Before I buy a portable amp
Sep 14, 2009 at 4:36 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 9

Abstraction

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Okay. I have been doing high-end audio since tubes were the only choice, and I have always had some cans on hand, but over the last couple of years my Ipod Classic (80gb) has become more important to me. I liked the sound of the ER4s, but they didn't like how much I sweat in the gym, and I had to keep replacing the filters. I now have Westone 3s, which just arrived and haven't had time to check'em out.

I have decided to buy a portable amp. I have read and re-read Head-Fi until I am silly, and want to thank everyone for the great information. I have learned the important parameters, but haven't been able to feel confident about what to buy. As I intend to pull the trigger in the next week or so, I would like your thoughts.

I do not particularly need a dac, but I suppose other things being equal it wouldn't hurt (or would it?). In order of importance: 1) sound quality; 2) size; 3) enough power to drive both IEMs and big cans.

I am thinking of the P-51 and the Pico. Of course, I would be happy to find something cheaper, or I would hear arguments that I should go higher.

I listen mostly to jazz, but that is probably misleading. I listen to complex, noisy, downtown New York jazz. Laid back isn't the right term. High intensity, wild, or far-out might get a clearer picture. I do not listen to singers much, except for Dylan (early Tina Turner doesn't count as a singer; she is a tornado); I listen to some classic rock, some blues, some classic RnB (fifties an sixties); some classical-- Bach and before (this is my laid back music), and Shoenberg and after (often very intense and complex).

Also I am interested in connecting this amp to the DAC in my big rig and trying it with some high quality cans. That is, I want something that will make the best of a very high-end, computerized source. I am also interested in better portable sources, but that is, I suppose, for another forum.
 
Sep 14, 2009 at 9:05 PM Post #2 of 9

GreatDane

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For fairly small size with a USB DAC, you will not do better than Pico(w/DAC) if performance and build quality is high concern([size=x-small]IMO of course[/size]). I do not own a Pico or P-51 now but had them at the same time for comparison. Of course the P-51 is amp only. Comparing the amp sections of both, the Pico easily has more power(very obvious to me). The P-51 has a more forward midrange from my listening with HD 650 seeming to deliver better detail although lacking enough power for my listening level needs. The Pico was able to deliver quite a bit more power into HD 650 while still sounding very good detail wise. For Grado 325i and ER4 I prefer the Pico amp.

I sold my P-51 because I like to be able to power my HD 650 using iPod as source and this amp failed to deliver.

I sold my Pico DAC/amp because I needed money for a headphone upgrade...I wish I still owned the Pico. The Pico DAC is excellent and combined with the amp section makes a great little powerhouse.
 
Sep 14, 2009 at 9:16 PM Post #3 of 9

Abstraction

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thanks, Dane. I don't really need a DAC. I will use the amp with a DAP or with the DAC from my big system. I think it would be good sometimes to isolate from the room (thought it has decent acoustics).

One other thought. I am not sure how hard it is to snag iRiver's DAPs with optical outs, or whether they are good sources if you can, but the weak link for portable seems to me the source. I would be interested in using a DAP with an optical out to D-10, if that would be a good combination.
 
Sep 14, 2009 at 9:30 PM Post #4 of 9

GreatDane

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Abstraction /img/forum/go_quote.gif
thanks, Dane. I don't really need a DAC. I will use the amp with a DAP or with the DAC from my big system. I think it would be good sometimes to isolate from the room (thought it has decent acoustics).

One other thought. I am not sure how hard it is to snag iRiver's DAPs with optical outs, or whether they are good sources if you can, but the weak link for portable seems to me the source. I would be interested in using a DAP with an optical out to D-10, if that would be a good combination.



I've never used a DAP with optical out(iriver) nor a D-10 but it's not hard to find a lot of info on these. Both are great choices from what I've read. I think that you could find one of the iriver DAPs although they come around for sale here only rarely but you could always post a want to buy request( or look at ebay??).
 
Sep 14, 2009 at 9:35 PM Post #5 of 9

iriverdude

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I've used iriver H140 to several DAC's, considerable upgrade in sound quality. Especially if you're using a av amp with no direct source mode, as analogue inputs will have to be converted to digital, processed, then converted back to analogue.

I would highly recommend you buy a DAC with optical output. iriver H140 optical output is bit perfect, as my DTS flac playback to a av pre-amp lit up the DTS light (rather than staying in PCM stereo mode)
 
Sep 14, 2009 at 9:35 PM Post #6 of 9

Scott_Tarlow

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The Pico is overrated by those who have it (me) and under rated by those who don't.
 
Sep 14, 2009 at 10:00 PM Post #8 of 9

Scott_Tarlow

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Meaning, once you get the Pico, you instantly fall in love with it. The build quality, the sound, the size. Everything about the Pico is excellent. Those who buy the D10, for about 200 bucks cheaper(Pico with DAC) say it sounds better. A lot of people say they are in the same league, but the D10 has the slight edge. I held the D10, and have had 2 other iBasso amps. The build quality is alright, but nothing compared to the Pico. How should I put this. The Pico is like a Mercedes Benz. People love their Mercedes. Other people buy luxury brands like Lincoln. There is nothing wrong with the Lincoln, its a great car and a great luxury for the price. It isn't a Mercedes.

That said, the D10 is a great DAC and amp, but stock I don't think it sounds better than the Pico, at least to my ears. I did not listen to its optical, only USB.
 
Sep 15, 2009 at 7:48 AM Post #9 of 9

milford302009

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wait for the fi-quest (inside the ibasso OEM trend) suppose 2 sound like a home amp lol
otherwise u can go for iriver - D10 like me~~ it's not 2 hard 2 get an iriver, just search for ihp-140 or ihp-120 on ebay or try the sales part of this forum... they(optical) do sound quiet a bit better then mini to mini... btw if ur getting a D10 u should get the opamps from Hiflight, it sounds quiet a bit better
 

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