I've been reading a lot of amp comparisons and reviews here and elsewhere. I'm looking for an amp to pair with my Shure 535SE IEMs. A lot of the shoot offs group amps by budget under $100 or $200 or $300 and up. This makes it hard to find comaprisons of amps on opposite sides of the price spectrum. I'm interested how the C421 compares against the RSA Shadow or ASO RX MKII, or how the Pico Slim fairs against the National.
I'm trying to build a quality system 1 part at a time. I need an amp to match my IEMs. They sound great but lack a little low base punch. The next bit of kit I've assembled is a JDS Labs ODAC. This little thing is magic. It's clean and neutral, all you really need from a very portable DAC. I would describe my SE535s as a little bright but otherwise pretty neutral. MY goal here is to have the amp have the largest effect on coloring the sound. For that reason I don't think I want a neutral sounding amp like the Pico Slim or C421. Those 2 are attractive because of their IEM focus and portability features however. I like the digital volume control on the shadow and pico slim. No one else is doing that. I worry that something like the slim or shadow won't add enough depth to the soundstage and might need something with more oomph like the RX MkII. I'd consider holding off and saving up for the Portaphile if it didn't have such awful battery life. The shadow, pico slim, and c421 hit the right features for me but I'd like to hear from some people who have heard them as to which would best suite my SE535s.
Right now I'm using a Fred_fred_2004 amp which sounds real good and has more power than I can use, but still doesn't have the low end sound and soundstage I'm looking for. I've also used the a lot with my HiFiMAN EG2A which I should be posting for sale up here soon.