Originally Posted by Deac311
So, I've decided that I just don't use my Presonus Central Station enough to warrant it's existence in my lineup... So I am now looking at replacing it with something similar in quality, as far as price I would like to stay under $500. I tried to find some info for this sort of question, but I didn't find anything that applied to my situation as I am kind of looking for the top end of stuff and have enjoyed the Presonus. As far as inventory goes I have the SR325i, the HD600, and the ER4S, with a possibility of getting the SE530 as well. Any ideas for me?
I would pick the Predator, but would not discount the idea of the 2MoVE or Pico . The Predator has better low volume knob balance and control for the SE530, can still power the HD600, sounds good with Grado and with my de-podded IM716 with 47 ohm resistor in place of the pod (should sound similar to ER4P). I was disappointed in the sound out of the box (unburned-in), until it matured after I reached 350 hours of burn-in. But then it just took off from there to end up sounding solid like a full size amp by the end of 1,000 hours. By 600-700 hours it beats most portable amps, in my opinion, although the other portable amps are extremely close. If you get this, you'll want to run it for a full month with a 1 hour break a day to let the caps form, and then it will be ready to impress.
The Pico is good with all of those but not quite as full in the lower mids with the Grado, and difficult to adjust the volume to very low with SE530 for sleeping (must use the Shure volume attentuator). The Pico's big strength is power, and it is one of the few portable amps that can drive my 600 ohm AKG K240M adequately. It also has wonderful synergy with the Denon D2000 as well. But with my Edition 9 and RS-1 the Predator is better.
The 2MOVE has a little more forward soundstage with HD600 than I prefer, being more forward than the Predator and especially the Pico. I really liked it with my Grados which I use a lot, as well as with my Edition 9 and IM716 and SE530. I didn't own the 600 ohm AKG at the time I borrowed it for a review, so I did not test it with those. It has good power, but also shows problems at very low volumes with channel balance with SE530, and you need to use the Shure volume attenuator with it. Battery life with a 9v is great (50-100 hours depending on the battery).
While the VividAudiTech.com V1 dac/amp has loads of power and can drive the 600 ohm AKG; and it sounds good with HD600 and SE530 and IM716, it is one of my last choices for Grado because it bumps their upper mids even more. Battery life is poor, < 13 hours, but it recharges every time it is plugged into the USB port. So, maybe skip that amp unless you don't mind switching to Grado flat pads to fix the sound (except the SR-325i don't have a big upper mids peak, it is more of a treble peak and it might work better with those than with my RS-1 and MS-1 and SR-60).
A great desktop amp that happens to be portable but without a DAC (hint: I said desktop amp that happens top be portable) is my TTVJ portable Millett hybrid tube amp, which is about the size of my 80gb ipod video but thicker. I call it a desktop amp because the tubes can ring if you bump the amp, but you have to flick it with a finger to do that - sitting on your lap or in a pocket on the bus wont do it. It does not generate any heat fortunately. It has incredible synergy with all the Grados, and does great with HD600 and some harder to drive IEM like Klipsch Image X10, IM716 and q-JAYs, so I suspect it will pair well with the ER4P. However, you will need that Shure volume attenuator with the SE530, because gain is a little too high for them and the low volume knob channel imbalance comes into play.
See the following for more information (including the questions and answers throughout the thread): UPDATED 9/8 MINI-REVIEW of 9 USB DAC amps - Predator, Pico, 2MOVE, D2 Viper/Boa & D1, Headstage, HR Micro Amp, Vivid Tech V1 - Page 33 - Head-Fi: Covering Headphones, Earphones and Portable Audio