Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphone Amps › Am I expecting too much from iBasso D4?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Am I expecting too much from iBasso D4?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Since I'm finding more time to listen to music, I have been trying to gear up to listen my Mac.

I ordered a set of UE RM and iBasso D4 (i know... but I was short on buget after RM and the DAC review of D4 was pretty good).


UE RM will take another 2 weeks... darn it.

Today I received the D4. so I connect it to my MAC to listen to my 320Kb files through TF 10. ??? what happened to the mid? where is the clarity?


Mid: not clarity whatsoever... the vocal just doesn't stand out from the instruments. I'm hoping that after a number of hours, things will get better, but I doubt that the difference will be day and night. There are songs that I know vocals gotta stand out and make my ears itchy as if the singer were whispering next to me... it's not there...


LOW: it's not defined(tight) nor controlled. I'm not a basshead, so this is not as bad as the mid to me.


I can't find the connector to try my other amp and HD650, so I'll do that over the weekend. but as of right now, I'm disappointed. I wonder if UE RM would make a difference here... I hope it does.


I welcome any input on portable DAC/Amp. Should I have gone with Pico or Predator? are they much better than D4?


post #2 of 9

Dude, why not u give another 50-100hrs of burning in before listening to it again.


post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 


Originally Posted by esirex View Post

Dude, why not u give another 50-100hrs of burning in before listening to it again.



well, that's my current goal. Hopefully things will change. 

post #4 of 9

The D4 is a neutral sounding amp. It adds only some clarity to the stereo image in upper midrange and lower high frequencies. It doesn't add a voice its own. I don't remember the predator very well, but the Slim is the same thing: focused on performance rather than adding sound to the signal. Most amps are this way, and for the most part, it is a good thing. 


Don't listen for changes in your system unless your system had weaknesses. An amp fixes weaknesses, it won't transform your system into something new. Think of an unironed shirt and an ironed shirt. Same shirt, one just looks better when worn. An amp gets rid of wrinkles (some add their own), but very few amps sport a sound of their own.


The D4 is doing its job and is one of the best amps/DAC combos on the market. Its only issue is that it doesn't have lots of power for volume for very very hungry headphones. It has enough that it won't clip easily with them, but it won't give heaps of volume.

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the input.

I agree that I shouldn't expect an amp to change/color the sound. but I definitely expect an improvement across all frequency spectrum.


Interestingly, it's he midrange and low high that I feel the clarity is lacking. Now, I still haven't compared DAC+AMP and AMP alone to find out the cause.


I have two Corda amps, which I'm happy with. Maybe the D4's lacking the burn as suggested before. Since I'm using IEM, power is not an issue with me.

post #6 of 9

All amps introduce their own flaws into sound. There isn't an amp out there that has 100% better signal than that of your portable source unless you source is utter crap. Another problem is that to your ears, it may sound flat or boring, but in actual fact be closer to the original signal. I think the problem with subjectively evaluating amps is that our ears are tuned to hear things they want to hear and some amps are made not for that sound, but to uphold the original signal, or in the case of amps like the GoVibe Tube and The National or Vorzüge VorzAMPpure or duo, to add flavour by EQ, higher levels of harmonic distortion (Tube), etc.


The D4 is primarily a DAC, but it has a good amp section in it, but again, it is one that has very little sound of its own. It isn't crisp like some others and doesn't accentuate bass either. The D4 actually is a better amp for headphones than it is earphones. The Corda should trounce most amps for earphones as they sustain excellent signal even with very difficult to drive iems. I'm not talking about volume, but about the ability to sustain signal when an IEM drops its impedance to very low levels when playing certain frequencies. The D4 is typical in this regard and won't be able to sustain perfect signal as its optimal impedance is up to 300Ω and down to about 32Ω but prefers 64Ω.

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

OK I finally got my UE RM yesterday.

I tried them on D4 and you know what? it sounds better than it does with TF 10 (not sure if that's because of the burn in, i got used to D4 or it's UE RM). however, the volume's too high even at lower gain and low volume.

so i tried the earphones without an amp... and guess what? it does not sounds all that bad.

adding an amp definitely brings more benefit, but for IEM it's too loud for me.


Now I'm thinking about trying the RSA Shadow...

post #8 of 9

In truth, I rarely use amps with earphones whilst out and about - can't be bothered, no matter how much I like the signature some amps bring. You don't need an amp at all. There are some benefits especially for some players and some earphones, though. But it really depends. Some players are voiced more warmly (Sony, older Sharp MDs, Kenwood), others are voiced more flatly (Apple, Cowon, Microsoft), and may cause earphones to sound shrill. Ones with little to no background noise also present problems: they bring out the shrillness in recordings more and may be harder to listen to without an EQ or an amp, or something else that introduces distortion into the signal.


Again, my portable kit of choice is my iPod nano 7G and whatever earphones/headphones the weather and train permit.

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 


thanks for your input. I have a small iPod Nano (the latest gen) and a classic iPod that I bought about 4-5 yrs ago. I think the Nano's sound is better than that of older classic iPod. have you observed anything similar? that is listening to the same song (same bit rate)


Right now I'm listening to my HD650<-Meier Arietta<-D4(DAC)<-Macbook(lossless CD rip files)

There is no way a portable set up can drive HD650 like this. although the bass is not as tight as i'd like, the soundstage is much wider and the detail is very forthcoming.


Now I compared HD650<-Meier Arietta<-D4(DAC)<-Macbook(lossless CD rip files) vs HD650<-Meier Arietta<-Macbook(lossless CD rip files). D4 is supposed to only provide the DAC portion, but it seems to be amplifying the signal that is fed into Arietta.

I don't think the DAC in macbook is that crappy causing such a difference with/without D4.


I like what I get from D4 so I'm keeping it. Although I won't use D4 for UE RM as I originally intended, I found a good use for it.

Edited by dkpaul - 5/1/12 at 10:08pm
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Portable Headphone Amps
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphone Amps › Am I expecting too much from iBasso D4?