Advice on quality headphone and dac/amp for laptop

Menoetius

Active Member
Hi, I'm looking for a quality headphone and dac/amp combo to use with my Lenovo Legion laptop.
At the moment, I'm just using the headphone out to my Sennheiser 560S.
Headphone wise, I'm looking at, possibly, the Focal Clear Mg.
I'd need a suitable dac/amp to match, too.
Any advice on a divine sounding combination for around 3 or 4 grand. Possibly a little more.
I just want a game changing, end game headphone desktop solution.

Thanks.
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
A cliché: best bet is to attend a local UK headphone dealer and demo what they have. Against the laptop onboard DAC/amp, anything has the capability of being 'game changing'. Could name drop four figure DACs and headphone amps to demo, however, without a comparator there would be no context.

If intent on blind buying then bear in mind headphones audio depreciation is easily 20% to 40% when re-selling

P.S. many on here are happy with the budget ifi audio zen range as their starter
 

Menoetius

Active Member
Thanks Steven,

I absolutely would prefer a demo but a decent demo nowadays is slightly more difficult than it used to be.
I don't want to buy blind.
You can name drop 4 figure kit. That's what I'm after.
Any advice on dealers with a good range of both?
 

JollyJamma

Active Member
Any advice on dealers with a good range of both?

Where do you live? If I could suggest one place, it would be Richer Sounds.

That being said, if you just wanted a recommendation, Id go by Whathifi and tell you to get the Chord Qutest and Sennheiser HD 820. Both are great.

I've gone off the reviews by WHatHifi more than a few times and been very happy with the results.

You could probably go down a notch to the IfiZen V2 and still be very happy or spend way too much on a DAC and get the DAVE (£7995). The Focal Clear MG are very well reviewed and in stock with RicherSounds too. You could also get the Focal Stellia.

If I had £4000 to spend on a set of decent cans and really wanted to treat myself, Id get the Focal Stelia and the Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M but It's really up to you.
 

Menoetius

Active Member
Where do you live? If I could suggest one place, it would be Richer Sounds.

That being said, if you just wanted a recommendation, Id go by Whathifi and tell you to get the Chord Qutest and Sennheiser HD 820. Both are great.
I'm in Warwickshire but happy to travel.
The Qutest is a fine dac but missing the headphone output.
I used to own the Marantz HD-DAC1 but I let it go last year, post covid redundancy.
Could buy another (used) but not sure how well it would work with cans such as the HD800S or Clear Mg.
 

JollyJamma

Active Member
I think Leicester is your nearest outlet. Give them a call before you go and ask them what they have or can get for you to listen to.
 

spinaltap

Distinguished Member
With your budget, do yourself a huge favour by auditioning Focal Stellia. You won’t regret it.
 

spinaltap

Distinguished Member
I own Focal Celeste, but someone I know owns Focal Stellia. He claims their audio quality experience is like strapping a pair of Meridian DSP active loudspeakers on your head.
 

Menoetius

Active Member
Thank you, all, for the advice.
Would something like my old Marantz HD-DAC1 do justice to headphones of this quality?
Budget is top end 4k for both. I think a Chord DAVE is a considerably more than I'd like to invest.
Would the aforementioned Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M really be good match for the Stellia?
As a Tidal user, that would be handy for MQA, should I upgrade my subscription.
I used to pay for the MQA tier when I had a Project Pre Box S2 Digital but MQA was broken with this piece of kit.
Any advice on other options for a DAC/headphone amp?

Thanks.
 

Menoetius

Active Member
The Marantz arrived today.
It's a fantastic piece of kit.
A superb dac, in my opinion. Just great for my PC via USB.
Now for the headphones.
 
Last edited:

camcroft

Well-known Member
1520957306493-Screen-Shot-2018-03-13-at-111813-AM.png.jpeg
 

Menoetius

Active Member
Dac1.jpg


A lovely piece of kit.
What a difference, USB out to this Marantz. Sounds fantastic.
So much better, it's ridiculous.
The Stellia should be ok with this, yeah?
If not, I'm happy to find a good match that will save me a few quid.
 

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