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Dac VS Amp or Dac + Amp?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I'm currently running a set of Sony XB700's with a Fiio E5 and a Toshiba Laptop. I'm new to this world and figured what I was using was enough but I've been bit my the upgrade bug. I'm not sure if it's because I want new headphones or what but from what I've been told in other forums that for the type of music I'm listening to currently, the XB700 should be where I should stay. That being said, I just started reading up on Dac's and became interested as I have no idea if the sound card in this laptop is decent enough and it's my understanding (forgive me if I'm wrong) that the Dac will bypass the soundcard of the laptop and improve sound quality. Is that all it does? Does it offer any sort of boost in output or do I have to get an amp to do so? Back when I got the XB700 I was looking at getting the Headroom Bithead also but now I don't even hear it mentioned much anymore where some of the newer Fiio's are. Seems you can stack the E7 and E9 to give you an amp and a dac...which is where this whole topic comes from. Do I need both for those specific headphones?

post #2 of 4

E7 = E5 + DAC, basically.  If you do not have some kind of soundcard that you plug into your laptop already, then an amp + DAC will give you better sound.  There are loads of choices around, perhaps some people can recommend some based on your budget.  E9 is a desktop amplifier, not portable like E5/6/7, and much more powerful.  Your headphone is pretty efficient, so you don't need the E9.

post #3 of 4

If you need portability, amp. If you're using your setup most of the time at home, DAC.


If you're after something in-between, amp+dac.

post #4 of 4

You'll def notice a difference with a DAC (unless you get a bad one) but there are probably 1000 threads on that topic.


The e7/e9 is a nice combo for the money but the e17 will be a clear step up when it finally comes out.  Note, you can hook any DAC you want upto the e9.

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