Using the ODAC and O2 with the Q701 would drive my crazy I think. I've been listening to my Q701 with my Micro Amp and ODAC and I feel like my ears have been bombarded with crappy music overload.
It's really annoying when you go from being wowed with how great a song sounds and then the next 5 have harsh treble, thin mids and really just horrible. Not the Q701's fault, but definitely the recording. Positive.
Maybe I don't want a DAC this revealing for the Q701. Basically the ODAC has like ZERO warmth of it's own at all. Even the perfectly flat Sansa Clip+ and my X-Fi Go Pro has some. The fatigue isn't coming from the treble.
I think it's just due to how revealing the ODAC is. Basically a combination of several things. Sometimes it will be the mids and other times the treble. Maybe just too much detail overload.
The ODAC and my amp seems to suck the life out of most of the music in my collection. I know that means I prefer some coloration, so that's OK. Maybe bad recordings are really more common than I previously imagined.
When I listen to the Q701 and ODAC, it's like I can't really enjoy any of it. Ok, at least a large part of it.
Now it's too bad there were not more recordings that sounded warm and amazing sounding. I can hear these bad songs on the HD-580 and they're nearly as bad. Obviously the HD-580 does make them easier on the ears due to being a quite warm headphone with thicker mids.
I just connected the ODAC up to my E9. It's most definitely less revealing of the crap files i've been listening to (FLAC). It's as if the E9 smooths over some recordings slightly and they're not quite as bad, but close.
I actually never realized this at first, but I think the E9 is actually warmer than my Micro Amp. I thought it was the opposite actually! Guess it was due to the HRT MSII. The mids are VERY slightly fuller (but not like the E10). The e9 seems to have the same amount of treble as my Micro. I think the E9 might be a tad more bassy. Obviously the differences in the signatures of amps are very small.
Want to know something weird? With my Q701 and Micro Amp it has a smaller soundstage than the E9 when using the HRT MSII. When using the ODAC with both amps, it's about the same. I can't explain this one. Any ideas? The soundstage of my Micro with the Q701 varies a ton based on what's connected to it. The HRT MSII to my Micro with the HD-580 has a tiny soundstage. With the Q701 it's quite large still.
I think the crossfeed on my amp will help the sound a bit (some think it adds some warmth?!). I find Canare Starquad cables are slightly warm (due to really high capacitance), so that might help. I have a Q701 Canare cable I made that i'll try. Any tiny bit of extra warmth might help. The Q701 itself doesn't really need any extra wamrth on 95% of what i've tried it on.
TLDR: I find the ODAC + my amp + Q701 to not be that musical (just the setup, not each part in general). Meaning it's so excessively revealing that it's harder to just enjoy what you're listening to. Right now the impressive songs that actually are well mastered and sound good are coming along so rarely. Right now i'm listening to a song and it sounds like it's sounds like it's being played inside a cave (not due to the Q701's soundstage silly). Not even joking. Next I have a new cantopop song and it sounds like the person is singing right into my ears. Pretty crystal clear though and sounds fine overall. The whole song is fairly smooth sounding.
I bet the DT-880 with this setup would be even worse. I imagine the best headphone for this setup would be the HD-650. If you prefer a musical sounding DAC (nothing wrong with that!) i'd avoid the ODAC. Ok, now my ears are hurting.
Oh yeah... one more weird thing.. I'm listening to Parting Ways from Pearl Jam (Binaural album). It sounds really very warm and full. Like I have my bass EQed on my Q701. Almost like how I'd imagine it to sound on the HD-650. But yet it's coming from my dang ODAC and Q701. Yet the next song sounds as if it's coming from an AD700. Can you say annoying?
NOTE: This Canare DIY Q701 "snake oil" really seems to add a tiny bit of extra warmth to the Q701 for all those really awful songs. Now I just need a new interconnect cable. I'm using a $2,000 Monoprice cable. One of the first times I could actually stand Canare.
If I was smart I'd just not just the Q701 with the ODAC! I guess all this hassle has been sort of a learning experience.
Slight update..that Canare cable really helps the Q701 a bit (with ODAC). It now sounds closer to how it does with the HRT MSII. Meaning just slightly easier on the ears. I don't know what the reason is for the extra warmth (not much). Your guess is as good as mine. I'm guessing it's due to the higher capacitance of the Canare.
Edited by tdockweiler - 8/25/12 at 2:00pm