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A HiFi system good for travel...

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

Hi guys,

First of all let me apologies if my request for help goes slightly out of "Headphones (full-size)" jurisdiction, but if I post separate threads in the designated forums I just know I will get contrary advice that would only complicate my choice. And since I chose the headphones as the start point of my quest I think my request fits in. But if some of you feel I might get a better solution elsewhere, please redirect me to the thread.


Second: I love music!!! And more so, I love my music!!! Jazz, dub, good pop, hip-hop, house, alternative, electro, techno, rock classics, etc. The list is long and heavy. But lately I've been moving about the world more frequently and staying at different places for prolonged time intervals. And things being as they are I seldom get to listen to my music back home from my system. Of course I love my iphone paired with my really old ATH-ES7, but the sound just doesn't cut it for me anymore. I want the same dedicated or semi-dedicated system that I can put in my hand luggage together with my toothbrush and socks and fly anywhere without the fear of loosing my baggage or finding my sound in pieces after all the tossing and kicking it will get after getting separated at the check in.


I've been reading a bit recently, reviews, impressions, threads. But nothing really applies to me, or maybe I was looking in the wrong places! So I do have thoughts on what to buy, just looking for someone who can validate or redirect my thinking pattern.


My budget is $1000-1200 and as a bonus I hope it can give a little boost to my portable sound and be compatible with my home based dedicated sound sources.


I was thinking of going HiFiman: HM-601(source+DAC)-->EF-5(amp)-->HE-4(sound). The questions I have are: Can I use the 601 model without the internal amplification through the Line Out or would I need the 602 for this? And will the DAP do justice to the 

EF-5+HE4 combo, or should I get another amp+headphones set, or another DAP? The reason I'm not considering a new sound card for my laptop is because I would like to use the DAP as a portable piece as well, but if you guys persuade me that there is an impossible-to-bridge gap between the two options I might reconsider. As long as it stays in my budget. The reason I'm thinking

HE-4...I don't know! May be I just want a little bit different sound, and comparing with other planar magnetic phones they seemed to be of good value, looks that appeal to me, light weight and good enough sound to compare them with the top dogs (at least from the impressions I've read, couldn't find a review or a comparison review, if anyone can give me a link, that would be great). But it also might be the case that I'm being slightly irrational with this and I don't know what I'm talking about, I can't discharge this possibility.





post #2 of 24

Just to be clear: you want to bring your system when you travel, but you don't plan to use it while in transit? E.g. you won't use it in an airplane?

post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 

Yep, that's correct. Only behind walls of a room.

post #4 of 24

Hm! That is a very unusual request then (and a very big piece of hand luggage).


I can't offer you any answers, but perhaps some advice on where/how to look for it:

It seems that you'll be wanting to settle on a headphone first, then start looking at the smallest possible amp for it. The player itself should not, IMO, be of much cause for concern--it is effectively acting as a transport in this case. (So the HM-601 should be fine, unless its on-board DAC is lacking, in which case there are still DAPs out there to which you can tack on a DAC.)


Of the top of my head, I've certainly heard of HE's being run from the EF-5. Another option to consider might be HD800 + Lehmann Black Cube Linear, given the amp's small footprint.

post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply, much appreciated,

Did the concern about the size of the luggage come from the EF-5 part of the HE-4? Just from the dimensions from head-direct the amp seems like a fairly small piece! Even if not I seem to have come to a state when the extended trips justify this sort of effort.

And I don't think the HD800 would fit even closely into my budget for this, but I would definitely consider them if I had the money. And about the option of taking the analog signal from the DAP upon conversion...does the HM-601's design allow for this, Eric_C, do you know?



post #6 of 24

The HM-601 has 2 dedicated outputs, a headphone out and a line out so you should be good on that point. I would not want to travel with a tube amp like the EF5, for your use I would get a RSA SR71-B with a balanced cable from Whiplash or one of the others that make them and then the HE-4 and you would have a fantastic rig. An alternative could also be the HM-801 once the balanced amp module comes out as that should also drive the HE-4 fine. Or you could go with the upcoming HE-500 that can be driven straight from the HM-601

post #7 of 24

Another option is iBasso's PB-2 utilizing its balanced output.  It's one of the most(if not the most) powerful portable amps available and it has been tested to drive orthodynamics quite well.

post #8 of 24

Maybe you would be better off with a portable amp instead of the EF5? Something like Meier Audio Stepdance, SR-71B, etc., etc., should be good enough for such listening and will be a lot smaller and easier to transport than EF5.

post #9 of 24

I dunno about you but I'd rather not lug around an amp with tubes sticking out of it. Why not get the Ibasso PB2+DB2 combo with the balanced cable, and use a laptop as a source for the meantime until the Fiio X3 comes out so you can have a player with SPDIF output? There are old Discmans and IRivers but the batteries might be an issue. Have patience and wait for the X3. Then just choose a headphone to match the PB2; or maybe it's good enough with the HE4.


Or you can keep things simpler and get an RSA Predator and use it with the HM-602 via the line out. I could be wrong, but I kinda remember reading that the Ibasso PBx amps don't have the same voltage swing range depending on the input.

post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 

Wow! Three great leads!atsmile.gif Thank you nc8000, this really expands my choice range, but from the looks of it I would have to push my wallet a bit further and wait patiently, but all the options look like something I would definitely be willing to go for.


thanks indeed,

post #11 of 24
Thread Starter 

Digital-Pride, Szadzik, ProtegeManiac thank you all, some very interesting thoughts. I will definitely wait a few weeks for the Ibasso combo impressions and the Fiio X3 updates. You all pretty much convinced me not to go for the EF-5, makes perfect sense, never owned a lamp amp so haven't thought about the limitations.


Good stuff,


post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post

Or you can keep things simpler and get an RSA Predator and use it with the HM-602 via the line out. I could be wrong, but I kinda remember reading that the Ibasso PBx amps don't have the same voltage swing range depending on the input.

ProtegeManiac, is the 601 model an option? And could you expand on what would the different voltage swing range imply for my source/headphones?


post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by nc8000 View Post

 An alternative could also be the HM-801 once the balanced amp module comes out as that should also drive the HE-4 fine.

nc8000, is the balanced amp module already on the map? I mean is its production one of HiFiman's near future plans, or was there some talk of this from third-party manufacturers, or this is you thoughts on the upcoming evolution of this DAP? And I haven't thought of 801 being able to drive orthos...is it realistic, have you listened to your HE-4 form 801 directly?

post #14 of 24

I don't know how far into the future the balanced amp module for the 801 is but the HE-4 ships with a trrs terminated balanced cable to be used with the balanced amp module so you would expect it to not be too far away but only Fang knows and as far as I'm aware no other balanced amp on the market uses that plug. Even with the game amp module the 801 is not able to drive the HE-4 properly (I have not tried but Fang says so), neither is 601/602 nor even my balanced RSA Protector. This I know both from personal experience but also directly from Ray whereas he recommends the SR71-B for the HE phones. The iBasso amp I have not followed enough to have an opinion about.

post #15 of 24

I think you should just get JH16pros and use them with an ipod.  That would probably sound better than the HE4 and it would be so easy to carry with you. 

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