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How much of a difference can I hear between portable and desktop rigs?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hey all,

 

New user here so pardon my ignorance, still learning.  Got into the audiophile world couple months back when I realized how much sound wasn't being reproduced on my $30 Sony earbuds, haven't looked back since.  While I do like my current portable setup, I'm curious to how much better sound quality I can get if I invest in a dedicated desktop setup.  Still new to all this, but I'm guessing this is one of those hobbies with diminishing returns?  Anyway, here's what I currently have and what I plan on putting together.  Welcome any comments or suggestions.

 

Portable:  iPod -> Fiio L3 -> iBasso D2+ -> Ultrasone DJ1 / Beyerdynamic DT1350

 

Desktop:  iPod -> Cambridge Audio iD100 -> DAC? -> Schiit Lyr / Woo Audio WA6SE -> Beyerdynamic T1

 

Thanks !

post #2 of 9

I'm not familiar with all the gear you've listed, however, IMO your desktop rig will blow away your portable. Happy listening.

post #3 of 9

Yes, there are diminishing returns, but given what I've heard from listening to the DJ1 at music stores, these two rigs are of a completely different class.

 

Steep dimishing returns (and let's face it, dimishing returns are just part of economics, the problem is when the ratio starts getting too much) are more noticeable with DACs and headamps. You can argue that going from DT880 to T1 is actually fairly steep, I can see how some people would think that, but DJ1 versus a good T1 rig is really no comparison. Just think about the soundstage. Haven't the good fortune to listen to the DT1350 yet though, no idea how that is.

post #4 of 9

The closest I've come to comparing those 2 setups would be a T5p vs a DT1350, both out of my iPod. That's right: no external amps, no fancy DACs.

 

The T5p beat the DT1350 by a mile in all aspects.

 

You might therefore want to consider a T5p, which you should be able to build a home system around, while being more than capable as a portable headphone too.

post #5 of 9

Typically once you start spending 300 dollars and more, then desktop stuff starts sounding better than the portable stuff at that price level. The reason is because you can't fit things like a dedicated toroidal power supply and buffering caps and a bunch of other nerdy electronic internals in the chain to lower your noise floor and produce a cleaner signal. I mean 2200uf cap is already bigger than most portable amps height wise, and then desktop dac/amps can use like 80,000uf worth of buffering sometimes lol.

 

The entry level desktop stuff like the Matrix Mini-i +/- the M-stage amp, and the Audio Gd NFB-12 are amazing for the price are are built with components that are used in setups costing 2x their price. Then again, both of those are made in Chinaland.

 

Also you really don't need to use the ipod. Chances are if you're using an iPod, you can just plug the USB from the DAC/amp into your computer so you can get a MUCH better sound out of it! Both setups will let you be able to build a really good sound quality from the ground up. You can add amps later if you decide to graduate to really beefy cans but for the most part you're going to do JUST fine with that budget.

 

As for how much better, the desktop dac's usually use the Wolfson 8741 DAC which has like 20 percent better SNR with a bunch of other positives as well. The Audio Gd FUN is a great all-in-one setup, you can run an LOD out of the ipod into some RCA's for the amp if you so please. It's a great way to not stack a bunch of stuff.

 

Also the term diminishing returns only applies if you stop hearing the difference. If you're looking at a Woo Audio 6, you hit diminishing returns a LONG time ago but I'd still say if you can afford it comfortably, those things are AMAZING. I like the Mapletree EAR+ HD, but I'm a Grado guy.

 

Hope that helps!

post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice all !  Will certainly take things into consideration.  Hopefully I'll be as blown away by this upgrade as I was the first time.  smily_headphones1.gif

post #7 of 9

Quote:
Originally Posted by fatcat28037 View Post

IMO your desktop rig will blow away your portable. Happy listening.


x2. Even with cans and amps aside, I've yet to find a PMP, even out of the best ones, to match the SQ of a stand alone DAC. Just different leagues.

 

post #8 of 9

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by xinque View Post

 

Portable:  iPod -> Fiio L3 -> iBasso D2+ -> Ultrasone DJ1 / Beyerdynamic DT1350

 

Desktop:  iPod -> Cambridge Audio iD100 -> DAC? -> Schiit Lyr / Woo Audio WA6SE -> Beyerdynamic T1

 

Thanks !


You're running both setups with the Ipod? Use your computer instead. I have optical running to my DAC from my motherboard. Bypassing any cheaper DAC to a better DAC makes the most sense. Start using FLAC when you feel your rig is good enough. I didn't think it was worth the effort to go FLAC until I got a Stax O2 rig.

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

Yes.  Unfortunately I have one of those PCs that sounds like a constant hairdryer and not sure how well the isolation in the T1 would hold up.  Was why I was looking at docks that bypassed the iPod DAC.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wind016 View Post

 


You're running both setups with the Ipod? Use your computer instead. I have optical running to my DAC from my motherboard. Bypassing any cheaper DAC to a better DAC makes the most sense. Start using FLAC when you feel your rig is good enough. I didn't think it was worth the effort to go FLAC until I got a Stax O2 rig.



 

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