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AMP/DAC to go with ATH-M50X, to be used with computer and Galaxy S4 phone.

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi, The title pretty much says it all. 

 

I have just bought ATH-M50x headphones, and I am looking for an amp/dac to play music from my computer, and my phone.

 

I have an Astro A40 mixamp that I can use, and I take USB from PC, to my mixamp, then 3.5mm to headphones.

 

The quality doesn't really improve using this over the regular 3.5mm port on my phone, or from the computer.

 

I was considering a Fiio E7 or E17, and also an Objective2 amp/dac. 

 

Not really sure which one will be better for me,or if there is any better options, or if it will even be worth it to spend this money with quite low priced headphones.

 

Not really sure what I should be doing, just looking to get the best sound quality from the M50x, don't want to go spending a lot of money, as I'm sure it would be better upgrading headphones, if that was the case.

 

Any help is appreciated. 

 

Thanks, Adam.

post #2 of 9
O2/ODAC is better than E17. And there would be some SQ difference. Whether or not that difference would be significant to you is another matter. Only you can decide.

Of course, getting the O2/ODAC would mean you'd have a better amp/dac if you decide to upgrade in the future. The O2/ODAC is a more capable setup than the E17 for driving more difficult to drive headphones.

The O2/ODAC is not a great choice for a phone because you can't carry it in your pocket. JDS Labs CD5 or Leckerton UHA-6S .MKII or UHA-4 are amp/dacs that are better than E17 that are very portable. E18 would be a step up over E17 as well.

The E11 is just as good an amp as in the E17 if maybe you might want to start there and skip the DAC. Pretty cheap for the performance it gives.

For less than the O2/ODAC, you could get the Fiio X3 or iBasso DX50 DAPs. These have good dac/amps (as good as E17 or better, IMO). Both also have support for working as a DAC with a computer, although DX50 is kind of beta at the moment (buggy with some machines); not sure about X3.

If you forgo portability, the Schiit Modi/Magni is cheaper than the O2/ODAC, but just as good. Modi can be had with optical input, which means you could use it in conjunction with Xonar DG or DGX sound card if you want virtual surround for gaming.

Also, a lot of fans of the Audioengine Dragonfly v1.2. That you could use with your PC, and then get a portable amp like E11 for your phone.

To learn more about portable amps, see these two shootouts. Rankings follow the reviews:
http://www.head-fi.org/t/596482/the-sub-100-portable-amps-shootout-11-1-amps-compared
http://www.head-fi.org/t/620775/the-sub-200-portable-amps-shootout-13-11-amps-compared
Edited by cel4145 - 7/27/14 at 1:14pm
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the response! 

 

I'm definitely going to research into some of the options that you posted, and see if I can go and try them out, to decide if it will be worth buying for me.

 

I heard using 3.5mm from a phone to an amp is not the best route, as I think an S4 can use a USB output also, and use the external DAC/AMP to get better sound quality. Do you think that would be a better option or am I mistaken with that?

 

I don't really want the headphones louder, just better quality overall if that makes sense. I feel they are loud enough just driven by the 3.5mm of my phone.

post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carbondude View Post

I heard using 3.5mm from a phone to an amp is not the best route, as I think an S4 can use a USB output also, and use the external DAC/AMP to get better sound quality. Do you think that would be a better option or am I mistaken with that?

Better in SQ. Yes. I have a Note 2. I've been happy just with a headphone amp for portable use. Gives the M50 extra juice for bass heavy stuff at louder volumes.
post #5 of 9

Hey OP, Cel pretty much gave you the complete list of options, but I was curious as to why not just get a more portable set of headphones or iems to use with your smartphone.  Eventually you'll get a better smartphone, and by then, you probably won't need or enjoy the extra bulk of an external amp/dac.  If you do eventually decide that you really want to get something like the Leckerton UHA-6S - as a toy - that's cool (I think I might want too), but I think even the much cheaper Fiios aren't smart money.  Start with the cheapest solution first - if you have some decent quality music files on your computer, transfer them to your phone and play with the settings in Poweramp (get the app from the Google Play store) and see if it helps at all.  If that doesn't help, then maybe think about getting some inexpensive iems or portable headphones.  If that idea sounds like it stinks, then think about all the other stuff in Cel's response.

 

On the home computing side I use the Audioquest Dragongfly v1.2 and Audioengine D1 because they work really well with laptop and desktop.  But for something that is just going to sit on your desk and remain there, I would probably go with the Schitt products (haven't heard them, just looking at the prices and going off reputation).  Nah, who am I kidding i would go with the Dragonfly.

post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 

Sorry for the late reply but just an update:

 

After researching the options listed I decided to get myself the Fiio x3 and a 64GB SD card. 

 

Getting delivered tomorrow so will be able to see if I can notice large differences with the ATH m50x.

 

Thanks for the help!

post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carbondude View Post
 

Thanks for the response! 

 

I'm definitely going to research into some of the options that you posted, and see if I can go and try them out, to decide if it will be worth buying for me.

 

I heard using 3.5mm from a phone to an amp is not the best route, as I think an S4 can use a USB output also, and use the external DAC/AMP to get better sound quality. Do you think that would be a better option or am I mistaken with that?

 

I don't really want the headphones louder, just better quality overall if that makes sense. I feel they are loud enough just driven by the 3.5mm of my phone.

 

FiiO is just coming out with it's new E11K ($65) portable headphone amplifier, so it can work with your phone and computer (3.5mm to 3.5mm).

You can have the E11K hooked up to your PC and it can recharge the battery while being used with the PC.

 

You could also get something like the Hifimediy Sabre U2 USB DAC ($57+shipping), to use between the PC and E11K.

Or if your in need to use headphone surround sound with the PC (games or movies), get a used Asus Xonar DX or D1 sound card (used $60), plug the E11K into the DX/D1.

post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

 

FiiO is just coming out with it's new E11K ($65) portable headphone amplifier, so it can work with your phone and computer (3.5mm to 3.5mm).

You can have the E11K hooked up to your PC and it can recharge the battery while being used with the PC.

 

You could also get something like the Hifimediy Sabre U2 USB DAC ($57+shipping), to use between the PC and E11K.

Or if your in need to use headphone surround sound with the PC (games or movies), get a used Asus Xonar DX or D1 sound card (used $60), plug the E11K into the DX/D1.

I already got the fiio x3 as this seems great for portable option and can also be used as a DAC from my PC. It's arriving tomorrow.

 

I really don't like the idea of sound cards because a PC is a noisy environment and although they are shielded I would much rather get an external amp/dac for my PC. 

post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carbondude View Post
 

I already got the fiio x3 as this seems great for portable option and can also be used as a DAC from my PC. It's arriving tomorrow.

 

I really don't like the idea of sound cards because a PC is a noisy environment and although they are shielded I would much rather get an external amp/dac for my PC. 

 

I totally missed the post where you said you ordered the FiiO X3, guess I need to wear my reading glass when on Head-fi.

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