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Upgrade in DAP?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

As you know, head-fi is the land of the .01%, where spending thousands to improve the slightest bit of sound is the best of deals.

 

With $100 dollar IEM's (RE-400) and a generic iPod (Newest Nano, 7G), I feel that I want to improve my sound. However, I'm hesitant to replace my DAP because I'm not sure how much of a difference it will make. On ClieOS's blog, he mentions that upgrading the player has a larger effect than the headphones themselves... but I'm wondering just how large the difference is.

 

So, how large is the difference in SQ between iPods and (cheap) audiophile players e.g. Fiio X3 and iBasso DX50? 

 

I don't have much to compare a difference between as I'm relatively new to the audio upgrade path. When I ask how large the difference is, could you respond in terms of an upgrade in IEM's (like the upgrade from a $20 cheapie to a RE-400 or GR06 or to other similarly priced IEM) or at least, for example, 5/10 -> 7/10?

 

Thanks loads.

 

Dynamoes1

post #2 of 13

It's not an easy question to answer because pairing an IEM with a DAP is greatly synergy related, how well two pieces of gear work together is in the chemistry. You could have the most expensive IEM in the market with the most valuable DAP, only if they don't synergize well together it means nothing.  An IEM half the price with a cheap DAP may perform better.

I would say a general rule of about a 25-35% improvement (for your scenario).  You should hear things like instruments separating cleanly, better refinement, detail, wider soundstage, increase in clarity, resolution (depending on the DAP). It also comes down to how far each piece of gear can scale up before you bottleneck one or the other.

Placing a $100 IEM with a $1000 DAP is not going to allow the DAP to show it's full potential and visa versa, so it always boils down to your weakest link. If you'r'e looking for a DAP to pair with RE400 then the you should start researching what DAP's work well with that IEM, find out what members are using, which ones are in your price range then grab a better angle from those answers. 

post #3 of 13

Personally I would perhaps get a cheap amp like the E11 to start with. If you want to upgrade, upgrading your headphones/IEMs will always make the most difference. For example, the DN-2000 with an iPod Nano is better than a RE-400 with a DX50. 

 

What is your price range? 

post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
H20, I'll check some more forums out to see what people are into. The RE400 and the X3 appear to be a very common pairing, although I haven't yet looked into what is said about how well they pair vs. other DAPs.

Lin, I don't think I'll be getting an amp: I'm a bit put off by the whole "rubber band attachment" idea. I'd like it to be just a single device as I'm mostly out and about.

My price range is probably around 200 dollars for the DAP. While I'm considering getting the 1964 V3 (probably not the best thing, but my brain is pushing me towards it for whatever reason) which is more expensive, I don't really want to pay more than like 250 dollars for a DAP.

Thanks for responding so quickly.
post #5 of 13

You are not getting better "SQ" in terms of soundquality, therefore you dont improve the sound, you are changing the sound. Most of nowdays DAPs measure so well that the only thing you need to look for are functions you need/want (and output impedance for balanced armatures). 

post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dynamoes1 View Post
 

As you know, head-fi is the land of the .01%, where spending thousands to improve the slightest bit of sound is the best of deals.

 

With $100 dollar IEM's (RE-400) and a generic iPod (Newest Nano, 7G), I feel that I want to improve my sound. However, I'm hesitant to replace my DAP because I'm not sure how much of a difference it will make. On ClieOS's blog, he mentions that upgrading the player has a larger effect than the headphones themselves... but I'm wondering just how large the difference is.

 

So, how large is the difference in SQ between iPods and (cheap) audiophile players e.g. Fiio X3 and iBasso DX50? 

 

I don't have much to compare a difference between as I'm relatively new to the audio upgrade path. When I ask how large the difference is, could you respond in terms of an upgrade in IEM's (like the upgrade from a $20 cheapie to a RE-400 or GR06 or to other similarly priced IEM) or at least, for example, 5/10 -> 7/10?

 

Thanks loads.

 

Dynamoes1

 

I want to point out the first sentence on my article regarding upgrade on source: "As the backbone of the portable rig, the least you can do is make sure your source is up to common standard." The key word here is 'common standard' - it means you need to make sure your source is at least decent, which I do think iPod Nano 7G is. It doesn't mean you should go out and get the most expensive, most well regarded audiophile DAP that is.

post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dynamoes1 View Post
 

As you know, head-fi is the land of the .01%, where spending thousands to improve the slightest bit of sound is the best of deals.

 

With $100 dollar IEM's (RE-400) and a generic iPod (Newest Nano, 7G), I feel that I want to improve my sound. However, I'm hesitant to replace my DAP because I'm not sure how much of a difference it will make. On ClieOS's blog, he mentions that upgrading the player has a larger effect than the headphones themselves... but I'm wondering just how large the difference is.

 

So, how large is the difference in SQ between iPods and (cheap) audiophile players e.g. Fiio X3 and iBasso DX50? 

 

I don't have much to compare a difference between as I'm relatively new to the audio upgrade path. When I ask how large the difference is, could you respond in terms of an upgrade in IEM's (like the upgrade from a $20 cheapie to a RE-400 or GR06 or to other similarly priced IEM) or at least, for example, 5/10 -> 7/10?

 

Thanks loads.

 

Dynamoes1

ClieOS is correct - source first is the golden rule of high end audio.

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
I feel like I am getting conflicting opinions on this. As of now, I think that upgrading the IEM's will improve more. ClieOS is right, the ipod isn't bad at all. Maybe once I get a higher grade IEM I'll think more about upgrading my source.
post #9 of 13

Ask anyone who has worked in Hi End Audio

post #10 of 13
There is no golden rule in high end audio. I feel that the earphones or speakers will make the most improvement in the sound. Even the crappiest source with a good recording will sound great through nice speakers or items. People are even using their cell phones as daps now with great results.

I have an iPod and an x3 with the re-400s and both sound great. The x3 has a more powerful amplifier, more storage and no need for iTunes, which is why I prefer it. In a blind level matched test, I doubt you could tell them apart.
post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by KT66 View Post

Ask anyone who has worked in Hi End Audio

Yes key word worked, meaning they would not be making any money if they couldn't sell you all kinds of audio things like cables and other accessories.
post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by KT66 View Post
 

ClieOS is correct - source first is the golden rule of high end audio.

 

I think you should read his last reply ;)

post #13 of 13
IMO the first thing to upgrade is your music file/recording (garbage in garbage out), Then comes your choice of dap to play your choice of music files (flac, wav, mp3, etc) then good earphones (your choice of analytical, mid centric, basshead, etc) to convey the music to your ears.
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