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Newbie has questions on portable/DT rig w/ Red Wine iMod as source

post #1 of 111
Thread Starter 
Hi All,

I've been lurking and reading here for months and I never cease to wonder at the collective wisdom of head-fiers

Sooo, here is my first newbie quest: a great, compact rig for my wife's desk, which she can carry around in the house.

Red Wine's iMod really strikes my fancy. We've got a nano and two shuffles, so there's no problem specialising one iPod as a high-end portable source.

My wife would likely prefer lightweight headphones that are 'fast' and revealing. I'm rather set on Grados, just not sure which.

Also, there is the question of the amplifier. I don't want something that will outclass the iMod, just the best companion for it to realise its potential with the cans. Something like the Hornet sounds like a step in the right direction...

Oh, and before I forget, the trick question: what if we wanted to add the ability to drive a small destop 2.1 speaker system at relatively low levels for nearfield use? Could that ever be factored in? Or not?

Any input much appreciated. I'll be happy to follow pointers and dig around!

Phil
post #2 of 111
The SR71 is a fantastic amp if you listen to Jazz/Classical/NewAge music, The Hornet "M" is more for high impact music (rock, rap, etc). I also like the Porta Corda MkIII at $160 one heck of a bargain (ugly as hell though). The LaRocco PRII MkII is also an excellent choice. My favorite is the Supermicro IV from Dr. Xin.
post #3 of 111
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrarroyo View Post
The SR71 is a fantastic amp if you listen to Jazz/Classical/NewAge music, The Hornet "M" is more for high impact music (rock, rap, etc). I also like the Porta Corda MkIII at $160 one heck of a bargain (ugly as hell though). The LaRocco PRII MkII is also an excellent choice. My favorite is the Supermicro IV from Dr. Xin.
Hi, thanks for sharing your experience. My wife was telling me that she'd be listening mostly to pop/rock/soul/folk and I understand a Grado should work well in that context. She might like the Hornet for the reasons you cite too - plus it's too darn cute, like a brick of singing bullion.

For classical, I might be tempted to get a little rig of my own, again with an iMod as a source for portability. I have read in other threads that LaRocco and Dr. Xin can both be difficult to do business with although they deliver stellar products. And of course the price of the Porta Corda is great. I don't want to do overkill, but rather max out the abilities both of the iMod and of the headphones, as we may later put together a separate, multisource, stay-at-home listening station (where the DAC would be critical).

Would you say an iMod>Hornet>Grado SR225 setup playing Apple Lossless would be reasonably balanced for my wife, with no obvious SQ bottlenecks or underchallenged components (connector TBD)?

And if I wanted to listen to classical/jazz/acoustic instruments and spoken voice with some finesse and sense of soundstage, should I try iMod>Xin Supermicro IV>Sennheiser HD580 (often praised on HeadFi, it seems, as a bargain for classical? ) Again, I'll be looking for balance, no major sonic bottlenecks or throttled down overachievers...

Thanks,

Phil
post #4 of 111
Well you did mention lightweight headphones that are 'fast'. What else can I say?

iMod -> SuperMicro IV (or Xin's new Reference Amp) -> Etymotic ER-4S. You are set! Especially for classical
post #5 of 111
Is this supposed to be a gift or does your wife have a say on these things? Do you know her preference on sound, comfort, convenience?

I'd recommend Portaphile V2^2 as an amp. It is refined which compliments the iMod and is rich and powerful which compliments the relatively "weak" sound of ipods.
post #6 of 111
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raphael View Post
Well you did mention lightweight headphones that are 'fast'. What else can I say?

iMod -> SuperMicro IV (or Xin's new Reference Amp) -> Etymotic ER-4S. You are set! Especially for classical
Very nice combo for a light weight rig with fantastic sound. Only thing I would change would be the Ety ER4S for a custom IEM. Of course the cost would be 4 times that of the ER4S!

For IC I would recomend one of Fitz for about $20 (silver plated copper) or Revelation Audio Cryo Silver for $79. You choose how much you want to spend, and both prices include S&H. I prefer the Revelation Audio but it is a bit more fragile, the one made by Fitz is very close and sturdier.

Quote:
Would you say an iMod>Hornet>Grado SR225 setup playing Apple Lossless would be reasonably balanced for my wife, with no obvious SQ bottlenecks or underchallenged components (connector TBD)?
That is a nice setup, be aware that everyone around her will hear what she is listening to. The Grados can be a bit shrill to some, I would sugges a copper IC to tame them a bit. Maybe Fitz's IC being silver plated copper would work fine.

The Hornet "M" is a great amp if your wife wants something a bit smaller you could consider the Tomahawk. After 800 hours of burn in it is almost the same sound as the Hornet "M" (just a tad less bass). I mention the Tomahawk as an option because in low gain it is unity, the Hornet "M" low gain is 3. In other words with the Hornet "M" and Grados your wife will have very little play with the volume knob.
post #7 of 111
I am throwing in another vote for the iMod. I think mine has reached 200 hours, or is close to it. My jaw dropped open tonight. I listened to it just last night! And I was like "wow, this thing is really improving". I put them on just 10 minutes ago tonight, and my jaw straight hit the floor! I cannot BELIEVE what I'm hearing. Is this really the iPod? A portable DAP playing this?! I am truly shocked beyond belief... without a doubt, worth double, yes I said, double it's price! I cannot believe how much it changed... I have never seen burn-in have such a great effect in my life before!
post #8 of 111
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raphael View Post
Well you did mention lightweight headphones that are 'fast'. What else can I say?

iMod -> SuperMicro IV (or Xin's new Reference Amp) -> Etymotic ER-4S. You are set! Especially for classical
OK, so we're on the right track ;-)
post #9 of 111
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrarroyo View Post
Very nice combo for a light weight rig with fantastic sound. Only thing I would change would be the Ety ER4S for a custom IEM. Of course the cost would be 4 times that of the ER4S!
I think my wife would prefer headphones to in-ear monitors for home use, but if we travel and the rig is really small that sounds like a great solution...

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrarroyo View Post
For IC I would recomend one of Fitz for about $20 (silver plated copper) or Revelation Audio Cryo Silver for $79. You choose how much you want to spend, and both prices include S&H. I prefer the Revelation Audio but it is a bit more fragile, the one made by Fitz is very close and sturdier.
I like the Fitz idea. We will want sturdy so there is no accidental damage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrarroyo View Post
That is a nice setup, be aware that everyone around her will hear what she is listening to. The Grados can be a bit shrill to some, I would sugges a copper IC to tame them a bit. Maybe Fitz's IC being silver plated copper would work fine.
Thanks for the insight - definitely checking the Fitz out!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrarroyo View Post
The Hornet "M" is a great amp if your wife wants something a bit smaller you could consider the Tomahawk. After 800 hours of burn in it is almost the same sound as the Hornet "M" (just a tad less bass). I mention the Tomahawk as an option because in low gain it is unity, the Hornet "M" low gain is 3. In other words with the Hornet "M" and Grados your wife will have very little play with the volume knob.
This is getting even better! Yes, we'd LOVE a tiny amp that ends up sounding close to the Hornet but with less gain, driving sensitive headphones or IEMs. Many thanks for these insights, this is really priceless (for everything else, there is MC (TM))

Phil

PS - Sorry I'm responding late, was offline for a couple of days and also went to visit a great guy - who has met the famous Vinny of RWA - who demo'd superb speakers in his home for us. So you can check them out, it's the Orions, designed by Siegfried Linkwitz (<http://www.linkwitzlab.com/>).
post #10 of 111
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lan View Post
Is this supposed to be a gift or does your wife have a say on these things? Do you know her preference on sound, comfort, convenience?

I'd recommend Portaphile V2^2 as an amp. It is refined which compliments the iMod and is rich and powerful which compliments the relatively "weak" sound of ipods.
We are looking into it together - I'm reporting back to her with all the good advice

In your experience the iMod as a source is pretty well matched by the Portaphile? Nice entry-level price... I'm looking at the thread on the best <$200 amp for an iMod on the side, very interesting. Nothing like components that play well together without overkill.
post #11 of 111
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raphael View Post
I am throwing in another vote for the iMod. I think mine has reached 200 hours, or is close to it. My jaw dropped open tonight. I listened to it just last night! And I was like "wow, this thing is really improving". I put them on just 10 minutes ago tonight, and my jaw straight hit the floor! I cannot BELIEVE what I'm hearing. Is this really the iPod? A portable DAP playing this?! I am truly shocked beyond belief... without a doubt, worth double, yes I said, double it's price! I cannot believe how much it changed... I have never seen burn-in have such a great effect in my life before!
This is getting to be quite fascinating. Is there any chance that a Portaphile can remain a good match or do you feel a more refined amp might be justified once the iMod opens up?
post #12 of 111
Quote:
Originally Posted by philslade View Post
This is getting to be quite fascinating. Is there any chance that a Portaphile can remain a good match or do you feel a more refined amp might be justified once the iMod opens up?
The Portaphile V2^2 Maxxed with Black Gates and LT1210 is a great sounding amp! Just make sure you burn it in for at least 400 hours. My problem with it is that it uses batteries at the rate of one every 2.5 hours!
post #13 of 111
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrarroyo View Post
The Portaphile V2^2 Maxxed with Black Gates and LT1210 is a great sounding amp! Just make sure you burn it in for at least 400 hours. My problem with it is that it uses batteries at the rate of one every 2.5 hours!
Hmmm... we'd really use the DC jack included in the "Maxxed" version when at home. The only question is, what's a good power supply, in light of the following caution:

Quote:
Black Gate 1500uF NX Capacitors

This upgrade increases the power supply capacitance by 50% giving a small increase in performance for the same price. The downside to these is that they are rated at a much lower voltage, 10V each capacitor. This means that any external power supply source you plug into the amplifier must be REGULATED at a maximum of 18V's. Don't go higher than 18V if you don't want your capacitors to explode. I would recommend that you stick with the 12V to 15V range just to be safe.
post #14 of 111
Thread Starter 
And while I'm at it, I've looked at the pricing on the RWA 5/5.5G iMod + ILO cable and I have to go, "whoa." If we're really talking $550 for the iMod plus a minimum of $110 for the cable, that kinda gives me pause. If we're talking multiple ILO ICs (e.g., ipod > RCA connector at $235), it really starts to add up. I'm also wondering about the pricing on the upcoming iMod Dock Cable w/ dc power jack & power supply:

Quote:
ALO Audio also plans to release a special version of their iMod Dock Cable that features a dc power jack and power supply to allow the user to use their 5G/5.5G iMod even when its battery is charging. Details will be posted soon…
Pretty soon we're north of $1,000 with a 5G iMod, the ILO connector/dock, a good amp, and decent headphones or IEMs. Kinda makes me wonder about going with a 4G iMod instead or just getting a nice desktop DAC + amp to be fed out of a Mac mini (same price as 5g iMod - and we've already got it!), plus a stock iPod w/ a Portaphile.

Decisions, decisions...
post #15 of 111
I recommend this:

iMod -> SuperMini -> Koss KSC75 (headband from the Durabrand PR355 [Walmart] if she doesn't like the earclips).

My girlfriend's ears are too small for the earclips, but she LOVES the headband I just got her.

The KSCs are hard to beat - I promise!
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