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Optimal portable setups for portable audiophiles: What have you found to be the best balance of...

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Since I couldn't find one specific thread to address this question, I thought I would start a new one.  Portable use seems to be exploding as evidenced by sales volume and the introduction of a dozen or so noteworthy mid-fi closed portables in the past year, many of them impressive sonically.  If 2012, was the year of the closed portable headphone, 2013 is shaping up to be the year of the portable amp- new and coming releases include the FiiO E12/Monte Carlo, BH C&C, JDS Labs C5, Vamp Verza, Centrance M8 and others.

 

I want to have my cake and eat it too- I am striving for the sound quality of a good desktop setup that I can take with me in the most portable form.  I believe I am just about there and am on the fence regarding an additional amp.

 

My headphones include the B&W C5, V-Moda M-100 and Ultrasone Signature DJ.  While the first two are very good, they have been gathering dust since receiving the Signature DJ this past week.  I still have a place for my IEMs when it is just not practical to bring headphones.  I suppose the ideal portable setup would fit in my pocket.

 

My amps include Boostaroo (purchased pre-Head-fi), IFuzen, FiiO E11, ZO2.3 and Vamp.  My primary amp is obviously Vamp connected to my Iphone 4.  If I need a bass boost, I will double-amp with my E11 since the ZO doesn't give me enough volume.

 

I have a 32GB Iphone 4 which is overflowing and I have needed to make some tough calls regarding files to remove, but it was worthwhile to upgrade my 128kbps files to 256Kbps Apple Plus files.  I hear a significant difference, particularly with the M-100 and even moreso with the Signature DJ.  I am thinking 256kbps is the best balance of SQ and portable memory space, but I welcome other perspectives on this.  I wanted to upgrade to 64GB, but they are only available now in the IPhone 5 which would not be compatible with my Vamp unless I run a 30-pin extension cable to the lightning adapter which sounds like a mess and certainly not as portable.  I would imagine lossless is even better, but how much better vs. file storage?

 

Also, if I wanted to get away from Apple and Itunes at some point, is there an easy way to convert AAC files downloaded from Apple to MP3?  Other player options are welcome as well.

 

What have you found to be the best combinations for your portable listening?

 

Which closed portable headphones pair best with which portable amps?


Edited by Craigster75 - 2/9/13 at 7:46am
post #2 of 7

For now i am going for an ipod touch hooked to a fiio e17 , the stack is in general portable,it sounds great with all of my headphone collection after eqing, i am half halfing my collection, half from the day i know jack about lossless and the other from when i understand what is lossless, so far hq 320 kbps mp3 seems to offer the best ratio of sq:size

I am using the beyer dt 1350. And the hisound wooduo, sometimes i went with jvc fxd80

My dream player would be the ak100 and the beyer dt 1350, assuming they play together nicely

post #3 of 7

Personally I'd be converting my music to 320kbps instead of 256 as I can hear the difference on my portable rig, and they don't take up much extra space. 

 

For the V-AMP, you could consider getting a 4th gen iPod Touch instead of the iPhone 5, though I think you'd still need a cable, unless you can safely plug it in like the iPhone 4. The Touch is slimmer than the iPhone 4 so I imagine you could somehow.

 

So far, my favourite is iPod Video>Fiio E11>Heir 4.Ai's. The Heirs are just so wonderfully neutral for folk, jazz and classical music, while the E11 allows be to boost the bass a bit when I'm listening to rock  If I could afford it, I'd upgrade to the Heir 8.A and an iBasso DX100 as my dream portable rig.

post #4 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Craigster75 View Post

Since I couldn't find one specific thread to address this question, I thought I would start a new one.  Portable use seems to be exploding as evidenced by sales volume and the introduction of a dozen or so noteworthy mid-fi closed portables in the past year, many of them impressive sonically.  If 2012, was the year of the closed portable headphone, 2013 is shaping up to be the year of the portable amp- new and coming releases include the FiiO E12/Monte Carlo, BH C&C, JDS Labs C5, Vamp Verza, Centrance M8 and others.

 

I want to have my cake and eat it too- I am striving for the sound quality of a good desktop setup that I can take with me in the most portable form.  I believe I am just about there and am on the fence regarding an additional amp.

 

My headphones include the B&W C5, V-Moda M-100 and Ultrasone Signature DJ.  While the first two are very good, they have been gathering dust since receiving the Signature DJ this past week.  I still have a place for my IEMs when it is just not practical to bring headphones.  I suppose the ideal portable setup would fit in my pocket.

 

My amps include Boostaroo (purchased pre-Head-fi), IFuzen, FiiO E11, ZO2.3 and Vamp.  My primary amp is obviously Vamp connected to my Iphone 4.  If I need a bass boost, I will double-amp with my E11 since the ZO doesn't give me enough volume.

 

I have a 32GB Iphone 4 which is overflowing and I have needed to make some tough calls regarding files to remove, but it was worthwhile to upgrade my 128kbps files to 256Kbps Apple Plus files.  I hear a significant difference, particularly with the M-100 and even moreso with the Signature DJ.  I am thinking 256kbps is the best balance of SQ and portable memory space, but I welcome other perspectives on this (I agree).  I wanted to upgrade to 64GB, but they are only available now in the IPhone 5 which would not be compatible with my Vamp unless I run a 30-pin extension cable to the lightning adapter which sounds like a mess and certainly not as portable.  I would imagine lossless is even better, but how much better vs. file storage? (Only you can determine that, but you can have 8x 256kbps songs, or 1x ALAC song)

 

Also, if I wanted to get away from Apple and Itunes at some point, is there an easy way to convert AAC files downloaded from Apple to MP3?  Other player options are welcome as well. (I would look into the Accudio player App and see if your headphones are supported. If you go away from iTunes and Apple, I highly recommend MediaMonkey, JRiver and FooBar2000 as one of your desktop players and music transfer apps. Try them all.)

 

What have you found to be the best combinations for your portable listening? (I dont have a whole lot experience in this area yet, but I an say the Etymotic ER-4P and VSonic GR07 Bass Edition IEMs are very nice. iPod Classic for storage and using RockBox instead of iTunes. Last, I use the C&C BH amp thats the size of a credit card and thinner then E11, but blows it out the water in every category. Plus, it's made for the Etymotic ER-4P.)

 

Which closed portable headphones pair best with which portable amps? (I would ask Rudi this question in a PM lol)

post #5 of 7

Tough questions to answer given the many possible combinations of sources, amps and headphones.  Plus one can run the continuum for ultra portable (small footprint) to what maybe be termed transportable.  I listen to mostly classical and jazz.  For me my "portable" journey has taken me (and my poor wallet!) on a circuitous journey ending up with three rigs along a portable-transportable continuum.  They include the following (with everything on the three iPods being lossless).

 

iPod Nano 6G > RSA Shadow > Klipsch X10

 

iPod 5.5 iMod > Pico Slim > JH13 (I use this mostly for the gym.)

 

iPod Classic > CLAS > JH3A > JH16 or,

iPod CLassic > CLAS > ALO Continental V2 > DT1350 or HE500

 

The Classic rigs are just one bundle with Classic on top of CLAS on top of JH3A and the Continental strapped to the side of the former three.  It's a 4.25"x3.75"x2.75" "brick!  But, it is transportable.  In fact. I can put the brick in a pocket of my cargo shorts and have it with me as I water the garden.  On the odd occasion my shorts do fall down much to the excitement of the neighbours!  (Amazingly, the brick has passed through TSA inspections every time without anyone agent wanting to see it!)

 

Of course, the rigs above are to my taste and budget.  There are others a lot more fancy (see Rudi's portfolio on here!) and some a lot more simple.  I think some extensive search based on your primary sources (actual or thinking about) and what are seemingly optimal amps (assuming you don't want to go ampless), DACs and phones that go with what you have or want would be one way to go.  Not very helpful, I know, but your questions are not easy to answer.

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

Do you find with lossless files you are limited with variety of music available to you at any given time?  Do you find you need to rotate the music on your portable?

 

The thing I like about Vamp is that the Iphone 4 fits perfectly with it to form one cohesive unit which is really unique when pairing players with amps.  The downside is I feel I am locked into my Iphone 4 until it or Vamp dies.  I was considering purchasing an Ipod classic then pairing with another amp so that storage will not be an issue, nor would wifi interference.  Does the Ipod classic handle jarring movement okay?

 

This way, I could have one setup on my Vamp, then an expanded collection on the Ipod classic, perhaps paired with a FiiO E12, Headstage Arrow or JDS C5?  Either way I am set with the Signature DJ as my primary headphone.
 

post #7 of 7

My lossless limitation is only on the iPod Nano.  For the Classic and the 5.5 I still have room.  My entire collection comprises some 320 CDs of various lengths.

 

I have never had any issue with the Classic as I move around with it in my pocket.  Not sure I have "jarred" it exactly, but there is movement as I walk with the rig in my pocket.

 

I agree that form fit is important.  I should have said that.  Many of the sources and amps are.  The exceptions are the Nano 6G with the Shadow (the amp being bigger/longer than the Nano) and the 5.5 with the Pico Slim being smaller in length and width.  Good fit among units has its benefits but is not as important as sound quality.

 

Yes, a couple of setups with the Vamp and the Classic would be one way to go.  You could have the same amp and primary headphone and vary the source.  That would work.  Nothing like some redundancy in our portable world.  Two is one; one is none!

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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Source Gear › Optimal portable setups for portable audiophiles: What have you found to be the best balance of sound quality, portability and file format/bit rate to accomodate portable players?