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Suggest a portable DAC / amp for my over-ear setup?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

So I'm new to the over-ear world, been into high(ish)-end in-ear stuff for awhile, last running some Westone UM2's. Recently decided to get into a set of over-ear phones, and ended up on a little buying spree... First I ordered a set of Aiaiai TMA-1 Studios, and while waiting for those, stumbled into a Brookstone Outlet and picked up a pair of Audio Technica ATH-W1000X's... They had them knocked down to $419, but I guess they'd been sitting there for a month or so, and the manager made me an offer I couldn't refuse, $199 out the door. 


At any rate, I've obviously been aware of portable amps for a while, but I guess I've always thought the benefits would be minor when driving tiny in-ear speakers. With the larger speakers in over-ear phones, they make more sense to me. With that in mind, I'm on the lookout for one.


Seeing as how the sound signatures are quite a bit different between the Aiaiai and Audio Technica phones, can somebody suggest one amp that will benefit each pair of phones equally? I'll be playing music from an iPhone 5. It should be noted that I only listen to music via headphones when the Airplane Mode is engaged. 


I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to portable amps... I've been looking at the Fiios stuff, just because it's the easiest to find information on. Looking at the E6 just for optimal portability, but it's not as if the E11 or E12 would be too big. I'm also looking at the Astell & Kern AK10, Although at it's tiny size, I'm unsure if the AK10's amp is suitable to push larger over-ear speakers like the Audio Technicas..?


Thanks in advance for any suggestions...

Edited by Earbones - 12/20/13 at 11:28pm
post #2 of 4

I have the E6 and though it is small, that's actually a downside for me. See the thing is, the belt clip it comes with is utterly useless, so most of the time it hangs out in the pocket with my iPod, the small size doesn't allow me to properly rubber band it to the iPod and it is pretty annoying. I would suggest getting something like the FiiO E17 for anything other than an Android phone, and a E18 for an Android. Besides, the E6, though a capable amplifier for the price, is simply not enough juice for many headphones.


With the E17/E18 you also get a DAC with hardware EQ if that is something that you are interested in, also, VERY nice grab on the AT's.

post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice, GaryWA... The E17 is definitely very interesting. It appears to have the whole package- the DAC, a fairly powerful little amp, and it's priced very well. 


I will admit that my research has left me a little confused though... Does the iPhone 5 allow for an exterior DAC? I've read some stuff that says it will, others saying no. Still other stuff saying it requires a Camera Connecter kit. The photos of the Astell & Kern AK10 shows it plugged directly into the iPhone 5... 

post #4 of 4

I've been looking around, and it actually looks like the new connection won't really work with the DAC of the E17, and even with a couple of adapters, it won't sound nearly as good. I don't have an iPhone 5 so I'm not 100% sure. If this is the case, I would just suggest the E11 and use the internal DAC of the iPhone.

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