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Portable DAC/Amp advice?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I have been using my new laptop (Lenovo W510) as my primary source for listening lately.  The sound quality is not quite as good as some of the Apples I have had in the past, so I thought I might try a DAC to see if it improves anything.  I need a unit that is somewhat portable.  I know the pico gets high praises on here, any other suggestions?  My primary headphones are JH-13s.

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 19

if Dac/amp combo and portable, then Pico is the only one to get.

Arrow HE and TTVJ Slim and Predator arent that good.

Maybe iBasso D4 with hiflight topkit can compete or pair with pico.

post #3 of 19

Pico DAC/Amp or the Centrance DacPort might be good choices, MAYBE an iBasso D10 with topflight kit (which could also be used as an optical/coaxial DAC for a home setup/movie setup.).  Something a little larger, and more expensive is the combo of AMB Gamma2 and RSA Protector (with recabling of your JH13s for balanced operation with the Protector 4-pin plug.), but that would be wonderful, and semi-portable.  (Two units the size of the Pico, but both USB/Battery powered.)


Edited by Hybrys - 7/3/10 at 3:51pm
post #4 of 19

Oh, Ive forgot also great one, for me, better than pico and d4 -> nuforce HDP, but it cant be used as a portable amp separetly.

post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 

The iBasso D4 cost $219 and the Pico with DAC cost $499.  I try to avoid price and just buy the best gear, but most reviews seem to think the quality is equal.  Any reason why I should spend the extra cash on a Pico or Predator? 

post #6 of 19

If you don't care about price, what about the Gamma2+Protector+balanced recable?  That would give you some amazing quality.  (You can read up on the Protector+recabled JH13/16 specifically, in fact.)

post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hybrys View Post

If you don't care about price, what about the Gamma2+Protector+balanced recable?  That would give you some amazing quality.  (You can read up on the Protector+recabled JH13/16 specifically, in fact.)


I have no interest in building something, and I only want one unit.  Also have zero interest in re-wiring my headphones. 

post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by JarodL1 View Post
I have no interest in building something, and I only want one unit.  Also have zero interest in re-wiring my headphones. 


You can commission the Gamma2, and get someone else to recable the phones.  >_>

 

Sticking to one unit, though, is valid.

post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 

Any other advice?  I am looking to get the best sound out of my computer with something that is relatively portable. 

post #10 of 19

Well, Musiland Monitor 01 USD + Oyaide 510 coaxial interconnect + JH-3a + JH16

post #11 of 19

Pico is the way to go for sure.  Its an upsampling DAC and very good.

 

I will NEVER understand why folks recommend balanced output for IEMs.  Its a complete waste of money.  That's not what balanced output was designed for.

post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trogdor View Post

Pico is the way to go for sure.  Its an upsampling DAC and very good.

 

I will NEVER understand why folks recommend balanced output for IEMs.  Its a complete waste of money.  That's not what balanced output was designed for.


Balanced operation still offers some benefits, such as eliminating source noise, and greater sound stage, regardless if it was designed for something else.  If you want the very best with no budget constraints, I think balanced would be the way to go no matter the headphone/IEM.

post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hybrys View Post


Balanced operation still offers some benefits, such as eliminating source noise, and greater sound stage, regardless if it was designed for something else.  If you want the very best with no budget constraints, I think balanced would be the way to go no matter the headphone/IEM.



Source noise?  What?!

 

The sound stage argument is a myth.  What happens is folks go balanced and the volume is louder since you have double the power on tap so it gets interpreted as greater sound stage.  With headphones in general, ESPECIALLY IEMs, balanced output makes very little sense.  I suppose once can argue about balanced GROUND but with IEMs, balanced output is a waste of time (I wish you could DBT say the Protector with a single-ended Protector, I would bet my JH-3A preoder you couldn't tell the difference).  One of the biggest myths perpetrated on this site by some vendors is that balanced == better when it comes to headphones.  There is a REASON why all the professional monitoring equipment has single ended headphone outputs (and its not because of cost).  You get very little gain if any when used with headphones.  Ok, rant over.

 

The BEST portable DAC/amp I've heard is the upsampling Pico (I listened to several before buying one used).  The biggest downfall of the Pico is the presentation is a tad forward which some people do not like.  It also doesn't have the same level of bass of say full size DACs like a Lavry or Benchmark.


Edited by Trogdor - 7/8/10 at 4:18am
post #14 of 19

If you aim for portable use with a computer notebook, I will suggest Centrance DAC Port 24/96. I have been testing it with high resolution files for a week now. This DAC/Amp matches well with my JH16, and can deliver very good quality sound through a USB port.
 

4755bd1470.jpg

post #15 of 19

Pico Amp/DAC is also not a bad choice.

 

The strength of RSA Predator is its Amp section, not the DAC (which fails to impress me). So, you may end up having to get another portable DAC to use with it.

 

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