I am searching for a portable headphone amplifier and DAC thats reasonably priced: under 100 dollars. I have been eyeing the FiiO E7 for quite sometime. Is it a decent headphone amplifier? My headphones are all around 64 Ohms impedance, so I know the FiiO can drive them fine. I will primarily be using Sony MDR-7506's, Sennheiser HD 280 Pro's and Etymonic HF2's with this setup. Are there any better options in terms of a headphone amp/ DAC's under 100 dollars? How would you describe the FiiO E7's performance sonically and build quality wise? I am on a tight budget, and just looking for something to get a little cleaner more impactful bass out of my Sony's and Senn's, and the mids could use a little cleaning up too. Any advise would be appreciated.
In search of portable headphone amp/DAC under $100
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You do know that the only few external DACs that will work with your iPhone cost around $500.
So the DACs that come with the E7 & E10 will not work with the iPhone.
I believe the iPhone come with a decent built in DAC.
The Fiio E11, with a Fiio L cable would work better.
The Fiio L cable, connects from the iPhone's LOD port to the line-input on the E11.
The L cable allows you to bypass the iPhone's headphone amplifier, giving the E11 a cleaner analog audio signal to work with.
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If you are planning to use it with an Apple iDevice, you have two options. One is to extract the analog signal via line-out, in which case all you need is an amp. Two is to extract the digital signal, in which you will need a transport, a DAC and an amp. Which one are you aiming for?
Very likely, USB DAC/amp like FiiO E7 will work with Android phone, without custom driver like with a PC or with a Mac.
FiiO is sending a USB DAC/amp to an Android modder to enable USB audio on the smartphone Google Galaxy Nexus.
Instructions for enabling USB audio on Ainol Novo7 tablet:
USB DAC should be considered as standard USB device able to connect to an Android smartphone/tablet like a USB mass storage device, a USB keyboard or a USB mouse.
The capability is there (i.e. Android kernel = Linux kernel, and Linux can interface to these USB peripherals).
The official USB audio request is currently ranked 24 of 18148.
In fact, it is ranked in top 3 of less than one-year-old requests.
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A common USB DAC (which is compliant with PC, Mac and hopefully Android smartphone/tablet with USB audio enabled) acts as a USB device, while a PC acts as a USB host.
A USB DAC, which is compliant with iPod/iPhone/iPad, acts as a USB host, while iPod/iPhone/iPad acts as a USB device.
You would need to ask Apple why they designed their products the way they do.
The most common way to get a digital sign is with USB, optical or coaxial, which your iPhone has none.
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Then under $100, your absolute best choice for audio quality is the Fiio E11 in my opinions. E7 is a USB DAC, and iPhone 4 doesn't have a USB port, so it won't benefit from the E7's DAC. The E7 will just be an amp, but in that case, the E11 is the better amp.
I thought the entire point of a DAC is to convert a digital signal to an analog one because analog sounds better. Using the iPhone line out dock, the DAC will work, correct? Using the line out dock bypasses the iPhone's internal amplifier.