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LCD-X: NFB-11, NFB-28 or Jotunheim w Multibit DAC (or other)

  1. joefig44
    I have a pair of Audeze LCD-X's on the way and am considering amp choices.

    The ones above are what I'm thinking, but not sure which would pair best. My favourite music genres are 90% rock/classic/alt rock and about 10% pop, classical, etc.

    I didn't know if the NFB-28 is overkill from the NFB-11 which I've read great things about. I've heard good things for the LCD-X with the Jotunheim too.

    It should also be noted I'm in Canada, so cross-border duties, etc. usually bite us in the ass, if that's a factor.

    Open to other choices too.
  2. buke9
    To me there is no such thing as overkill. Just slow down and listen that is all that matters. If you like it it is good.
  3. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    The overkill will be felt more in your wallet than the LCD-X.

    If you have to eat instant noodles saving up for an NFB-28, then get the NFB-11. Besides, the way things are going, sensitivity is going up on headphones, and even if the impedance is 16ohms, when the sensitivity is high enough, even the NFB-11 can deliver enough current.

    Otherwise, and if you want some assurance that it can work on practically any headphone that is not an electrostat, get the NFB-28. Just remember that the spending doesn't end there - you need to get a balanced cable for your LCD-X, and any other headphone you want to use on that amp.
  4. joefig44

    Thanks, good advice - just ordered the NFB-11. As my only other headphones are Noble Encores + Fiio Q1, I hope I'm in for a very pleasant surprise.
  5. phthora
    Bah... too late! I would have told you to eat the noodles and get the 28. Now, you'll be stuck with a DAC/amp that is only awesome.

    If you get the itch to upgrade later, the 11 does hold its value pretty well in the classifieds.

    Anyway, you've made a great choice. I'd take the 11 over the Jot too. Enjoy your new gear!
  6. joefig44
    What are you using as a player? I have a whole archive of FLAC files but they don't fit on my iPhone X so I've converted them to 320kbps MP3s - do you think I'll be ok that way or should I look at using some other device (thinking more mobile for my NObles than the LCD-X+NFB11 where I'll probably just use my macbook pro and JRiver.
  7. phthora
    For headphones, I basically always use my computer as the source. Out to an iFi Black Label at work, out to the 28.38 at home. With IEMs, I get more creative. Mostly, I use my Onkyo DP-X1 DAP as the source, often with the iBasso P5, Black Label, or my Violectric as the amp. That DAP works well as a source, but I won't argue that it's a remarkable DAP or anything.

    I'm someone who can hear the difference between MP3 and FLAC, so I make every effort to get the lossless version of stuff. A good DAC or DAP will render a difference in sound between the two, and I would definitely recommend working towards a solution that includes FLAC.

    Here is one of the best value DAPs around:

    It's fairly close to the same quality as the DAP I have and frequently goes on sale for around $180. Like any DAP, they are built with memory card slots that can handle substantial memory.
  8. joefig44
    I was considering a Fiio X7 mkii and wonder how that compares to the X1A or the XDP-30. I was also considering a used AK300 or AK320.
  9. phthora
    I bought the Onkyo player because of its exceptionally good balanced output, and I was not disappointed. It's something to consider if you are planning on going balanced. For SE, the X7 is likely better than the Onkyo or the Pioneer, since it has Sabre 9028's instead of the 9018's. The 9028 is the most resolving and detailed DAC chip available for portable use currently.

    I'm not a fan of A&K players mostly due to the price and the fact that they tend to use AK4490 chips for the DAC. I think that chip is a bit lacking these days, but that's me.

    If I were buying a new DAP today, it would be the iBasso DX200. Seems like a killer product and I have been very pleased with iBasso products in the past.
  10. joefig44
    As my Noble Encore is very low sensitivity, I'm thinking whatever DAP I get it's the DAC in it that matters most vs. the amp. Also, as at home my main purpose for the DAP (since I have a desktop amp) would be to have a convenient way to store all my lossless files (rather than having to convert to MP3 320 to fit them on my phone), again it would be the DAC for mobile use.

    Which DAP has the best DAC and also allows for some Tidal streaming, etc.? Would the Fiio x7 ii be the lowest cost one with the best DAC or does the iBasso DX200 best it?
  11. phthora
    DAPs are hard because most of the time people stick to one. I, for example, can tell you all about the Onkyo, but very little about other DAPs. I don't want to push you too much into some product I cannot personally vouch for. All I can say is that the Fiio X7 Mk2 and iBasso DX200 are the two DAPs that tempt me to sell the Onkyo and upgrade. I don't stream music at all, so unfortunately I don't have anything to offer on that question. Do some research, check out the threads and reviews. I doubt you can go wrong with either, but there will also be some minor differences.

    A few things to look for:
    • Output impedance of the player. Lower is better. Too high and your Noble's frequency response will actually change as a result. At or under 0.5 ohm will be perfect. Up to 1.0 ohm and there will be a measurable, but likely unnoticeable change. Above that and you will hear audible differences.
    • UI and EQ convenience. Hard to gauge from reviews, but these are surprisingly important to the overall experience.
    • Battery life, especially if you stream. Also look for options to change to save battery. On the Onkyo, its battery life according to reviews is mediocre, but after turning off a bunch of unnecessary things and lowering screen brightness, it has basically doubled. Running balanced audio or streaming eats a lot of battery power, so think about how quickly the thing recharges too.
    • DAC chips matter--to an extent. Figure out what is most important to you: detailed, low distortion, or smooth sounding and find the chip that tends to go with that. (ESS9018 or 9028, AK4490, or Burr-Brown 1792, respectively). Of course, take those with a grain of salt, as the chip matters less than than implementation for quality, but it does give you a sense of the DAP's sonic priorities.
    I actually use an external amp with my IEMs fairly often. They don't need the extra power, but those amps are also better than the one in my player and have lower output impedance so the sound improves. That said, DAPs are made with IEMs in mind and will run nearly any of them well.

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