Originally Posted by cpd1
Hello, this is my first post here. I spend a lot of time listening to music but i am not an expert on gear. I listen mostly to rock (classic and indie), jazz, blues, and some older hip hop.
I currently have a pair of Senn Momentum over the ears and a pair of older Grado 125's. For convenience, my source is mainly my iphone or ipad and I generally listen to Spotify on its "Extreme" setting (they claim 320kb/s but I don't even really understand what that means) . So here are my questions:
1) Will I notice a significant improvement if I purchase a dedicated DAC/Amp considering the sources I use?
2) If so, does anyone have a recommendation for bedside setups to consider for use with my idevices? I am not opposed to spending some money if there will be significant benefit. Is something like the Nuforce iDo sufficient or are there better DAC/Amps to use along with a second device to bypass the idevice DAC?
Thanks in advance.
No you wont hear much of a difference, if any. The Momentum i very easy to drive, and the iPhone's amp section does a very decent job with it. You *may* be able to hear a difference if you use a $500 DAC/amp but the error margin of that difference is lower than the margin of human error caused by placebo, volume differences and confirmation bias.
320kbps is the highest quality rating of MP3s, and some people argue it sounds virtually identical to lossless files (MP3s are lossy compression). From my own listening tests, I agree that it does sound very close - but sometimes, I do feel that my high-res/lossless files have a little more impact, so I stick to lossless where possible. That being said, I have a bunch of 256kbps albums from iTunes and I have to admit, when i am just listening to music (as opposed to be an obsessive audioweenie), I dont feel as though I am missing anything.
IMO, the best upgrade path in terms of better sonic benefits would be the headphone route. Try the NAD HP50s (I got those and since I did, I havent used my Momentums at all) for a slighly different palate - I have a comparison on the Portable Headphone forum that might help you. Or you could spend more and get an Audeze or HifiMan planar magnetic - for those, you will need an DAC/Amp.
Still, if you do want to go down the DAC/amp route - you can get an Apple-certified MFi device (CLAS, Centrance and a few more) or use a CCK to get digital USB out which can go into any DAC/amp that does not charge from its USB input - read the Apple CCK thread in the Portable Sources forum for more info than you ever wanted :)