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iphone sounds just as good as my DAC/amp, to me?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

A question I have wanted to ask for a while but never got around to it. I am primarily an audio engineer so I don't really have an abundance of flagship headphones, but what I have noticed with the headphones that I do have, is that I cannot tell any difference between plugging right into my iphone vs plugging into my Apogee Duet (DAC/Amp). I have tried with my Etymotic and my AKG Q701s, and could tell any difference between my iphone and my Apogee/computer, even though I was expecting to. I wouldn't blame my ears, I can easily tell the difference between my pair of Q701 and my friends K701. Any other possible explanations?

post #2 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Devon8822 View Post
 

A question I have wanted to ask for a while but never got around to it. I am primarily an audio engineer so I don't really have an abundance of flagship headphones, but what I have noticed with the headphones that I do have, is that I cannot tell any difference between plugging right into my iphone vs plugging into my Apogee Duet (DAC/Amp). I have tried with my Etymotic and my AKG Q701s, and could tell any difference between my iPhone and my Apogee/computer, even though I was expecting to. I wouldn't blame my ears, I can easily tell the difference between my pair of Q701 and my friends K701. Any other possible explanations?

So it sounds like the Apogee Duets DAC/amp is about equal to the DAC/Amp that is built in to the iPhone.

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

hrmm, that might be what it sounds like but i dont think thats the case.

post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Devon8822 View Post
 

hrmm, that might be what it sounds like but I don't think that's the case.

Apple products are known for coming with fairly decent DAC and headphone amplifier audio hardware.

Where as even thou you paid a lot more for that Apogee Duet, then you did for the iPhone.

I'm guessing Apogee did not spend more for the headphone output audio hardware, then Apple did.


Edited by PurpleAngel - 1/4/14 at 1:45pm
post #5 of 14

As much as people want to believe, using a better DAC/amp isn't going to give you a night and day difference. It will be subtle, even for the most expensive gear you can find (unless of course, you're comparing free airplane earphones to Sennheiser Orpheus or something). Those subtle improvements won't be apparent when you first start listening to it and comparing it to the lower end gear. But it's those subtle details that makes the listening experience so much more satisfying. Try to listen exclusively to the Apogee for a while to get accustomed to it (even though you seemn to hear no difference). After a while when you switch back to the iPhone you'll probably hear a difference when that subtle refinement is suddenly missing.

 

I haven't heard the Apogee btw, so it may well be just a crappy DAC/amp for all I know. But the above is my experience with all the gear I've heard.


Edited by Aizura - 1/5/14 at 8:25am
post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aizura View Post

As much as people want to believe, using a better DAC/amp isn't going to give you a night and day difference. It will be subtle, even for the most expensive gear you can find (unless of course, you're comparing free airplane earphones to Sennheiser Orpheus or something). Those subtle improvements won't be apparent when you first start listening to it and comparing it to the lower end gear. But it's those subtle details that makes the listening experience so much more satisfying. Try to listen exclusively to the Apogee for a while to get accustomed to it (even though you seemn to hear no difference). After a while when you switch back to the iPhone you'll probably hear a difference when that subtle refinement is suddenly missing.

I haven't heard the Apogee btw, so it may well be just a crappy DAC/amp for all I know. But the above is my experience with all the gear I've heard.

I disagree. Even in the case of two different setups being of the same quality level there should be a difference in sound signature. I'd guess that either the Apogee is very close to the same circuit as used in the iphone or that neither setup is driving the headphones properly.

I guess the next thing to test would be if your computer's onboard sound sounds exactly the same. If it does, and you're happy with the sound you're getting from all three of them, then you've just saved yourself a lot of money. biggrin.gif If you're not happy with the sound, then I'd say the next step would be to try an amplifier out that is known to be a good match with the AKGs.
post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Devon8822 View Post
 

A question I have wanted to ask for a while but never got around to it. I am primarily an audio engineer so I don't really have an abundance of flagship headphones, but what I have noticed with the headphones that I do have, is that I cannot tell any difference between plugging right into my iphone vs plugging into my Apogee Duet (DAC/Amp). I have tried with my Etymotic and my AKG Q701s, and could tell any difference between my iphone and my Apogee/computer, even though I was expecting to. I wouldn't blame my ears, I can easily tell the difference between my pair of Q701 and my friends K701. Any other possible explanations?

 

The explanation is that the AKG Q701s are in fact easy to drive, your iphone has a good quality headphone output and there is in fact NO significant difference between your iphone and the Apogee/Computer.

 

Contrary to what many people on here would have you believe, then external dacs and amps are often a total waste of time, money and space and in some cases these items can and will make the sound worse than it would be if you omitted them altogether.

 

Thank you for providing your honest impression.

post #8 of 14

The differences that some folks claim these amps and DACs make are vastly overblown, at least that has been my experience. Once you get over the expectation bias, you may notice some subtle differences.

post #9 of 14

I'm a newbie, but my macbook Pro directly into my HD650s sounds as good if not better as thru the HD650-E17-USB-macbook pro combination. 

post #10 of 14

I guess it really depends on the headphones being driven. My Behringer UCA 202 DAC and Project Sunrise II amp sounds worlds better than my laptop sound card when I'm listening with my DT880's or HE400's.

post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aizura View Post
 

As much as people want to believe, using a better DAC/amp isn't going to give you a night and day difference. It will be subtle, even for the most expensive gear you can find (unless of course, you're comparing free airplane earphones to Sennheiser Orpheus or something). Those subtle improvements won't be apparent when you first start listening to it and comparing it to the lower end gear. But it's those subtle details that makes the listening experience so much more satisfying. Try to listen exclusively to the Apogee for a while to get accustomed to it (even though you seemn to hear no difference). After a while when you switch back to the iPhone you'll probably hear a difference when that subtle refinement is suddenly missing.

 

I haven't heard the Apogee btw, so it may well be just a crappy DAC/amp for all I know. But the above is my experience with all the gear I've heard.


lol

not true

post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by murphythecat View Post
 


lol

not true

 

 

Please take the time to explain what part of the quote you posted is "not true" and preferably why. If not, your post is about as useful as a: (insert any useless thing here that you care to think of).

post #13 of 14
Just my theory:
Maybe Apogee put no effort into designing a good headphone amp for their DAC?
post #14 of 14

The iPhone 5 models have decent sounding headphone output circuits.  With the 5S reputed as the best of the bunch.  If you google it, there are detailed write ups on what specific chip-sets Apple uses in which phone.  I have a 5c and it sounds very decent overall.  Nothing harsh, muddy or missing across the spectrum.  Its definitely a clean output free of digital artifacts, noises and overall cell phone pollution.  Still though its very one dimensional compared to my dedicated headphone setup, with limited ability to resolve the soundstage in more ambient recordings.

 

my .02...

I have always found my flatter more neutral headphones to be the most revealing when it comes to amp, source and recorded material.  So with my K701 its much more revealing of whats upstream of it.  Compared to my wood Grados that impose their own sonic signature on everything.  The Q701 is not the most neutral headphone around, with a slight bass emphasis overall.  It may be masking sonic differences, or making them less apparent.  Same may be true with your Etys.

 

If you are using low bit-rate MP3 that could be limiting the resolution of the DAC.  Can you demo some tracks in lossless format?


Edited by kramer5150 - 1/19/14 at 6:24pm
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