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Is upgrading a DAP or IEM/Headphone a better choice???

Poll Results: Which upgrade is better???

 
  • 0% (0)
    DAP
  • 100% (6)
    IEM/Headphone
6 Total Votes  
post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Been wanting to ask this question since i can't find any discussions about it,so what i wanted to ask is will upgrading a music player or upgrading an earphone/headphone will have a bigger difference in terms of sound quality.So which one is a better choice? Please vote too in case your not replying :bigsmile_face:  Thanks~ :etysmile:

post #2 of 13

That depends. Very generally the headphone or IEM will make a bigger impact, but if whatever device you're using now can't drive it well enough, then it might sound worse for the dollar than what you're upgrading from. That said, there are a lot of IEMs that isolate well, are efficient enough, and don't present a complex load thus will work well enough (even if some do show considerable improvement with a serious DAP with specialized circuits, or an amp) with the 5mW to 15mW of a mainstream device that you won't go past 0.1% THD at sane listening levels.

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

That depends. Very generally the headphone or IEM will make a bigger impact, but if whatever device you're using now can't drive it well enough, then it might sound worse for the dollar than what you're upgrading from. That said, there are a lot of IEMs that isolate well, are efficient enough, and don't present a complex load thus will work well enough (even if some do show considerable improvement with a serious DAP with specialized circuits, or an amp) with the 5mW to 15mW of a mainstream device that you won't go past 0.1% THD at sane listening levels.

I see,so if i'm using a decent 200$earphone and a decent 200$music player and if i upgrade to a 300$ earphone will be better than upgrading to a 300$ music player :confused_face_2:

post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by JTLovesMusic View Post
 

I see,so if i'm using a decent 200$earphone and a decent 200$music player and if i upgrade to a 300$ earphone will be better than upgrading to a 300$ music player :confused_face_2:

 

Price has less to do with it. What I meant was that for example if you're using a decent smartphone with the proper apps, you can go ahead and get as much as a $1,000 CIEM if you want to as long as for example it has a neutral response (no artificial bass boost that might need a real amp to control properly), well over 110db@1mW sensitivity rating, isolates well, and impedance doesn't swing wildly off the nominal rating of preferably near 32ohm (a little bit higher is likely better than 16ohm), then the 5mW at 0.1% THD of a smartphone's integrated DAC-HPamp chip won't have a hard time driving it and ergo you can enjoy much of what such an IEM will have to offer. 

 

The problem there is that fullrange response, very neutral response especially from a single driver and/or smooth transition between multiple drivers, load stability, efficiency and low distortion, and low price don't always go together in equal amounts. Generally however most IEMs are efficient enough and even multiple-driver designs don't tend to cause the same amount of impedance swings as with many multiple-driver speakers. In any case, you have to do your research - going up to a $300 IEM might not be that much more over the $200 IEM (well, depending on which $200 and $300 IEMs) to start with, and then depending on which $300 IEM it is, your player (assuming it isn't, say, an X3 or DX50, and is a subsidized $200 cash out smartphone) might end up inadequate for driving it.

 

So really what it comes down to is what gears are you referring to, because a lot of parameters may be at play there.

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

 

Price has less to do with it. What I meant was that for example if you're using a decent smartphone with the proper apps, you can go ahead and get as much as a $1,000 CIEM if you want to as long as for example it has a neutral response (no artificial bass boost that might need a real amp to control properly), well over 110db@1mW sensitivity rating, isolates well, and impedance doesn't swing wildly off the nominal rating of preferably near 32ohm (a little bit higher is likely better than 16ohm), then the 5mW at 0.1% THD of a smartphone's integrated DAC-HPamp chip won't have a hard time driving it and ergo you can enjoy much of what such an IEM will have to offer. 

 

The problem there is that fullrange response, very neutral response especially from a single driver and/or smooth transition between multiple drivers, load stability, efficiency and low distortion, and low price don't always go together in equal amounts. Generally however most IEMs are efficient enough and even multiple-driver designs don't tend to cause the same amount of impedance swings as with many multiple-driver speakers. In any case, you have to do your research - going up to a $300 IEM might not be that much more over the $200 IEM (well, depending on which $200 and $300 IEMs) to start with, and then depending on which $300 IEM it is, your player (assuming it isn't, say, an X3 or DX50, and is a subsidized $200 cash out smartphone) might end up inadequate for driving it.

 

So really what it comes down to is what gears are you referring to, because a lot of parameters may be at play there.

Wow i see really thanks for explaining those ,learned a lot today~ :ksc75smile: 

post #6 of 13

In a nutshell,  transducers - headphones, speakers, microphones are the source of all sound quality in audio systems as well as acoustics.  No two transducers sound alike.  DAC's and amps, on the other hand, are pretty transparent.  The only reasons to use a separate amp is to get louder than what you have will go and to get a lower impedance for headphones.  I can't think of any reason to use a separate DAC.  Many audiophiles decry the sound quality of sound cards and cell phones and blame it on the DAC.  The problem, however, is the amp in those units, most of which have a high source impedance and inadequate power.  If your cans sound good then all is well.  If not, get a headphone amp and choose one with a low output impedance.

 

Price is not an indication of performance in the audio world.  It just isn't.


Edited by blades - 8/1/14 at 10:47am
post #7 of 13

it depends what have to start but as a rule.  money put into the IEM will get you a bugger jump in quality that the same into a DAP will.

post #8 of 13
It all depends what you're upgrading from. If you have an iPod and iBuds, you buy a decent IEM.

Generally, most DAPs are fine unless you own high sensitivity IEMs in which case most are not fine because they hisssss redface.gif.
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Claritas View Post

It all depends what you're upgrading from. If you have an iPod and iBuds, you buy a decent IEM.

Generally, most DAPs are fine unless you own high sensitivity IEMs in which case most are not fine because they hisss

most of the time how much impedance will the iem consider high and most of my IEMs are 16ohms but some of them still hiss a little although i have a decent govibe amp

post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by JTLovesMusic View Post

most of the time how much impedance will the iem consider high and most of my IEMs are 16ohms but some of them still hiss a little although i have a decent govibe amp

Look at the sensitivity rating, not the impedance. It should be expressed in dB/mW, not dB/V (though you can convert if have to, so long as you know the impedance). I'm not sure how high the sensitivity has to get before it causes hiss with most DAPs, but my UERM is "112 dB @ 1 kHz, 1mW" and it hisses with iPods and most DAPs. If you want to be safe, look for something less sensitive than that or get a DAP that won't hiss with higher sensitivity IEMs.
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Claritas View Post


Look at the sensitivity rating, not the impedance. It should be expressed in dB/mW, not dB/V (though you can convert if have to, so long as you know the impedance). I'm not sure how high the sensitivity has to get before it causes hiss with most DAPs, but my UERM is "112 dB @ 1 kHz, 1mW" and it hisses with iPods and most DAPs. If you want to be safe, look for something less sensitive than that or get a DAP that won't hiss with higher sensitivity IEMs.

i see thanks for your info well ya most of my IEMs are Single BAs and i have checked their sensitivity and most of them are 112-116db, seems like i was not the only one with hisses @_@

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 

oh yea, and why does my earphone hiss more when paired up with my amp and no hiss when paired with DAP? kinda weird situation... 

post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by JTLovesMusic View Post

oh yea, and why does my earphone hiss more when paired up with my amp and no hiss when paired with DAP? kinda weird situation... 

I think this is a reasonable way of explaining it: http://www.head-fi.org/t/563102/shure-se-535-very-noticeable-hiss/15#post_7633208. Could have been a little clearer, but you get the idea.
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