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Replacing my old Ipod and M30's with something higher end, Astell & Kern, etc and need some advice!

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 

Hey all,


So I've decided that this year is going to be the year I upgrade my audio set up that I've had for the past decade.

I've been doing a fair bit of research, but every day I find some new product and have to compare it to the others I've found, so I thought I'd seek the expertise of you guys!


My last set up was a 5G Ipod Classic with a set of AudioTechnica M30's (which I thought were great at the time).


I have an Ipod Nano and a pair of Monster IEM's for when I want something pocketable.

I'm hoping to get something to improve the sound of the music, so that it hits a little harder and just has an awesome over all sound.


I listen to a few hours of music a day, so battery life is pretty important to me. I'd also like something that isn't massive.

My music collection has a little bit of everything, lately I've been listening to a lot of R&B, Rock, a little Hip Hop and a little Dubstep. That said, Classical and oldies aren't out of the question.


It seems like there's a few routes to go, and to be honest even after a fair bit of reading I'm not sure which is "best".


Route 1: Ipod (Touch or Classic), with an amp

Route 2: Ipod (Touch or Classic), with a combo amp/DAC

Route 3: iBasso DX50

Route 4: iBasso DX50 with an amp

Route 5: Astell & Kern AK100

Route 6: Sony NW-ZX1 (I know this isn't out yet, but thought someone might have some input based on it's spec)


Amps and amp/DAC combos I was looking into:


Fiio E12 Mont Blanc

HeadAmp Pico

HeadAmp Pico Slim

Headstage Arrow


I do have a few questions regarding the different set ups.


Most of my music collection is 128kbps MP3 files. I got most of my collection when I was a teenager, when it took 25 minutes to download a 4mb file. A lot of what I've read is that I would need to source out 320kbps files at the least to get decent sound out of it.

Is this true? Will my 128kbps files sound noticably worse?


I've read that the Ipod has a decent DAC in it, would just getting an amp for it give me noticably better sound? Or would I be better off going with an amp/DAC combo?


Would the Astell and Kern AK100 be fine without an amp, or would it really benefit from one?

After a lot of looking around it seems like the HeadAmp Pico has the same processing ability as this unit.

Is it's main advantage the small size and expandability?


If I got the Ipod and attached the amp/DAC combo, does it bypass the onboard DAC?


When putting files onto an Ipod, are they as good as a 320kbps or FLAC? Or should I look at getting a different player for that reason alone?


Can the iBasso DX50 power headphones I have listed below? I don't mind getting an amp with this one because of its initial lower cost, but if I can avoid it that'd be ideal.


Why would someone go for an iBasso DX50, Astell and Kern, etc over an Ipod with an external amp/DAC?
Just size? As far as I can tell other than that, they're pretty comparable, especially if going with the Classic and it's massive storage capacity.


I'll also be looking to get a set of headphones. I'd prefer something that doesn't bleed much sound out of them, as I don't like the thought of disturbing those around me with what I'm listening to. I'm also VERY partial to ones with a one sided cable.


I was looking into these two for on ear:


BeyerDynamic DT 1350

V*Moda M80


Or these for over ear:


BeyerDynamic Custom One Pro

BeyerDynamic DT 770 Pro-80

Focal Spirit Classic

Sennheiser Momentum


Are there any other mentions that I should consider?

I was also wondering, for headphones that have detachable cables, is it possible to purchase aftermarket cables?
I've tried to search for them on Google but only found replacements for a couple of Sennheiser and AKG models.


If there are any other amp/DAC's that are recommendable, or even players, please feel free to recommend away.

Cost wise I'm hoping to keep it around the same items I have listed. I'm also upgrading my home audio so a majority of the money is going into that. 


I know this is a bit lengthy, just trying to make sure I lay out everything I can think of in the first post.

Hopefully I didn't leave any crucial info out.

post #2 of 2

When you get a good quality Digital Audio Player and some really good headphones.

It will make the imperfections in your "poor quality" 128kbps stand out, depending on which of your 128kbps are poor quality.....could be most of them.


You could go thru eBay and buy up used audio CDs of your favorite music and make FLAC audio files (or Apple ALAC audio files).


You can go to a website like "HDtracks" and buy high quality music files.


Buy 256kbps audio files off Amazon.

Not sure about iTunes audio files, have never used them.


Digital Audio Palyer and headphone wise.

A FiiO X3 ($200) with some JVC HA-S500 ($60) on-ear folding headphones, would do a nice job, for the price.

With a DAP like the FiiO X3, it will do a fairly good job for driving headphones, without the need for adding an external DAC/amp.

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