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Please tell me the gain-range arms race is over ... plus, feedback for designers

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Now that there's a host of truly portable amps capable of driving any over-the-ear headphone (RSA Intruder, ALO Rx MK3-B, Portaphile 627, etc.), please tell me the gain-range arms race is over.

Am I alone in thinking the true market demand for amps of this sort should be limited given that relatively few people will either travel with top-of-the-line over-the-ear headphones or drive them at home via a portable amp?

Particularly given that we're talking about flagship portable amps, it seems that designers would be better served to go one of two ways:
  1. building the "perfect" DAC/amp combo...like what Michael Goodman's trying to do with the Centrance HiFi M8 (DAC/amp, 24-bit/192kHz support, Apple device compatible, USB compatible, etc.). A smaller chassis would be preferable, but I can deal with the size given all it's trying to offer.
  2. creating truly superb purpose-built components rather than trying to do everything at the expense of something critical. For example, The Intruder is a DAC/amp that reportedly delivers a perfectly black background for IEMs and can drive all headphones, but the DAC is 16-bit/48kHz...ho-hum, I'll keep my RS-71B. The Rx MK3-B can also drive all headphones, but it doesn't have a DAC and, much more importantly, reportedly has an unacceptable level of hiss with sensitive IEMs...no thanks given that I'll be using the JH13 Pro. The 627 is reportedly great, but sports a pitiful four-hour battery life...enough said. I could go on, but you get the idea.

And, while I'm at it, is it too much to ask designers to publish general specs (DAC resolution/sample rate capabilities, for example), offer coherent product line-ups (phase out items that are no longer relevant), and offer a compare feature (which have digital vs. analog volume control, which are balanced vs. single-ended input and/or output, etc.)?

Curious to hear what others have to say. Hopefully this will spark a discussion that will provide some useful direction for designers.
Edited by Chexxchexx - 11/24/12 at 11:22am
post #2 of 8
+1000

I am also looking for the ultimate AUDIOPHILE " all-in-one " Portable Dac-Amp.
So far only the Centrance M8 serms to fill the bill...

So...I think that I will finally end-up early next year with :

Samsung Galaxy S3 + Firmware patch to support 24/192Khz USB output + Centrance HiFi M8 + balanced Headphone

(Or Samsung S4 when available because of it's 128 Gb internal memory thanks to the 128 Gb Samsung chip already in mass production)
Edited by bmichels - 11/24/12 at 1:05pm
post #3 of 8
I guess you're right ; however I suspect many of us who are prepared to spend megabucks on portable stuff have some serious stuff in the living room. And who isn't going to want to try their top line cans with their latest purchase? So much so that I wonder how many of us would shun an amp that couldn't drive our over the ears phones. I don't suppose a gain switch puts too much coloration into the music and , for my inherent curiosity , seems a useful addition:)
Edited by Takeanidea - 11/26/12 at 1:09am
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Takeanidea,

Fair point and I agree. I guess what I'm really saying is, now that many of the designers have proven they have nuclear capabilities, hopefully focus can be shifted to diplomacy (delivering what people really want/need).
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
bmichels,

I'm with you. Fingers are crossed that the M8 sounds as good as it looks on paper. The only notable shortcoming is the physical size...and, on that basis, I've got to assume the weight, as well. That said, I'm willing to deal with both, though I'd be lying if I said down the road I wouldn't be on the lookout for a smaller, lighter offering with comparable features.

Regarding the DAP side of the equation, what a nuisance that's proven to be. I generally won't use my iPhone due to needing ready access to it, plus it has severe memory limitations. iPod could work, but for the lack of .flac support and I'd really prefer a touch screen. Still researching non-Apple offerings, but Cowon Z2 appears to be the closest to what I'm looking for.
post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chexxchexx View Post

 I generally won't use my iPhone due to needing ready access to it, plus it has severe memory limitations. iPod could work, but for the lack of .flac support and I'd really prefer a touch screen. 

iphone or ipod touch 4G or 5G with flacplayer app ;)

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
ExpatinJapan,

Appreciate the recommendation. I use FLAC Player on my iPhone but, again, I need ready (and unbundled) access to my iPhone so it won't generally be my source. I'd go with a Touch, but for the comparatively costly memory (with just a 64 Gb max) and no memory card expansion capability.

If at all possible, I'd like to keep this thread on-topic, so feel free to shoot me a PM if you'd like to further assist in my DAP evaluation. Thanks again!
post #8 of 8
Many people have an imod with rockbox installed. My imod with rockbox will play 24 96 recordings. I can drag and drop to my 80 gd ipod classic in this way without using itunes and I also get a 20 hour battery life.
I can only compare an imod to an ipod plugged into my amp. The amp however does not seem to be at it's best.
I have no experience of the clas route or dx100 colorfly c4 etc.
Maybe someone has who can enlighten us with a comparison between the three different types.
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