Looking for a new portable amp/IEMs
May 15, 2015 at 6:42 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 4

ohcrapgorillas

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Now that my desktop headphone setup is complete (gamma2 > Crack > HD600), I'm going to focus my efforts on getting a serious portable rig going. I've owned more than a dozen IEMs in the past and while some have been great, none of them have fully satisfied me so I need the input of some portable rig experts as to where to go from here.
 
Headphones. I'd like to set a budget of $400, 500 if it's something really spectacular, but if I can get what I want for less then I would be more than happy to take the opportunity.
My preferred sound is slightly warm from neutral, a little extra bass doesn't hurt. I will scream if you recommend me v-shaped phones. It's also very important to me that the sound be natural and realistic, and have good imaging and extension in both directions. My favorite headphones are the Sennheiser HD600 and the Koss KSC75, for reference. And it goes without saying, at this price point, I have high standards for isolation and comfort (lol@FX850 on that front). Right now, I've got my eyes on the Shure SE535 (used or Massdrop) but I'd like to hear any other opinions.
 
Amplifier. I know very little about portable amplification, but this is going to be my only solid state amp so it should be a good one. While I don't need a lot of power--this will be driving IEMs and Grados--clarity, detail and dynamics are key. Not sure what the budget would/should be here but I guess it does somewhat depend on the headphones I end up with. Right now I have an O2, which is semi-portable and sounds pretty good, but if I can get my hands on a solid performing portable solid state amp that'd be really awesome. Do not recommend something with a DAC as that's not necessary.
 
So, what do y'all think? Thanks in advance for your help and input. I'll be trading or selling the HD650, FX850, O2, and TDK ie800 to fund this venture...
 
May 16, 2015 at 12:20 AM Post #2 of 4

cel4145

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Well, it sounds like you have more experience with IEMs than me, so I don't think I can help you there :dt880smile:

What do you want to listen to with portable use? If it's music files off your phone or tablet, why not look into the Fiio X1 DAP? Or even the X3 if you want to spend money on one that might drive your HD600s OK at moderate listening volumes? The X1 will easily drive IEMs. Unless you really want an extra device strapped to your phone. Many of us find using a portable dac/amp particularly not user friendly compared to a DAP. Plus you get the benefit of not running your phone battery down.
 
May 16, 2015 at 11:37 AM Post #3 of 4

ohcrapgorillas

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Well, it sounds like you have more experience with IEMs than me, so I don't think I can help you there
dt880smile.png


What do you want to listen to with portable use? If it's music files off your phone or tablet, why not look into the Fiio X1 DAP? Or even the X3 if you want to spend money on one that might drive your HD600s OK at moderate listening volumes? The X1 will easily drive IEMs. Unless you really want an extra device strapped to your phone. Many of us find using a portable dac/amp particularly not user friendly compared to a DAP. Plus you get the benefit of not running your phone battery down.

 
Thanks for your response. For the record, my music is all over the place, from post/prog/psych rock to black/doom/death metal to classical to americana to hip hop to psych pop and trip hop... etc etc. basically everything but EDM and jazz.
 
I thought I mentioned this in the original post, but I actually already have a FiiO X1 since my phone's (Nexus 5) audio jack is busted and the left channel cuts out sometimes. And the X1 is a fine piece of equipment for sure, but imo while its amp isn't lacking in volume, it's not as good as it could be with clarity, details, and dynamics. I realize that I'm in the realm of diminishing returns here, but that's ok. What I'm looking for is a portable amplifier, that I can use both at home with low-impedance high-sensitivity headphones, but that will also fit in my pocket or that I could take on an airplane and combine with the X1's line out.
 
May 16, 2015 at 12:34 PM Post #4 of 4

cel4145

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What about a JDS Labs C5? Check out this portable amp shootout; rankings follow the reviews: http://www.head-fi.org/t/620775/the-sub-200-portable-amps-shootout-13-11-amps-compared
 

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