Headphone DAC/Amplifier Recommendation for SE846 -

Because Audiophiles neeeed to scratch as soon as the wound of the last audio purchase has almost healed… I’m looking to upgrade my personal branch of my over-inflated audio collection…
I have Shure SE846s, a Fiio X7 & K5 and the Marantz HD-DAC1. The currently used Marantz sounds decent but I tend to run out of… oomph at times. Hey, if you want a car that cruises comfortably at 120, don’t buy one with a top speed of 125…
I’m considering going to a balanced cable for the SE846s, and a DAC/amplifier.

  • Higher power (the Marantz is rated at 800mW @ 32ohm, the Fiio a wee bit higher).
  • Source will be PC - Tidal & NAS - formats from MP3 to DSD64 via jriver and/or digital from Cocktail Audio X50 from my soundroom controlled thru PC app.
  • Remote not necessary as it will be right at my PC station.
  • As a Magnepan fan I’ll likely try out the addition of planar headphones -y’know - once this purchase injury is JUST about healed…
  • Budget is around $1500ish.

Because I have to research the livin crep out of anything before I buy - some of the units I’ve been looking at for about 2 weeks and considering are: (in no particular order)
Schiit Jotunheim with DAC
RME ADI-2 DAC FS - leaning towards this one…
iFi Diablo - although I don’t need portability and don’t really care for the looks of portable rigs
iFi Pro iDSD or Neo
SPL Phonitor E or SE
Monoprice Monolith THX
CA Dacmagic
Topping DX7

I’d gratefully graciously appreciate and consider your input as my experience in this area is sadly quite inexperienced.

Oddly the SE846s have quite the audible hum from my SGCD… not that it matters as it is in a different room…

Also - the only MMCX cables I can find (relatively) local are the Fiio Silver series or CAMPFIRE AUDIO SMOKY LITZ - both at around $140 - recommendation?


You can look at the Swiss Army Knife of DAC/Headphone devices, the Mytek Brooklyn. It hits most of you needs.

Like it! Another contender…

I’m actually looking at the Shure SE846. I have some old SE420 still going strong, 10 years old plus.

Do you like the SE846?

Would a McIntosh MHA-150 possibly be a good fit?

It has some neat HP special features.

Most of the units you’ve listed do not have balanced headphone out. Is that a requirement?

I’d LOVE to try one of those… but that’s more than 3 times the budget I have. I don’t even have a wife but I’m sure one would appear immediately and put the kibosh on that thought… :crazy_face:

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Not a requirement but I’d consider the upgrade option as it seems power output tends to be higher in balanced applications. I need to upgrade the cable anyways as the stock cable is a bit stiff, short and NEVER stays behind he ears where intended.

I originally had the SE535 - they were terrific but lost them. So I said to myself - Self? If you replace those with the $1000 SE846’s - you’ll shure as heck ( :laughing:) take better care not to lose THOSE ones. It’s hard to get thru the day without a good justification. But let’s be realistic - there’s no way the sound of an amplified 3 foot kick drum can be recreated in an ear bud the size of a standard jelly bean…
Well Stand Me Corrected! The 846s took the satisfaction of the 535s, refined it and added a HOLY :poop: factor! As I believe audio should be - it is pure listening satisfaction with periodic interjections of of a head shaking WOW factor. Frequent moments of “Holy crep - How Do They DO that???” I wouldn’t say the soundstage is ultra wide (with my current setup anyway) but I have zero buyer’s remorse. Plus - on a plane trip to warmer beaches a few years ago - I could see an infant across the aisle, red faced, teary lil eyes closed and mouth agape as wide as it could go - I could see that tiny uvula oscillating at peak intensity as it was clearly wailing at extreme decibels. And ALL I could hear was a quiet guitar to my left, a gentle bass to my right and a whispering voice singing in the middle of my head. That’s worth the grand right there…!

So in the (pluralized) words of Ferris Bueller - They are so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking some up.

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Have you considered looking for a used Chord Hugo, Hugo 2, or a Sony TA-ZH1ES? I think you should be able to find these at the same price as a new RME.

I forgot to mention that I have also owned a Mytek Brooklyn DAC and the DAC+. Both were excellent. If you get one of these, a great upgrade is an external power supply. I used a Sbooster. It was surprisingly good.

I’m not real excited about the Chord stuff - for no reason that I can pinpoint, the Sony looks quite promising tho. I’ve added that one to the possibles list! The Mytek Brooklyn DAC & DAC+ were the two that I checked out - RIGHT after I quickly skated beyond their $20K falgship model - ouch! Thanks for the input. There are limitless options.

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Thanks for the info. I’m impressed with how well my SE420s have held up over the years. It’s great to know to SE846 sound quality rocks.

Well after 11,210 reviews, videos, comparisons, specs and a couple recommendations I’ve gone with the RME. It has separate inputs for my IEMs and the planar headphones I KNOW I’ll eventually be tempted into, the crosstalk which has piqued my interest, and enough features to satisfy my geek tech soul. :nerd_face: And it was in my own Province as I like to support local business as much as possible. It also seems to be a lot of toy and good quality within that price range. I was tempted by the Sony and REALLY tempted by the McIntosh; a weeee out of my budget. C’MON lottery ticket!!!
Thanks for everyone’s input! :beers:

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