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Android phones and USB DACs

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by nztechfreak, Feb 9, 2012.
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  1. mellda
    I'm totally new here at this forum and in audiophile sphere. I have a favour to ask you. 
    I want good portable system for listening music. Because I do not know how the music should sound I want something really good to be a reference for me. I have Audio-Technica ATH-M50x but I feel I need better headphones so I have ordered Shure 1540 because I read very positive feedback here on the forum. I lack low bass with m50x.
    The source is Sony Xperia Z5 dual. I mostly use Spotify with extreme streaming quality but I will use TIDAL and experiment with lossless formats.
    The sound with Z5 -> M50x is not very good. The sibilance is very noticable for me and the bass is not low enough I think. When I plug the headphones to PC, the sibilance is not so significant. Reading some forums here I found out I need external DAC/amp. This is why I post here. I want to ask you for recommendation of really portable nice sounding DAC/amp. When it comes to size, it should be somethink like flash disk and it should be plastic because if I put it to the same pocket as my smartphone I dont want the dac to scratch my phone. I found this candidates:
    HiFimeDIY Sabre Android DAC
    FiiO K1
    HiFimeDIY Sabre U2 Asynchronous USB DAC
    Zorloo ZuperDAC
    Audioquest DragonFly USB DAC Preamp Headphone Amp Version 1.2
    Audioengine D3 Portable DAC & Headphone Amp
    Geek Out IEM 100 USB DAC
    LH Labs Geek Out 1000 DAC/AMP
    LH Labs GeekOut V2 USB Headphone Amplifier & DAC
    Geek Out 450 USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier
    I read K1 is battery draining. ZuperDAC looks like metal. When I read reviews of DragonFly I was disappointed because people dont talk about it in a good way very much. I do not need slight improvement. I want to get from my headphones the maximum. I dont need the best but I dont want only slight improvement. And definitely I do not want sibilance. I am sorry I post it here. I did not find a way how to create new thread. Could you tell me which DAC is good for me and if I need amp (if so, I want amp integrated in DAC - not separate device)? 
  2. Hawaiibadboy Contributor

     You may need a dac but you definitely need an amp. To get the lows and overall dynamics more clearly an amp/dac should be IMO your goal so axe all the dac only items right off the list.
    If an item does not have its own battery it will drain your phone.
     My rec would be a FiiO e18.
    It is cheap...not sure how it pairs with a sony?
    It has a gain switch and a bass switch. Your M50x would definitely benefit from some power in the low end.
  3. mellda
    Thank you for the recommendation. New information for me that the amp is important equally or more than DAC. I thought that when the headphone volume from the smartphone is ok, no need to have extra amp. So I need DAC+amp in one device. I do not want two devices. And the FiiO  E18 si too big for me. I want something like flash disk (e.g. DragonFly). Im going to carry it in the same pocket as smartphone. No need the extra knob for adjusting volume level. I will set it in a level once and then change only slightly. I suppose it is not problem to use volume buttons on smartphone. Am I right?
  4. Hawaiibadboy Contributor

     I don't have any experience with the dragonfly but some folks love it and if nobody answers you in here then go into the thread for that item
    @H20Fidelity  is pretty advanced in this area so you could also PM him if nobody responds.
    Yes and No
    Yes a dac outside the device is superior for many reasons including less EMI and no...you don't need an amp but I would rec getting a combo amp/dac as an amp can really do wonders for the dynamic lively sound that makes drivers in headphones or IEM really sound their best
  5. Grayson73
    So glad I found this thread. I have a Nexus 6.  Are the Fiio E17K and E18 the best choices in the under $150 price range?
  6. Hawaiibadboy Contributor
    E18 with a Note 4
    It pairs up with a Droid pretty easy. You would need Hiby (free) or UAPP or ONKYO player (both paid) to make sure your phone is letting the E18 do the converting
  7. mellda
    Do you have special case for the phone and the FiiO that it is sticked together?
  8. Hawaiibadboy Contributor

    No it's just an aftermarket case dressed in velcro
  9. kostaszag
    For IEMs there is also the HRT dSp, very small, warm and pleasant sounding.
  10. mellda
    Good idea. Thanks again :)
  11. mellda
    Good idea. Thanks again :)
  12. MadDane
    I still think you'll need a DAC with integrated battery or your phone battery will be dead 1/2 way through the day!
  13. kostaszag
    He owns a Sony Xperia Z5, it has a serious battery, none of those weak Samsung thingies.
  14. mellda
    But I do not want to have big device and carry about charging both of them. I dont listen hours a day. Only one, max two. I think I can live with that. But when I saw the solution with velcro I opened to this solution as wall. But I prefer the small device.
  15. yoyorast10

    how do you like the sound of the e18?
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