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portable rig upgrade itch: next step toward nirvana sound

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I've been enjoying my S:flo2 -> Leckerton UHA-4 -> Etymotics ER-4S with custom mold for a couple of years now. I am very happy with this rig.


Anyway since these days most of my listening is on the go I am considering to improve the rig... you know that typical upgrade itch...


In the following I will concentrate of what I would love to improve: do not consider the criticism out of the context of general appreciation for this rig.


A) the source

for me the S:flo2 issues are in order:

1) no gapless playback

2) no aac support

3) no 24/94 flac

4) terrible touch interface, no hold button


my ideal source might even lack DAC and just provide digital out.

If a DAC is included, then it would be nice to be able to use it as USB DAC, lineout is almost mandatory, digital out would be nice anyway.


B) the AMP

On general ground I would not favor an additional amp for portability reasons, anyway the S:flo2 Headphone Out had a lot of interferences from my Blackberry phone. The Leckerton UHA-4 was a perfect cure, and I could use it as USB DAC whenever I have been sitting in front of a PC.

Too bad I could not use its DAC with S:flo2...


The UHA-4 is a very good amp, still if I could improve it I would fix the following:

1) no auto switch-off

2) no 24/96 and 24/88 when used as USB DAC

3) no iPad compatibility


Of course if the source would provide a great interference-free powerful HO I could do without the (DAC/)AMP.


C) the in-ear headphones


the only single problem I have with my ER-4S is their form factor:

1) they stick out of my ear in a way that makes impossible to wear them under a cap or in bed while resting on a pillow

2) a lot of cable microphonics: hard to wear them over-the-ears

3) non detachable/replaceable cables. It already happened to me the break a cable once


The custom mold is mandatory to gain extra isolation from the external ambient noise



Finally let me add that I listen to a lot of different stuff: mainly indie and classic rock, but also folk, acoustic, classical music, jazz


I look forward to suggestions

Edited by Nando1970 - 9/17/12 at 8:10am
post #2 of 4

B-2 ???????????????????????????????????????

post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by KT66 View Post

B-2 ???????????????????????????????????????

I've edited the original post to make it clearer

Edited by Nando1970 - 9/17/12 at 8:05am
post #4 of 4

Have you considered the Colorfly C3? I think it has some of the things you are looking for in a source. It is also quite small which means ultra portable. Also an option is the HiSoundAudio Studio V 3rd Anniversary Edition. It's been getting some nice attention and apparently has most if not all the hiss removed in this model, making it a great combination with IEM's.


The amp section, well, in a portable rig, if you are mainly using IEM's, you should be trying to find something that reduces the need for an amp. It's ultimate portability will come from the fact that you dont have any extra cables and connections that can allow for more interference. I personally use an Altmann Tera Player. Still no gapless playback, but it's virtually seamless in playback and is extremely small, and never have I experienced any interference. The Studio V 3rd Ann. Ed. Will have plenty of juice for you if you're using IEM's or anything else. It probably has one of the most powerful amp sections built into a DAP. (Pretty sure it's not the most powerful, but it's in the top 5 for sure)


I would also suggest getting something for playback in the cans/IEM department that is better suited for custom molding. You can send impressions to a variety of companies that will make you a custom molded tip to put on IEM's and in some cases make custom molds for you to stick earbuds into them and create a perfect seal. I love my Aurisonics AS-2's, which come stock as custom molded IEM's. My setup comprises of two things, my Tera Player and my AS-2's. It's wonderfully small and effective. Looking up the model IEM's you have, it seems those would stick out quite a lot even with custom molded tips. You can definitely find something else that will allow use while laying down if that's really what you want. I suggest going for a set of full customs though, if you can. You'll get a removable cable with most choices, and they are not as expensive as one may think. Where are you located? I can suggest some of the best brands I know of depending on which country you hail from/live in currently. Mainly, Unique Melody has some well regarded craftsmanship to them, Heir Audio is making some big waves these days with it's generic models of it's customs, but they are also known for their good work. 1964Ears does some solid work as well and also have some great reviews (like the other two I mentioned) in terms of sound quality. My personal favorite is Aurisonics, based in Nashville, Tennessee. If you are in the US, definitely check them out before making a commitment to any other companies product if you are going the custom route. They scan in your ear impressions so if you want another pair in the future or want custom tips or ear plugs, they just print them out because they keep a digital copy. They are a fairly new company and are one of the few to use a dynamic driver in their CIEM's. Their are some great reviews of many CIEM's from many companies on the forums. If you can't find it, I'll try and post a link later.


Good luck with your search, if you need any help, let me know.

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