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Amp or Amp/DAC?

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 

I am looking for a portable amp and the Fiio E12 looks like it will fit the bill nicely. I am wondering, what would be the advantage (if any) of a amp/DAC  such as the Fiio E17? My intended use will be with an iPhone or iPod. It is my understanding the a the DAC feature of say an Fiio E17 would be to have the option of bypassing a crummy PC sound card. Would a DAC have any use or advantage with an iPhone or iPod? My cans are the 64 ohm Jaycar Pro Monitors ( a clone of the Fischer FA-003 / Brainwavz HM5 ). Many thanks for your replies.

post #2 of 41
Fiio E12 will be too much for your current cans. Unless you're planning on upgrading to some hard to drive cans there is no need for it. You'd more likely want an E11 instead.
I personally own the E17 which is a great DAC/AMP (some say comparable to the E11 amp-wise). It does make a HUGE difference over the craptastic onboard soundcards on PC motherboards. Its also usable with Android devices and other devices which have a digital optical or SPDIF output. Though not much use for portable Apple devices as far as I'm aware.
So if you're looking into just using it for your iPod/iPhone with your current cans then the Foil E11 would do you wonders.

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post #3 of 41
I forgot to mention that you can use the E17 as just an amp also. But if your never going to use the DAC then your better off with the E11.

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post #4 of 41
Thread Starter 

Thanks DJScope! You brought clarity to my questions. Although I realize my current headphones will not need the amount of power the E12 has, I am thinking down the road of HD600, DT880 Pro 250 ohms headphones. My thinking is that when using the E12, I will use only a very little amount of its available power with the Digitech's. Which is not a bad think as I understand it. As I have heard only my Monoprice DJ 8323, Digitech Pro, Vmoda M100 and M50 headphones, I have no idea firsthand on what I will buy next. Reading others opinions is not quite the same as listening for myself to see what I personally like. I am hoping the headphone meeting in Nashua NH becomes a reality to get some firsthand listening opinions of my own.

 

Thanks again!

post #5 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmwoodward View Post
 

Thanks DJScope! You brought clarity to my questions. Although I realize my current headphones will not need the amount of power the E12 has, I am thinking down the road of HD600, DT880 Pro 250 ohms headphones. My thinking is that when using the E12, I will use only a very little amount of its available power with the Digitech's. Which is not a bad think as I understand it. As I have heard only my Monoprice DJ 8323, Digitech Pro, Vmoda M100 and M50 headphones, I have no idea firsthand on what I will buy next. Reading others opinions is not quite the same as listening for myself to see what I personally like. I am hoping the headphone meeting in Nashua NH becomes a reality to get some firsthand listening opinions of my own.

 

Thanks again!

 

I'm actually in the exact same scenario as you are (except for the iPod/iPhone part). The reason I bought the E17 is because I was originally looking to get a separate DAC and E11 for portable use. I listen to music at home and at work so portability or at least transportability is a must for me. So after a TONNE of research I concluded that a portable DAC/amp would be the best decision for me. I've never regretted it for a second. I was sceptical at first about how much of a difference the DAC was going to make versus the modern onboard PC DAC but boy was I wrong. The difference is astronomical. And once you compare the difference in audio passed through the just the amp of the E17 compared to the the DAC/amp you'll never want to use the amp on it's own again. Of course that's hard to say for "i" devices because Fiio products are not Apple certified, and who knows it might actually be possible to use it as a DAC with an iPhone, but it works flawlessly with Android phones over OTG. The E17 has 3 gain settings: 0db, 6db and 12db. I typically just run it off 0db as it's powerful enough to drive my Takstar Pro80 at higher volume setting and 6db feels more right but I feel like to my ears that the 0db setting sound just marginally more clear with more controlled punchier bass. With the flexibility of multiple gain setting and the built in equalizer plus the other digital inputs you get it was kind of a no brainer about getting it. Some people have said that's it's capable enough to drive hard to drive cans at 12db setting. So in conclusion it was a future proof buy, and for $140 I could never have got a better separate amp and DAC with the same power and features that is this flexible and portable.

 

My next step is to go to our next local Head-Fi meet, already arm with the E17 as a DAC for my phone and audition some of the more well known cans out there. The last thing you want is to audition an expensive can on an amazing rig and buy one for yourself just to realize that you've just spent $300 on a pair of cans that you can't even drive properly at home or don't have a good enough DAC to get the clarity of what you heard when you were auditioning them. This is why I will only want to rate cans through what is available to me, ie my phone and E17. Otherwise you're going to be setting yourself up for either disappointment or be prepared to fork out a lot of money for an amazing rig.

post #6 of 41
Thread Starter 

DJScope, Wow, very interesting to hear just how much a difference a DAC makes. Let's face it, there is virtually no quality concerns for most sound cards. Low cost production costs are the only consideration. I hear that the iPhone/iPod has a fairly good amp compared to other smartphones. I am wondering if the DAC on the iPhone/iPod is of adequate quality? Or, if it is possible to bypass the DAC on them with an E17? If so, based on your findings, the E17 seems like a good choice. Having both the amp and the DAC in one package keeps the concept of portability feasible. Being from Sydney, I am sure you are familiar with Jaycar, where I bought my cans. Today, I had a chance to compare my Digitech's to the Vmoda M100's and there was a dramatic difference in SQ. The Digitech's cost me $70 delivered compared to the $300 for the Vmoda M100's. A great bang for the buck, but it showed me how much more sound can be had.

 

Cheers mate!

post #7 of 41
I agree that comparing 2 good DACs is like comparing 2 bananas. They're both going to sound good with very slight differences. But the stock DACs and amps that are in phones and PCs are pretty terrible. PCs have a grounding issue which are probe to electrical noise and interference. Whilst the DACs built into portable devices like phones and DAPs (non audiophile ones) are low power budget DACs and amps which are just plain and pretty bad. This is why even a cheap decent DAC makes such a huge difference. But in most cases it is the crappy inbuilt amps are the root cause of crappy audio.

Likewise again. I spent only $60 on my cans. There are great. My next pair will be the Superlux HD668B. After that I'll be probably saving for the Senns HD650.

Sent from Moto G XT1033 w/ Faux kernel.
post #8 of 41

The dac component inside FiiOs will not work with iPods, iPhones, or other phones as an fyi. If your looking to use an external dac on the go with an iPod or iPhone you'll need something that is Apple licensed such as the Fostex HP-P1 (dac/amp hybrid) or the cypherlab's algorhythm solo (standalone dac).  Both of those run about $500.

 

If your on a more restricted budget go with just an amp, now it just depends on what you wanna spend. FiiOs are decent entry level amps, other options include the jds labs c5 ($190) and alo audio's the national ($300). RSA also makes some excellent amps, however most of them tend to be north of $300. 

 

Hope that helps some. 

post #9 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattAnthony1990 View Post
 

The dac component inside FiiOs will not work with iPods, iPhones, or other phones as an fyi. If your looking to use an external dac on the go with an iPod or iPhone you'll need something that is Apple licensed such as the Fostex HP-P1 (dac/amp hybrid) or the cypherlab's algorhythm solo (standalone dac).  Both of those run about $500.

 

If your on a more restricted budget go with just an amp, now it just depends on what you wanna spend. FiiOs are decent entry level amps, other options include the jds labs c5 ($190) and alo audio's the national ($300). RSA also makes some excellent amps, however most of them tend to be north of $300. 

 

Hope that helps some. 

 

I've already mentioned that the E17 will not work with Apple devices.

 

There is also the JDS Labs C5D which is an Apple certified amp/DAC which you can get for $250.

post #10 of 41
Thread Starter 

thanks for the reply MattAnthony. Initially, I was under the impression that the apple IOS device DAC's were of pretty good quality. But, DJScope brought to my attention that the DAC in a any portable device is far from ideal. The whole 'Apple Certified' thing really seems to complicate things for me. I was thinking of a Fiio X3, but not really enough power for me (thinking of the future). Carrying a phone, an X3 and a E12?? too much to carry. This being the case, I think I am likely just to buy an E12 and use it with my iPhone/iPod and not bother going too overboard on headphones for portable use. I am wondering if the iPhone/iPod and E12 driving a pair of SD600 is going to be overkill in the headphone dept? Perhaps it will, but I am also looking into a desktop setup also and would like to end up with hopefully just one set of headphones. But, seeing as the average head-fi'er seems to have about 5 pairs, I see that things change over time.

post #11 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmwoodward View Post
 

thanks for the reply MattAnthony. Initially, I was under the impression that the apple IOS device DAC's were of pretty good quality. But, DJScope brought to my attention that the DAC in a any portable device is far from ideal. The whole 'Apple Certified' thing really seems to complicate things for me. I was thinking of a Fiio X3, but not really enough power for me (thinking of the future). Carrying a phone, an X3 and a E12?? too much to carry. This being the case, I think I am likely just to buy an E12 and use it with my iPhone/iPod and not bother going too overboard on headphones for portable use. I am wondering if the iPhone/iPod and E12 driving a pair of SD600 is going to be overkill in the headphone dept? Perhaps it will, but I am also looking into a desktop setup also and would like to end up with hopefully just one set of headphones. But, seeing as the average head-fi'er seems to have about 5 pairs, I see that things change over time.

 

If you buy a Fiio X3 or Fiio X5 or other similar DAPs you won't need to pair it with your phone or iPod because it is already an audio player, ie. you'll store all your songs on the unit. It houses it's own DAC and amp on onboard design to play hi-res audio. How it sounds? I couldn't tell you because I've not auditioned them before. All I could tell you is that functionality they give you. Both X3 and X5 will work as a desktop DAC through USB. So it's a very good temporary solution for all of you audio needs.

post #12 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DJScope View Post
 

 

If you buy a Fiio X3 or Fiio X5 or other similar DAPs you won't need to pair it with your phone or iPod because it is already an audio player, ie. you'll store all your songs on the unit. It houses it's own DAC and amp on onboard design to play hi-res audio. How it sounds? I couldn't tell you because I've not auditioned them before. All I could tell you is that functionality they give you. Both X3 and X5 will work as a desktop DAC through USB. So it's a very good temporary solution for all of you audio needs.


DJDcope, I realize the X3/X5 is a player on its own. I only started looking down that path as finding an affordable 'apple certified' DAC is pricy. As I would have to carry an my phone (for phone calls), an X3 and an E12 would be too much. I am willing to carry only 2 components. This being the case, I think I will go with my iPhone/iPod and an E12.

 

thanks!!

post #13 of 41
No worries mate! Have fun!

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post #14 of 41
Thread Starter 

Thanks to the info I received on this post and the associated research I did as a result, I will be going the Fiio X3 route. I was under the false impression that the Apple iphone DAC was of excellent quality. I now realize the that is not true. Also, the 'Apple Certified' restriction makes keeping the Apple iPhone in the loop too pricy and too restrictive for me. I likely will not need the E12 at all even if I go the HD600 route. HD600 are 300 Ohm and the X3 is rated up to 250 Ohms. That may just be close enough.  Starting the audio chain with quality and working my way through I believe is the best way to start. I see that they sell new for $140 from time to time. I will wait for Adorama to put them on sale again. Thanks again for your help!


Edited by pmwoodward - 6/14/14 at 5:41pm
post #15 of 41

I love the E12. I have been nothing but impressed by this little amp.

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