Fiio e10, e17, Schiit Magni/Modi, ODAC + 02, iBasso, AudioQuest Dragonfly…sound card and amp match inquiry
Feb 22, 2013 at 8:23 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 23

April2Ari

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Just bought a pair of Senn HD598's...but I am also aware that their bass is pretty light. I have been looking into getting a better setup for when I am home, so portability isn't a factor. 
 
I need some help/clarification due to some mixed reviews on here that kind of confused me. Originally I planned on getting either the Fiio e9, e10, or e17...I nixed the e9 because someone stated how terrible it was with the 598's and how it ruined the sound quality in several ways. Has anyone else noticed that as a bad combo? 
 
I also saw some high recommendations for AudioQuest Dragonfly, iBasso DZero or D-7, Schiit Mani/Modi stack, and ODAC + 02...I don't know much when it comes to DAC/sound cards (other than it converts to analog and improves the quality of the recording), but I understand basics with amps. I read somewhere that DAC isn't compatible with Apple, which poses a problem, since my sources are an iPod, MacBook Pro, and iPhone...but then I read some other threads recommending DAC hookups for Apple OS users. Ha so now I am lost...can someone please help clarify, or possibly simply the DAC and Apple thing?
 
My main question: What combo above is ideal for my Senn's (sound card + amp)? Also, which are compatible and optimal for Apple OS + Senn's HD598 together?
 
The HD598's are low impedance, so I know it doesn't take a lot to power them, but I plan on diversifying my hp collection over time. I just want to bring out as much as possible in the 598's. I am not sure if I should just buy a high quality soundcard, just a high quality amp...or buy BOTH a sound card and amp, but of slightly lesser quality (I am trying to keep the budget around the $200-300 mark). The threads about 598's seem to go back and forth about what actually does the most and what's actually worth it.
 
I would reeeally appreciate some feedback! This forum is so helpful :) I have a major wish list that never stops building. Haha the more I read on here about different hp style's, the more I want to expand my collection- definitely a new addiction!
 
 
P.S. My hard drive is partitioned with Windows 7, so I am not locked into going the Apple OS route. 
 
Feb 23, 2013 at 10:02 AM Post #2 of 23

April2Ari

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I saw a great video on YouTube about the e17...I think I am going to go with that and then also a LOD (probably the L9), since my iPod will be my primary source. The review I saw stated that Apple products come with great DAC's built in, so a sound sound card isn't as big of a deal as a good amp...is that true?
 
If nobody has input about the Apple stuff, then could someone possibly provide some feedback about the Senn HD598 + sound card + amp parts of the question? I am fairly new to the audiophile world, so I don't feel comfortable making a purchase until I understand some of this better. If I need to provide more of an explanation or word my questions different, please let me know :)
 
Feb 23, 2013 at 2:13 PM Post #3 of 23

bngbox

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Click on my profile and find my review about the E17/E09K. I don't know where you heard the E9 ruins the sound but it sounds pretty neutral to me and definitely adds the amplification the 598 needs. The E17 by itself is plenty for what you need and it's versatile for all your ways you're using your headphones. You're right about the DAC not working with your iPhone and iPod but it works just fine with your Mac for sure. People here claim the DACs on the portable products aren't that great but I don't know about the Mac. 
 
I don't have any experience with the other products you mentioned so I can't comment though. 
 
Also, this should be moved to the Portable Amplification forum =] 
 
Feb 23, 2013 at 2:54 PM Post #4 of 23

jwusoccer

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If you want bass, the only amp that you have listed that will help you with that is the e17 since it has an eq. To be completely honest, i never really thought that an amp really helped my hd598s much when i had them. I would either look at a cheaper solution such as the e7, or just use the software eq on your music player. 
 
Feb 25, 2013 at 1:44 PM Post #5 of 23

April2Ari

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Quote:
Click on my profile and find my review about the E17/E09K. I don't know where you heard the E9 ruins the sound but it sounds pretty neutral to me and definitely adds the amplification the 598 needs. The E17 by itself is plenty for what you need and it's versatile for all your ways you're using your headphones. You're right about the DAC not working with your iPhone and iPod but it works just fine with your Mac for sure. People here claim the DACs on the portable products aren't that great but I don't know about the Mac. 
 
I don't have any experience with the other products you mentioned so I can't comment though. 
 
Also, this should be moved to the Portable Amplification forum =] 

 
 
@bngbox...thanks for the feedback :) I am about to go check out that review now. It's helpful to hear additional reviews on stuff...I might end up changing my mind! Below are the threads listed that made me hesitate with the e9, but I noticed that with the e10 some too:
 
e9:
 
 
http://www.head-fi.org/t/573599/sennheiser-hd-598-amp-necessary
 
“I'm sorry but I just can't agree with that. Just got myself an Fiio E7/E9 combo for Sennheiser HD 598 and....... I'M HUGELY DISAPPOINTED!!!.
 
It's just rubbish, I was listening to sennheisers for about 6 months just with my laptop ( Dell E4310 ) and I was/still am in love with them, but as I read all the hi-fi forums I was convinced that i should get myself somekinde of amplifter. So I went for that combo and it just .S^&(*# :)
 
Sorry about that but the stage is just unbelievably small compared to headphones and laptop fix. Obviously they play a lot quieter but i just don't care about that
 
Got no words for it.
 
 
 
http://www.head-fi.org/t/539383/100-200-amp-recommendation-for-hd598
 
“…i found the Fiio E7 + E9 the best, but i also realized that these headphones dont need an amp, since even the E7 DAC can run them just as good as with the E9... Amp doesnt seem to add any noticeable sound quality to these headphones, i actually felt like it reduced clarity a bit too.
 
 
http://www.head-fi.org/t/583420/my-experience-with-sennheiser-hd598-with-fiio-e9-and-turtle-beach-dss
 
Notice I haven't mentioned the E9 amp? Well, I'm disappointed with it. It can raise my the HD598's volume beyond what I would ever typically listen to music at, but at low to moderate volume levels there's audible "fuzz" in play along with my music. The fuzz is more noticeable the louder I crank the amp. Low impedance sounds better than high (which makes sense for my low impedance/high sensitivity speakers), but either way the amp is well outclassed by my standard fair av receiver, which can well exceed the E9s volume level and does so without any audible fuzz. Using the E9 with the DSS is pointless; the DSS is perfectly capable of producing loud volumes and detailed sound without the E9. 
 
I have no regrets buying the DSS over the Mixamp, which I had contemplated buying. The E9 has got to go, though. I probably get as good sound out of my stock computer sound card and better sound out of my av receiver.”
 
 
 
http://www.head-fi.org/t/521680/fiio-e9-review/1080#post_7990530
 
 
FiiO E9 is nice looking, bad sounding... electronics trash - nothing more. It's a little better than FiiO E7 in a matter of amping (decent potentiometer instead of electronic volume control in E7), but both are worthless by messing the sound to the level of a cheap sub Hi-Fi electronics - the sound is really ugly!


 
If you have or/and like FiiO E7 as a DAC for some reason (I rather prefer very old multibit, cheap TDA1543), I recommend to buy FiiO L7, which is a cheap and simple connector to E7, skipping volume control IC and infamous TI Direct Path headphone amplifier of E7. L7 has a [mini]jack 3.5mm connector, and mini USB as well. The sound from L7 is much, much better than from headphone output of E7 or E9, but need to be amplified (at least by a current buffer).


 
 
FiiO E9 is truly worthless (like E5) - skip it, or you will be disappointed (it has a three op-amps and one TI head-amp in the path of the sound - summary: four internally overcomplicated and sonically sh1tty IC's, messing, intermodulating THE SOUND!). Is better to find some very simple A-class current buffer on ebay, or DIY kit of discrete [no op-amps!!!][size=13.0pt] JFET/MOSFET amp like this excellent, [IMHO] high-end Chinese "Breeze Audio E4" DIY kit, which topology is almost identical to more than decent Excelinear Hafler 9270.”[/size]
 
 
 
e10:
 
 
http://www.head-fi.org/products/fiio-e10/reviews
 
 
My impression of it is that it makes the lower mids of my headphones (sound) much too forward. My DJ100 magically sounds as if it has even more fatiguing mids. The DJ100 should never sound this way. It's not that bad. Then the bass is quite bloated. Again, It's not THAT bad, but it's a huge distraction and is extremely annoying. It's clear that something is "off" because I've never heard the DJ100 sound this colored. The DJ100 and 598 will sound much less balanced with the E10. I will note that the DJ100 with this sounds very slightly better with the high gain option. A little more clear too.”
 
 
http://www.head-fi.org/t/541039/sennheiser-hd-598-appreciation-thread/1935
 
“Originally Posted by Dillont3 
 
Also have you listened to the 598s with an e10. I know in theory it is plenty powerful for the HD598's but I have noticed in some of the threads people saying that the amp section of the e10 doesn't pair well with the 598's, negatively affecting the sound signature. Specifically reducing the bass and making the mids sound further away and sounding darker overall. Of course a lot of the same posters also recommended buying amps/dac's that cost almost as much or more as the headphones themselves (02+Odac, dragonfly, ibasso d7, etc)  which I think is overkill and wouldn't do. I have also heard the e17 pairs well with the 598's, but i don't really need a portable amp. Does ayone know if the e10 really doesn't sound good with the 598's? Would e17 really be that much better? Having owned the 595's I can believe that the 598's don't need much to improve the sound, but am worried that the coloration of the e10 will not pair well with 598's.”
 
 
 
 
http://www.head-fi.org/t/627448/dac-for-hd-598
 
Please do not buy Fiio E10 and use it with HD598. Trust me because I did and I really regret. Fiio E10s are not good pairs for HD598s. Buy an Odac and a amplifier or ODA(Odac + 02), it will be definitely better than a E10 many times. My Fiio E10 is really a garbage in front of my eyes when listening to music but not bad when watching movies. You can search Fiio E10s to find the reviews of them on this site.
 
You will find Fiio E10 is overly dark when pair with HD598. The bass is really light (without it the bass of HD598 is already extremely light), the high is very dark that you can only hear some instruments. Only the mid shines but unfortunately the it lacks the clarity on the midrange. To sum up, Fiio E10s are just better than some integrated crap sound cards.”
 
Feb 25, 2013 at 1:50 PM Post #6 of 23

April2Ari

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Quote:
If you want bass, the only amp that you have listed that will help you with that is the e17 since it has an eq. To be completely honest, i never really thought that an amp really helped my hd598s much when i had them. I would either look at a cheaper solution such as the e7, or just use the software eq on your music player. 

 
 
@jwusoccer...thanks for sharing that :) I have seen pretty mixed reviews regarding if amps have any impact on the 598's, so I think I am going to try it (plus I plan on adding to my headphone collection and I will probably use the amp for multiple phones). I am definitely going to look more into the music player eq.
 
I saw this thread that said the e17 made the bass on the 598's even more shy, which kind of confused me:
 
 
http://www.head-fi.org/t/620025/sennheiser-hd598-amp-dac/15
 
“i have both E17 and HD598. i say this with experience. e17 is not a bad DAC/AMP combo, especially if you consider it's portable factor. HOWEVER!.... e17 is pretty shy on the bass side. so if you're already have a bass shy cann the E17 will only make it even more shy. in comparison, you'll have to bump the bass setting up by +4 or +6 to equate itself to other amps.
 
i personally don't think e17 goes well with HD598. 598 is very strong on the mid, the e17 just makes it even brighter. 
 
one thing you need to know about e17 is its bass, although it's more shy, but it's tighter. you'll notice once you bump it up. that can be good OR bad depends on your taste, and the type of music you listen to. the e17 is by far the tightest and quickest bass i've personally experienced. i don't dislike it and i don't hate it, but some might.  “
 
Feb 25, 2013 at 3:51 PM Post #8 of 23

jwusoccer

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@jwusoccer...thanks for sharing that :) I have seen pretty mixed reviews regarding if amps have any impact on the 598's, so I think I am going to try it (plus I plan on adding to my headphone collection and I will probably use the amp for multiple phones). I am definitely going to look more into the music player eq.

I saw this thread that said the e17 made the bass on the 598's even more shy, which kind of confused me:


http://www.head-fi.org/t/620025/sennheiser-hd598-amp-dac/15

“i have both E17 and HD598. i say this with experience. e17 is not a bad DAC/AMP combo, especially if you consider it's portable factor. HOWEVER!.... e17 is pretty shy on the bass side. so if you're already have a bass shy cann the E17 will only make it even more shy. in comparison, you'll have to bump the bass setting up by +4 or +6 to equate itself to other amps.

i personally don't think e17 goes well with HD598. 598 is very strong on the mid, the e17 just makes it even brighter. 

one thing you need to know about e17 is its bass, although it's more shy, but it's tighter. you'll notice once you bump it up. that can be good OR bad depends on your taste, and the type of music you listen to. the e17 is by far the tightest and quickest bass i've personally experienced. i don't dislike it and i don't hate it, but some might.  “

Alright, good luck! Also, when you do eq, make sure you eq down. For example, if you want to boost the bass. Then reduce the volume of all the other frequencies and leave the bass alone. This should prevent distortion and give you a nice clean boost.
 
Feb 25, 2013 at 9:55 PM Post #9 of 23

April2Ari

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Thanks so much for the tips everyone!
 
Update ---> I am currently thinking about experimenting with mixing/matching a couple brands (Schiit and Fiio). I would love to test/play with the bass a bit on the e17 + 598 match...but then again, the Magni/Modi stack would be great overall, for most headphones (and the M&M is a great long term investment)- that's my understanding at least from the various threads on here. 
 
This idea sounds interesting as well:
 
http://www.head-fi.org/t/652484/fiio-e10-e17-odac-02-ibasso-audioquest-dragonfly-sound-card-and-dac-match-inquiry
 
"If I were you, the ideal setup with that gear for me would actually be Macbook>Fiio E17>Fiio L7>Schiit Magni>Senn HD598. So in that setup, the E17 is acting as the DAC, the L7 is a type of line-out dock for the E17 (it provides no amplification, just a clean signal). So then you get a less-bright DAC than the Modi, but you get the brilliance that is the Magni. And then you can use the E17 as both a DAC and amp for portable applications."
 
Feb 25, 2013 at 11:47 PM Post #10 of 23

jwusoccer

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If you do plan on upgrading later on, i would definitely go for the m/m stack or the o2/odac. I haven't heard it yet, but based on what i've read the m/m stack is really close to the o2/odac combo, which works very well for most of the headphones out on the market, and it is cheaper. The e17 is still a portable amp/dac in the end, and it never provided the fidelity that the o2/odac did. If you still wanted a portable solution you could get the e11, which has essentially the same amp section as the e17, and you'd only end up spending 10-20 bucks more.
 
Mar 26, 2013 at 8:57 PM Post #11 of 23

vermilions

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Quote:
If you do plan on upgrading later on, i would definitely go for the m/m stack or the o2/odac. I haven't heard it yet, but based on what i've read the m/m stack is really close to the o2/odac combo, which works very well for most of the headphones out on the market, and it is cheaper. The e17 is still a portable amp/dac in the end, and it never provided the fidelity that the o2/odac did. If you still wanted a portable solution you could get the e11, which has essentially the same amp section as the e17, and you'd only end up spending 10-20 bucks more.

sorry for the noob question, but what do you mean by upgrading later on? you mean like upgrading the internals of the m/m or o2/odac?
 
also does anyone know if the m/m can drive some small passive speakers like the audioengine p4s or q acoustics 2010i? and if the m/m will be good for IEMs? I don't want the hiss... thanks a lot.
 
Jun 7, 2013 at 5:18 AM Post #15 of 23

Koolpep

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You would need the L7 as an add on from Fiio in order to use the E17 as DAC only. Otherwise you double amp, which is not desired.
 
So it would be: RMBP -> USB/Optical into E17 with L7 -> 3.5mm in RCA Magni -> Headphones
 
(all MacBooks have optical out in the headhpone jack, you just need a cable like the 
 
Cheers,
K
 

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