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Just saw AGD just released 3 HE series models...drooling..
Regenerative PSUs huh... I don't think I can or need one, honestly
So.. I've recently ordered some HE-500 headphones . I have an old Headroom Bithead Total dac/amp but I want to upgrade that as well. I was initially looking at getting the HiFiMan EF-5 and it's onsale right now at Audio Advisor for $333 which seems like a pretty nice price. I'd still need a DAC though and I would like a 32/384 DAC so I can try out some of those formats (I know there's not a ton of it but I have some) and see if I can even tell any difference I guess you never know until you try it right?
Whatever I get I will use with USB. I've been reading the forum and it looks like a lot of people have had USB problems with the NFB-11. So...
1- Would the NFB-11 be a better match or worse (amp wise) than the HF-5 amp for the HE-500 headphones?
2- Does USB work? Or does it not work. Is it just a matter of fiddling with it for a bit or "doing it right" or does it just flat out not work very well? I don't want something I have to mess with all the time - that'd be a PIA.
3- Is there much (any) difference from a 24/192 DAC and a 32/384 DAC? Would I be better off getting a stable 24/192 DAC and the HF-5?
I'd love to get something that is under $500 bucks and it would be nice if it was a single device so it would be a bit easier to take it from home to work and back though it's probably going to sit at work mostly. I could wait longer (and save up) if I'm better off with a Yulong, Firefly, Oppo HA-1, or some other option. I don't really want to buy something that's 10 times the price and .01% better either.
The nfb11 will be great with the he500. No need for a separate amp like the ef5. I have the nfb15 and spent an afternoon comparing different amps/dacs in the 500-1500 price range and none impressed me much over my own setup (nfb15->he500) except for the oppo HA-1 which is nzd$2000 where i live. My nfb15 cost me just under nzd$400 (usd$310) to my doorstep including paypal fees and txco upgrade. Also I've never had usb problems. Just install driver from audio gd, plug in usb take afew seconds to install drivers and you're away. Too easy and no issues. As for bit rate/sample rate i personally don't bother with anything higher than 24/96 but your mileage may vary.
Thanks a lot! That NFB11 really looks (spec wise) awesome and the price is hard to even believe - it's easily 1/3 or less the price of most other recommendations I've gotten. That makes me a bit nervous though, why is it sooo much cheaper?
How much of a difference did you think the Oppo gave? I'm a bit of an Oppo fan but it sure is a ton more expensive.
Also, any chance you've tried the commonly recommended bifrost/lyr combo and can compare it to the NFB11 and Oppo? Thanks a lot, I really do appreciate it. Oh, and double thanks for the USB info. Glad to hear it's working just fine for someone - hopefully I'll have the same experience if I get one.
I wish there was a local meet around me with other people offering to let me try their gear
Honestly from the single ended output i don't think there would be too much discernible difference between the nfb11 and ha-1. My nfb15 is definitely warmer sounding than other more neutral dac implementations (tried various pcm1704 and ess9018 implementations as well as some wolfson dacs to compare nfb15) and the he500 isn't too picky, though it actually makes a very good reference can. Current/power really make the difference though which the audio gd gear has in spades. For example i thought the firestone libby sounded ****, anemic and lifeless even though it has a very good dac and class a amp like the ha-1. As for why audio gd is so cheap, i can only speak from my impressions of them. I'm very glad i took a chance and decided to go audio gd, their customer service is very good and it took 3 working days from order to delivery to new zealand. They also declared my package as usd80 per my request so no issues with extra fees and custom tax. They are a no ******** no snake oil company. Shoot kingwa an email and I'm sure he'll help you sort your source needs to suit you. All the technical specifications are laid out openly for you on their website on all their products. Their acss and current gain volume implementation is ideal for planar magnetic headphones. I'm very impressed with their engineering and build quality. You have a great price to performance head phone in the he500 (considered end game), why not go for the best price/performance in source gear IMO, and go audio gd? I'm not affiliated with audio gd in any way, just very impressed with my first purchase from them, and will be sticking loyal to them. Even more so after i compared so many amps/dacs at my only local HiFi shop. Sorry about wall of text I'm on mobile
Edit: please don't let audio gd price put you off, it is not an indication of quality. In fact i feel their pricing is very honest unlike most companies in this industry. Though if you are in the us and can afford the ha-1 then that'll be a no brainer. Though hearing the ha-1 just makes me want to try one of kingwas ess9018 implementations with a class A amp.....
I pair NFB 11 (2014) with HE 500 and I 'm very happy, sonic-wise. Plenty of quality drive, good and neutral though the whole acoustic range.
When in Foobar, i've got no USB issues.
However, when in YouTube, I always end up with a win7 blue screen (which indicates the VIA driver as the source of problem) . I keep mailing KingWa about the issue, and last time promised to send the matter up to the guys in VIA. May I point out that several users here, have reported blue screens when YouTube-ing ...
Another issue is that you practically cannot play DSD files, since the relay ''pop'' noise, each time you change a file, is unbearable. I decided to overcome this, by having Foobar do a dsd-> pcm convertion on the fly ... thus no native dsd (except the case you can live with terrible sounds) ...
All in all, for the price the NFB 11 is the best HE 500 companion. If the A.M. issues could be cured, it would be the perfect choice.
No worries about the text-wall. Wasn't too bad, really
Thanks for the input. Just curious, do you have problems with youtube? Are you using Foobar? Do you use Direct Sound, ASIO, WASAPI, or maybe Wasabi?
The main thing that I'm concerned with on the audio-gd is getting something that doesn't work well the way I hope to use it - which is USB and I do listen to a lot of youtube when checking out new bands. So, all the people having problems really concerns me.
I suppose I could afford a HA-1 (and I do live in the US) but I'd much rather something that's in the NFB-11 price range, who wouldn't? Especially if there isn't much difference.
Thanks Spirosgon! That's definitely the sort of thing I'd be really annoyed by and probably the main reason I'm really hesitant about the audio-gd products.
Are you using ASIO, Direct Sound, or WASAPI? Just curious.
I also read there's a foobar component you can use to play "silence" during track changes that fixes the relay pop sound, but I haven't tested it since I don't have one
How loud is the pop sound? When listening to music does it over power the headphones at normal-moderate volumes?
Also, the pop is just a relay in the device right? It's not in the headphones?
No Direct Sound. This is, in general, the worst option, no matter which dac you use ... When the manufacturer's asio drivers are stable, we must use them. Wasapi is another great option. Personally, with NFB 11 I use Wasapi.
I tried this ''silence'' component in an effort to play native dsd without ''popping''. I' m sorry to report that it didn't do the job for me.
The pop sound doesn't stay in the device. In my case, it comes out, in my powered speakers (Presonus Eris 4.5) ... and it is really loud & annoying most of the times... makes you fear about the health of the speakers. I didn't test it with my headphones, they are far more expensive and I don't want to risk it. Anyway, if you follow my practice and let foobar play dsd as pcm, this problem becomes negligible. In addition this foobar convertion seems not to affect the sound. I can hear almost no difference when I compare with native dsd ... If VIA and Kingwa solve the YT problem, then the NFB 11 will be a perfect machine.
I hope they get the problems fixed too. I think I'm going to hold out a bit and see if anything happens but all these things really make me very wary about getting the nfb11.
Right now I use Foobar and wasapi with my old (but problem free) headroom total bithead - but I have no idea how much power it puts out and I'm sure it's going to be less than what the he-500's need. I could just use it as a DAC for awhile though and get a amp for the new headphones - which is what I might end up doing.
I'm going to e-mail audio-gd and see if they have any estimate on when these issues will be resolved and "try out" their customer support - see how that goes.
How does the AGD NFB11 pair with the HD-650 vs the AGD NFB15? I like warmer music signature, but also enjoy extra detail and soundstage. Priority would probably go to warmth/soundstage over absolute neutrality/revealing detail, as the setup would mostly be for just fun listening and not sound engineering or anything like that. Reading through the majority of the thread, it seems there are quite a few issues with getting the NFB11 setup properly.
Other options are the often recommended Schiit Asgard 2, but it may be out of my budget range to get a Bifrost with it. I don't know if I could stand the aesthetics of the Asgard 2 along with a smaller DAC like the modi being mismatched in size/footprint on my desk.
I haven't heard the NFB-11 but I wasn't crazy about the HD650 out of the NFB-15. Until I plugged it into my Project Ember, that is...
So is your setup NFB15 -> Project ember -> HD650? Does the non-built ember require advanced soldering skills, or can a noob do it? Never done any soldering before
You can buy it assembled for a few extra bucks. I got mine used on the classifieds here so, obviously, already assembled.