All Confused / Fiio Amps
Mar 23, 2013 at 7:16 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 6

Breyden

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First let me say I am sorry if this info is already posted in some forum somewhere else.  I have done a lot of searches and read many posts, but nothing is exactly what I need.
 
I want the best quality listening experience possible, for a reasonable price.  I recently purchased some V-Moda Crossfade LP over the ear headphones.  I plan to listen to them at home mostly, using a Sansa Clip Zip media player and also my PC computer (Windows 7 x64 based).  I don't really understand all the talk about high and low resistance and sensitivity and all the terms associated with high end audio enjoyment.  I am not an audiophile, but I imagine I would like to become one.  I used to love listening to SACD's and DVD audio on my Denon receiver and Bowers & Wilkins speakers (five 300 series, two 600 series and one 10" subwoofer), so I have heard what good, clear audio should sound like.I say "used to" because I haven't been able to listen to them since I lost my job and my house.  Living in an apartment has it's limitations.  :)
 
I didn't even know that headphones needed amplifiers until I stumbled across the Fiio amplifiers on Amazon.  I don't know what I need to get for the system I have and the sound I would like to reproduce.  I have thought about the very basic E3, the E6, the E11, E07K and the E17.  I do not have much money, but I want to do things right the first time and am willing to go into a bit of debt.  I would also consider other brands or models if anyone thinks I should go a different route.  I heard that there is an E12 model, but I do not see it on Amazon, so I do not know if it is out yet.  I would be willing to be patient and wait if that is the best option.  I would like to keep the price at a max of the E17, unless there is something for just a bit more that blows everything away.  I don't know if I need DAC, or how it is better than just using an amp straight from the headphone jack on my computer.
 
I enjoy good clear music.  I like most genres, such as classical, instrumentals, movie soundtracks, broadway, new age, jazz, R&B, pop, 80's, metal, hair metal, electric, country, some reggae and even some rap (listed in no specific order).  Indeed it would seem like I like just about everything.  I like the music to sound clear, but I also enjoy a pounding, vibrate your internal organs-bass when one is called for.  I can't say I would like to sacrifice the rest of the spectrum just for extreme bass though.  Perhaps I want and expect too much?
 
My computer motherboard supposedly has an 8 channel high definition audio sound card built in and also an S/PDIF out (I have no idea what that means).  I plugged the headphones into the front headphone jack and it didn't sound awful, but perhaps I don't know what I am missing?  Here is a link for the motherboard specs which talks about it's audio.
http://www.asus.com/Motherboards/M4A785M/
 
Here is a link for the Sansa Clip Zip.
http://www.sandisk.com/products/music-video-players/clip-zip/
 
I have considered using Rockbox firmware on the Sansa, due to troubles I have had with my old Sansa Fuse (I have not used the Clip Zip yet).  Any opinions on that are also welcome.
http://www.rockbox.org/
 
Here is a link to the V-Moda Crossfade LP which also includes the specs for those.
http://v-moda.com/crossfade-lp/
 
I would also be interested in any pointers on how to make compressed music files sound their best.  Most of the music I will be listening to is probably going to be from Rhapsody.  Is it even possible to have awesome audio using compressed music?  I am brand new to all of this stuff.  If it sounds like I have been on a different planet for the past 12 years, that wouldn't surprise me.  I have been very sick and am pretty much in bed 99% of the time.  I just want an awesome experience that will make life that much better.
 
Thanks in advance!
 
Breyden
 
I also saw a bunch of DIY headphone amps on youtube.  Go there and search "Altoid headphone amp" for a bunch of different vids.  I don't know how these would compare to a commercially made product though.
 
Mar 23, 2013 at 7:40 PM Post #2 of 6

MrViolin

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Hm, well compressed music will sound worse and worse as it becomes more compressed. 320 kb/s seems reasonable. Yeah, you can have awesome audio since it's kind of hard to discern them at 320 vs lossless. It's not night and day, but there are differences. Not enough for you to not enjoy your music. Depending on your equipment, it might not make a difference. 
 
As for the impedance and stuff about needing an amp. It's more about the 1/8 rule with for phones having 8x as much or more impedance than your computer. That's for distortion and other stuff. Thus people getting amps for their IEM's. Amps can also change the sound (slightly). They won't make your phones change their signature completely though (well maybe unless you had something like an hd800 that wasn't properly amped and such). 
 
As for amps, I don't think it's worth going into debt for them. As long has you can hear the music, you're fine. Seeing that you're sick, you don't need more stress put upon yourself man!
 
The onboard audio is meh. The reason why people go for amp/dacs is because the onboard dac is usually meh itself. The outputs on your computer have a high impedance, so you'd encounter distortion.  But if you have an onboard dac and do not hear any hiss or buzz, it's fine. No need to go further. For the amp, it'll amplify the signal (making it louder). The gain is the amount of amplification done (i.e 5.0x gain= 5x amplification done to the analog signal). It'll change the sound (tube amps vs SS), and reveal what is there. 
 
Seeing that you're going to be home and are entering the audio world, the o2 and magni (might be a bit loud 5.0x gain and the LP has a 105dB sensitivity raiting, but you can adjust that via your settings on w/e program you use for the digital output such as Foobar 2000). 
 
If you need a DAC b/c of hissing and what not, it'd probably better to go w/ the ODAC or modi.
 
 
 
I hope this helped! If you need more questions, ask away. 
 
Mar 23, 2013 at 9:08 PM Post #3 of 6

Breyden

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Thank you for your reply.  I must admit, I am still lost.  I am having a hard time understanding most of the technical stuff, and the searching I did for what I thought you were recommending turned up no results.  Can you provide any product links if you are steering me in the direction of certain products?  Also, don't worry about me going into debt, I won't go too far into debt if I go into any at all.  That is one reason why I was considering the Fiio amps, because they seem hundreds of dollars cheaper than the alternatives that I had found. 
 
Basically what I understood from your reply was that I don't need an amp, nor do I need a DAC?
 
Mar 23, 2013 at 9:24 PM Post #4 of 6

MrViolin

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Quote:
Thank you for your reply.  I must admit, I am still lost.  I am having a hard time understanding most of the technical stuff, and the searching I did for what I thought you were recommending turned up no results.  Can you provide any product links if you are steering me in the direction of certain products?  Also, don't worry about me going into debt, I won't go too far into debt if I go into any at all.  That is one reason why I was considering the Fiio amps, because they seem hundreds of dollars cheaper than the alternatives that I had found. 
 
Basically what I understood from your reply was that I don't need an amp, nor do I need a DAC?

http://www.jdslabs.com/store.php
^where you can find the ODAC and o2
http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=0&products_id=13 
^where you can find the magni and modi
 
Sorry about that. Yes, FiiO is also an alternative, but it's more portable oriented. The e12 is more portable oriented, even then people are shooting for the c5 as an alternative to that. 
 
Impedance and all the technical stuff:
http://www.head-fi.org/t/607282/headphone-amp-impedance-matching-basics-you-need-to-know
The sensitivity is the efficiency, or how easy they are to drive. It's measured in dB and can be sometimes known as SPL (sound pressure level). Lower the given dB, the more juice you'll need to make the phones louder. 
 
As long as you're happy with what you have, no. If you're striving for more/bringing out your phones, then getting an amp and DAC is one possibility besides getting new headphones. As long as your mobo doesn't provide an hiss/buzz, your DAC is pretty much fine. An amp will amplify the signal, revealing what is there, giving more detail. But the weakest link in the chain will be what you're hearing. 
 
Mar 23, 2013 at 10:19 PM Post #5 of 6

DrSheep

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I generally don't recommend FiiO, but since you need an all in one solution at a good price, then you should look into the FiiO E17.  It is a DAC/AMP which me for computer use it will bypass your motherboard sound and cut down the noise, and it is portable for your Sansa Clip Zip.  The E07K works too and it's cheaper, but the E17 is better for PC/Desktop integration later with the FiiO E9K.
 
Mar 24, 2013 at 12:20 AM Post #6 of 6

waynes world

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I have been sucked into headfi and addicted for about 6 months, and yet at times I still feel as lost as you lol!
 
I am not sure if you are looking for iem's or headphones. But based on the music that you mentioned, and based on my experience so far, you could not go wrong with the vsonic GR07BE's for iem's ($140 when on sale), or the audio technical AD900X for open full sized headphones (less than $200), or the audio technical WS99's (which I haven't got yet, but am fully convinced will rock). Also, I recently was made aware of the closed Soundmagic HP100 - they are getting rave reviews.
 
As far as DACs are concerned, I have the ELE DAC hooked up to my laptop. It was $20. It sounds amazing and I don't even feel the need to delve further into DACs at the moment (thank God).
 
As far as AMPs are concerned, they usually are not really necessary (but that is dependent on your headphones), and you could probably survive quite nicely with your clip zip without one. But once you have one, it's hard not to want to use it. So if you want to get your feet wet and save some money, go for the Fiio E11 - it will probably do the trick for you. It's about $40 and does a rather decent job. If you want to spend $100 or more, there are a lot of options. But really, I would just try out the E11 for a while.
 
The clip zip is a great player for the price as well.
 

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