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AudioQuest Dragonfly vs JDSLabs C5D vs Fiio E18

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hello all!

I am trying to choose between these three DAC/amps. I understand that the DF is USB powered without a battery. Does it provide enough power to drive my Beyerdynamics DT880 Premium 300 ohm headphones? Is there any noticeable difference in sound quality between the two, something greater than a side-by-side comparison would provide?

I have also considered the Fiio E17 and E18. But I see they have significant quality control issues, particularly with the battery going dead. Has the quality control improved with the E18?1 A coax or optical digital input would be a plus for me.

Thank you very much for your replies!

Bob Graham
post #2 of 5
Thread Starter 
Anyone have experience with these products? I am thinking the USB powered Dragonfly will not have enough power to adequately power my 300 ohm DT880Premiums. I do not know about the other two.

I will properly introduce myself. I am 55 years old and have had an interest in audiophile grade reproduction of music since I was 12 years old. First time I heard music though my father's Altec Lansing 'Voice of the Theater" type speakers blew my mind at a young age. I like my music! I appreciate we'll recorded and mastered music. I like accuracy with a slight emphasis on the higher frequencies, but nothing sibilant and tiring. I like detail in my bass. I like the DT880Premiums, but not the ATH-AD900X. And I like getting all of this with not inexpensive but still value oriented products.

Any help would be appreciated.

Bob Graham
post #3 of 5
I don't have experience with the products you are considering - I do have a Fiio E10. I really like my E10, but the amp is not the most powerful - even on the high gain setting. It struggles a bit with my vintage 300 ohm Sennheiser HD420 (I'm only a couple of years younger than you, and I've been into audio just as long!). Of the amps you have listed, I think I would spring for the C5D, or - if you still want the digital inputs, there's also the Leckerton amps or maybe the iBasso. I will tell you that I have had zero QC issues with my Fiio E10.
post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by r010159 View Post

Anyone have experience with these products? I am thinking the USB powered Dragonfly will not have enough power to adequately power my 300 ohm DT880Premiums. I do not know about the other two.

I will properly introduce myself. I am 55 years old and have had an interest in audiophile grade reproduction of music since I was 12 years old. First time I heard music though my father's Altec Lansing 'Voice of the Theater" type speakers blew my mind at a young age. I like my music! I appreciate we'll recorded and mastered music. I like accuracy with a slight emphasis on the higher frequencies, but nothing sibilant and tiring. I like detail in my bass. I like the DT880Premiums, but not the ATH-AD900X. And I like getting all of this with not inexpensive but still value oriented products.

Any help would be appreciated.

Bob Graham


300 ohm Beyers will want to see plenty of voltage swing. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on which camp replies) that means tubes.  Their high voltage means that they inherently have a higher voltage swing than solid-state.  Heck, most tubes operate at voltages high enough to burn out most solid-state parts.

 

I remember the Voice-of-the-Theater Altec-Lansings.  My friend and I almost purchased a pair that were marketed like that.  He ended up purchasing a pair of Boston-Acoustics bookshelf speakers.  I went with Advents.

 

Seriously, you need an amp.  Very few - if any - combo DAC/amps are going to power headphones properly at 300 ohms.  You are absolutely correct that a Dragonfly is not going to do it.  Anything USB-powered, unless it has a huge buck-boost circuit*, is not going to power a high-impedance headphone properly.  USB is limited to 5V.  That means at most - + or - 2.5V.  At 300 ohms, that's going to give you a whopping 21mW of power - and that's "music power," not RMS.

 

 

* Buck-boost circuits have their own particular problems - lots of extra noise inherent in the circuit.

post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your very informative reply!

I am right now leaning toward something like an O2 amp and ODAC combo. Not a tube amp, but I think better than what I have been looking at. Also not that portable, for it needs to be plugged in. So I will call it "transportable" with a long enough extension chord. :-) The C5D is battery powered, and O2/ODAC combo is not. I suspect the battery would limit the power realistically available to the headphones. And not surprisingly, when the volume control on the C5 is at loud enough levels, the amp can begin to distort. So I think your observations are spot on. A tube amp? I will need to look into this as a future purchase.

By the way, those Altec Lansing speakers were made on about 1974, way before the stuff made for computer users, with a height of at least 3 1/2 to 4 feet and a few feet wide and deep I do not know what happened to them. Altec speakers were a staple in commercial high fi movie theater setups. What they offer now is not anywhere as good. JFYI

Bob Graham
Edited by r010159 - 1/25/14 at 9:58pm
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