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Amp + DAC?

Poll Results: Best option for me?

 
  • 0% (0)
    E18
  • 14% (1)
    JDS labs C5
  • 28% (2)
    E17
  • 0% (0)
    E12
  • 0% (0)
    E10
  • 14% (1)
    E7
  • 28% (2)
    None of the above
  • 14% (1)
    Other
7 Total Votes  
post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Hello, new to these forums and I have spent 5 hours looking at many threads regarding the subject. I have just purchased a pair of akg k550s and they are being shipped right now (my first pair of expensive headphones besides 200$ bose which broke). Now I know I don't need an amp for akg k550 but I would still like to consider my options. I personally don't mind a portable device but I'm always at a desk. Be it at a library or at home. If I get a desktop amp and use it with my phone beside a wall plug in can this be achieved? Also can I use a desktop amp with my phone by just powering it through my iPhone's lightning pin to usb (if such thing exists?).

I have read reviews on e7,10,12,17, 18 and JDS labs C5 and I was most impressed by e12 until I realized that I may not need a portable device and something with a DAC would benefit me if going non portable. I also saw a lot of negative comments regarding the e17 and e18 and how it was outmatched by the e12. I like to listen to music mostly on my phone but I like to use my desktop as well. Note that I have a Dell 1747 laptop. The only thing I can tell you guys about this laptop is that it has powerful and loud speakers built in and plays headphones really loud.

Currently I've been using my phone's bluetooth to play music wirelessly to a bluetooth receivever connected to my speakers. I know bluetooth reduces quality and I probably will stop as soon as I get amp and/or a DAC but I'm curious if it can improve the sound coming from bluetooth as well. Setup will be Phone -> bluetooth reveiver -> amp/DAC -> speakers.

Also, I really do not want to go over 150$ But am flexible to 200$. I want an all around good amp to make my akg 550 better. I listen to almost all genres. I'm using an iPhone 5s with 320 bitrate songs + selective ALAC tracks. I'm not one to buy hardware multiple times. I always buy something that will satisfy me for years. The way I see it is if I buy an E7, for example, just as a beginner product then I will eventually upgrade and end up wasting the money I had spent on the E7. Any comments and suggestions are appreciated.

I have also included a poll for people who don't have time to comment.
Edited by seppy50 - 5/2/14 at 4:06pm
post #2 of 33
If u want to run it through pc sound card then it wont be needed amp
But for running it through mobile device or mp3 player u will have to buy amp to give full voltage to the headphone drivers.
Simply fiio amp+dac e17
http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0070UFMOW?pc_redir=1398925598&robot_redir=1


Sent from my IM-A850K using Tapatalk 2
post #3 of 33
post #4 of 33
Thread Starter 
But I heard dac doesn't work on apple devices, iPhone 5s in this case. Wouldn't e12 be a better choice? Also if I use the e17 on my computer would the amp not work and only the dac?
post #5 of 33
Thread Starter 
Any other suggestions? :-(
post #6 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by seppy50 View Post

Also if I use the e17 on my computer would the amp not work and only the dac?

 

The DAC feeds the signal into the amp section so it would work. What is more likely, not in the E17 but in other DAC-amps, is that the DAC won't work (when the USB source isn't supplying the full-spec 5v) but the amp still does.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by seppy50 View Post

But I heard dac doesn't work on apple devices, iPhone 5s in this case. Wouldn't e12 be a better choice?
 
The E12 would be a worse choice - the Lightning devices AFAIK don't have any line out capability other than the headphone output. Search for which DAC-Amps work with the iPhone5 - if it isn't a dedicated iDevice DAC I believe you will need the CCK (they don't use a USB-A socket to begin with so there's no way to use the stock data cable).
post #7 of 33
Thread Starter 
Found this image for a cck.
500x1000px-LL-6c674af3_image.jpeg

I don't want anything like this lol.

Also, this list is huge!

http://www.head-fi.org/t/507559/list-of-dacs-that-work-with-ipad

Everything I looked at was out of my price range. Especially because most don't come with amps. I decided to look into DACs and amps more and a particular thread caught my interest. People said it's worthwhile just to invest in a good amp and not a DAC.

And for e12, if I'm always at a desk can't it work with my phone? Plugging it into a usb port like apple's and into the wall socket.

Update:
The JDS labs C5 and e18 look nice. Amp on the go and dac + amp at home. Any suggestions?
Edited by seppy50 - 5/2/14 at 11:49am
post #8 of 33
Thread Starter 
So I think I want something be an amp on the go for my phone and when I get home it will become a DAC and an amp.
Edited by seppy50 - 5/2/14 at 3:07pm
post #9 of 33
Thread Starter 

What do you guys think of JDS labs C5?

post #10 of 33
Thread Starter 

Anyone?

post #11 of 33
Thread Starter 

I would really like to purchase an amp soon so can anyone be kind enough to lend me a hand?

post #12 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by seppy50 View Post

Found this image for a cck.

I don't want anything like this lol.

 

Isn't there a Lightning CCK already? Wasn't this just for when Lightning was new and basically everyone still had the old 30-pin CCK? Also that battery pack and USB hub are only there because the DAC being used is designed for use with a PC outputting all the 5v necessary to run it, as it doesn't have its own power supply. Other devices have their own AC power supply (note that in some units some parts of the digital side are still powered by USB) or battery, and as long as the circuit is designed to totally run off either one, then as long as the iOS (or Android) device can stream digital audio, then it would.

 

It would be best if you ask in that thread if the C5D is compatible; did you check the list if it is? Otherwise you can check if Ibasso DAC-Amps work. I think the Mamba II is Android OTG-compatible, so you might want to check if it works with iOS too, although the problem is the cable - AFAIK Ibasso only ships a microOTG to USB-B cable with it. Honestly, if you want a portable solution for using a DAC and amp on your iPhone, it might be best to save up for a dedicated iDevice DAC and get the short data cable for it.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by seppy50 View Post

Also, this list is huge!

http://www.head-fi.org/t/507559/list-of-dacs-that-work-with-ipad

Everything I looked at was out of my price range. Especially because most don't come with amps. I decided to look into DACs and amps more and a particular thread caught my interest.
 

 

The one sure thing that will work without anything bulky on the data port of the iDevice is to use a DAC with "Made for iPod" stamped on it, as it uses the stock data cable, and sometimes you can get a shorter cable using the same terminations from the DAC manufacturer if it's a portable device. Here's the problem: to get the chip that would enable that they would have to pay Apple for the license to use it and to stamp "Made for iPod" on it, ergo, they will always cost a lot more and way out of the budget you have stated. The cheapest I can think of are not portables, like the NuForce iDo and HRT iStreamer.

 

Personally, if I needed a portable set-up, I'd rather get an IEM that won't require that much power and just use the headphone output on the iPhone, which is actually clean enough for most efficient IEMs. Lacking power capacitors in the same size as you'd find in a real amp isn't that big of a problem when the IEM is efficient enough, and the sound will be good as long as you get a good seal. Then perhaps use a headphone system at home with the iPhone as your source, using an AC-powered DAC-amp, and maybe even put your phone on a dock to keep it upright (easier to see the display) and manage the cabling. I use my S3 and iPad on the go with just an Aurisonics ASG-1 IEM, but when I get home I slip either one into the dock (with the OTG cable or CCK attached) and feed the digital audio signal into my DAC-amp.


 

*

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by seppy50 View Post

People said it's worthwhile just to invest in a good amp and not a DAC.

And for e12, if I'm always at a desk can't it work with my phone? Plugging it into a usb port like apple's and into the wall socket.

 

That advice assumes the device you will use as a source has a clean line out capability, which I think is not available on Lightning - instead of a bulky 30-pin that has a fixed analog line out, IIRC, the dock or some other adapter has a Wolfson chip in it that runs off the Lightning device battery and decodes the signal for it, then goes out through a 3.5mm port. Using the headphone output to send an input signal into an amplifier means that any distortion on that amplified signal is likely to be audible, and the reason why distortion is likely is because a portable DAC outputting 1.2v or an AC-powered DAC with a 2v to 2.2v output is still cleaner than the 5mW at 32ohm headphone output, plus the input impedance of amps tend to be designed to generally match the output impedance of a fixed level signal from a DAC output.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by seppy50 View Post

Update:
The JDS labs C5 and e18 look nice. Amp on the go and dac + amp at home. Any suggestions?

 

Again, the problem with both is that Lightning doesn't have an easier line out option as with the older iDevices; it will be bulkier because of the adapter that has the DAC in it. Really, it would be a whole lot simpler to just get an IEM that is easier to drive, then later if you really want a reference headphone system at home, there are way to build a system around that iDevice if you want to use it as a source, while using a more powerful amp and also a DAC with the headphone.

post #13 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
 Again, the problem with both is that Lightning doesn't have an easier line out option as with the older iDevices; it will be bulkier because of the adapter that has the DAC in it. Really, it would be a whole lot simpler to just get an IEM that is easier to drive, then later if you really want a reference headphone system at home, there are way to build a system around that iDevice if you want to use it as a source, while using a more powerful amp and also a DAC with the headphone.

I already bought akg 550s though, I can't spend money for IEM.  I also find them annoying.  I've re-read your posts many times and a lot of pointers I feel like you didn't understand what I meant or I'm just clueless.  I have REALLY appreciate the help you have put in though and hope you don't give up on my yet.  For example, 

 

Quote:
 Again, the problem with both is that Lightning doesn't have an easier line out option as with the older iDevices; it will be bulkier because of the adapter that has the DAC in it. Really, it would be a whole lot simpler to just get an IEM that is easier to drive, then later if you really want a reference headphone system at home, there are way to build a system around that iDevice if you want to use it as a source, while using a more powerful amp and also a DAC with the headphone.

 

my question wasn't if I could power the device with my phone but if I could power it through a wall socket.  Like this:

 http://www.ebay.com/itm/EZOPower-3-AC-Outlet-Wall-Mount-Surge-Protector-with-Dual-USB-Charging-Port-/281146860060

 

which was just picked out by random to help explain myself.  This shouldn't be a problem since they're usb powered right..?


Edited by seppy50 - 5/3/14 at 2:42am
post #14 of 33
Thread Starter 

I think I understand what you're saying.  It's not the problem of powering the DAC but iOS won't even support it.  So if I buy an E17 and use it on my phone the DAC wouldn't even be doing anything unless I plug it into my desktop?

post #15 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by seppy50 View Post
 

I already bought akg 550s though, I can't spend money for IEM.  I also find them annoying.  I've re-read your posts many times and a lot of pointers I feel like you didn't understand what I meant or I'm just clueless.  I have REALLY appreciate the help you have put in though and hope you don't give up on my yet.  For example, 

 

 

my question wasn't if I could power the device with my phone but if I could power it through a wall socket.  Like this:

 http://www.ebay.com/itm/EZOPower-3-AC-Outlet-Wall-Mount-Surge-Protector-with-Dual-USB-Charging-Port-/281146860060

 

which was just picked out by random to help explain myself.  This shouldn't be a problem since they're usb powered right..?

 

I simply covered everything there is to be concerned about the CCK including how you cannot power some through the iDevice alone and will need some help from another power source(1) some DACs may be connected to a wall socket but some or all parts of the digital side of the circuit may still need power out of the CCK. Also you did not specify what it is about that octopus up there you didn't want, so I covered all of them.

 

 

1. I was going with what you wrote, and even highlighted.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seppy50 View Post

If I get a desktop amp and use it with my phone beside a wall plug in can this be achieved? Also can I use a desktop amp with my phone by just powering it through my iPhone's lightning pin to usb (if such thing exists?).

 

----------------------

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by seppy50 View Post
 

I think I understand what you're saying.  It's not the problem of powering the DAC but iOS won't even support it.  So if I buy an E17 and use it on my phone the DAC wouldn't even be doing anything unless I plug it into my desktop?

 

No, iOS7 actually supports a large number of DACs when using the CCK, the problem precisely is powering the DAC. Again, some DACs might need power coming off the USB, which in some cases can be for just the USB receiver (particularly when it auto-detects and uses it by default when it does), or in some cases, all the way to the DAC chip, despite having another power supply, whether it's AC or battery.

 

What I was specifically speaking about with iOS compatibility is the E18 - its DAC section was designed for Android USB On-The-Go, which is basically their CCK USB interface (and a lot more). The part on the product page where it is stated that its amplifier can take an analog input out of an iPod is specifically for the 30-pin iDevices as they have the fixed line out available when you hook up a 30-pin to 3.5mm line out cable (wired to the proper line out pins). Your Lightning iPhone does not have this feature, and instead has some kind of adapter/dock (I don't recall which one, but it should be somewhere in the iPad DAC thread) with a Wolfson DAC inside it that the iDevice can power by itself as it is only that chip, no complex analog output stage after it. That is why a 30-pin iPod Classic was used in the photo for that section of the product blurb.


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 5/3/14 at 2:34pm
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