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Which is better upgrade for music: DAC/Amp or Headphones? - Page 2

post #16 of 28

FWIW, the nice part of a portable DAC is it doesn't matter what you're plugged into, it'll always sound great. 

post #17 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stillhart View Post
 

 

I picked up the Recon3D on clearance at Fry's for $5.  It's a step up from my on-board Realtek POS, but that's about it.  My next planned upgrade for the PC was going to be a Z, actually. That would allow me to have a better sound right out of the card, but also let me upgrade to just Amp or both Amp+DAC, whicle still using the card as a DSP for 3D audio.  Or that's the theory at least.

 

At work, that's not an option as I'm using a laptop.  Tho, perhaps and Omni would do the same.  I don't need the 3D audio, though, I'm thinking something more traditional might work better for music.

 

With the SB-Z, you really do not need and external DAC amp, I tested the SB-Z and it was fairly decent driving my 250-ohm headphones.

 

Unless your looking at spending maybe $300 or more, for an external DAC/Amp.

(Audio-GD NFB-15.32 external DAC/Amp, $255+shipping)

post #18 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

 

With the SB-Z, you really do not need and external DAC amp, I tested the SB-Z and it was fairly decent driving my 250-ohm headphones.

 

Unless your looking at spending maybe $300 or more, for an external DAC/Amp.

(Audio-GD NFB-15.32 external DAC/Amp, $255+shipping)

 

That's good to know.  I'll probably get the Z as a pretty good value upgrade on the PC and then continue to agonize on whether to get a nice amp for the Xbone/Recon and whether to get a nice portable DAC/Amp for work...

 

I think my options for work at this point are to keep my second set of cans to use at work or sell them and get a DAC/Amp instead.  I could bring my home cans back and forth in that case.

 

Expensive hobbies are the WORST!  lol

post #19 of 28
Thread Starter 

Is the Audioquest Dragonfly a good option?  They seem to be well-regarded on here and the form factor is nice for taking to work without looking pretentious.  They're also like dirt cheap these days...

post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by kramer5150 View Post
 

The headphone upgrade generally will make the biggest difference... BUT thats assuming your source data and the laptop you are plugging into is decently clean, accurate, and overall capable in the first place.  Laptop sound quality varies tremendously... to make sweeping generalizations here would be incorrect and could mis-lead you into the wrong purchase.

 

Grados for example sound very good straight out of a Macbook Pro... surprisingly good (IMHO).  The manufacturers will try and marketeer their wares, and get you to spend $$$ on products that may not really be that much of a sonic upgrade.

 

Agreed.

 

Apple products in general are great for audio.

 

Dell, on the other hand is utter crap...especially their laptops.

post #21 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stillhart View Post

Is the Audioquest Dragonfly a good option?  They seem to be well-regarded on here and the form factor is nice for taking to work without looking pretentious.  They're also like dirt cheap these days...

I don't have any experience with them, but they now have a new version. Supposedly a bit better than the first based on a review I read, but I don't know. For $100, does seem like the original Dragonfly is worth a try at least. So small, can't cost much to ship back if you don't like it. I'd try the Q701 thread and see what people there thing: http://www.head-fi.org/t/582276/q701-appreciation-thread Probably some Dragonfly owners there.
post #22 of 28

I suppose it depends on what you're looking to spend, but on the lower end of the spectrum, I would prioritize the headphones. There are a number of ~$100 headphones out there that are specifically designed to require less power to be driven properly and really can sound great right out of a computer or phone. Obviously an amp/DAC combo would clean up the signal, but it would probably be unnecessary in terms of power. 

 

To balance out what I just said, I think there's a tipping point in the higher range of products. For instance, my HD650s come alive on my HeadRoom amp but sound pretty lifeless out of a phone. It just depends on how demanding the headphones are and that's why it's best to "balance" your upgrades (i.e., buy roughly equivalent components in terms of performance). 

 

I don't know if you're looking for specific suggestions, but just off the top of my head, I would say something like the Sennheiser HD518 or the Audio Technica M50 first, then maybe a Fiio or NuForce amp/DAC down the line. 

post #23 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by jchandler3 View Post
 

I suppose it depends on what you're looking to spend, but on the lower end of the spectrum, I would prioritize the headphones. There are a number of ~$100 headphones out there that are specifically designed to require less power to be driven properly and really can sound great right out of a computer or phone. Obviously an amp/DAC combo would clean up the signal, but it would probably be unnecessary in terms of power. 

 

To balance out what I just said, I think there's a tipping point in the higher range of products. For instance, my HD650s come alive on my HeadRoom amp but sound pretty lifeless out of a phone. It just depends on how demanding the headphones are and that's why it's best to "balance" your upgrades (i.e., buy roughly equivalent components in terms of performance). 

 

I don't know if you're looking for specific suggestions, but just off the top of my head, I would say something like the Sennheiser HD518 or the Audio Technica M50 first, then maybe a Fiio or NuForce amp/DAC down the line. 

x2... as capable as the iPhone 5 models are... still they fall flat trying to power my HD650, K701.  Its a very one dimensional sound.  In the case of the HD650 the highs are severely rolled off and "soft", despite being very loud.  Its a purely a non-critical listening setup, actually good for office listening where I am not completely focused on it... IMHO.

post #24 of 28
Thread Starter 

Okay well I brought my Q701's in to work today to see how they sound on my laptop.  It turns out, they don't sound so good.

 

At home right now, I'm only using a Recon3D USB for sound, and yet they sound really lively and sparkly in the highs (and obviously somewhat lacking in the bass).  Running the Q's out of my Dell laptop at work is really disappointing.  Everything just sounds dull, there's not as much sense of space, etc.

 

I think I definitely need a DAC upgrade here at work.  I'm thinking it's bad enough that I can just get something cheap and it'll be good enough.  I'm looking at something like a FiiO E17, the Dragonfly, or maybe something used like jchandler3's iBasso D7.

 

After that, I can test my MA300's against the Q701's and decide if I need to upgrade my cans at work too.  Tempted by the Sennheiser 558's on sale for $90 today!

 

EDIT - Man, it's seriously disappointing how lifeless these sound here at work.  I'm using the same sound player and the same FLAC files and I'm just not feeling it.  :(


Edited by Stillhart - 3/24/14 at 10:55am
post #25 of 28
The $100 Dragonfly version 1 does seems a really good deal at the moment. You might ask in the Dragonfly thread to see how they do with the Q701s: http://www.head-fi.org/t/617241/audioquest-dragonfly-review-affordable-outstanding-tiny-dac-amp
post #26 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

The $100 Dragonfly version 1 does seems a really good deal at the moment. You might ask in the Dragonfly thread to see how they do with the Q701s: http://www.head-fi.org/t/617241/audioquest-dragonfly-review-affordable-outstanding-tiny-dac-amp

 

As dull as these sound currently, I can't imagine I could choose one that isn't an improvement...

post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by tadashi View Post
 

I have been away from enjoying HiFi, these days dramatically chaned, digitalized.

Headphone produce good sound and more with Headphone amplifier.

 

Found good quality music with reasonable cost,  not known well brand WISS Audio.

Checked at Electronics Show, sound quality is same or better than very expensive

headphone, price is less than half.  It worth to try,  www.wissaudio.com

I know this is an old post, but I have the WISS Sound Gun 2 and I have to say it's not much of a match to the C&C BH2.

post #28 of 28



So an interesting read here stated that the little portable JDS Labs c421 could run the k701s. I was skeptical but found a used one on the market for $150. So when I was first listening to it I used a LOD going from an iPod Classic to the JDS then to the k701s. Mainly listening to the Beatles White Album.

It was ok. Super transparent. Now they have improved a little with the addition of the C5 and C5D which is a DAC and amp. With the newer models being made you can find the c421 fairly cheap. They do get loud and are only the size of a pack of cigs. They do not get warm and have a battery that lasts 11 to 14 hours. You can use it also with a mini to mini plug out of most phones if your iPodless. Just a suggestion.
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