’s got coax as well.

The HA2 is extremely versatile as well. It’s got line out, A port for Apple, B for Android, and obviously can be connected to your PC using a standard micro USB cable. Here’s My Oppo HA2 Review and Video. Let me know if you have any questions. It should cover everything as I go into more depth.

The Mojo has two micro USB slots (1 for charging), Optical and Coax as mentioned.

The only thing I kind of don’t like about the Mojo is that it requires a charge and can be a bit confusing when you first fire it up. Once you understand it’s protocol it becomes super simple. Check out my Chord Mojo Review and let me know what you think!

As far as tube amps, the Bottlehead Crack and Darkvoice are my top recommendations but the Crack is a DIY project. Still probably the best overall sound paired with the 600/650 as far as tubes go.

My overall recommendation would be the Mojo. Just keep my article bookmarked because it goes step by step how to set it up with minimal headache.

Sean November 25, 2022 - 7:37 pm

Hi Stuart, love reading your blog and learned a great deal. Seeing how this article is a few years old now, has your recommendations for powering/DAC a brand new HD 600 changed in that time?

Stuart Charles Black November 26, 2022 - 4:31 pm

Hey Sean! Thank you. Yes, I just updated this one to reflect my current opinions and they are that people don’t need to obsess and stress over it. There are so many amps and dacs out there that sound good, and I decided to narrow down the list to something more manageable. I’ve had hundreds of hours logged with all 58X/600 series headphones and found that how good music sounds has less to do with the Amp/DAC and more to do with how the track was recorded.

So in short, there doesn’t need to be an exhaustive list and this is because these headphones aren’t hard to drive either. Let me know if that helps!

Sean December 7, 2022 - 5:04 pm

Thank you! definitely helps.

Stuart Charles Black December 7, 2022 - 9:50 pm

Welcome, Sean. Keep me posted on everything!

Mani November 26, 2022 - 1:53 pm

What amp/dac would you recommend for the HD58x? I am currently running them from a LG V20 but something inside me feels that I can do better. The sound from the LG V20 is quite lean streaming lossless from Apple Music. I am a reformed basshead but still like some weight in the lower octave regions as well as clear/neutral mids and highs. Thank you

Stuart Charles Black November 26, 2022 - 5:01 pm

Hey Mani are you mostly needing something for desktop or mobile? Let me know.

Mani November 27, 2022 - 7:37 am

Thanks for the reply Stuart,

Something for desktop at home. Was hoping to save money by using the LGV20 as a DAC and then hooking that up to an amp which hopefully adds some weight (just a bit more) to the bass and allows me to reveal the HD58X’s full potential. Budget wise as cheap as possible lol but probably up to around $200 CAD as an absolute max.


Stuart Charles Black November 27, 2022 - 2:49 pm

No problem! My suggestions would be ATOM Amp + DAC or K5 Pro. Since the ATOM stack is around $268 CAD I’d go with the K5 Pro which is around $149 USD or $199 CAD. It’s an Amp/DAC combo so you won’t have to worry about adding anything. It’s also very versatile and pairs well with all my headphones including the 58X that I have here. I wouldn’t think twice! Here’s my review. Keep me posted!

Niko December 28, 2022 - 7:09 pm

Hi Stu,
I am an owner of Topping DX3Pro+. Looking for a new headphones What will be the best pairing dac? HD600 or something else maybe cheaper? I prefer clear neutral sound with a pinch of weight and bass. Thank you 🙂

Stuart Charles Black December 29, 2022 - 4:34 pm

Hey man!

Clear and neutral with a pinch of weight and bass? The DT990 is a fantastic option for those things as it gives you that nice impact without being obnoxious like some other V-shaped headphones. Keep me posted with questions.

John January 12, 2023 - 6:20 am

Hi Stuart,

I want to say that I enjoyed reading your writing, I am very new to this headspace of pro headphones. My previous headphones were Razer Kraken V2. I now own Sennheiser HD600 and got an amp. the Amp is a Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen. I got it as a gift, and while I love it, I am unsure if it was the right choice after all. I know it is stupid but I really just thought it was plug and play. I want to get the right gear to really hear everything. So I would like to know if my current amp would be good enough, or if I should just ramp up and buy both DAC and RCA from ATOM. Also if I got both ATOM products, do I need the E10K? The RCA to mini?

(The reason I ask so much is because I never have experienced Sennheisers or any other pro brand so I really dont know how it compares to the “Right setup” or if I am hearing everything fine with my current amp. Thanks!)


Stuart Charles Black January 14, 2023 - 1:57 am


Thank you for the kind words!

What specifically are you not liking or are unsure of? What are your thoughts and impressions of the sound? Where are you on the dial? Any additional feedback will help me immensely in giving you solid advice on how to proceed.

Talk soon,


RC January 27, 2023 - 5:51 am

“it’s still relevant to me due to the sheer fact that I’ve demoed over 60+ Amps & DACS at this point and understand that the differences between them, sound-wise, are almost non-existent.”

Good morning Stuart,
Thank you so much for being honest, but I’m wondering if there is a noticeable difference between connecting the headphones directly to the motherboard (ALC897) versus connecting additionally to the DAC and AMP? What are the differences, if any? My headphones are HD 600. There is such a question because I can’t tell the difference between Apple dongle and Fiio KA3 when I plugged HD 600 into iPhone 13.

Sorry for my basic English and thanks for your great articles and videos.

Stuart Charles Black January 29, 2023 - 2:22 am

Hey man! My pleasure. Thank you for your support.

That’s a great question, actually. What I find is that it depends on the motherboard in question. A lot of the older ones in the Lenovo PCs I owned were horrible, but newer PCs and Laptops have improved their internals tremendously over the years. That said, if you can’t tell a difference it probably means there isn’t one, so trust your ears. Most of what passes off as “new” isn’t actually different from the old except for rebranding/repackaging.

snaz February 21, 2023 - 12:27 pm

Hi – can you advise:
I am researching best dac/amp for my pre-order 6xx i want to use for desktop mostly mixing but some listening / playback – but not live recording.
I’ve read vast amounts of your website + comments and narrowed options down , noting some recs are discontinued – Can you help me short-short list a semi final list of 3 options out of the following: (looking at low medium budget which i think most of these come under)
Much appreciated – cheers….

1. jds atom dac with atom amp
with RCA to mini (3.5mm)

2. jds labs objective 2 (is now discontinued but widely recommended by you)

3. jds atoms paired with FiiO K3

4. FiiO k5 pro amp/dac

5. cambridge audio dacmagic with jds amp

6. chord mojo dac/amp


8. Schiit Magni 2 with FiiO E10k

Stuart Charles Black February 22, 2023 - 5:07 pm

Hey! Thanks for reading all my babble LOL.

To narrow that down, I like K5 Pro, ATOM amp + ATOM DAC, and Chord Mojo.

Out of those, K5 Pro is my go-to all-in-one solution for most people. ATOM stack will be a bit cleaner with a lower output impedance. I recommend those 2 most for people newer to the niche. Mojo is one of the top 2 best I’ve heard alongside Bryston BHA-1, but I don’t think there’s any real reason to spend all that money as the differences between DACS, to me, are very subtle and marginal.

S9 is definitely an honorable mention if only for the fact that it dumps all over the overpriced Cobalt.

Hope that helps!

Keep me posted with questions.


René Ouimet June 29, 2023 - 8:28 pm

Hi, interesting topic especially due to the fact that these headphones scale so well. For some, the HD600 with a high quality tube amplifier is the end of the road. No more searching! The SPL Phonitor se is a great solid-state amplifier for the HD6XX that I use. It is worth spending more on the amplifier: the heart of any audio system. High current, studio grade quality that can be heard, very precise and musical. No need for future upgrade! These headphones, very affordable relative to the current market, can be used with high-end gear. It has been my experience.

Stuart Charles Black June 30, 2023 - 12:14 pm

Thank you, René!

Stuart A July 19, 2023 - 3:41 pm

This is very useful as was your guide on portable devices. Can the ATOM and Fiio which both have Line In connections, be used to connect to the Line Out from a (TEAC) CD player? I have HIFIMAN DEVA Pro and Sen HD6XX – neither rounds at all good through the regular headphone jack in the CD player for some reason. And if doing this, which is the better option, the ATOM standalone amp (I don’t understand this well enough to know if the CD player RCA output is already digital and at what properties), or the Fiio combo DAC/Amp? From what I am reading, either should work well with a laptop and I know the Fiio can be hooked up to an android phone, but I still have a sizeable CD collection that I’d like to play on occasion. Thanks! (Currently using Fiio BTR5 for phone and laptop – basically looking for something that will do this plus enable use of the CD player).

Stuart Charles Black July 26, 2023 - 2:19 pm

Hey Stu!

Lol, that sounded weird to say. I’m in my 30s and have known 2 in my entire life. One was named Stew (wrong spelling xD), and the other was a Stu who worked maintenance in my apartment for a couple of years. Def miss him. You’re the 3rd!!

In any event, thank you for the kind words!

As for your question; hmm. I don’t see why not. It’s tethered to my entertainment center, but I was able to connect my old Panasonic CD player to my receiver using its line out. The concept is still about the same; i.e. if I had my CD player at my desk I could simply hook it up to one of my amps or dacs.

As for which is better, neither really. I like both. I would say if you want a slightly cleaner presentation and a lower output impedance, ATOM is the way to go. In all honesty, they are very close. I think the K5 Pro has a 1.2 ohm output impedance while the ATOM’s is 0.7. Not a huge heap of disparity there.

And yeah, both are great for laptops/PCs and stuff.

With the ATOM, you could just use the TEAC straight into it, or you could get the ATOM DAC to pair with the ATOM amp and run the wire from the TEAC into the ATOM DAC – in essence, bypassing the TEAC’s internal dac. It’s up to you. So yes, I do believe the TEAC’s output is a digital one. Which model is it specifically? Let me know.

Hope that helps!

Keep me posted.


Stuart A July 28, 2023 - 5:07 pm

Hi Stu, thanks for your reply. Yes, a bit unusual to be addressing another Stu. I was born in the UK, but it is not that common a name there either really. The CD player is a TEAC CD-P650, which I have under my desk while working. I ended up buying the Fiio K7 as I like to listen to the DEVA Pro balanced, and the K7 just seems a bit more future proof and versatile for not much more than the K5 Pro. It works very well using line out connected to the K7, defintely better sounding than the headphone output on the front of the TEAC (provides plenty of volume but sounds muddy).

Stuart Charles Black July 29, 2023 - 11:06 am

Nice! I got the K7 on my desk and K5 Pro for PS3 gaming (which I still do by the way). Glad you’re enjoying it! I think you made a great choice. The K7/K5 are absolutely future-proof and versatile which is why I pretty much recommend them first to people. How do you like the DEVA Pro by the way? I have the DEVA but haven’t gotten a chance to listen to the newer one.

Stuart A August 1, 2023 - 5:07 pm

I like the Deva Pro for almost everything I listen to. I’ve have read it has some minor improvements in build quality, and has the option to use 3.5mm inputs on both sides rather than single cable. Haven’t seen any reviews that really compare sound quality but I suspect is very similar. By the way, I realized the line out on my CD player is analog so has already been processed before it gets to the K7. The optical output is digital so I will try that through the optical input on the K7 when I get a chance. Makes me appreciate the versatility of the K7 even more.

Stuart Charles Black August 3, 2023 - 11:31 am


Awesome! That’s why I recommend it/K5 Pro so often. They’re products you’ll use for a long time! As for the DEVA Pro, hoping to get one for demo at some point. It’s not really a priority or anything, but I would like to listen since I have the DEVA here already and am curious if there are any sound differences.

In any event, keep me posted.



Laraine July 29, 2023 - 12:35 am

Looks a tad on the clunky side for my iPhone 12 Pro, which I use as a dedicated music player. When I listen through my hi fi I prefer to stick with the QUAD ESLs. However, I don’t like turning them on unless I have the place to myself. It seems to be hard for others to accept the concept that when music is playing you sit down and shut up, I think I’ll stay with my Dragonfly Cobalt for the IPhone.

Stuart Charles Black July 29, 2023 - 11:08 am

awesome 👍


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