O.k. I've done some initial comparisons, and although I might get some flac for this, here are my findings:
Testing Details (Click to show)
So far though, with the MH1 using the same lossless files, the C5D from the usb of my MacBook Pro sounds identical to the C5 from my iPod Touch 5G, which sounds identical to the iPod Touch 5G headphone output, which sounds identical to the digital output of the iPod Touch 5G to the C5D, which sounds identical to the Fuze v1 and ZipClip.
Now let me explain this brief testing and give some opinions.
First, again, I used all the same lossless files on each device and volume matched each device. This is using no EQ, no effects, nothing but raw lossless audio. I used tracks ranging from Christopher Cross to Dream Theater. I compared a few seconds of each track, small sections of each track and tracks in their entirety.
This was a full double blind test. The connections were made without me or the person connecting them knowing which was which. Each song was synced perfectly for playback so well that I could flip the switch back and forth and the timing had zero interruption nor volume change. In fact, when I flip the switch quick enough it makes no noticeable audio disruption at all. I can flip the switch back and forth repeatedly, and when I do it fast enough it literally sounds like I'm listening to the same song and I wouldn't even know anyone was touching the switch.
It is very hard to rule out the brain, and last night I was listening to the C5D with the iPod and thought it sounded clearer somehow. But I believe now that I was trying to hear if it was clearer and therefor thought it might be. That is just my opinion.
So, before you think I'm saying anything bad about the C5D, quite the contrary.
The C5D is awesome. Very awesome. Every single device I have sounds better than the output of the MacBook Pro, which is really surprising. The MBP output has noticeable noise, and lower fidelity in general. Very disappointed in it myself, so much that I'd personally never use it. For a speaker output the noise isn't as noticeable, but with earphones it seems much worse. Anyway, the apogee duet costs around $500 new, the iPod touch with reasonable space (64gb) costs $400, the fuze+ costs roughly $100 or more when you add an SD card, but there are claims the fuze+ doesn't sound as good as the fuze (haven't heard it myself). But as the fuze is discontinued we'll use the + as a price point.
The point is, for any device with reasonable quality and storage capacity you're looking at a good chuck of change. The C5D can be used with any computer/laptop and turn it into an amazing sounding device with all of it's large storage and it costs $250. That's an awesome deal, since most people have a laptop or computer. But it's not just isolated to computers. It can improve the quality of a phone. Throw in an SD card and you have a great sounding player that way as well. Just look at what you get for that price in general:
- uber portable compared to most desktop sound interfaces that don't suck
- reference sound
- amplification for harder to drive earphones/headphones
- isolated battery mode which I believe would eliminate noise issues with some usb systems (such as grounding loops)?
- a built-in reference amp that doesn't require usb (for devices not compatible with the dac functionality)
- Two-point bass boost option that sounds great
So I think it's an awesome investment for anyone who is an audiophile, even if you have other amps. You can grab it and go, knowing that you'll be able to use it on pretty much any device. It allows you to KNOW you're going to have reference sound. It's an all-in-one package with a nice form factor.
In terms of sound, I'm not jumping to any full conclusions yet. I'll do a lot more testing with the more demanding earphones I have and see how it goes, but I'm predicting the results will be similar.
But either way, great job JDS on the C5D! I love how they threw the DAC right in the same case with the C5. And their devices all have the same profile. Very cool. I'll report back with more testing results in a while.
The K 701 has more rumble for me with the C5D. It's slight, but noticeable for me.