Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Source Gear › Player for Etymotic Research HF5
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Player for Etymotic Research HF5

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I just recently bought some Etymotic Research HF5 and I'm looking for a good player that will play audio well to these headphones.

 

I currently have a HTC EVO 4G LTE smartphone, and I have heard something about playing through the USB?

 

I mostly care about the quality of the sound, and I feel that my 3.5 audio jack on the phone puts out terrible quality sound.

 

I also will be playing music on my laptop, which I also want to know the best way of playback.

 

How do I get the maximum amount of sound accuracy?

 

I would like to get everything else I need for under $100, but I'm flexible.


Edited by Zeranoe - 3/10/13 at 6:43pm
post #2 of 7
Before I begin: a particular feature of players that significantly effects etymotics is output impedance. This significantly restricts your choices. I mention it quite a lot. They are also super-sensitive and so much more likely to hiss with poorer kit. I find hiss significantly detracts from a lot of the music I listen to and hinders 'total immersion'.

A Sansa Clip+ or Clip Zip (or the original Fuze, not the Fuze+) will give you hifi audio with these iems. The bass is a little weak on the etyomotics but the Sansas have a decent EQ that doesn't distort like the ipod's terrible EQ. The Clip+ has a weak power button; maybe the Clip Zip fixes this. The Clip+ also runs the 3rd party Rockob firmware, which opens up new worlds and has great EQ. EQ is used constantly by professional audio mixers/audio-engineers in making music, so don;t be afraid of it so long as it is a quality EQ (not ipods and not Windows Media Player which are bad).

I may be wrong but there is a significant possibility that modern laptops using off-the-shelf audio cards are producing hifi audio. If this is true it is perhaps because audio has matured to the point were even a cheaper implementation satisfies the requirements for perfect 2 channel audio playback. I can't tell you this for certain since it would require a more scientific approach (ie, ABX/DBT testing) but using the famous O2/ODAC combination (which is hifi) with my etymotics, I cannot tell the difference between it and my Realtek and Sigmatel equipped laptops/computers (apart from a trace of noise) of the last 6 years. My older pentium 1.7Ghz laptop, however, is poor and hissy.

It does seem like phones tend to be equipped with sub-hifi, even poor, audio. The Galaxy S3 does very poorly when measured using high-end audio measurement kit. It seems that if the chipset is not 'off-the-shelf' then it is a custom design and may have deficiencies that a mature, but cheaper, chipset would not have. I would personally stay clear of Wolfson equipped kit as it is likely custom designed. Apple kit if near-hifi but often a poor match to your etymotics as they often have high output impedance (Mac Books and ipods) which is an electrical quality that significantly effects low ohm headphones and particularly balanced armatures. The newer Iphone 3s and 4s are fine (and hifi) for etymotics, but not the iphone 5 (output impedance issues, it needs to be 2 Ohms or less).

Since the Clip+ is famous for its audio (and gives hifi in scientific measurements and has very low output impedance) I would get that first and then do a simple comparison between it and your computer. If you can't tell the difference then you can save yourself some money. if you can tell the difference then you may need a DAC/AMP combo to bypass the onboard audio. The cheapest way I know to do this is to get the Behringer U202 DAC and the FIIO 5 amp. It's not totally ideal but it will give you near-enough hifi that could power some fairly power-hungry phones if needed. The reason for the amp is not power but to correct a high output impedance of the DAC that will damage your HF5 experience. the Fiio 5 can also be used to correct Apple output impedance issues. The FIIO 5 is just a touch off being hifi; an amazing bargain like the clip+.

Alternatively you could get the Schiit Modi Magni combo which is a lot more money but the specs suggest hifi audio. If you want to go for a proven purist solution then the O2/ODAC is even more money, but I reckon you'll be happy with the Schiit offering. I would look for independent verification of those specs, however. You could compromise with a Schiit DAC and the FiiO 5.

A final note on hifi: increasing the bass on these phones is important to most of us, other than purists, and compensates for human insensitivity to bass. I would suggest doing this moderately, perhaps just 5dbs. It's easy to get wonderful crunching bass but doing that will also distract from the main music. Ideally, a rockboxed clip+ would allow you to use the parametric equalizer with a setting of +9db at 30Hz Q (width of the effect) =1.4. As with most phones, etymotics have a spike in the treble caused by inner ear reflections/standing-waves. It varies between 7.5Khz to 8.5Khz at about 8dbs, depending ont he individual. It's a good idea to EQ this out with rockbox. You need to find the Head-fi mega thread by Piccolonomek on equalisation. For this I would advise ignoring his advice on using pink noise to determine the EQ width, which generally ends up being too wide, and go for a Q=6.4. this spike is not a critical issue, but it can be fun to know you've reached the ultimate. (Something that tripped me up: other EQs use BW instead of Q for width; they are not the same and you'll need to convert between them).
Edited by lorriman - 3/12/13 at 7:03am
post #3 of 7
I forgot to mention another handy tip: lowering the volume can reduce audio quality unless your onboard audio or external card/DAC is set to 24bit mode. When I plugged in my ODAC it defaulted to 16bit on my Vista system. (I also discovered a driver setting that allowed me to increase bass without distortion, which was nice.) I would advise setting your audio kit to 24bit/44Khz. Don't get carried away by the hype with 96Khz+ music. This is really only needed for audio-mixing/mastering and can cause audio issues in consumer situations.

Equally, in scientific trials, no one could tell the difference between FLAC and 192kbps MP3s (from a modern encoder, older ones are another issue). That could save you a lot of money in storage. There are limits to the human auditory biology that technology does not improve on. Having said that, rockbox has a stereo width setting that at 185% does wonders for a lot of my music (set channels to 'custom').
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much for the detailed reply!

 

I went ahead and bought a FiiO E07K before you responded, thinking it would provide a decent solutions for a DAC/Amp combo.

 

What are your thoughts on this? I have read that it probably wont run with my HTC EVO 4g LTE out of the box, but I think it is a good DAC and I will at least be able to use it with my computer.

 

I plan to only do USB audio out from everything, so that the sound quality is based off that of the E07K.

 

Let me know if I should return the E07K or if it was a good move.

post #5 of 7
The DAPs like iPods, Sony walkmen has lineout through dock connector and there soundquality improve with external AMPs and I will recommend the DAC/AMPs combo in one unit tike Fiio E17, iBasso D-Zero, Meier PCstep to use with Laptop and MP3 Players.
post #6 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeranoe View Post

Thank you so much for the detailed reply!

I went ahead and bought a FiiO E07K before you responded, thinking it would provide a decent solutions for a DAC/Amp combo.

What are your thoughts on this? I have read that it probably wont run with my HTC EVO 4g LTE out of the box, but I think it is a good DAC and I will at least be able to use it with my computer.

I plan to only do USB audio out from everything, so that the sound quality is based off that of the E07K.

Let me know if I should return the E07K or if it was a good move.

The E07K is a solid machine but you may not need it.

Since the HF5 hasn't a microphone I assume you have less need of the convenience of switching from music to phone and back easily and so would be open using a clip+ or other non-phone player. (and, keeping in mind that etymotics don't really need amplification).

In the meantime your laptop may already have excellent audio which a clip+ would help you to confirm, so avoiding the FIIO E07K. Nice to have that bass boost though.
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

I think I'll keep the E07K, and buy a Sansa Clip+ 4GB with a 32GB SD card and put on Rocketbox.

 

That was I have a portable solution and a computer solution!

 

I see that the "sorry about your wallet" statement isn't actually a joke...

 

Let me know if I forgot anything, but I think that should allow for best playback for my HF5s (which just arrived today) in all situations.


Edited by Zeranoe - 3/12/13 at 12:19pm
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Portable Source Gear
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Source Gear › Player for Etymotic Research HF5