Originally Posted by SomeGuyDude
The chain of command goes
You throw cheap headphones on the best DAC/Amp combo in the world and they're still gonna sound the same. Meanwhile, upgraded headphones can make a world of difference even on crummy files. A DAC/amp is there clean up and (derp) amplify the signal. If your headphones are lackluster all you're gonna get is a louder version of that sound. It doesn't radically alter output unless the headphones themselves require more power.
Thanks, this is pretty helpful. I wish there were a primer on this site for basic info like this. :-D
Originally Posted by cel4145
In that case, I would vote for getting a DAC/amp to use with your computer and the Q701s. An E17 should be an improvement over your PC audio for use with them since they are a bit difficult to drive. May not make much difference with your inexpensive Sonys.
So what source are you using for your Q701s at home? If you already have a DAC/amp for that, then try your Sonys to see if it improves the sound out of them.
Have you tried your phone vs. your Dell? Your ears can tell you which is better sounding.
As far as how good the audio section is on the Nexus 7 compared to other phones, you'd have to research that. Sometimes manufacturers don't put a lot of effort into the internal phone DAC/headphone amp design. Some computers are better than others.
Double amping out of the headphone jack by hooking another amp to your phone could help with your Q701s. It's not optimal, though.
However, if you want to use the DAC and the headphone amp with your phone, know that not all Android phones are USB audio compatible, and not all USB DACs are Android compatible. Seems I remember hearing that the Nexus 7 might be a be a problem with that (research it). E17 is also problematic for use with Android. FiiO E18 would be better (which is why FiiO released it), but that doesn't mean it will work right with the Nexus.
So right now at home, I'm using the Q's for gaming. My source is either the Xbox One through my Recon3D for virtual surround, or my PC through a Recon3D. I'll be upgrading my PC soon to have a better sound card that will give me the ability to use an Amp and a DAC (over optical) later if I want. I am considering getting a small amp (Schiit Vali is on my short list) to use with my Recon since it doesn't quite provide enough power for my Q's.
For listening to music from my home PC... well frankly, I just don't do that as much as I once did. I have a baby now so no headphones when he's awake. And after he's asleep, I'm usually hanging out with the wife or gaming. Most of my music-listening is at work now. Hence this thread.
Good idea about trying the phone vs the Dell. I can't believe that didn't occur to me. Regardnig the USB DAC with the phone, yeah, I read some stuff about that. I'll definitely do more research if I decide to go that way, but I don't suspect I will. I mean, if I have a DAC anyways, it's more convenient to just run it off my computer.
So anyways, I have a Fidelio X1 on the way (to test against the Q701 and see which to keep). Maybe I'll just keep them both and have one for work and one for home...