I need some advice with my Nuprime uDSD and providing more power to my headphones.
I currently have a pair of Philips Fidelio X2 headphones. Although the uDSD produce amazing sound through them, at louder volumes, or on under powered USB ports, the sound sometimes feels a bit flat and not fleshed out properly. And the X2s are not hard to drive, from my understanding, yet a lot of guys with X2s have also stated that amps definetely improves the sound towards being more fluid, round, dense, refined sound. I don't know how to describe this properly. But any headphone from here on up will need more juice.
I did a crude test by running the RCA outputs to an old vintage Merantz amp just to hear what it does to the headphone sound. The sound had a lot more body and warmth to it. But the amp sounds muddy and noisy compared to the uDSD, as expected, and I did not like it. Then I ran it straight from the headphone output on my Lenovo Thinkpad laptop and it had a lot more volume and again more fleshed out compared to the uDSD, but not with the clarity of the uDSD. Then I used my trusty Note 3 phone, and although this was the best sounding of the alternative sources, I arrived at the same conclusion. You can see where I am going with this. I like the uDSD's resolution and clarity.
I saw the other posts on how to provide extra juice to the uDSD with battery banks etc. But I am a bit of a neat freak and don't like the idea of extra stuff stacked or dangling around by desk. Especially with the side mounted USB cable on the uDSD... I have a powered USB hub and it indeed helps, but not enough. I mainly use the uDSD at home with my desktop PC and it does not really move around. So I want a setup that is ready to go when I sit down at my desk without too much clutter and fussing about. Listening to music should be the important part of my routine.
So, I need some advice on how to improve this little setup of mine, and still not be naive and prepare for a possible future headphone upgrade towards, say, planar magnetic. I know there are lots of you guys with uDSD's and also loving them, but what external amps works well with this particular DAC without breaking the bank?
In my mind, I have 3 options:
1. Just stick with what I have until I can upgrade everything eventually. It is still very enjoyable anyway.
2. Just add a headphone amp from the likes of Shiit Magni/Vali 2, O2 and the Little Dot I+ on Massdrop. Connect this to the RCA outputs of the uDSD. Then have the awsome uDSD DAC and DSD capabilities still available.
3. Or just get a Shiit Modi Magni/Vali 2 Uber Stack or similar DAC/AMP combo that works in harmony and looks neat, and decide what to do with the uDSD after some carefull listening.
I got some import pricing info from Scott on the products above and they seem to fit my budget well. The JOTUNHEIM for example is too pricy at this stage.
Please note, I have no idea how tube amps sound or how well they pair with the uDSD. Or what they offer at the same price point as a solid state amp. Reading reviews did not help much in this regard as I am not experienced enough. But someone did pair a Schiit Vali with the uDSD and liked it. But I am leaning towards solid state, yet I am very curious about the tube sound, but I have a feeling that tubes might need more investment to really enjoy, and could be a real hit or a miss. They look cool though. If someone can comment on this aspect as well for small headphone setups, please do.
Please help me make the right decission here and not burn cash unnecessarily.
Thanks for your time guys!