Amp between Karma & E3C?
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PFRfan

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[SUMMARY] Added 05/27
I'm looking for a amp for my Karma to drive my E3C with the possibility of drive other canalphones in the future (E4C, E5C, Super Fi, or Sensa/UE10). I listen to jazz, gospel quartets, pop/rock, classical, pretty much everything. All of my files are FLAC, and will be going into LAME APS in the future. Likely candidates include Portaphile 2, Supermacro 3, SR-71, Go-Vibe. Are any of these particularly well-suited for low impedence canalphones? Or maybe a bad fit?
[/SUMMARY]

I was supremely pleased with my E3C + Karma setup until a few days ago. It actually includes an Indigo IO for my notebook, which sounds very similar to the Karma. I had read that you shouldn't need an amp with the Karma plus ER4P or E3c, so I was living in audio bliss for a couple of months.

Then some basement rearrangement resulted in me being forced :) to set up my Denon AVR-1600 receiver with Sony speakers on my computer desk. To keep things sounding clean, I used a TB Audio Advantage Micro via optical out to the Denon (I know it's not 44.1k... sue me!). I decided to plug my E3Cs into the headphone jack on the Denon. I'm having a really hard time listening to my Karma straight up anymore. The Echo Indigo is about the same as the Karma, too - rolled off highs and... congested? It's like there's too much happening in the same mid-range without any space between things. This is the exact same sounds I was happy with for a very long time, too.

I've run the line-out of the Karma into an input on the receiver, and it sounds great. I run from the headphone out on the Karma (set at 29) into the receiver and it sounds almost exactly the same as line out. I've run from the Indigo (volume maxed), and it sounds the same, too. The bottom line is that the Denon headphone section makes everything sound better - and almost exactly the same (Karma line-out, Karma head-out, Indigo head-out, TB AA optical-out).

I've hooked up my Mackie Spike, and run it's coax output to the Denon, and I cannot tell much difference between the Spike & the receiver (receiver is a hair quieter I think). So I've seriously improved my home setup (whether I use the Spike or the AA Micro-->Denon), but my portable setup is not so hot anymore.

Prior to this discovery, I'd really been planning to replace the Shures with either E4C, Super Fi 5 Pro, or some customer IEMs. Now that I've heard how much more the E3Cs can offer, I'd like to maximize it before I change phones. I know I said I was happy with the setup before, but I guess I was just satisfied that I was close to getting the best from what I had.

So now I'm looking at portable amps. I've been looking at everything from the Go-Vibe to Portaphile 2 to SR-71 to SuperMacro 3. The Portaphile cost is inviting, but by the time I add the DC back-place, an AC charger, and the proper 9V rechargables, it's getting around the $300 range. The SR-71 sounds like it's great, but there's debate over whether it's better than the SM3 or not. The SM3 is the most appealing due to it's size and versatility (AC included & charges the batteries automatically, switch options, op-amp options).

Does anyone have any experience amping a Karma into an E3C? If so, what kind of recommendations do you have? Thanks in advance!

Jonathan
 
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PFRfan

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No response... Changed the title & added a summary, since my write-up is entirely too detailed. Hopefully someone has some good experience to share (yes, I've searched, and read all I could find on these amps. But I don't remember coming across my particular combination, so maybe I'll draw out some good info.)

Thanks.
 
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shimage

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If you've really read everything there is on these amps, then you already know this, but the Go-Vibe is unbuffered. It'll have a tougher time (than the other amps you're considering) driving low-impedance cans. That said, it doesn't do a bad job, especially considering the price. Any reason why you're not considering the pocket amp?
 
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