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Portable Amp for IEM's?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hi guys, I was just wondering what would be the best portable amp out there for IEMs and CIEMs. I own a UM2, SE535 and soon a Heir Audio 8.A, so I want to get a portable amp for use with these on the go. Btw I use an iPhone 4 as a source, I know it isn't that great a source but with an amp it should be ok, right?

post #2 of 18

Well, the issue with an iPhone is that they do not allow for microSD and tend to be on the small side storage wise. This means that you cannot fit high bitrate songs. What bitrate are you using? With high end IEMs like that, you want at least 320 kbps, preferably lossless-ALAC for iPhone. You probably want an amp for that rig, possibly a DAC if you can afford it. To support an amp, you need a LOD (line out dock.) You can get one for $10 or so. You could go with a FiiO E11 with that, an E12 (coming out soon) or something higher-end.

If you go with a DAC, it will cost close to $200 minimum. There are a few DACs licensed to work with iPhones over the dock port. There is another way to do it though-it requires jailbreaking. You download this app for $1 (requires the jailbreak)

http://moreinfo.thebigboss.org/moreinfo/depiction.php?file=cameraconnectorDp

and then get this adapter (only works with iPad without the app/jailbreak) for $29 shipped

http://www.amazon.com/Apple-iPad-Camera-Connection-MC531ZM/dp/B003K1EYM6

This will also (when you are not using the DAC) allow you to use SD cards.

You can then use something like a FiiO E17 (or higher quality, like the amp)

This setup with the E17 will act as a DAC and an amp, and really up the iPhone quality.

post #3 of 18

What sort of budget do you have? Arguably the best money no object option might be the Fostex HP-P1. Not only is it an amp, but it also has a built in DAC far superior to the iPhones. Bit pricey at $650 though.

 

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/570149/fostex-hp-p1-portable-dac-for-iphone-ipod-and-ipad-with-built-in-headphone-amp-head-fi-tv-episode-011

post #4 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nixon View Post

What sort of budget do you have? Arguably the best money no object option might be the Fostex HP-P1. Not only is it an amp, but it also has a built in DAC far superior to the iPhones. Bit pricey at $650 though.

 

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/570149/fostex-hp-p1-portable-dac-for-iphone-ipod-and-ipad-with-built-in-headphone-amp-head-fi-tv-episode-011

Yeah, the Fostex is one of the only DACs approved by Apple, and thus not requiring a jailbreak.

post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 

@ender323 Most of if not all of my songs are in 320 kbps, and I do have a few FLAC versions of songs on my desktop. Would a DAC really be necessary and why? Sorry I'm still a bit of a newbie when it comes to the world of amps and what not :)

 

@Nixon The $650 is quite a bit out of my price range, I'd be willing to spend maybe $550 max.

 

Also I was wondering if it would just be easier/cheaper to get a DAP with build in DAC, if so, any recommendations? Thanks a bunch!

post #6 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noobmachine View Post

@ender323 Most of if not all of my songs are in 320 kbps, and I do have a few FLAC versions of songs on my desktop. Would a DAC really be necessary and why? Sorry I'm still a bit of a newbie when it comes to the world of amps and what not :)

 

@Nixon The $650 is quite a bit out of my price range, I'd be willing to spend maybe $550 max.

 

Also I was wondering if it would just be easier/cheaper to get a DAP with build in DAC, if so, any recommendations? Thanks a bunch!

OK. I would use Foobar2000, do some double blind ABX tests between FLAC and 320, see if you can tell a difference. All devices have a DAC. Music files are 1s and 0s. It needs to be analog to go into headphones. Digital connections are always perfect, can't degrade/lose data. It needs to be converted to analog music really well. An internal DAC tends to make mistakes. So you aren't looking at a device with a DAC, you are looking at a device with a really good internal DAC. They all have a DAC.


As far as requirements go, you don't actually need an external DAC, or a really good amp, for IEMs. Full size headphones, particularly really nice ones, are very hard to drive. They thus need a really good amp. Senn HD800s, for example, require at least about a $1k amp to run properly. IEMs don't need a really good one. You could get a $10 LOD, a $100 or so amp (a Total Bithead, maybe), and be done with it. If you are going to spend much more than that, I would recommend to go with a DAC, just because they are really nice-if you are comfortable with jailbreaking. Then, you could get a $150 E17, a $30 digital out, and be set for <$200. If you are interested in a really high end portable player, with a really good DAC and amp built in, check out some other sections of Head-Fi-I don't know much about that area of audio gear.

 

TL;DR

See if you can tell the difference between FLAC and 320. All devices have a DAC, external ones just tend to be better. You don't need an external DAC, but if you are comfortable with jailbreaking, it would be advisable. High-end players with good DACs and amps are available, check some other sub-sections for info on that.

post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noobmachine View Post

 

 

@Nixon The $650 is quite a bit out of my price range, I'd be willing to spend maybe $550 max.

 

 

If you don't mind going second hand, here's one for $495

http://www.head-fi.org/t/643680/fostex-hp-p1

post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nixon View Post

If you don't mind going second hand, here's one for $495

http://www.head-fi.org/t/643680/fostex-hp-p1

Ooohhh now I want. Probably just going non-Apple instead though.

post #9 of 18

Pico Slim, RSA Shadow and ALO Continental V2 are ones I use with IEMs/CIEMs.  Good sound quality from all three.

post #10 of 18
RSA P51 Mustang
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by VOIDsan View Post

RSA P51 Mustang

Another brilliant one from RSA.

post #12 of 18

Nice choise of CEIm's I also have a set of Heir 8.a on the way 

 

The shadow is great and it is amazing for its size. I will pair it with the 8.a and let you know how it sounds,

post #13 of 18
I would advise against the Fostex HP-P1 for IEMs, it has a high output impedance (10Ω, apparently), which can result in wild frequency response variations.

A FiiO E11 would be better (and much cheaper), though it's not even obvious that you need an amp to begin with, the iPhone 4 is pretty decent already, with an output impedance of barely 1Ω.
Edited by skamp - 1/8/13 at 6:58am
post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by skamp View Post

I would advise against the Fostex HP-P1 for IEMs, it has a high output impedance (10Ω, apparently), which can result in wild frequency response variations.
A FiiO E11 would be better (and much cheaper), though it's not even obvious that you need an amp to begin with, the iPhone 4 is pretty decent already, with an output impedance of barely 1Ω.

The HP-P1 is a DAC/Amp. The E11 is just an amp. Absolutely no reason to go with the Fostex if you don't need a DAC/amp.

post #15 of 18

How about the Headstage Arrow 4G - lots of adjustments making it very flexible.

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