General purchase advice: Ask your questions/for advice here!

@pyrexia was asking about that dac earlier. Maybe you can provide some feedback. Wanted thoughts on theRME ADI-2 and the 2541 dacs

Thanks all for sharing your thoughts on the Flux amps. It has helped me in my decision and I am going to wait. I have a Topping D70 DAC and an SPL Phonitor xe as well as a La Figaro 339i tube amp that I really enjoy. I am waiting for my ZMF VC headphones to arrive and see how these DAC/amp combos work with it first. I will give the VC some time to burn in as I patiently plot my next move. I think my current setup is enough to power my ZMFs but the proof will be in the listening as always. Happy New Year to you all!


I’ve never heard the RME DACs but the 2541, I’d describe as detailed with a very black background, was warmer than I thought it’d be. By itself, as a DAC/Amp, it’s really nice… Amp is plenty powerful and clean.

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Thanks! I ended up going with the RME. My goal for 2021 is to master the manual…


This is quite funny because it is a very detailed manual, to put it mildly. :grin:


@Morgrim. It took longer than I wanted but I did build my shelf / rack for the medium sized Schiit stack.

Moderators - please feels free to move this post to anywhere you feel appropriate since it’s not really purchase advice.

What took the most time was figuring out what to use for the legs / posts. I decided on using hardware that I previously knew nothing about, standoffs. I’d love to hear any other suggestions other people might have.

From what I read, standoffs are used as spacers for electronic components or used to attach signage to a wall.

I used two vendors for my materials.

First I ordered precut plexiglass panels for the shelves. I could have saved some money and simply cut my shelves from a single plexiglass sheet but I really don’t have the tools to do the job correctly. I found a company on Etsy that pretty much focused on just custom cut plexiglass. The company name is SebyTechAcrylic (Acrylics Sheets Tubes and Rods by SebyTechAcrylic on Etsy). You just order the closest size panel to what you need and have it cut down to your desired size. They will also polish the edges for an additional charge. You can do that yourself but it sounds very time consuming. He will also drill the required holes but I decided to do that myself. Be advised you do need a special bit to drill acrylic or you can crack or chip it.

I was very pleased with the acrylic panels. They were cut precisely to the dimensions I needed and they all had protective sheeting on both sides. The product was shipped very quickly though it took forever to get here priority mail.

Total damage with shipping and taxes for the three shelves was $58. That included the polished edges ($15). He would have drilled the leg holes for $12.

I purchased the hardware from a company called McMaster Carr (

These are the items I purchased. Everything I ordered was 1/4 inch wide, 8-32 threading and zinc plated. I was tempted to go wider and stainless but that was a significant cost increase. I also ordered an 11/64 plastic bit to drill the acrylic from here.

For the feet - (4) 1/2 inch - female / female standoff
For the legs (for the amp) - (4) 2 1/2 inch female to female standoff
For the legs (for the DAC) - (4) 2 inch female to female standoff
For the top caps - (4) 1/4 inch caps
To connect the female / female standoffs (8) low strength threaded steel rods 3/4 inches long (only needed 8 but had to order 50, they were cheap)

With the drill bit, total damage was about $60. Fedex shipping included. For me they arrived next day but they are close to me.

End result, I spent about $120. I could have saved a bit if I had the tools to work with plexiglass and I was more familiar with other types of hardware.

I’ve got a few diagrams and pictures that I hope will help anyone that wants to build one of these. As you can tell by some of the detail, I am still pretty bored with all of this social distancing. Any specific questions, feel free to ask.

Front view - 3 shelves

Top view - With the Jotunheim

The setup


I need dis. And I too am bored and am not looking forward to gardening in 3 months so yeah I might look into something like this.

This came out beautifully! Thank you for the reply and info!

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Punchy exciting headphones that aren’t Focals?

Not savagely V shaped or anything. But great dynamics, punch and clarity to be fun.


No budget per se.

That’s exactly why the Emu Teak is still in my collection. Bassy, punchy, fun. Treble is very well behaved with ZMF universe suede pads (non-perf).

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My only qualm with those TH610 spin offs is the detail/clarity they can push. Like Argons, it’s fun and bassy, but a bit too down on resolution for me.

I did think maybe TH900 or TH909. Pads such a bit, but can get big thick ones for them.

Amp under 1200$. Running ARES2 as a dac.

i think i will never go back to anything that is not r2r now, ive enjoyed it much more than anything ive had in the past, but thats just me and in relation to what ive had previous.
all of which has been SS, either ak or ess at modest prices. the ares2 is the only custom chip ive heard

anyhow, this is not about my dac, its about my amp, which is the 789 and now im looking to upgrade


For which headphone(s)? What are you looking to improve on vs the 789? Tubes, y/n?

no, no tubes, not looking for that just because people always talk about how they make the sound less truthful and im not looking for a flavor amp, im sure this doesnt go for all of them and maybe technicalities changes with what price bracket you are in for or something else, i dont know a whole lot about it because i haven’t had any myself, and mainly for that reason

Im pairing with the Clear and the Arya, i have a feeling ill be daily driving the Arya though because i enjoy more immersive sounding headphones which is how i’ve gathered the sound of that to be like.

People seem to shit on the 789 a lot, wouldnt know why, i dont read a whole lot but thats what ive seen.

TL;DR something that has a more wide sound and also has more depth, otherwise, just all the things that the 789 does but better or something that could be perceived as having synergy with the ares2.

Whats your experience with the 789 if any and what are you running with these days? thanks Prof!


I bought it as a curiosity buy. Stuff getting as much hype as it did/does makes me curious sometimes. I returned it. I’ll try to be polite here… I found it to be cold and antiseptic.

IMO, the Phonitor amps would be the most similar upgrades to it. They are far better options in the “wire with gain” or “truthful” sound reproduction amplifier category. They don’t mercilessly rip the soul from the music, but also remain as clean as can be sonically.

If the 789 is your thing, the Phonitors are worth looking into.


super appreciate your take Prof, i see a lot of interest in the phonitors so im sure they are good too, thanks for giving me a direction

i rely on the thoughts of others to do that because we dont have convenient shops where you can demo stuff, i live in a world where an hd800s is sold by resellers for 2k and sometimes poor return policies so it means a bunch.

also hear alot of good about the Soekris stuff but im not sure how that lines up with my stance, have ya heard em? Oh yeah and they are realeasing a new one this year too i see

i would much rather get something that adds body and width than something that is overly sterile/dry/crisp just for the sake of being detailed and otherwise analytical, ive felt let down by going that route before and it didnt pay off, i had the RME ADI2 (v1) and although it wasnt overly sterile or anything, to me it sounded 2d and very upfront and therefore detailed i suppose?

Didnt sound lively to me though
im rambling


There’s a whole thread dedicated to amp suggestions…fyi.

Try looking up the Burson soloist thread…it’s in your price point and it is a fantastic amp! I was in the same position trying to upgrade from my 789.


Never had the 789, but I do have one of those THX’s. Just today I got an Asgard 3 and I’m loving it right now with some bourbon…and is midnight already…
Pretty inexpensive but sound great.
For my taste the THX lineage goes better with IEM and not so much with big cans.

Some tube amps are more truthful and less colored/warm/wet, such as the Hagerman Tuba in your price range.

When I had the 789, I found it to be clean and more suitable for comparing or evaluating gear, erring on the side of being overly clinical/analytical/sterile. I switched to the Schiit Asgard 3 and found it to be a much more enjoyable listen (as well as the recently released Jotunheim 2).

As an alternative to getting a “full-on” tube amp, you can consider a tube hybrid such as the Schiit Lyr 3.

I believe this video includes impressions of the Ares with the 789:


Yep. @TylersEclectic – recommend merging this thread into the amp thread.

I own a 789 and reserve it for specific headphones and needs. To my ears, it takes out high-range noise and reduces treble response/hiss overall. In exchange, treble peaks tend to be piercing (brief, precise, and clean). However, this can throw-off the expected playback timing. Studios didn’t use super clean amps during production and mastering, so the 789 can sound extremely raw. I previously found that even mellow vocals (Sinatra/Jobim Girl from Ipanema) reveal hot mics with the 789. With the 789 I tend to focus on small details and production errors rather than the vocals.

I really, truly like the 789 with dynamic driver headphones that need resolution and treble control. In my experience the Sennheiser HD-600 family is quite vulnerable to treble noise, and the balanced architecture is definitely less fatiguing to my ears. Similarly, the Focal Elex has a lot of mid-high glare on many amps, and the 789 helps control this. However, these improvements do not require a THX amp – other balanced amps are fine.

I do not like the 789 with headphones that are already either very resolving (e.g., Focal Clear) or planar dynamic headphones (i.e., HiFiMan, Audeze, Dan Clark). Planar drivers are diffuse per their broad output field – the don’t benefit from the 789’s raw details. Instead, they become unpleasantly rough (e.g. flutter like small waves or the wind beating in a car window) to my ears. I prefer to use the Schiit Magni 3+ or Lyr 3 with planars.