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Please Save Me From a Poor, Uninformed Purchase

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

Hey all,

 

Ok, so it turns out I don't know jack squat about amps/DACs, portable or desktop.

 

The two headphones I use the most are my ATH-Pro700MK2ANV's and (soon) my Senn HD598's. I originally thought I wanted the E11 from Fii0, but now...after reading and asking and foruming around, I'm second-guessing myself a LOT.

 

Do I even need a portable amp or DAC with these headphones? I use a 160GB iPod Classic (newest generation, so like...5th gen or something).

 

I don't want to break my bank, and I don't want a desktop amp. I'm a college student who's on the move way to much. I'll need something portable (at least for now).

 

Can anyone help me make a wise, informed decision? Do I need an amp (I think I want one)? Will I be wasting my money?

 

Thanks in advance for any advice.

post #2 of 28

I would say that you don't need one. If you are expecting some kind of huge improvement to sound, you will be disappointed. But you can always buy one and then return/sell it if you don't like it.

post #3 of 28

I think it will help give your headphones body and tonality, if you listen at higher volumes an amp is a nice upgrade because you'll have less distortion, bass will tighten up and show more presence. However, I own an E11 and E5 I've resorted back to my Sansa Clips+ headphone out lately because I feel the E11 lacks in soundstage, separation and clarity for me. At lower volumes the amp is not much of a wow factor. I'd even gto as far to say I like the sound of the E5 more. But remember me being new to this my opinions change with the wind.

imo: buy  E5 / E6 and experiment before buying an E11


Edited by H20Fidelity - 4/8/12 at 8:56pm
post #4 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by H20Fidelity View Post

I think it will help give your headphones body and tonality, if you listen at higher volumes an amp is a nice upgrade because you'll have less distortion, bass will tighten up and show more presence. However, I own an E11 and E5 I've resorted back to my Sansa Clips+ headphone out lately because I feel the E11 lacks in soundstage, separation and clarity for me. At lower volumes the amp is not much of a wow factor. I'd even gto as far to say I like the sound of the E5 more. But remember me being new to this my opinions change with the wind.

imo: buy  E5 / E6 and experiment before buying an E11



I think I may actually buy an E11 just to TRY it, and then return it if I'm not satisfied. Seems like a safe way to go.

post #5 of 28


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leon Dota View Post



I think I may actually buy an E11 just to TRY it, and then return it if I'm not satisfied. Seems like a safe way to go.



Definitely, if you can buy one to try / do a return that's the best idea. 

post #6 of 28

Hey just FYI about DACs and iPods: they're rare, and expensive.

 

Only 2 portable DACs will work with iPods: Fostex HP-P1 and Cyber Labs Algorhythm Solo.

So...it's probably infinitely more practical to go without, no matter what improvements (if any) those DACs will make.

post #7 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric_C View Post

Hey just FYI about DACs and iPods: they're rare, and expensive.

 

Only 2 portable DACs will work with iPods: Fostex HP-P1 and Cyber Labs Algorhythm Solo.

So...it's probably infinitely more practical to go without, no matter what improvements (if any) those DACs will make.



Indeed. Currently, the only available DAC options are rather expensive.

 

Now, going with a LOD and an amp would be a good idea IMHO, even with your headphones. As long as you're not using dirt cheap amps like FiiO E5 and E6, you're bound to have an at least slightly noticeable sound improvement, and after using an amp for a while, it will be when you listen to your headphones without the additional amplification that you will notice the difference. It's one of the many curious things that separate audio from video.

 

A FiiO E11 might be a good match for the HD598, but I don't think they will provide any improvement on the PRO700MK2, other than having a bass boost that's likely to muddy up the stock sound.

post #8 of 28

The HD598 can get better with an amp, but the difference is not night and day. So if you're expecting too much, you'll be disappointed

post #9 of 28

If you feel your headphones volume is too low with your iPod, then definitely you need an amp. Otherwise do not expect a whole lot of difference. 

post #10 of 28

Re: DACs: There is also the Venturecraft GoDap series, that actually predated the Solo and Fostex machines, but it is an all-in-one, and a bit cheaper, and has optical out! I've not tried the iPhone 4 version, only the first version. Excellent.

 

But I agree, if you enjoy the sound you get right now from your headphones, then just use the iDevice; you won't get incredibly better (and maybe not even audible) sound from any system unless you are using very hard to drive phones and your AT phones are not one of those. The only time I'd suggest it for those phones is if you use dangerously loud volumes for some reason (please be careful of your hearing). In that case, the iDevice tends to lose signal quality after about 85%-90% of the volume slider, possibly sizzle (depending on the headphone - high impedance phones seem to be fine here, but anything below 64Ω may cause problems) and losing some resolution.

 

But, you'd probably bust your ears at those volumes anyway. I keep my iPod at 50-70% with my DT880 600Ω if I run straight from the iPod, and anywhere from 10-25% with earphones. No need for an amp/DAC in most cases. There are some earphones that will stymie older iPods, such as the Earsonics SM2, but if you have something relatively new, its output Ω should be low enough to sustain good signal into almost anything.

 

Good luck.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric_C View Post

Hey just FYI about DACs and iPods: they're rare, and expensive.

 

Only 2 portable DACs will work with iPods: Fostex HP-P1 and Cyber Labs Algorhythm Solo.

So...it's probably infinitely more practical to go without, no matter what improvements (if any) those DACs will make.



 

post #11 of 28

I wouldnt consider using my ipod classic without a lod so to me an amp is essential. I hated the sound coming out from the hp out and feel its so much superior from the line out. I recently switched over to the 160 classic from previous sony 1061X and other sony products were the sound is great from hp out and amp is only necessary if your runnin high impedence hp. I needed the extra storage that the ipod provided and got tired of Sony giving the american market inferior products as far as storage space is conserned. I think that the majority of people on here that do use the classic do so with an amp.

post #12 of 28

Okay. I also use Sony players, but don't agree that they are better in any way; in fact, in terms of driving performance, they are much, much worse than current Apple players. They are warmer and 'funner', but are very obviously stunted in sheer output fidelity. Their EQ system is fun, for sure, though. But that is beside the point. 

 

Well, if you hate the iPod sound, you should get something that is fun to listen to; a typical amp won't be fun to listen to as it will do its best to mimic the original wave exactly. I might suggest something with a warm output, or a bass switch, something like a Graham Slee Voyager, or a Digizoid z02 (which has much much better bass quality than I've heard from any software EQ, ever). The former costs over 300$, the latter 100-150$ depending on where you live. 

 

I love both, especially for anaemic sounding earphones.

post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by shigzeo View Post

Okay. I also use Sony players, but don't agree that they are better in any way; in fact, in terms of driving performance, they are much, much worse than current Apple players. They are warmer and 'funner', but are very obviously stunted in sheer output fidelity. Their EQ system is fun, for sure, though. But that is beside the point. 

 

Well, if you hate the iPod sound, you should get something that is fun to listen to; a typical amp won't be fun to listen to as it will do its best to mimic the original wave exactly. I might suggest something with a warm output, or a bass switch, something like a Graham Slee Voyager, or a Digizoid z02 (which has much much better bass quality than I've heard from any software EQ, ever). The former costs over 300$, the latter 100-150$ depending on where you live. 

 

I love both, especially for anaemic sounding earphones.


I only hate the sound when the ipod eq is off. I think its the greatest sounding when i turn on the ipod bass boost setting, the clarity is unbeatable especially when playing all my 128kbps files that i have converted to ALAC. Great stuff!
 

 

post #14 of 28

Ah, I understand why you like the Sony sound now. It's thick and fun. I understand fully why a person could think the iPod 'boring'. It is indeed the sound as recorded and that's it. The new EQ system is pretty good (I use electronic or classical for fun treble and bass). In which case, I really really recommend the Digizoid z02. I'm actually prepping final stages of review of it... and LOVE how it drives hard to drive earphones perfectly and then, when you want it, delivers hammering, beautiful bass. 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 808Ronin View Post


I only hate the sound when the ipod eq is off. I think its the greatest sounding when i turn on the ipod bass boost setting, the clarity is unbeatable especially when playing all my 128kbps files that i have converted to ALAC. Great stuff!
 

 



 

post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by 808Ronin View Post


I only hate the sound when the ipod eq is off. I think its the greatest sounding when i turn on the ipod bass boost setting, the clarity is unbeatable especially when playing all my 128kbps files that i have converted to ALAC. Great stuff!
 

 



Dude...you know that converting 128kbps files to ALAC does not make the files lossless, dont you?  Lossy -> Lossless Codec -> Still Lossy.

The encoder cannot fill in magic for the signal already lost when the music was encoded to 128kbps.

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