My setup right now includes the Samsung Galaxy S3 (US version) using Neutron Music Player ( https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.neutroncode.mp&hl=en ) and Noozxoide Eizo Rewire Pro ( https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.noozxoidelabs.eizo.rewirepro&hl=en ) , the Audio Technica ATH-M50s, and the Fiio E6 headphone amp. For a 16-year-old newbie with no job I'd say that it's a pretty good start. :P This setup sounds VERY awesome compared to the setup I used to have, but there are a few problems that I THINK ( I'm no expert ) might be fixed with a good DAC. Now I'm very aware that there is a list of DACs that are compatible with the S3 ( http://www.head-fi.org/t/595071/android-phones-and-usb-dacs/480#post_8770762 ) , but this is the first DAC that I am ever buying and I am stuck in the dilemma of having to choose from a rather limited list of DACs. Here are a couple of the reasons I want a DAC to go with my phone:
1.) There is a lot of noise... I mean a LOT of noise. Every time I come across a quiet part in a song, all I can hear is "CHHHHHHHHHHH"! Okay, that might be just a BIT of an exaggeration; but there's definitely tons of noise. It's either my source, my amp, or the recordings that are causing the problem. There seems to be around the same amount of noise on most tracks and I can hear the noise the best when I'm not playing music ( or anything else ) at all (basically I hear it non-stop) so I don't think it's the recordings that much. (One would think that Florence and the Machine at least would have some decent recordings). I find that I hear more noise when I turn the equalizer on Noozxoide from the "Unique III" preset to the "Audiophile preset. The difference between these two presets is that the Audiophile preset is more balanced (except for a boost in the VERY high treble) while the Unique III preset has recessed mids, and boosted bass and treble. I also notice that there is much more noise when I plug the Fiio E6 in. I even notice that the increase in noise is greater when I turn up the volume on the amp then when I turn the volume up on the phone. I'm just not sure if this means that the Fiio E6 causes it or it just brings the noise out more. Does any of this mean anything?
2.) The US version of the S3 does NOT have the Wolfson audio chip (at least not according to my research). It uses a WCD9310 audio chip instead. Now this setup I'm using is honestly the best overall setup I've ever heard so far (I haven't been around to much in the audiophile world) so I honestly have no idea how much or how little I'm missing out on, but I do feel like it might be possible to get a sound that's at least a little more clear on my headphones.
Now that you know why I want a DAC for my phone, here are a few things I'm looking for in a portable DAC:
1.) I would like for it to be a DAC/Headphone amp combo. I suppose I could keep using my E6 but an upgrade to a nicer, less muddy headphone amp as well as a new DAC would be AWESOME. Also, it'd be harder to carry around if I had to bring it along everywhere along with the DAC.
2.) I certainly do like a warm sound on certain songs but not as much as I like clarity that really gives a lot of "WOW" factor.
3.) I would like a DAC/amp that brings the mids a little more forward than my current setup.
4.) As long as it's small enough to hold in my hand and bring into the back of the car with me I don't really care about size THAT much.
5.) The product I've looked at the most so far is the iBasso D-Zero, but I'm also considering the Hi-Fi Man EF2A Dac/tube amp, the Headroom Total Bithead amp, etc. The main thing I'm worried about with the iBasso D-Zero is that it's to bright for the M50s. As it is my headphones have some kind of shrill treble when I'm on the "unique III" preset on Nozzxoide.
P.S.: Any other tips to improve my setup are very welcome. ;)