Beyerdynamic A20 DAC

Beyerdynamic doesn’t just make great headphones, they also design amazing headphone amplifiers but not as many as we would have wanted. The Beyerdynamic A20 is a compact and yet powerful desktop headphone amp with a few accolades under its belt. It is still considered quite modestly priced and is not too expensive for most headphone enthusiasts. Still, the lack of a built-in DAC can be a bummer for some listeners.

Nowadays, we can playback our music from so many devices, such as our mobile phones, tablets, PC, Mac, and more. Accessing our library of music becomes more and more convenient, not to mention, there are also music streaming services such as Tidal, Spotify, etc. Without a decent quality DAC, we wouldn’t be able to truly enjoy our music though. Do not worry, we will be preparing a list of the best DACs which you can choose and match with your Beyerdynamic A20 headphone amplifier after we have learned more about its specification, characteristics, and also your DAC requirements.

Important Specifications of Beyerdynamic A20 and Your DAC Requirements

As mentioned earlier, the Beyerdynamic A20 has a small footprint and will be a suitable desktop headphone amplifier for listeners who have limited space. The A20 amp has a minimalistic design but the shiny metallic finish can make it stand out in your listening room. It has a really wide frequency range of 10Hz to 100kHz (-1 dB) which is cool. And seems to be more optimal in driving a pair of 250 Ohms headphones with a max power output of 170mW but is still capable enough to support 600 Ohms dynamic headphones. There aren’t any digital connections and integrating a dedicated DAC will solve this issue.

We were a bit worried when it comes to driving headphones with 600 Ohms impedance and we are glad that the Beyerdynamic A20 didn’t disappoint in this area. The A20 offers clean power with a polished background and drives the headphones with precision. Its low noise sound quality helps to provide a high-resolution music presentation with fantastic levels of transparency. Providing us with plenty of music details and subtle nuances can be heard clearly as well. The stereo imaging is amazing and has the ability to give the musicians just the right amount of space, precisely placing them on a wide soundstage.

More Information at Amazon – Beyerdynamic A20 Headphone Amplifier

Pushing the Beyerdynamic A20 doesn’t make it sound harsh or overly bright, the overall sonic character of this headphone amplifier is neutral with a touch of warmth. This gives us a fuller sound without sounding unnatural and also enables us to listen to our headphones for long hours, not worrying about listeners’ fatigue. The bass performance of the A20 amp is tight and punchy which makes it suitable to match with their own headphones. This is a musical-sounding headphone amplifier and not really meant for analytical listening. If you just want to enjoy your music listening experience, the Beyerdynamic A20 is an ideal amp t go for.

The soundstage is not the most spacious when compared with other solid-state headphone amplifiers at this price range. There are times the treble of A20 can get a little too excited and may sound very bright to some listeners. You can match DAC with specific sonic traits to help out in this situation. Knowing your sound quality preference can be a good idea and you might want to use them as requirements. Setting a budget is also important as you can immediately filter out those D/A converters which are too expensive. We will suggest giving yourself some headroom, just in case you need to invest a bit more on a DAC which you really want.

Space allocation is equally important as the desktop has even more limited space than your listening room. The Beyerdynamic A20 itself is already taking up some space and including other stuff like your keyboard, monitor, stationaries, etc., usually means you don’t have much room for your DAC. Since the A20 is a desktop headphone amp, you probably wouldn’t require a portable DAC but it is still worth your consideration. What type of high-res audio files you listen to will also determine the type of DAC you’ll need. When you have finalized your requirements, please do check out the best matching DACs to go for below.

Beyerdynamic A20 Specifications

  • Output Power: 150mW (30 Ohms), 170mW (250 Ohms), 100mW (600 Ohms)
  • Frequency Range: 10Hz to 100kHz (-1 dB)
  • Inputs: 2 Headphone inputs, 1 RCA input
  • Outputs: Line out
  • THD: 0.01% at 170 mW / 250 Ohms
  • Dimensions: 164mm x 194mm x 48mm | 6.5″ x 7.6″ x 1.9″
  • Weight: 1640g (3.6lbs)

Best DACs to match with Beyerdynamic A20

The Schiit Audio Modius is a DAC with a modest price tag and supports up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution. It is a suitable match with your Beyerdynamic A20 headphone amplifier and has a sound quality that is easy on the ears. The Modius DAC comes with plenty of connections and you can use them to connect to multiple devices. There is a hint of warmth and has quite a laid-back music presentation which would be ideal for listeners who want a little more relaxing listening experience. It may not be analytical enough for critical listeners though. Schiit Audio Modius doesn’t add brightness to the overall sound reproduction which works great with the A20 amp.

More Info at Amazon – Schiit Modius Balanced D/A Converter (Silver)

Denafrips Ares II is a high-quality DAC with excellent features to boot and will match well with the Beyerdynamic A20. Ares II is a multiple-award-winning D/A converter that supports up to 24-Bit/1536KHz and its DSD decoding goes up to DSD1024. This premium DAC has a wide and expansive soundstage which will complement the Beyerdynamic A20 headphone amp really well. The bass performance of the Denafrips Ares II is detailed and clean, able to reach deep down into the bass extension, delivering subterranean low frequencies with ease. Providing us with a rich musical presence.

More Details at Amazon – Denafrips ARES II R2R DAC 32Bit/1536kHz

The Massdrop X Grace SDAC is another amazing affordable D/A converter to pair with the Beyerdynamic A20 headphone amplifier. It has a very clean and minimalistic aesthetics, supporting up to 24-bit/96kHz resolution. Grace SDAC bass delivery is tight and it goes well with the low-end performance of the A20. The high-frequency reproduction is detailed and doesn’t sound harsh when pushed. For an entry-level DAC at this price point, the Massdrop X Grace SDAC detail retrieval is decent and provides us with a clean music delivery. The Beyerdynamic A20 does help to add a bit more punch into the music presentation.

Topping E50 supports up to DSD512 (natively via USB) and up to 32-bit/768kHz for PCM streams which should be more than enough for most modern-day listeners. This desktop DAC will be an ideal choice for the Beyerdynamic A20 and has well-matched sonic characteristics to go with the headphone amplifier. The full and solid bass performance of the E50 will work nicely with the A20, giving us a bit more impact in the midbass region. It doesn’t interfere with the accuracy of the midrange reproductions though as the vocals still sound natural. The Topping E50 does lack a little when it comes to music handling.

More Details at Amazon – Topping E50 MQA DAC with Remote Control (Black)

Schiit Audio Bifrost 2 is a premium desktop DAC that might not be suitable for listeners who are facing space constraints. Still, the Bifrost 2 will be an exceptional DAC partner for the Beyerdynamic A20 and has the sonic traits to improve the overall sonic performance. There are more details been revealed in the music presentation including subtle nuances and low-level ones. The DAC is able to organize and deliver to us a rich and high-resolution music presentation without sounding congested. Schiit Audio Bifrost 2 soundstage is spacious and expansive as well, simply worth every single penny invested.

More Info at Amazon – Schiit Bifrost 2 True Multibit Autonomy DAC

The JDS Labs Atom DAC+ is one of the best budget DACs to go with your Beyerdynamic A20 headphone amplifier. Its neutral sonic characteristic allows the A20 amp to shine more than the DAC itself which is pretty neat. The bass performance of the Atom DAC+ will suit the headphone amplifier as it is able to deliver an authoritative low end with ample weight. It is an entertaining DAC to listen to and has a well-balanced music delivery overall. JDS Labs Atom DAC+ uses ES9018K2M and supports up to 32bit/384kHz PCM and DSD128 via USB. This is really an excellent bargain and we got nothing to nitpick about this entry-level JDS Labs DAC.

To Sum It Up

It is highly recommended to audition the DAC first before making the purchase. It is crucial to hear how they sound when paired with your Beyerdynamic A20 and headphones. This is to see if you like the overall sound quality and if you do then more than likely that is the DAC to go for. Even so, you might still need to see, does the chosen D/A converter fits all your requirements, or are you willing to compromise a little so as to accept it and finalize your decision.

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