Originally Posted by Sense
Quick question...why would someone want an external amp with a device like the X5? Isn't the point to have an audiophile quality player/amp/DAC all in one?
Different folks - different strokes ....... or YMMV .
Personally speaking, the main reason I purchased the X5 was so that I had a great sounding player, that would hold all my music, and be playable on all of my headphones without the need for additional amping.
When I was reviewing it, I extensively tested the X5 (accurately volume matched with an SPL meter) on the same files compared to my desktop NFB-12. There was essentially no change in dynamics with my full sized cans when compared to the NFB-12 (which is a powerful amp), and same with my IEMs. I tested with the DT880 250 ohm and HD600. I've recently purchased a Beyer T1, and it's great with that also.
So for me - it's an all in one solution. Others prefer to amp (to them it provides better SQ). I'd be interested to see other's comparisons under correct testing conditions (ie properly volume matched and blind tested) - but hey, if they are happy with their set-up, then that is all that matters. It could also be that others have far better hearing than I do - and I readily accept that as a distinct possibility. If they do - then that is to my advantage anyway - I have the more portable and cheaper set-up, and am completely happy for my standards/hearing.
My advice would be to try the X5 by itself - and compare it to your desktop set-up before looking to add additional amplification. If you aren't getting enough volume, or think dynamics are lacking with the X5 by itself - then add amplification later. Just remember to always volume match when comparing (and no - by ear is not good enough - use an SPL meter).