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weighing options on a portable amp/dac (~$700 budget)

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hi, first post from a long time (anon) lurker.

First of all, I have the following headphones: Grado SR80, Grado SR225i, Sennheiser Amperior, B&W P5 & some Shure 840s (I use these when I'm recording, they are tiresome in any other context). I own no IEMs and I never will (IEM + me = instant ear infections).

I currently use a FIIO E10 (work) and an M-Audio FastTrack Ultra II (home). They both do the job, but the FIIO is much more to my liking from a listening perspective. I find myself bringing it home a lot because I just don't enjoy the Ultra II, which I guess makes sense because it's made for music production, not listening.

Anyway, long story short, I am looking for a portable (as in move from room to room, not battery powered) amp for home & travel. I have around $700 to spend, but spending less means more dough for music and/or cans.

My sources at home are: Computer (FooBar2000 and Fidelify) & Turntable w/ Shure M92E cart and a phono pre-amp.

I'm looking at these guys as my options (but I'm open to suggestions obviously):

NuForce Icon HDP
Alo Pan Am
FIIO E17 + E9K
M1HPA (16/48 DAC resolution isn't so great, but I've read great reviews regardless)

My listening tastes tend towards acoustic jazz, classical, indie, ambient and electronic with some huge bass drops (eg Clams Casino, Balam Acab).

Unfortunately I live in the middle of nowhere, so I can't exactly go audition these things, so I'm hoping to hear from the community here as to what they think of these options.

I appreciate your input guys and gals -- thanks!
Edited by toschek - 1/9/13 at 11:09pm
post #2 of 11

Wow, this is the new headphone for my eyes, I didn't see this before !
 

post #3 of 11

The E17 is a DAC + Amp in itself.

ODAC + O2 also good choice.

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I realize that but the e17 doesn't have RCA inputs for my turntable, hence the need to dock it with the E9K.

The ODAC + O2 looks cool, but it doesn't look like it has RCA inputs either, although I suppose I could get an RCA -> 3.5mm adapter, not sure how much that will degrade the input though, which is why I was avoiding going with the E17 on it's own.

Aside from that, how does it sound? Have you heard the E10/E17 as points of comparison?

Right now I am using an old Marantz amp for phono, but it doesn't do very well with my non-Grado phones, plus it isn't very -portable- and ever since my elderly male cat pissed on it, it is very temperamental to say the least wink.gif

Just to clarify, by portable I mean able to move room to room. My turntable isn't very heavy, and I'm looking for a small amp to drive my phones if I choose to hang out in the living room, study or out on my deck.
Edited by toschek - 1/10/13 at 1:44am
post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by toschek View Post

Yeah, I realize that but the e17 doesn't have RCA inputs for my turntable, hence the need to dock it with the E9K.

The ODAC + O2 looks cool, but it doesn't look like it has RCA inputs either, although I suppose I could get an RCA -> 3.5mm adapter, not sure how much that will degrade the input though, which is why I was avoiding going with the E17 on it's own.

Aside from that, how does it sound? Have you heard the E10/E17 as points of comparison?

Right now I am using an old Marantz amp for phono, but it doesn't do very well with my non-Grado phones, plus it isn't very portable and ever since my elderly male cat pissed on it, it is very temperamental to say the least wink.gif

 

The ODAC + O2 combo is well known for being transparent. The RCA adaptor doesn't really affect the quality as long as its made well. You can get a decent cable with gold plated connectors (monoprice) for less than $10.

 

Another combo thats getting popular around here is the Schiit Modi + Magni, they have RCA inputs. But its fairly new, and hasn't been reviewed with proper measurements and all, so I'm not sure how superior/inferior it is to the above combo.

 

I'm using the ODAC+O2 combo with Sennheiser HD650, I won't be trying anything else for a while .biggrin.gif

 

I haven't heard the E10, but you can just google 'E10 vs O2' or 'E17 vs O2' and take a look at the first links, they compare the two both technically and subjectively.

 

My idea is that you shouldn't spend on the dac/amp more than the headphone itself.  Headphone > Amp > DAC.


Edited by proton007 - 1/10/13 at 2:00am
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Wow, thank you so much for your help! Gonna check this option out for sure smily_headphones1.gif
post #7 of 11
post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by toschek View Post

Wow, thank you so much for your help! Gonna check this option out for sure smily_headphones1.gif


Audio Poutine makes the O2/ODAC in RCA version.

post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorspeaker View Post

http://centrance.com/products/hifi-m8/

Wait for this ?
cool.gif

+1

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Well, I've gone and pulled the trigger on an Aune T1. I've come to the conclusion that it will provide me with versatility via tube rolling, and it seems to be a very well crafted piece of hardware. I have always had a fondness for that tube sound, going back to the first real amp I owned in high school, a neat little McIntosh I inherited from my grandfather, which was stolen from my car when I moved into off-campus housing in college.

As a bonus, their customer service so far has been nothing short of professional and pleasant to deal with.

I will let you all know how it works out!
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

Just got the Aune T1 today, it is lovely.   Sound is thrilling through K 702s dt880smile.png

 

 


Edited by toschek - 1/14/13 at 2:50pm
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