I would like to request some opinions from those of you with knowledge of portable analog amplifiers:
I have been a music/audio enthusiast many years now with 2-channel home audio systems. Recently, I have joined the ranks of many who enjoy listening to music on the go. I have put together (IMO) a nice little starter system: iPhone 4 playing FLAC tracks via FLAC Player and 256kbps iTunes media; Grado iGi earphones, Grado SR-60i headphones, Etymotic MC5 and HF5 earphones; and lastly a Fiio E11 amplifier with a Fiio L9 LOD.
I can tell a wonderful difference (especially with the SR-60is) when using the E11 amplifier. Soundstaging, scale, and pace are drastically improved over iPhone-only playback. The iBasso D-Zero caught my attention recently with it's dual functionality as a portable amp and as a DAC/amp to use with my MacBook Pro. I paid about $60 for my E11, making the $110 D-Zero double in price. As far as portable amps are concerned, I still don't know what is considered pricey and what is cheap. Right now, and amazed at the quality music that I get from the E11, the Grados, and the Ety's.
So here's the question: DAC features aside, is the preamplifier and amplifier section cleaner and more musical on the D-Zero, compared to the E11. The DAC alone makes the higher price seem much more of a bargain, but how does it sound? Thank you for all of your assistance and direction!
PS - I do not care for any form of tone control, so losing the E11's bass EQ is a non-issue for me if I do upgrade to the iBasso.
PSS - I would like to eventually move to custom-fit IEMs, such as the JH Audios, Westones, etc.