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Help choosing a versatile amp/dac!

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone! I just managed to get my hands on a pair of Shures srh840s, and heck, they're incredible! I really like how everything sounds "just right". Music feels well embodied and rounded, with no evident flaws. I am, however, starting to notice every imperfection about my music. I ripped my favorite albums in lossless and there certainly is a noticeable difference. However, I still manage to notice tiny imperfections that are definitely not due to music/encoding quality. If I could describe it, it would be as slight sibilance and "tiny white dots" in my music. I also notice some distortion with complex textures at midhigh-high frequencies. The headphones were undone by Sigur Ros's Dauðalagið (ALAC), one of my favorite songs (They DO have some burn-in time, aprox. 15 hours).

 

I've investigated, and it turns out that this is probably due to the cheap dac used in computer audio cards (I mainly listen to audio in my computer). I need help choosing a good amp, preferably under $200 that deals with these issues (slight distortions, "white dots" and hissing). Eventually, these are greatly reduced on my iPhone (sorta has a better dac). The other important part is, that I don't want an amp/dac that I will lose. I'm a student and usually don't have time to work. Right now on vacations I can, and I need to choose fast. I still have no plans to buy other headphones, but in due time (when I make my own money), I'm certain I'll be getting something in the range of the HD600, and want to be able to keep the dac/amp (can't afford a superdac). I know that my headphones and those have very different impedances, 44ohm (shure) vs 300ohm (senns), but I really don´t know about this impedance subject and cannot judge for myself. Is it possible? I heard something about the 1/8th rule but didn't quite grasp it...

 

I'm currently looking at the Audioengine D1. It really looks quite nice and is usb powered (perfect for computer). 

 

Any explanations or suggestions?

Thanks.

 

 

Ps: I don't think I can afford a separate amp from a dac. And I'm no perfectionist (don't seek perfection, but I don't like evident imperfections).

post #2 of 10
What does your computer have inside it already?
post #3 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by mepds9 View Post

Hi everyone! I just managed to get my hands on a pair of Shures srh840s, and heck, they're incredible! I really like how everything sounds "just right". Music feels well embodied and rounded, with no evident flaws. I am, however, starting to notice every imperfection about my music. I ripped my favorite albums in lossless and there certainly is a noticeable difference. However, I still manage to notice tiny imperfections that are definitely not due to music/encoding quality. If I could describe it, it would be as slight sibilance and "tiny white dots" in my music. I also notice some distortion with complex textures at midhigh-high frequencies. The headphones were undone by Sigur Ros's Dauðalagið (ALAC), one of my favorite songs (They DO have some burn-in time, aprox. 15 hours).

 

I've investigated, and it turns out that this is probably due to the cheap dac used in computer audio cards (I mainly listen to audio in my computer). I need help choosing a good amp, preferably under $200 that deals with these issues (slight distortions, "white dots" and hissing). Eventually, these are greatly reduced on my iPhone (sorta has a better dac). The other important part is, that I don't want an amp/dac that I will lose. I'm a student and usually don't have time to work. Right now on vacations I can, and I need to choose fast. I still have no plans to buy other headphones, but in due time (when I make my own money), I'm certain I'll be getting something in the range of the HD600, and want to be able to keep the dac/amp (can't afford a superdac). I know that my headphones and those have very different impedances, 44ohm (shure) vs 300ohm (Senns), but I really don´t know about this impedance subject and cannot judge for myself. Is it possible? I heard something about the 1/8th rule but didn't quite grasp it...

 

I'm currently looking at the Audioengine D1. It really looks quite nice and is usb powered (perfect for computer). 

 

Ps: I don't think I can afford a separate amp from a dac. And I'm no perfectionist (don't seek perfection, but I don't like evident imperfections).

The Audioengine D1 has an impedance of 10-ohms for the headphone jack, which does not matter for headphone that are 80-Ohm or more.

And lots of headphones under 80-Ohm still sound good with a headphone jack with an impedance of 10-Ohms.

 

I would say get the Fiio E10 USB-DAC-Headphone amplifier ($80), it's less then half the price of the AudioEngine D1

It's headphone amplifier has a much lower impedance, I own the Fiio E11 and I think my Fiio E11 makes my headphones sound sweet.

 

Down the line when your flush with cash and ready to get the HD600, just sell off the Fiio E10.

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

I've got an iMac (2008), and I'm told that even the new ones have kind of like crappy audio. I investigated and it's got Intel High Definition Audio. I guess it's not much info.

post #5 of 10

No the newer iMacs and other apple products are great sources.

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

I guess you're right... I'll be 3-5 years with these headphones (until I graduate and start my own life). By then I'll just buy a new amp for the HD600 (or similar). And more in-subject, I'm not very convinced about Fiio products... they seem so general market oriented... What do you think about the NuForce Udac 2? Is it actually a DAC? It costs twice as much as the Fiio though... 

post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 

Probably, yes. I believe it should be that way, desktops should have better dacs (built-in) than iphones.

post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by mepds9 View Post

I've got an iMac (2008), and I'm told that even the new ones have kind of like crappy audio. I investigated and it's got Intel High Definition Audio. I guess it's not much info.

I would think (guess) Intel High Definition Audio is decent, but it's the extras that make a difference, like the DAC.

The DAC used is apple's choice, not Intels.

post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by mepds9 View Post

Probably, yes. I believe it should be that way, desktops should have better dacs (built-in) than iphones.

 

I can't speak about the iPhone but the latest iPods are good as well.

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 

The iPhone actually has a cleaner sound than my computer. It's probably similar to the iPods. Right now, I'll tell you the considerations I am making regarding a purchase:

 

-Fiio e10 or e7 (Which one? Same price aprox. $70)

-Nuforce uDac-2 ($120)

 

The e7 is also a portable amp, and I understand that if I connect is to a USB port it behaves as a dac too. Is this correct?

The e10 is just a usb dac, uDac-2 also is, although it seems substantially better (I don't think I need it though)

 

Should I consider the e7? How does its affect SQ when on "portable" mode? Does it just give a volume boost, or does it also clean the signal?

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