Funny thing is I've actually learned all those acronyms in the title. And yet still so much to learn.
Anyway, I have a iPod Touch 5g that I'm using as a source (and that's not going to change). I've been slowly building up my headphones, IEMs actually because of neck issues, and now that there are DAC or DAC/amp combos that can work with the Lightning equipped players I'm looking to finish off my portable system. I have a Headstage 4g that I like, but I just got some Westone 4Rs and it sounds like someone is stepping on the sound.
So too much time on this site has led me to the wholly subjective truth that a DAC should be the next step. But it needs to have MFi certification. What I've seen so far:
Fostex HP-P1, which doesn't seem to be supporting the Lightning connector
CypherLab AlgoRhythm Solo -R and -db, available now, well regarded from what I see.
CEntrance HiFi-M8, which should be available in September since I didn't order it last winter.
V-Moda Vamp Verza, available now
Alpha Design Labs X1, which is showing July in stores where I can find it listed.
For me the HP-P1 is out for lack of Lightning jack support. I'm perfectly happy throwing stones out of the walled garden. My inclination right now is to go for the Sony PHA-1, if for no other reason than it costs less, but obviously I'm looking for more info. I'm still working to learn all the specs and what is or isn't important.
I listen mostly to AACs at 256k. My IEM stable is Audeo PFE232, Klipsch X10, Westone 4R, and UE TF10. I do notice a great deal of improvement with the Arrow 4G amp, except with the 4Rs. While I'm not anxious to re-encode (again) my music to ALAC or FLAC (with an app as player) it isn't out of the question. Any recommendations or feedback is appreciated. I'm not mated to any brand or feature beyond MFi that can read from Lightning cables stock.
Oh, and lastly I have a gift card from B&H, which I'd like to use with this purchase. They have the PHA-1 and the Vamp. It would be a goodly savings but not so much that I'm only going to buy one of those two.