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DAC/Amp for Fidelio X1: Ratings and Recommendations Compilation Thread

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

Below you'll find the results of a survey I conducted. I asked HeadFi members who own the Fidelio X1 to rate and comment on the sound quality of the X1 when used with different DACs/amps, portable music players etc. The ratings given are from a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the sound quality of an mp3 listened to on an iPod with the default earbuds that come with it and 10 being the ultimate headphone experience.

 

As an additional reference, I also asked that the sound quality of an X1 connected to a laptop/PC with only an integrated sound card be rated as well. I've ordered the comments according to when I received it.

 

If you have not taken part in the survey and would like to add SQ ratings and/or comments of devices you have used with the X1, please PM me or write it below and I'll add it to the table. I am willing to update this thread as new comments and ratings come in so that it will serve as a reference for current and future owners of the Fidelio X1.

 

I would like to thank everyone who participated in this survey. The response has been fantastic!

 

No.

Username

Ratings

Comments

1

ethan7000

 

Laptop + integrated sound (5/10)

FiiO E17 (5.25/10)

Sound Blaster Z/Project Starlight (6.25/10)

 

Other ratings (for reference):

 

iPhone + Fidelio L1 (4/10)

Sound Blaster Z/Project Starlight + HiFiMAN HE400 (EQ applied)  (6.75/10)

Schiit Mjolnir + Mr. Speakers Alpha Dog (8/10)

Sound Blaster Z/Project Starlight + Fostex TH600 (8.25/10)

Woo Audio WA7 (tube PSU) + HiFiMAN HE500 (9.25/10)

ALO Studio Six + Sennheiser HD800 (9.25/10)

I noticed a big difference between my Sound Blaster Z + Starlight and the E17. Project Starlight controls the bass so that there's less bloom and enhances the tone of strings and vocals.

 

2

widdyjudas

Laptop + integrated sound (5/10)

FiiO E17 + copper cable (8/10)

Aune X1 mk2 + copper cable (8.5/10)

Aune X1 mk2 + silver cable (9/10)

Gtab 7plus (4/10)

With E17 the sound is balanced with a controlled bass.

Aune X1 mk2 + copper cable makes mids more forward, but sound is less airy and has less separation.

Aune X1 mk2 + silver cable is more balanced (but slightly laid back), also more airy and more separation details. Kinda like E17, but with more air and separation details.

3

benbenkr

 

None

Having paired the X1 with an E17 (with and without an E09k), a Creative Sound Blaster Z, an X-Fi XtremeMusic, and a HRT Microstreamer, I will only conclude one thing regarding the difference between the DACs... they aren’t really as substantial as I thought it would be.

In theory, the HRT Microstreamer should sound the best but it doesn’t. The SBZ on the other hand is a touch warmer than the E17 and the XtremeMusic sounds thin and fairly neutral. The E17 to me sounded the most balanced, I particularly drop the bass to -2 and +2 on the treble through the EQ on the E17. This to me did eliminate a little bit of the bass bloat which was my biggest gripe (and it’s also a minor one) I had with the X1, it’s now at the level where I like it to be.

That being said, do I hear a huge difference between 4 different DACs? No. It’s noticeable, but it’s subtle.

4

Textfeud

 

Laptop + integrated sound (7.5/10)

FiiO E10 (8.25/10)

I would recommend using it with a DAC/amp. But I wouldn’t spend more than the Aune T1 or FiiO E17 on it because it doesn’t scale that much.

5

mrenvy

 

iPod Classic (6/10)

Teac HA-501 (8/10)

Creek OBH-11 (5/10)

None

6

grizzlybeast

 

Laptop + integrated sound (6/10)

Focusrite Forte (8/10)

It doesn’t need an amp to shine.

7

HiFiRobot

O2 + ODAC (7/10)

NAD D1050 (7/10)

O2 finds the last low notes and is harder hitting, whereas D1050 has a bigger soundstage, but differences are very very subtle. D1050 DAC only + O2 also works really well. But i rate the D1050 as a much better DAC for my 2-channel full size rig where ODAC does not sound good at all.

8

Cotnijoe

 

Laptop + integrated sound (6/10)

iPhone (6.25/10)

iPod Classic (6.4/10)

FiiO E17, PA2V2 (6.5/10)

Sony PHA-1, VMODA VAMP, iBasso D5 Hj, O2 + ODAC (7/10)

Fostex HP-P1 (7.25/10)

The X1’s benefit from an amp is just not THAT significant. It sounds great regardless for the most part.

 

9

sjsu26

 

Laptop + integrated sound (6/10)

Apogee One + FiiO E6 (8.5/10)

 

With laptop: only sounds good, definitely much better than iPod + ear buds but a little underwhelming in terms of overall SQ. Bass still there, but mids and body lacking a bit. Sounds like it’s just coasting along. Doesn’t sound terrible by any means, but leaves you wanting more. Felt the HD 595 was easier to drive straight out of my computer as I had to bump up the volume a couple of steps more with the X1.

With Apogee: although I didn’t have a proper amp and the fact that I don’t think the Apogee One was meant to be used as a DAC, it’s definitely an upgrade in every department and better than nothing. This relatively cheap combo surprisingly did a good job of driving them. More impact with the bass, better soundstage, the mids were more present although a tad more distant than what I was used to with the HD 595 (just wish it had a little more mids), and the treble was smooth and not sibilant at all except for a few specific tracks. The overall sound was a good step up and clearer as a whole. I haven’t heard any high end setups but this one is very solid for the price. I’m convinced that a budget conscious amp/DAC combo like the O2/ODAC, the Schiit Magni/Modi, or any of the FiiO products would be more than capable of doing these cans justice.

10

MrScratch

 

FiiO X3 (6/10)

FiiO X3 + FiiO E12 (8/10)

Schiit Bifrost + Lake People G109 (10/10)

 

I did a comparison between the FiiO X3 + E12 combo and my desktop rig (volume matched and paired with a switcher to reduce bias) and I can state with confidence that even if the X3 (or E17, for what matters) is good enough to drive them, I still prefer the X1 with my desktop units. In my humble opinion the X1 is best paired with a clear and neutral rig. It's open, punchy, detailed and engaging at the same time! =)

Since you are asking which DAC/AMP combos are best suited with these cans, so here my advice: take a look at the Objective combo, you won’t be disappointed. :)

11

pdrm360

 

Laptop + integrated sound (2-4/10)

Audioquest Dragonfly (6-7/10)

None

12

rcoolb2002

 

Laptop + integrated sound (5/10)

FiiO E17 (7/10)

FiiO E17 + E09k (7.5/10)

FiiO E09k + Xbox360 (6/10) 

10 on my scale is what I think is the best possible sound from a X1.

13

dailysmoker

 

Laptop + integrated sound (6.5/10)

FiiO E10 (7.5/10)

Denon PMA-720AE (9/10)

Denon stereo amp sounds much better then my E10 that sounds a little darker and muddy.

 

14

Thujone

 

None

I didn’t find the X1 to scale very much at all. I never listened to them straight out of a laptop or straight out of the headphone jack on my desktop, but between my A1, D1, and Magni, the only differences I found were simply from the amps themselves. In other words, I have a similar effect between these three amps with my other headphones: A1 helps bring the treble up a bit, adding more detail and also adds a bit of warmth on the bottom end (something I think the X1’s do NOT need); D1 was very similar to the Magni with a little softer treble but more controlled bass (and not by a mile by any means, just very slightly noticeable). I didn’t own the X1 long enough to have a very legitimate opinion on them

Anyway, long story short, I didn’t feel that the X1 scaled super well. Out of my iPod or out of my D1/A1 combo, I didn’t think any of that extra stuff was necessary at all. Part of that may be due to the low impedance, but I’m not too sure (I don’t feel my Grados scale real well either).

15

Carlsan

 

PC + Musical Fideltiy V-Link (USB) + Eastern Electric Minimax Tube DAC + Burson Audio Soloist (10/10)

None

16

HolyCheese

Laptop + integrated sound (7/10)

FiiO E10 (7.5/10)

Cowon j3 (7.5/10)

FiiO E10 + Objective 2 (7.8/10)

Audiolabs M-DAC + Woo Audio WA-6 (9.2/10)

Surface 2 Tablet (7.5/10)

FiiO E10 + Bottlehead Crack (8.5/10)

Seriously these headphones on the worst of the worst (which is a laptop in general. Mine or a Macbook suck) still sounds like a 7/10.

If you connect the HD 650 to a laptop it would be a 5/10.

I think what I listen to now. The hd650 and Bottlehead Crack with FiiO E10 is a 9/10.

17

ManAtWork

 

Laptop + integrated sound (3/10)

Audio GD Master 7 +
Audio GD SA-31/Corda Symphony 2  (7/10)

None

18

Oregonian

 

iPod Classic + C421 portable amp (8/10)

iPhone 4/iPod + Kenwood KA-5700 (9/10)

None

19

Skipshrike

Creative Sound Blaster Z sound card (8/10)

A great all-around setup for gaming competitively and for fun.

20

Change is Good

None

The best amp/DAC combination I’ve read people say was good for the X1 was the O2/ODAC. The X1 is very efficient and really doesn’t require any serious amping. Another amp that I heard works well with the X1 is the iFi Micro iCAN.

21

Mad Dude

Laptop + integrated sound (3/10)

PC + Assus Xonar STX (10/10)

iPod Touch 4G + Pico Power (10/10)

Rega RP3 + Mapletree Ear HD (7/10)

BD Player + Smyth Realiser (6/10)

Rega RP3+ Mapletree Ear HD adds coloration. Smyth Realiser for some reason does not work well with the X1.

22

PanamaHat

Laptop + integrated sound (5/10)

iPhone (5/10)

Audio GD NFB 11.32 (6/10)

 

Other rating (for reference):

 

Audeze LCD 2 + Audio GD NFB 11.32 (10/10)

With a laptop or iPhone, the X1 sounds a bit congested and the highs are slightly harsh. Out of the NFB 11.32 the sound improves as everything becomes more coherent but bass and mids are still a bit muddy IMO.

23

Snoopy Ears

Laptop + integrated sound (5/10)

iPod Nano 6th generation (5/10)

V-MODA VAMP VERZA (6/10)

Music is crisper and the sound is much fuller with VERZA.

24

Meoow

Laptop + integrated sound (7/10)

Schitt Bifrost + Asgard combo (7/10)

Fostex HP-A8C (8/10)

Woo Audio WA6 + Sophia Princess Mesh Plate 274B Rectifier + 6GL7/6EM7 + Fostex HP-A8C (8/10)

None

25

cib24

Laptop + integrated sound (4/10)

Asus Xonar Essence ST (7/10)

Titanium HD (6/10)

Asus Xonar Essence ST + Schiit Magni (8/10)

Titanium HD + Schiit Magni (7/10)

Musical Fidelity M1HPA (9.5/10)

None

26 ztsen Marantz UD7007 + Audio-GD Master 7 + Bottlehead Crack (7/10) Impression: good soundstage, smooth high, but excessive bass. 
27 Vosk

Laptop + integrated sound (3/10)

FiiO 07K (7/10)

None
28 John1711 None

I have been listening to the X1 on a Leben CS300XS and not much else.  I have tried it on some portable amps such as the Pico Power and Wagnus Bialbero Epsilon.

My opinion is that the X1 does not scale up much to desktop amplification and is just fine with portable sources.

Where I have used a portable source, it was either a modified iPod from Whiplash audio or the RWAK120-S.

The X1 is very musical and non-fatiguing but lacking the immersive experience of more technically advanced headphones such as the TH900 or headphones better tuned for classical music such as the Shure1840.

29 lugia862

Laptop + integrated sound (6/10)

iPod Video (5/10)

Hifiman HM60 (7/10)

Samsung Galaxy Nexus + PowerAmp (Kernel set to turn on high performance audio) + TI TWL6040 (6/10)

Audinst HUD-MX1 (Phone out) (7/10)

Audinst HUD-MX1 + Lehmann BCL (8/10)

Asus Transformer TF700T (Phone out) + PowerAmp + Realtek ALC5642 (4/10)

ES9023 dongle (7/10)

Philips CD650 Phone out (7/10)

Sony MZ-RH1 (8/10)

I haven't really tested the X1 on enough different setups to say much about it, but it seems there is a general trend that when X1 is plugged into something that has lower output impedance, it usually performs better and gives better extension,especially noticeably on bass, but the X1 has been very nice already on mobile devices to be fun enough to use.

30 ISALULA

Marantz CD5001 (5/10)

Marantz CD5001 + Teac HA-501  (8/10)

I listened to the X1 on only one setup for two hours i.e. Teac HA-501 + Marantz CD5001. I liked the X1 with this combo very much.

The X1 is a very efficient headphone. Indeed, I tried the X1 for a few minutes directly connected to the CD player output (6.35 mm jack) without problems. Of course, the sound quality is significantly better with a headphone amplifier like the HA-501.

The X1 is not a member of the accurate or neutral headphones club.  

In my humble opinion the X1 is soft but detailed, rarely sibilant in the highs (except on very bad recordings), has colored mids, a prominent bass, is dynamic and has a wide and spacious soundstage.

31 Kimx2310

Laptop + integrated sound (2/10)

iPhone (3.5/10)

E17 (4-5.5/10)

O2/ODAC (7/10)

Yamaha RX-V765 Receiver (7.1/10)

For some odd reason I like the X1 best with my reciever, the O2/ODAC is just too neutral for the warm X1. On my other headphones the O2/ODAC was better.

Edited by PTom - 12/10/13 at 4:01am
post #2 of 30
Woweee there is a lot going on here. You went all out haha. Didnt expect this many participants. Nice! Hope this was a fun lil survey for you to do!
post #3 of 30

Yeah nice work bro and am not far of the rest :)

post #4 of 30

Generally consensus seems that although the X1 do scale, there's only so much benefit you can get out of an external dac/amp =)

post #5 of 30

Way to go, Tom! This will definitely be a helpful guide for others. The X1 is a very popular headphone nowadays and this should be a first (or second) stop for anyone doing research.

 

:beerchug:

post #6 of 30

Good Job!

post #7 of 30

Glad I could partake in this little survey. It's very interesting reading everyone else's thoughts knowing each one is coming from a different background in terms of setups as well as years of headphone experience in general. Helps people who are just starting out in this hobby and those like myself who are relatively inexperienced compared to others who have had much more exposure to different equipment :)

post #8 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by sjsu26 View Post
 

Glad I could partake in this little survey. It's very interesting reading everyone else's thoughts knowing each one is coming from a different background in terms of setups as well as years of headphone experience in general. Helps people who are just starting out in this hobby and those like myself who are relatively inexperienced compared to others who have had much more exposure to different equipment :)

 

exactly my thoughts! its a good starting point for a lot of people and always interesting to see how people's views differ

post #9 of 30

Seems like tube amps do well with the X1 here. Anybody tried out the Project Starlight or Little Dot 1+ as these two are meant to work well with low impedance cans?

 

*Edit* thanks Thujone - saw that - was just looking for a bit more info thanks.


Edited by SaLX - 11/8/13 at 5:23pm
post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by SaLX View Post
 

Seems like tube amps do well with the X1 here. Anybody tried out the Project Starlight or Little Dot 1+ as these two are meant to work well with low impedance cans?

The first reviewer in the table (ethan7000) made some comments on the Starlight.

post #11 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by SaLX View Post
 

Seems like tube amps do well with the X1 here. Anybody tried out the Project Starlight or Little Dot 1+ as these two are meant to work well with low impedance cans?

 

I prefer the SS amps for the X1. 

post #12 of 30

One of the best setup for the X1 would be Schiit Bifrost Uber -> Asgard 2 (low gain), IMO.

post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by pdrm360 View Post
 

 

I prefer the SS amps for the X1.

+1. The X1 does not need any extra warmth from a tube IMO

post #14 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thujone View Post
 

+1. The X1 does not need any extra warmth from a tube IMO

Really? I thought the ability to change tubes on the cheap would be fun - you could conceivably get a tailored sound by swapping out for more neutral tubes - and still have the musicality.

 

(Sorry new here :) )

post #15 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gun21 View Post
 

Really? I thought the ability to change tubes on the cheap would be fun - you could conceivably get a tailored sound by swapping out for more neutral tubes - and still have the musicality.

 

(Sorry new here :) )

Yeah, that's a good point, but you might as well just get a solid state at that point IMO 

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