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The difference between DAC and headphone amps

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hi guys,

I ordered last week a new pair of cans according to some recommendations I found in this site (Sennheiser hd 25-1 II)

I'm new to the audiophile world and I lack alot of knowledge (this is my firs thread in head-fi also blink.gif )

I've read some post regarding headphone amps. Many of you use headphone amps such as the Fiio e10,e10,e17 etc... some amps have DAC and some don't. I understand it means Digital To Ananalog but when it comes to listening to music what does it mean?

Should I (as a noob) rush to buy a headphone amp?

I listen to music alot during the day. I play music from my laptop or my galaxy phone. Here comes another question: If i decide to buy headphone amp should i buy the Fiio e10 (for my laptop) + Fiio e5/6 (for my phone) or should I buy the Fiio e11 and use it on both devices?
(If there's a better suggestion I'll be happy to hear it)

My considerations are:
1. I want to get the most out of my cans

2. I don't want to spend too much money (my budget is around 80$)

I'll explain a little what i'm thinking:

1. The little Fiio amps (e5/e6) I think it's easier to use them on the go (I use public trasportation) and one i'll reach my office i could use the e10.

or

2. Use the Fiio e11 for the purposes mentioned above

 

There is a fair chance that I'm not making any sense :/ but just like I said I'm very know to all of this and I could use some guidance :)

post #2 of 16
Let me add to this question, how can I tell if a headphone amp&dac are compadable???
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

ok, from this small research I've done cheap amps will not do the Sennheiser hd 25 any good such as the e5 and e6

does that include also the e11?
will the e10 give me higher quality sound?
 

post #4 of 16

Can not  moment on the Fiio amps.

 

In your player your music is stored in 0s and 1s which is digital. You want it in analog audio so we can hear it and thats what the DAC does. You will also have a amp in there which affects sound quality and makes you able to get it loud in simple terms. 

 

Now from the headphone jack you will use both the devices amp and DAC. If using an idevice then by using a LOD you can bypass the devices amp and use an external one which is ideally better which most amps are. It can also be uses to get the volume higher for harder to drive headphones. The DAC in iDevices, not know for being any good is hard to bypass as apple will only let certain people do it but it is possible at a expensive cost. The CLAS or Cyper Labs Algorhythm solo can do it and use its even better on board DAC, so can the Fostex HP-p1 which has both its own impressive DAC and a amp. The V-moda VAMP is an iPhone case which has its on DAC and amp. I think there is a couple more. any othe DACs will not be usable with it such as the Fiio series. 

 

Th either common DAC that you will want to know about is a USB DAC and thats what most Fiio are. By using these you will be bypassing the rubbish DAC or sound card that your PC or Mac has and using a better of board one in the unit.

post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

I have a galaxy nexus phone, so i cant bypass the internal DAC and amp. Hence, DAC is relevant only when i'm listening to music from my computer, right?

I already know most of the things you mentioned. There is something I don't quiet understand, if i want to improve the quality of my music, I should buy a DAC. is it a better solution than an amp such as the FiiO e11?

post #6 of 16

When listening to the computer a new DAC is probably the most important thing. In your case an amp not as much as your headphones are easy to drive. I will say go for the Audioengine D1 as it is a great dedicated DAC. I use it as a pre-amp to my Objective 2. If you can afford them both then go for it but the D1 especially.

post #7 of 16

If your budget it only $80 then don't go with a portable amp. Personally I would save the money, but in your case I would spend it on a desktop DAC, as that will improve the sound the most in your situation. I bought the HD25 with an e11 and the difference is very subtle. For me the best advantage is that the amp has a much more accurate bass boost than a standard EQ, but I prefer to listen without EQ anyway. The only portable DAC's you can buy are well out of your price range, so a desktop DAC would be the best option in my opinion. 

 

I have no experience with desktop DAC's do I am unable to recommend one. 

post #8 of 16

You don't absolutely need a DAC at this stage but it would be good to have one.

 

I'll forward you some beginner video's. Weird that they are comming in handy.

post #9 of 16
I think a DAC is necessary for listening to a computer.
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Swimsonny View Post

I think a DAC is necessary for listening to a computer.

I usually do as well but a $200 portable.......it really depends on OP's usage, whether at home more or out more

 

Is it possible to find an $80-$90 Used E17?

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Swimsonny View Post

When listening to the computer a new DAC is probably the most important thing. In your case an amp not as much as your headphones are easy to drive. I will say go for the Audioengine D1 as it is a great dedicated DAC. I use it as a pre-amp to my Objective 2. If you can afford them both then go for it but the D1 especially.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AyeCee View Post

If your budget it only $80 then don't go with a portable amp. Personally I would save the money, but in your case I would spend it on a desktop DAC, as that will improve the sound the most in your situation. I bought the HD25 with an e11 and the difference is very subtle. For me the best advantage is that the amp has a much more accurate bass boost than a standard EQ, but I prefer to listen without EQ anyway. The only portable DAC's you can buy are well out of your price range, so a desktop DAC would be the best option in my opinion. 

 

I have no experience with desktop DAC's do I am unable to recommend one. 

thanks you guys 

you gave a lot to think about and make my decision

post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 

very informative videos... good job man :D

you should post them here in case anyother noob crosses this thread

post #13 of 16

Yes a DAC may not be necessary, I did say personally I would save the money, but If he had to buy something, He would get the most out of a desktop DAC over a portable amp. 

post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoYaThaing View Post

very informative videos... good job man :D

you should post them here in case anyother noob crosses this thread

If the newbie sees this thread, then tell him or her to pm me to get them :) *wink*

 

Watch through the bolded ones, the one on the differnt input methods can also be watched if you choose but it's a tad bit more advanced than newb video's that my other video's focus on.

post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by bowei006 View Post

If the newbie sees this thread, then tell him or her to pm me to get them :) *wink*

 

Watch through the bolded ones, the one on the differnt input methods can also be watched if you choose but it's a tad bit more advanced than newb video's that my other video's focus on.

Any chance you could forward me some of the newbie videos?

Thanks!

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