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What is better for the money: Amp or Amp/DAC combo? - Page 3

post #31 of 45
Thread Starter 

Hmm... can you accurately compare speakers with headphones though? They seem so different and so many factors could come into play. Anyways, outside of someone recommending me a decent DAP with better DAC than my Nano, I think that a better DAC for my portable use is pretty much impossible. I will buy a DAC later for my laptop just for Foobar round 2.

post #32 of 45


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DNZGamer View Post

Thanks for that answer. I know that DACs are important as in, you need a decent one to have a good foundation. My question is more of the hierarchy of what deserves the most money and what will carry that money the furthest. So far from what I've been reading, it seems like the pattern goes from most to least money:

 

Headphone > Amp > DAC > File  > Cables > end?

 

As for changing my DAP, since I always carry my amp and soon I will have an amp that lasts up to 80 hours, I don't think the quality of on board amps really matters for me. I would consider something like the Sansa Clip+ (almost as small) or Rocoo P (shiny!) if it has a significantly better DAC. I am a huge fan of the form factor of the Nano. Very tiny and has 16 gigs with easy to find LOD cables that bypasses the amps and has about 20+ hours of playtime. I was quite disappointed in my search for a better DAP because everything was either huge, had poor battery life (like half or less), had low storage, was ugly or all of the above. I've tried looking for DAC comparisons within these DAPs but they all end up being just general comparisons and some amp comparisons.


 

Personally, i rank DAC before amp though,unless the dac either doesn't come with an amp or it's really too underpowered/inferior to talk about(still second). I am talking music listening generally. XP
For laptop listening,DAC is generally a must for me. beyersmile.png

Checking out Rocoo p now... certainly a lot more sexy than clip+..
 AFAIK, itouch has a slightly better DAC section than clip+ (looking at measurements around the dark side of the internet by the one who shall not be named).
but damn,clip+ is so cheap and miniature,if you don't mind it's toy-ish look.. I wouldn't mind at all..quite cool.gif for me.

post #33 of 45

Sorry if I was unclear, I meant that I was comparing my Q701s plugged into my Z2300's headphone jack (aka, the Q701s boosted by the amp inside the Z2300's subwoofer) versus the Q701s plugged into my E17 amp+DAC. For the comparison, I did my best to equate the volume outputs between the two.

 

EDIT: I will say this, though. For the money, looking back in hindsight, I probably would've been satisfied if I had only purchased the Q701 headphones ($225ish) and continued to plug them into my desktop speakers' amp/headphone jack. The DAC inside the E17 ($140) definitely improves the sound, but it's less of an upgrade than purchasing the headphones was.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DNZGamer View Post

Hmm... can you accurately compare speakers with headphones though? They seem so different and so many factors could come into play. Anyways, outside of someone recommending me a decent DAP with better DAC than my Nano, I think that a better DAC for my portable use is pretty much impossible. I will buy a DAC later for my laptop just for Foobar round 2.



 


Edited by wilky61 - 4/15/12 at 7:29am
post #34 of 45
Thread Starter 

Wait, are you certain you are reading my ranking right? I am saying what you should drop major bucks on. I know the DAC is very important but I am saying that if you were to drop major money, than it would be on the amp first (like say $300 on a La Figaro 332) and just stick with the adequate DAC of something like your ipod. So yes, DAC is important but not something you would spend as much money on. 

Like if I had to buy either an external amp or DAC for my iPod it would definitely be the amp.
 

And BOOO for clip+! I thought it was suppose to be the pro stuff. Half the storage, worse DAC, less stylish, NO Line Out and half the battery life... whats so pro about that? Its more like you get what you pay for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cce121 View Post


 


 

Personally, i rank DAC before amp though,unless the dac either doesn't come with an amp or it's really too underpowered/inferior to talk about(still second). I am talking music listening generally. XP
For laptop listening,DAC is generally a must for me. beyersmile.png

Checking out Rocoo p now... certainly a lot more sexy than clip+..
 AFAIK, itouch has a slightly better DAC section than clip+ (looking at measurements around the dark side of the internet by the one who shall not be named).
but damn,clip+ is so cheap and miniature,if you don't mind it's toy-ish look.. I wouldn't mind at all..quite cool.gif for me.


 

@Wilky

 

Ah I see. I didn't know you could do that. Good to know even though the two amps probably aren't equal either. After some self testing, I've come to realize how terribly bad the laptop amp is myself.  Will definitely drop the money to upgrade the sound card next time around. 

 

The E17 looks like a fun little toy. So many options to control you music with both treble and bass control up and down 5 points and even left and right balance options. Its too bad that getting an nano to work with an external DAC is annoying as hell and isn't portable in the slightest.


Edited by DNZGamer - 4/15/12 at 7:36am
post #35 of 45
Back to the OP, when you listened to your friend's Digizoid, you heard a big difference, right? That's because it functions as a sound shaper, altering the relative strengths across the frequency range. Yes, it has a modest amplifier section, but it's main feature is shaping the sound, especially in the bass region, and, in decreasing hiss/sibilance. I have one, used with a Vsonic GR07 and iPod touch. Very tiny, amps the sound level, and I adjust the sound in 32 steps when I vary from classical music to rock to electronic. For my portable set up, this is perfect. I think it side steps the whole amp vs DAC discussion. This is a sound difference anyone can hear.
post #36 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by DNZGamer View Post

Wait, are you certain you are reading my ranking right? I am saying what you should drop major bucks on. I know the DAC is very important but I am saying that if you were to drop major money, than it would be on the amp first (like say $300 on a La Figaro 332) and just stick with the adequate DAC of something like your ipod. So yes, DAC is important but not something you would spend as much money on. 

Like if I had to buy either an external amp or DAC for my iPod it would definitely be the amp.
 

And BOOO for clip+! I thought it was suppose to be the pro stuff. Half the storage, worse DAC, less stylish, NO Line Out and half the battery life... whats so pro about that? Its more like you get what you pay for.


 

@Wilky

 

Ah I see. I didn't know you could do that. Good to know even though the two amps probably aren't equal either. After some self testing, I've come to realize how terribly bad the laptop amp is myself.  Will definitely drop the money to upgrade the sound card next time around. 

 

The E17 looks like a fun little toy. So many options to control you music with both treble and bass control up and down 5 points and even left and right balance options. Its too bad that getting an nano to work with an external DAC is annoying as hell and isn't portable in the slightest.


 

Haha..looks like i didn't follow close enough. I ranked DAC so because it's for my laptop listening. For you,you don't mind to just use your ipod even you are at home,so spending on DAC is not going to help. So yea,a good amp is certainly going to help more for DAP.

 

I don't want to misguide you into thinking clip+ is bad. It's not marketed as a pro DAP AFAIK unlike other audiophile DAPs. Its DAC is actually better than many more expensive DAPs that I encountered..
Compare to ipods, which are mostly around 3-4 times of its price,the difference in DAC quality is quite subtle (likely not audible,it's still subjective you know). Plus,it has a very low output impedance for high damping factor that even your nano don't have. But If you are using an amp it won't matter. And you can use micro sd card to expand its memory up to 32GB(not sure about 64GB). I am not working for sandisk FYI. haha..

For myself, if I have extra budget,i'll go for a 64GB Itouch. The other entertainments it can give are just too attractive. For now,i'm very contented with a clip+.

post #37 of 45

SO to summarize, it seems everyone tends to agree in general.

 

You need atleast a decent DAC, that laptops and most PCs generally dont have. The DAC in your ipod is fine, and if you use that even at home, then i agree dont bother getting one, go straight for an amp.

 

BUT if your listening from a laptop then i would recommend upgrading to atleast a decent DAC, just bare in mind the law of diminishing returns, IMO it kicks in quite early with DACs.

post #38 of 45

This may be a noob question. I've noticed some distortion via my MacBook Pro's headphone-out jack. I don't (yet) have an amp/DAC, but I've enjoyed listening nevertheless. This morning I noticed what I can describe as a "crunch" sound when louder notes are played. Specifically, I was listening to The Wish on Remember Shakti by John McLaughlin. During the guitar solo which introduces the piece, he hits occasional notes which deliver a bit more impact. That's where the "crunch" rears its ugly head. I was like "WTF ?! Is it the phones?". I switched from the Beyer DT1350s to my DT990s. Same thing. Then I put the CD in my PS3 and listened with the phones through the Pioneer amp. The "crunch" was gone. Then I listened through my iPod. The "crunch" was gone there as well. Is this something that would be remedied by an external amp/DAC? I'm pretty shocked that the new (late 2011) MacBook Pro would distort like this. 

post #39 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by dlhen68 View Post

This may be a noob question. I've noticed some distortion via my MacBook Pro's headphone-out jack. I don't (yet) have an amp/DAC, but I've enjoyed listening nevertheless. This morning I noticed what I can describe as a "crunch" sound when louder notes are played. Specifically, I was listening to The Wish on Remember Shakti by John McLaughlin. During the guitar solo which introduces the piece, he hits occasional notes which deliver a bit more impact. That's where the "crunch" rears its ugly head. I was like "WTF ?! Is it the phones?". I switched from the Beyer DT1350s to my DT990s. Same thing. Then I put the CD in my PS3 and listened with the phones through the Pioneer amp. The "crunch" was gone. Then I listened through my iPod. The "crunch" was gone there as well. Is this something that would be remedied by an external amp/DAC? I'm pretty shocked that the new (late 2011) MacBook Pro would distort like this. 


I havent heard people say that any MacBook has good headphone jacks, ofcourse I am not an apple fan.

 

post #40 of 45

Doesn't matter if its macbook or thinkpad. Most internals are same.

post #41 of 45

I think that's probably what people refer as 'clipping'. If it is,when you lower the volume to certain extent,it will disappear. If so,a proper dac+amp will eliminate most clips,especially if the amp is capable.
Or you can (try) lower the headphone out volume to just before it clips and use an external amp to amplify the sound. Do let us know whether it works.

post #42 of 45

So the general consensus is that a portable DAC isn't going to see much improvement over the iPod/iPhone DAC if you're spending less than $200. What if your price range is higher? Would something like a Fostex HP-P1 be worth purchasing for the DAC? The HP-P1 is an amp, too, obviously, but what does its DAC do for portable listening through an iPod/iPhone? Is it worth purchasing a combo amp/DAC like the Fostex HP-P1 over just an amp like the Pico Slim? The price difference there is about $250, so if I'm using custom IEMs - even high end ones - will I hear any difference?

post #43 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aethernum View Post

So the general consensus is that a portable DAC isn't going to see much improvement over the iPod/iPhone DAC if you're spending less than $200. What if your price range is higher? Would something like a Fostex HP-P1 be worth purchasing for the DAC? The HP-P1 is an amp, too, obviously, but what does its DAC do for portable listening through an iPod/iPhone? Is it worth purchasing a combo amp/DAC like the Fostex HP-P1 over just an amp like the Pico Slim? The price difference there is about $250, so if I'm using custom IEMs - even high end ones - will I hear any difference?

 

Two different things, first, whether there is any difference, and second, whether you'll hear any. The first one may/may not happen. The second one does not depend on the first. You can hear a difference even when there is none.

post #44 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by proton007 View Post

 

Two different things, first, whether there is any difference, and second, whether you'll hear any. The first one may/may not happen. The second one does not depend on the first. You can hear a difference even when there is none.

I understand that there is a placebo effect to spending more money on audio equipment, but objectively - in a blind test - what are we talking? Because if I purchase one, I won't get a chance to try the other, so I won't be able to think "Oh, well this one costs $250 more than the one I just listened to, so it should be better." A little extra transparency? Somewhat punchier bass? Clearer, more articulate treble? Those go from "Eh, whatever..." to "Okay, that actually matters," in my opinion...I just don't know if it's worth shelling out the extra cash, because I don't know which I'm getting. A Fostex HP-P1 costs about $650, whereas the Pico Slim is <$400...essentially, is the extra $250+ I'm spending on the DAC function of the HP-P1 worth it when I'm using custom IEMs? (As opposed to full headphones)


Edited by Aethernum - 6/4/12 at 9:46pm
post #45 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aethernum View Post

I understand that there is a placebo effect to spending more money on audio equipment, but objectively - in a blind test - what are we talking? Because if I purchase one, I won't get a chance to try the other, so I won't be able to think "Oh, well this one costs $250 more than the one I just listened to, so it should be better." A little extra transparency? Somewhat punchier bass? Clearer, more articulate treble? Those go from "Eh, whatever..." to "Okay, that actually matters," in my opinion...I just don't know if it's worth shelling out the extra cash, because I don't know which I'm getting. A Fostex HP-P1 costs about $650, whereas the Pico Slim is <$400...essentially, is the extra $250+ I'm spending on the DAC function of the HP-P1 worth it when I'm using custom IEMs? (As opposed to full headphones)

 

I can only offer my own opinion on this. If you've got speakers/headphones/IEMs that sensitive, then there's a small chance that you'll hear changes, that is if they are audible in the first place (meaning a >5dB difference). Other than that, the sound seems to be more of a function of the headphones/iems than the source/dac. Emphasis on some parts of the spectrum will cause others to be masked out, hence you'll have various characteristics used to describe them.

Also, if you've already spent on ultra high end speakers/headphones and amplifiers, then there can be an aesthetic and obligatory need to make your source have the best possible quality. 


Edited by proton007 - 6/4/12 at 10:11pm
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