Any $100ish amps to drive an ALO HFI-780?
Mar 1, 2008 at 6:18 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 16


500+ Head-Fier
Dec 25, 2007
So I plan on getting an ALO modded HFI-780 soon. Do these 'phones benefit well from amps? If so, can anyone recommend me an amp around the $100 range that are preferably portable (doesn't have to be, though)?

Right now my setup is (err... will be) an X-Fi socketed w/ LM4562 > ALO HFI-780. I'd rather not get a USB DAC thingie since I think that'd bypass my sound card... and regardless of whether it sounds better I'm a bit too lazy to go through all that trouble, unless if the sound improvement is significant.

Is there a such thing as an amp that can greatly (I don't really feel like plopping down the money if the gain isn't significant) increase or bring out the SQ of those cans in the $100 range, or should I just save up and get a better one later?
Mar 1, 2008 at 8:16 AM Post #2 of 16
Hold on, let me get this past my overly thick skull, you got a $346 recable job on a pair of $249 headphones and now you want a $100 Amp to drive them? No offense, but that sounds pretty strange (I'm being very polite although a few more direct words come to mind).

Any amp is better than no amp when amping a nice line level signal. As to say any amp at $100 is worth it, that's a judgement call. I think the Mini3 is a fantastic amp that performs very well. Being biased to opamp+buffer amps, I'd also recommend a Pimeta which I like more than the normal opamp-only amps. If you can stretch that budget by another $50-$75, a CKK-III is well worth it.
Mar 1, 2008 at 11:26 AM Post #3 of 16
^ I was wondering the same thing.
Mar 1, 2008 at 2:44 PM Post #4 of 16
Like others said, drop the ALO-modded thing (smells FOTM to me) and get a good source and a good amp. In my experience, cables make the least noticeable difference and even then, there are much cheaper options than ALO.
Mar 1, 2008 at 11:51 PM Post #5 of 16
Bleh, I was hoping there was the equivalent of the Sonic T Amp for the headphone world =\

I'm raising the budget to $200 (maybe more if ya'll think it's worth it), but I'd request that it have USB DAC capabilities as well. I was looking at the iBasso D2, but will it ever have OpAmp rolling again after the first 100? Or should I look at the Headstage? Will either enhance the SQ of the ALO's?

Note that if the amp is good enough, I wouldn't mind if it wasn't portable or wasn't USB DAC. However, I'd still very much prefer portable otherwise. I was looking at tube amps... are those any good?

So far I guess its
iBasso D2 (will they ever release an OpAmp roll-able version again after the first 100?)
Headstage (they seem good, but morally... eh=\)
Little Dot MKII/III
Meier 2Move
Mar 2, 2008 at 10:44 PM Post #7 of 16
forget about the ALO re-cable and put that money for an amp/dac

otherwise you are just wasting your money
Mar 2, 2008 at 10:47 PM Post #8 of 16

Originally Posted by TheMarchingMule /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I'll third the motion and say drop the ALO 'phone thing.

I'll 4th the ALO-mod as well. Even though I got the 780, it's just to see what the FOTM is all about, and maybe it will impress me. I just haven't found the right headphone for me yet, so that's why I'm going with the 780's. The ALO mod however, IMO, is too excessive at this point not knowing much about it.
Mar 3, 2008 at 1:38 AM Post #9 of 16
Bleh, I guess I'll hold out on new headphones till the ALO's get more opinions.

Anyway, on to amps:
is $200ish sufficient for a good one? I need DAC functionality for my laptop and portability for my MP3 Player.

So far the iBasso D2, the Meier 2Move, and the Go-Vibe Petite have been looking good to me. Main functions will be USB DAC Amp w/ Laptop for most of the week and an Amp for desktop perhaps a couple days out of the week as well as an amp for an MP3 player.

Oh yes, what's this I hear about the D1/D2 being able to be used as a standalone DAC or something? What's that?
Mar 3, 2008 at 2:47 AM Post #10 of 16
I would go with the D2
. The D1 can be used as a standalone DAC, but the D2 doesn't have that function. This means that you can just use it as a DAC, and run an amp through the D1 later if you so wish. I'm not sure how the D2 is giong to work as a standalone, but people have made the Pico into one even though it wasn't supposed to be one of its functions. I would just go with the D2
Mar 3, 2008 at 3:10 AM Post #12 of 16
Oh, I was going to use whichever amp I get as a USB DAC and Amp anyway, so the nixing of the standalone feature doesn't bother me.

D2 it is I guess. BTW, how easy is it to switch the OpAmps? From what I gather a DIP socket is, I just yank out the old and stick in the new, nice and tooless?
Mar 3, 2008 at 4:16 AM Post #13 of 16
I'll fifth the reaction. You plan to get an ALO HFI-780 and expect to amp directly from a computer sound card? No offense but this smacks of ridiculousness, that's totally backwards. Cables are the last thing to upgrade.

USB DAC first, followed by an amp (if there's not one integrated with the USB DAC). And most inexpensive USB DACs aren't anywhere good enough to show you the effects of a headphone re-cable. And you can get a significantly cheaper re-cable from APureSound...
Mar 3, 2008 at 5:08 AM Post #14 of 16

Originally Posted by dap_pad /img/forum/go_quote.gif
So wait??? You can't just use the D2 as a DAC??? What I was planning to use it as just a DAC and separate amp... well if I buy it that is.

The D2 was designed like the Pico to not be used just as a DAC, but people have figured out a way to do it with the Pico somewhere in the Pico threads. I'm sure you can do it with the D2, but it won't be like the D1 is. IMO I wouldn't spend so much money on the D2 just for the could probably do better for that money.
Mar 3, 2008 at 1:32 PM Post #15 of 16
I like the govibe petite a lot.

Have not tried the DAC version, but the amp version is really nice and clear. One of the better amps in its price range, and the size is just so appealing (especially if you are using it with a laptop or something).

Haven't tried this, but the mini^3 seems attractive as well (though it doesn't have a DAC option).

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