Just wondering whether best spend on a desktop amp rather than amp/dac if my main focus is musicality.
I already hooked (for testing purposes) my iPhone 5s to my iBasso T3 via Lightning to 30-pin adapter.
Quality wise i don't think i got any improvement with neither my UM3x or SE215 since the 5s hpo already has stunning quality. Obviously what i got was a ton of headroom and volume available if needed.
On the other hand i hooked the 5s to the T3 via headphone out and the sound was fuzzier. Hence i don't buy the theory that states that double amplification does not hinder clarity.
BTW i don't have volume problems with my 5s and my iems but i had more headroom with my old 4s and 3Gs. And with certain headphones & recordings this extra headroom can come very handy.
Size-quality the 30 pin adapter is quite remarkable imho. Ergonomy goes a long way in my book.
Anyway with efficient iems and the iPhone 5s i don't think anything else is needed to enjoy a magnificent sound.
FWIW, I will mention that the JDS Labs C5D Amp / DAC combo which uses the CCK (actually called the "Lightning to USB camera connection cable) and USB Audio Class 1 sounded very good to me, used pure digital out from iPhone Lightning connector, and more importantly, had a "battery" mode which reduced the power draw on my iPhone. In my experience, though, it still DID draw down the battery a bit--about 1 percent per song, which is a runtime of approx. 400 minutes, significantly less than the native runtime using the HO. Plus, you also have the added PITA of having to go from CCK to micro-USB cable, with the CCK terminating in a huge female USB end, mating with a huge, fullsize male USB end, which then goes to the C5D.
In something like the Fostek or Sony or the HiFi M8, you just use the Lightning charging / synching cable--and there are off-the-shelf short ones available--to connect to your amp/dac combo unit. Much more elegant.
I sold my C5D because I felt the improvement wasn't enough to justify the extra hassle and the SQ out of the 5S was so good with my ER-4S's and HD595's. But if I ever decide I want a portable Amp/DAC again, I will definitely go for a CEntrance HiFi M8. It can drive most anything and is a registered Apple MFi device. I figure in for a penny in for a pound. Or nothing. Which I am quite happy with. LOL!
In the last 10 days i got my 5s exchanged for a brand new one twice and both of them sound exactly the same as the first one. That is very good and that is less loud than my former iPhone 4s.
The reason for the change is that from time to time when listening on headphones the volume 'autolocks' to maximum level and you just can't regain control over volume unless you restart the iPhone.
I almost got my eardrums blown the last time since i was listening to the UM3x that are uber sensitive and i was wearing gloves so it took me a few seconds to pull out the iems.
A few days back i purchased a used 4s in order to properly compare its sound with the 5s. At times i missed the warmth of the 4s...
Well...there's an important difference in sound signature already commented here. But may be it's more pronounced than i was judging from memory.
The 5s mids are more forward and it has less subbass energy where the 4s mids are not as in your face and its bottom end is clearly thicker.
In the end i think that the added warmth of the 4s is more forgiving than the added presence from the 5s.
FTR the EU iPhone 4s under iOS 7 is almost two clicks louder than the EU iPhone 5s hence the EU headphone amp limit does only seem to be in place from iPhone 5 on (And i'm talking about a cap different than the one from the Music menu. An added cap that the end user can not override)
If any owner based within the (annoying) EU wants to uncage the amp of their 5s here is what i did. And it's working wonders withou drawbacks of any kind (Aside the JB).
2. Add to Cydia the repo from hackmyiphone
3. Install the EU Volume Limit Disabler from that repo
Now you have got rid of the annoying yellow/red squares and from screen turning on when you get loud
1. Install iFile (from cydia)
2. Through iFile go to /var/mobile/library/preferences
3. open the archive com.apple.celestial.plist%
4. go to volumelimits/headphone and change 1 for 1.2
Now the headphone amp from your 5s is not capped. It will get as loud as an iPad Air or non capped iPhone 4s. And that without adding any audible distortion or audible raise in the noise floor.
Even if people don't know the EU has set a double volume limit (measured with bundled earphones):
1. 85db (if you have the Music Setting toggle EU Limit set to On)
2. 100db (If you have the Music Setting toggle EU Limit set to Off)
That is for the Earpods. Problem is that non EU iPhones/Touches drive the Earpods to far more than 100db. Hence even turning Off EU Limit on the menu you are chained to the second volume limit set by the CENELEC. Your amp remains capped. Less capped but capped nonetheless.
The regulation is stupid enough that when earphones are not bundled with the player there is no cap since the amount of capping can not be assessed. Hence: iPads are no volume limited within the EU.
Do you honestly need that extra volume? I can understand if you have hearing damage but anything above 75% is freakishly loud on any of my cans with the 5S. I'm just trying to understand why someone would need to remove said cap.