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Best sounding portable source?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

Which is the best sounding portable regardless of price?  My research seems to indicate the iPod+CLAS?  I suppose adding the right DAC to that would improve things even further?

post #2 of 20

 

 

You also need to specify how portable you need; for example this will work "off the grid".

 

http://redwineaudio.com/components/audeze_edition

post #3 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by grokit View Post

 

 

You also need to specify how portable you need; for example this will work "off the grid".

 

http://redwineaudio.com/components/audeze_edition

I love taking mine on public transit with a shopping bag.

post #4 of 20

Well, speaking of Red Wine Audio, I have found that his 5.5 Gen iMods have the best SQ of any portable, most likely due to the Wolfson DAC.  The cable is expensive (look for it used -- it is by ALO).  I have it paired with an iQube, perfect form-factor match, secured with the iQube rubber band, and the sound is glorious (using Audio-Technica ATH-ES7's).

 

This is my portable rig of choice, and I have had a visiting musician (minor jazz pro) score it 90% against my Orpheus, which is pretty amazing and not really true, but the SQ was so much more than he expected that the score was biased upward.  The score doesn't have any real meaning anyway, it's just how I pose the question. (If the Orpheus is 100 on this track -- here, listen -- what score do you give this whacky portable contraption and headphones -- here, listen again).  I tried to have him level balance but who knows ... this is all very informal.

 

I have a Pico Power on order, will see if that beats the iQube.

 

Let's talk encoding for your iMod.  The Wolfson does its best at 48,000.  So I make Apple Lossless at 48,000.  I do this by exact decimation of 96,000 originals, that I rip from DVD-A's mostly.  Some downloaded (like Band on the Run) 96,000, but mostly DVD-A's ... Eagles, Doors, Roy Orbison, lots more.  My Wadia CDP and Sony PS3 down-convert SACDs to 88.2 and 176.4 LCPM, but those numbers are not exact multiples of 48,000 so I worry.  I do it anyway.  Most likely placebo, but I don't think they sound as good as the 96,000 converted to 48,000.  I also take ordinary red-book CD's at 44,100, up-convert to 96,000, then decimate to 48,000.  I think they sound fantastic that way, better than 44,100 on the iMod.  Again due to the Wolfson.  But I have been badly trashed here for doing that, so maybe I'm all wrong.  As I just said, I do it anyway.  Habits die hard.  I am up to about 1000 tracks all done lovingly this way. 

 

This rig and these tracks give me great joy on the road.  YMMV.

post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by SixthFall View Post

I love taking mine on public transit with a shopping bag.

 

A backpack would be much more appropriate, I can see it now...o2smile.gif

post #6 of 20

Regardless of price and portable? Let's start with this £6,000,000 iPhone 4S plus Camera Connection Kit in addition to 99-cent app to enable USB audio:

 

http://stuarthughes.com/newdawn/product_info.php?products_id=113

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/622311/iphone-4s-hooked-to-external-dac-yep-its-working

 

Another £5,000,000 iPad

 

http://stuarthughes.com/newdawn/product_info.php?products_id=108

 

$3,549 for USB cable

 

http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue56/cynosure.htm

http://www.locus-design.com/index.php/cynosure-usb-cable

 

$499 for USB to AES/EBU interface

 

http://www.aprilmusic.com/eng/main/sub02_03_05.html

 

$6,300 for AES/EBU cable

 

http://www.thecableco.com/Product/The-Zero-Gold

 

A few hundred dollars for balanced DAC

 

http://www.sonosax.ch/converters/sx-da2/sx-da2_index.html

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/371737/pictures-of-your-portable-rig-part-xiii/4170#post_6364191

 

$21,000 for a pair of XLR interconnects

 

http://www.thecableco.com/Product/Siltech-Empress-Double-Crown

 

Keep this portable rig charged with this backpack

 

http://www.voltaicsystems.com/fuse10w.shtml

 

This one also looks nice:


http://www.voltaicsystems.com/generator.shtml

 

And yes, they do have an output for 16V so we could power an iBasso PB2 balanced amp with that for sure.

 

post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 

What I'm really after (and I should have said so) is a source component for a speaker system, not headphones.  I was dazzled by the Clip+ on Rockbox into my FOXL powered speaker compared to my computer and USB DAC and I'm wondering how deep this rabbit hole goes and if it goes deeper (sounds better) than playback on a high-end computer setup.  I would think digital-out would be a prerequisite of such a DAP so that a high-end DAC could be attached.

 

What really excites me about all of this is the isolation from electrical interference provided by a DAP as compared to a computer.  I've found that electrical interference really messes up sound quality.

 

BTW, I'm traveling right now (hence the FOXL speaker) so I can't hook the Clip+ up to a real system and won't be able to for quite some time.  I'm hoping you guys can help me fill in the gaps.

post #8 of 20

It was really hard not to tease you when you did not actually set a budget to begin with.

 

There are quite a few "camps" when it comes to the "best sounding portable source" ever.

 

Some might say the top notch quality would come from Sony PCM-D1 audio recorder. Just not that many of us listened to that because of its price tag.

 

http://www.sony.jp/ic-recorder/products/PCM-D1/

 

They are also audio recorders but even DSD files (e.g. ripped SACDs with an old PlayStation 3) are supported.

 

http://www.korg.co.jp/Product/Discontinued/MR-1/
http://www.korg.co.jp/Product/Discontinued/MR-1000/
http://www.korg.co.jp/Product/DRS/MR-2/

 

Then there are several SD card-based players available and many of us totally loved them.

 

http://www.gadgetreview.com/2012/06/hifiman%E2%80%99s-take-on-portable-sound-the-hm-901-portable-audio-player-preview.html

 

http://ibasso.com/en/products/show.asp?ID=78

 

http://www.hisoundaudio.com/products/

 

http://www.colorfly.eu/product.html

 

Obviously they are expensive because of a built-in DAC plus headphone amp that you might not need for your speakers.

 

A handful of us here also tried something very different without a powerful headphone amp:

 

http://www.tera-player.com

 

http://www.chiaki.cc/Transport/sdtrans192.html

 

Recently we began to see more phones and tablets supporting USB DACs as well.

 

Finally we have the usual choices for iPod / iPhone / iPad just like what you mentioned before.

 

http://cypherlabs.com/product

 

http://venturecraft.jp/gadget_en/index.php

 

http://www.fostexinternational.com/docs/products/HP-P1.shtml

 

These are more like transportable options powered externally.

 

http://www.msbtech.com/products/iLinkDetail.php

 

http://www.wadia.com/products/transports/170i/

http://www.aloaudio.com/wadia-itransport-red-wine-audio-isabellina-hpa-power-cable

 

This is the battery with multiple voltage options.

 

http://redwineaudio.com/components/black_lightning

 

7.5V for this combo.

 

http://www.pure.com/products/product.asp?Product=VL-61429&PageType=Specification#/i-20/Hi-Fi%20Quality%20Dock%20for%20iPod/iPhone

http://www.eden-audio.com/kingrex-upower.php

 

IMHO still a challenge to define what is best sounding for your speakers unless you have compared each portable source.

post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Some might say the top notch quality would come from Sony PCM-D1 audio recorder.

 

I've ordered the Sony PCM-M10 so that will be interesting.  I needed it for needledrops anyway.

 

Quote:

Obviously they are expensive because of a built-in DAC plus headphone amp that you might not need for your speakers.

 

You're right that I don't need a built-in headphone amp for this.

 

Quote:

A handful of us here also tried something very different without a powerful headphone amp:

 

http://www.tera-player.com

 

I have no idea what to make of that.

 

Quote:
Recently we began to see more phones and tablets supporting USB DACs as well.

 

That's a really interesting option.  I think the idea behind moving from a computer to a DAP for sound quality is the smaller amount of EMI produced by a DAP compared to a computer.  Would a tablet produce EMI like a computer or like a DAP?  I don't know, but the original iPad has a single-core CPU and might be a good choice.

post #10 of 20

stick with the PC and get this to install in your dac. it is asynchronous, but not in the way that is usually talked of. after this the only thing left is the jitter of the master clock. source jitter, hell ANY jitter that comes beforehand is rendered moot. it completely decouples the dac from your transport

post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 

That sounds like a good thing but what about the EMI produced by the computer?  If it reaches the DAC it will foul up the D->A process.

post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by headfirocks View Post

That sounds like a good thing but what about the EMI produced by the computer?  If it reaches the DAC it will foul up the D->A process.


You do realize what decouple means right? the input clock jitter bares no relation to, or connection to the dac clock, or ground in this scenario. I repeat, the ONLY factor that remains is the jitter of the master clock (in my case about 0.5 pico seconds jitter from the CCHD957), plus some minute amount from the clock fanout buffer. the audio data is buffered into fifo memory and then clocked out using a completely new and isolated low jitter clock with its own power supply, this is connected to and used directly for the dac clock, so the new source clock IS the dac clock. there really is no scenario that could have lower jitter, the sansa will be many orders of magnitude worse

 

I think you have taken on this EMI thing as an insidious evil all purveying, unstoppable force. if there is no connection to the source of the EMI, and provided you havent mounted the dac above some radiated EMI in the PC from some badly shielded or designed switchmode psu, then you are pretty safe. (EMI is all around us in the modern world btw whether you are using a PC or not)

post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 

I didn't realize the FIFO unit was isolated from the computer, or maybe that's implied by the way it works and I didn't realize it.  How is that isolation achieved?  I thought the USB cable would create a metallic connection between the computer and FIFO unit along which EMI would travel.

post #14 of 20

I ,like you, will be shopping for a portable DAP in the near future.  Just from trolling around here, I think the DX100 might be the DAP to beat.  Never heard it for myself though.

post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by headfirocks View Post

I didn't realize the FIFO unit was isolated from the computer, or maybe that's implied by the way it works and I didn't realize it.  How is that isolation achieved?  I thought the USB cable would create a metallic connection between the computer and FIFO unit along which EMI would travel.


what USB cable? fifo doesnt have USB

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