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Best DAC/AMP For iPod/MacBook Pro -> Grado SR80i/225i

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Right, so I'll make this as clear and concise as possible. I need to figure out what headphone amp/DAC I need for my setup. My budget for both the headphones and amp/DAC is about $250-300. I need my DAC/amp to be portable and preferably iPod line out compatible. I would like it to be battery powered, as well. If anyone wants to give me alternate headphone suggestions, I'm completely open. 

 

Gear: 

Grado SR80i/SR125i/225i (I don't know which yet) 

iPod Video 5th Generation (Wolfson DAC) 

MacBook Pro 2011 

 

 

The problem I'm having is with the different sizes of the Grados. The SR80's have a 3.5mm jack, while the other two have the 6.3mm full sized jack. I realize I can just use an adaptor, but I would prefer if the DAC/amp matched the jack of the headphones. Of course, this doesn't matter if the box is compatible with the iPod's dock output. 

 

I've been eyeing the Fiio E7 and the NuForce Icon Mobile, but both of those have a minijack. In addition, I've been thinking about the NuForce uDAC-2 and Icon Mobile. Out of all of these, which provides the best portability-to-sound-to-price ratio? Of course, these are just the products of my rather limited research. 


Edited by k0r3andud3 - 8/8/12 at 6:51am
post #2 of 7

Definitely iBasso D-Zero and a headphone of your choice.
Grado 225i if you budget allows it.

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nehcrow View Post

Definitely iBasso D-Zero and a headphone of your choice.
Grado 225i if you budget allows it.

Right, so you would recommend the SR225i over the SR80i or SR125i? 

 

And how does the iBasso D-Zero compare to the others on my list? 

 

Thanks for the help! 

 

EDIT: Oh God, I'm so confused now. There's the NuForce Icon Mobile, uDAC-2, the iBasso D-Zero, the Fiio E7, E10, E11, and E17. All of these are somewhat portable, but there's a lot of discussion regarding the quality of amp/DAC in all of these. Also, it appears some of them are limited in output to 16 bit, 44.1KHz. 

 

Which is the best sounding here for some Grado cans? Just pure sound quality - which is best? 

 

Thanks again. 


Edited by k0r3andud3 - 8/8/12 at 7:19pm
post #4 of 7
The Fiio E10 has no battery inside therefore it doesn't work on iPod. If you are comparing between the E11, E7 & E17. I would recormend you go for the E17 or E7. The E11 is great for under 60 & the E11 does not work on your MacBook Pro as DAC. The E7 volume rocker is hard to press. You might like to add in a little bit of effort.

The E7 & D-Zero both using the same DACs so both sound the same, when it comes to AMP, the D-Zero sounds lot for better. The downside of D-Zero is that, there's no volume rocker. I have no idea on how the E17 perform but it sounds a lot better than E7 in AMP.

Just for your info, external DACs doesn't work on iPod, iPhone & iPad.

Sorry, I can't help out much on the headphones as I'm not a big fan of Grado but I heard the SR80i are weak in bass, a portable AMP is recormended to boost the bass. BTW, I was in search for a AMP/DAC too. All those above recommendation I got it is from somewhere else. I just gather it & makes it simple for you but I had read couples of articles & they all have almost the same idea.
post #5 of 7

I am not familiar with the budget you have based on what you are looking at but I would suggest considering the Leckerton UHA6S MKII dac/amp with the 8610 opamp option to go with your Grados.  At $270 it sounds twice as expensive.  I love mine with my MBP.

post #6 of 7

OK so your ipod already has a fantastic DAC i it. the amplifier in that ipod is also more than sufficient for the Grados. i LOVED my 5th gen ipod because it sounded so good, and when switching between the headphone output on that and the line out > ibasso D10 there really wasnt a huge increase in sound quality. a bit, but certainly not enough to justify the hassle and bulk f carrying it with me everywhere. i would say for those headphones you don't need a dedicated amp from that ipod and adding one would give only minor improvements to the sound. 

 

now there's the macbook pro issue. again, some macbooks have fantastic DAC and AMP circuitry inside them, but a dedicated DAC + AMP would give an improvement. its not going to be as dramatic as it is with other laptops, but it will improve. Fiio are always a good option. 

 

as for the grado, have you tried any of them? the 225i are by far the best of the ones listed, both in sound quality and in price to performance. if your definitely getting grados get the 225i. 

by the sound of it you want to use your headphones on the move. you know the grados are totally open right? you know you will hear everything around you, an everyone around you will hear your music right? have you considered closed headphones to give some isolation? 

post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtntrance View Post

I am not familiar with the budget you have based on what you are looking at but I would suggest considering the Leckerton UHA6S MKII dac/amp with the 8610 opamp option to go with your Grados.  At $270 it sounds twice as expensive.  I love mine with my MBP.

 

Sorry for the noob question, but do you know if the UHA6S MKII will work as a DAC only if I use a secondary amp (e.g. schiit magni) when connected to my Macbook Air? Since the UHA6S can't drive a pair of small passive speakers like the audioengine P4s... thanks a million!

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