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

Despite its reputation of not scaling as well, I really enjoy what the Bottlehead Crack does for the 58x (compared to SS.)

1 Like

The LTA MicroZOTL MZ2 is on my “want to try” list, partly for the unique OTL topology but also because it has speaker connectors and I have some high-efficiency speakers with which I’d like to try it. I’ve also thought about building either a Crack or a S.E.X. from Bottlehead.

But that’s a ways off. Both the Schiit Magni and JDS Labs Atom+ look like good choices for $100. What would drive a decision between those two? Anything else around $100 worth considering?


Schiit’s lower end stuff has, in the past, had issues; don’t know if that’s an issue with the newer editions of the Magni, but it’s what would push me in the JDS Labs Atom+ direction.

1 Like

Agree 100 percent. I run the same rig and headphones, and it’s a nice combo. The JDS stack also does well with my Edition XS and LCD-2C, too.

1 Like

The Schiit Vali 2+ is a tube amplifier, and alternative to the SS Magni. So there’s that. I’m quite happy with the performance of this amp. I was thrilled to find a tube I really like with my Sennheisers, so I just stopped seeking an upgrade.

The choice of amp depends on your tone/timbre preferences, but you may not know that yet.

I bought and hated the original Magni 3 (not 3+). It seemed too bright/hissy to my ears at the time. I later bought and sold the Magni 3+, and it was fine as a thicker-toned entry level product. I sold it after upgrading to other amps.

The Magni Heresy is in the ultra clean category (versus thick), and I have no experience with it. It should sound about the same as similar Topping, THX, SMSL, and other ultra clean amps. Some like 'em, others hate 'em. My view is that they are better than many cheaper amps, but often too glassy/brittle. I’ve moved to Class A amps.

I have no experience with the Atom+, and defer to others.

I mentioned the iFi ZenDAC – despite its name it combines a DAC plus a starter amp for < $200. Blame inflation and parts chain chaos, but I paid $135 or so.

@InvisibleInk mentions the Vali 2+. If you are into tube amps, I found the $100 Loxjie P20 to be a solid starter amp. I’ve posted about it in this forum, and used it with my HD 600 and 6XX. (But these days I’ve moved to higher price tiers.)

1 Like

I got a good deal on JDS Element II and Modi 3+, so that’s where I’m starting. The 6XX will be on order soon, so all that’s left for now is seeing if I can find another $150 for a Loki Mini+.

Thanks again to all who have helped me getting started.



Do you need two DAC’s? Element II has the DAC and amp all in one chassis, hence my question.

Congrats on the purchases!

Didn’t write that correctly. EL Amp II, not the DAC/amp combo.

1 Like

Another OTL/tube amp idea to pair with Bifrost 2 is Schiit’s own Valhalla 2 OTL amp. I went this route, and the combo works very well together with the 650 (and my ZMFs too). Very nice clean sound, plenty of power for 300 ohm drivers.

1 Like

Continuing to consider new headphones @generic and others replied a few weeks ago. I see a nice pair of Rosson Audio RAD-O on Audiogon used “9” condition for $1700 asking. Does this make sense given my tastes?

Hesitation has been pulling trigger on Arya Stealth as I own HE-560. Ditto Pulling trigger on Sennheiser 800S as several have questioned my Bifrost 2 / Lyr3 stack as adequate to get optimum sound. Reluctance to pay over $2k for new STAX SR-007 MK2 and not having found a good looking used pair.

Had forgotten about the RAD-O.



Hard for me to say on that - I always thought the appeal of the Rosson ones were the sweet looking custom designs for the cups. So getting one used maybe isn’t as fun. Strictly when it comes to the tonal balance though, it’s very different from all of those, much more of a relaxed and laid back listen. I know @taronlissimore loves his.


Can you remind me what your tastes are? The RAD-0 happens to be my favorite headphone, but I’m not sure if it will be yours.

I don’t want to you to think ‘relaxed and laid back’ means slow or boring because it’s neither of those. It leans to the warm side of neutral and is very natural-sounding, and I find it’s suited to pretty much any genre I throw at it, from jazz to rock to metal.

I usually describe the RAD-0 as what I would imagine a ZMF planar would sound like. But since you don’t have experience of ZMF, if you happen to buy the RAD-0, it will give you an idea of what a ZMF headphone sounds like. :grinning:

Does any of that resonate with you?


Yes that sounds like an appealing signature. How defining is it in small chamber music and/or acoustic jazz and classical combos (quartet to sextet)?

That’s one of my tests, even though it represents only a fraction of my listening.

I listen to everything except country music product and Christian Pop


What do you mean by ‘defining’? How detailed it is?

1 Like

Yes- combination of soundstage and tonality plus ability to hear room acoustics if the engineers haven’t destroyed them.

See the edit of previous post also

I’m more likely to hear that smaller acoustic music live so that’s why I use it as a guide. Getting it right isn’t easy.


FWIW I have had the Lyr3/Bifrost 2 combo, and I honestly wouldn’t hesitate to use it with any of the headphones you’ve mentioned.

I’ve had much enjoyment with that combo when listening to ZMF Verite and Atrium, and Focal Clear OG as well. The planars I have are not of Rosson caliber, but happy using that with Aeon Noir and Modhouse Argon Mk 2 as well.

I have upgraded my amp and DAC now, so I am finished for the time being. I exhausted my audio budget! I recently got a Burson Soloist 3X GT, which again Bifrost 2 was very nice with. It’s a great DAC. But I got a Yggy OG/Unison now :sunglasses: Each step up was more revealing to the audio chain, but doesn’t diminish what a great combo you have now is. For the price it’s very tough to beat, and holds its’ own until you get into significantly more expensive stuff

If you get the Rosson tell us what you think! I’d enjoy a ZMF like planar myself! :laughing:


I heard someone describe the Meze Elite as a “ZMF-like” planar as well. Would anyone else describe them this way? From what I’ve read, the Elite will take the technicalities up a notch from any of the ZMF models including Verite/VC while remaining balanced across the frequency range. It’s also said to be one of the most comfortable headphones to wear.

I’m considering the Elite as a complement to my Auteur, which may soon be upgraded to an Auteur Classic, but don’t know if it’s the right choice. I have an Epoxy Stabilized VC that I might offer up as a trade for an Elite, but I’m just not sure! Anybody have experience with both ZMFs and the Elite want to weigh in?

I’d listen to the headphone before committing to purchasing it. Typically, instrument definition for chamber music and acoustic jazz is found within the midrange and lower treble, and the RAD-0 doesn’t have much ear-gain in that area (similar to a lot of Audeze’s). If you don’t mind EQing, then this might not be that much of a concern.

I am not knocking the headphone at all, so to those that own it, please refrain from lashing out at me. :slight_smile:


As we tell all the newbies, you must try for yourself. My criteria are to either (1) try before buying, or (2) buy at a price where I won’t bleed too much $$$$$ if I hate them. A patient capitalistic scavenger might find better prices soon, as many people now struggle with inflation coupled with declining asset values.

Per my comments, it could be fully pleasant for you but not the stereotypical 800 S experience. It’s not bad on the Lyr 3, but rolled off and not a stage monster.