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high end IEM or mid range w/ amp?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hi all!

I'm pretty new to high end headphones and am thinking about switching to a pair of IEMs (because at school I can't always have a hefty pair of over-ear) and I have two ideas.

1)buy a good quality westone IEM and run it through my laptop

or

2) get a pair of etymotic IEMs and a fiio portable amp

 

What do you all think would give me the best bang for my buck?

any and all responses would be appreciated.

post #2 of 23

Best IEM you can get, then look into amps.

 

Shure SE535 or go custom with the Alclair reference monitors for less than the Shure.

post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 

if I bought a higher quality headphone (for example the shure) and used it with a laptop, it would be restricted to the quality of the soundcard, right? 

post #4 of 23

yes, but in the future you can buy a seperate amp/DAC like the JDS Labs C5 + ODAC, or an all in one like the Muse PD1+, or the Fiio E17

post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 

thanks for the info randomkid.  It helped out alot.

post #6 of 23

I think Etymotic ER4P/S with AMPs willbe better than any westone IEMs if need higher resolution soundquality.

post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 

are there any portable amp/dacs that you would recommend?

post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by HFAUDIOPHILE View Post

I think Etymotic ER4P/S with AMPs willbe better than any westone IEMs if need higher resolution soundquality.

+1 and even more on a symetric amp, I said that, but I just have had the RSA The Protector 2 month. On it it was not the same IEM, already accurate, but more natural, more open and less lateralized. The RSA amp are known as warm amp, but it is not so sensitive with the ER4pt but even warmer than a Pico Slim which is very speed and more neutral. 

 

I just tried 2 weeks the ER4pt with the Apex Glacier but it was not as good as the Protector (Hifimediy on laptop / Fuze ) although the DAC section of the Glacier. The presentation of the Protector in symetric is awesome. 

post #9 of 23

Normally I would say get the better IEM and the upgrade the dac/amp later, but laptop headphone jacks are so dodgy for sound quality it really makes it hard. If you're going to be tethered to a laptop anyway, I would go for a budget amp/dac and some phones rather than being bottlenecked by a cheap proprietary laptop amp/dac. If you buy mainstream stuff off the forums you should be able to sell it and upgrade later rather painlessly.

post #10 of 23

Depends what your budget and tastes are...there are many other options, but definitely high end iem over the amp. Get the iem, and you will get a DX100/AK100/C4/Tera/901 later. Best universal is Tralucent 1Plus2 to my tastes but expensive. Less expensive, Heir 5.0 is great and does not need amping.

post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by altaxc View Post

Hi all!
I'm pretty new to high end headphones and am thinking about switching to a pair of IEMs (because at school I can't always have a hefty pair of over-ear) and I have two ideas.
1)buy a good quality westone IEM and run it through my laptop
or
2) get a pair of etymotic IEMs and a fiio portable amp

What do you all think would give me the best bang for my buck?
any and all responses would be appreciated.

Because you are running in through your laptop, I'm assuming it's to use the on board sound card which tends to be rubbish.

Traditionally, my advice would be to go for the IEM upgrade first because in my opinion, you hear the most difference there but there is a price point where the differences become subtle and it becomes a question of which sound signature suits your tastes better.

However, you are using a laptop and I think you would be better off with a dac first and/or dac/amp combo then settling with a good pair or earphones.

If you are using a mobile phone or an iPod of sorts, I'd go with my traditional advice above.

With an amp alone, it tends to clean up the signal a little but it may also amplify crap stuff if your source isn't too good, source being direct from the laptop.

My two cents.
post #12 of 23
Thread Starter 

thanks cravenz!

My source will be a portable hard drive run from my laptop playing lossless, and yes I think the laptop doesn't have the greatest soundcard. 

Assuming I had $300 to spend on used equipment, what would your advice be?

Right now I was thinking along the lines of a used ibasso amp/dac w/ etymotics or triplefi10.  What would you do in my situation?


Edited by altaxc - 4/12/13 at 5:54am
post #13 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by altaxc View Post

thanks cravenz!
My source will be a portable hard drive run from my laptop playing lossless, and yes I think the laptop doesn't have the greatest soundcard. 
Assuming I had $300 to spend on used equipment, what would your advice be?
Right now I was thinking along the lines of a used ibasso amp/dac w/ etymotics or triplefi10.  What would you do in my situation?
You can actually consider getting a Cowon DAP and a TF10. Cowon players will be sufficient to drive most IEMs without an amp IMO. Example can be a Cowon J3 player paired with TF10 and it sounds really good. Can be sourced for within your budget as well. smily_headphones1.gif
post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by altaxc View Post

thanks cravenz!
My source will be a portable hard drive run from my laptop playing lossless, and yes I think the laptop doesn't have the greatest soundcard. 
Assuming I had $300 to spend on used equipment, what would your advice be?
Right now I was thinking along the lines of a used ibasso amp/dac w/ etymotics or triplefi10.  What would you do in my situation?

How much will the used iBasso set you back?

Also depends on what you were using before too. For example, you could be using lower end stuff so the moment you go to the 200 price point, you'll experience a real difference. But if you've been using stuff that costs 50-100,the difference in the sonic difference will be less.

Let me know what the used cost is first and then I might be able to give a better input. Thing is though, if you haven't heard better, you'd still be able to appreciate gear without spending too much.

I'd say, think about how much you value sonic differences, how much you are willing to spend without feeling uncomfortable (I assume the budget you stated).

I'd definitely look at getting a dac though, at the very least and the lower to mid tier earphones don't benefit a whole lot from amping so an amp, if it doesn't come with the dac, would be the lowest priority for me.
post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by xaddictionx View Post

You can actually consider getting a Cowon DAP and a TF10. Cowon players will be sufficient to drive most IEMs without an amp IMO. Example can be a Cowon J3 player paired with TF10 and it sounds really good. Can be sourced for within your budget as well. smily_headphones1.gif

+1

Plus it's more portable than the laptop so it's easier if you move around smily_headphones1.gif
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