Originally Posted by qveda
Hi, still new to the world of head fi. I'm considering a portable rig using RSA Intruder, or RSA SR-71B (Amp) + CypherLabs Algorthm Solo-db (DAC).
in the process, I have seen posts about 'op amps' implying they are not desirable. Is this simply a tube vs. ss debate? is there something I should know about ops amps when considering products for a high-end portable rig that can drive planar headphones, IEMs, and also provide an output to active desktop speakers?
Opamps are like everything else in audio electronics. There are good ones and not-so-good ones. Even with the good ones, it takes special considerations with the surrounding circuit and PCB layout to allow them to operate to full potential. That leaves a lot of variance out there in the market.
Stable opamps are generally a lot more forgiving and can be "rolled" into audio circuits similar to tubes - meaning they can be swapped in and out for subtle changes in sound. This is because almost every opamp differs in its own internal circuitry. However, stable opamps can sound "tame" compared to their discrete equivalent (separate transistors, etc.) Often, such opamps will also have elaborate protection circuitry. These things have an impact on audio quality.
Generally speaking, though, whether tube, opamp, or discrete electronics - when properly implemented, they can sound as good as the best audio. When implemented with a bit less care (or expense), results can vary widely.
Keep in mind that most likely pursuing a journey to find a "portable" rig that can drive planar headphones or desktop speakers is not going to have a good end. Maybe "active" desktop speakers would make a difference, but that seems more a question of music source - not amp.