Hey guys complete headphone/amp newbie here.
I've only bought headphones in the past and never had the need for an amp and only have a laptop with onboard sound + iphone for music. However I'm hoping to get a q701 and amp, only problem is I have no idea what to do or how to start. Say I get the q701, do I need an amp with it? Is it possible to amp an iphone 5? Is there a beginners amp I can get that will satisfy use on both laptop and iphone 5?
You'll probably (definitely?) get more joy out of your Q701 with an amp. Your iPhone probably has a decent DAC (Digital-to-Analog-Converter), though there are better ones, of course. Your laptop almost assuredly does not have a good DAC. Are either enough to amp your Q701 satisfactorily? That's for your ears to judge, though I'd be surprised.
This is what I'd do:
Buy the Q701 and try it out. If you're happy, be happy.
If you think you can get better sound, the JDS Labs C5D (C5 amp + DAC) might be a good choice for you. It's small and portable. If you have the right iOS, the DAC should work with your iPhone; the amp will work with any analog signal you feed it: e.g., the iPhone's headphone OUT jack (re: iPhone digital out-to-C5D, sorry, don't own either, but you can read all about it and ask questions in this thread; start with the last 10 pages or so; also read the documentation on the JDS Labs site). The C5D will definitely work with your laptop, assuming it has a USB port, and I'd be willing to bet (with your money, of course ) that you'll appreciate the better sound.
I'm sure you'll get more opinions, that's just mine.
FWIW, last night I was listening to my Q701 with the JDS Labs C5 (same amp as in the C5D, though the C5D's is technically better, having a lower output impedance; in reality, no one would be able to tell) and the HiFimeDIY U2 Sabre Asynchronous DAC. Good stuff :-) If I hadn't already bought the HiFimeDIY DAC and C5, I'd buy the C5D. It's still really tempting, but I'd have to sell the other two. JDS Labs makes great stuff and is a very reputable company.
FiiO amps+DACs will be cheaper... and less expensive, so you may want to start there. Plenty of people in this thread and elsewhere use and like them.
Edited by ThurstonX - 12/6/13 at 7:51am