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Looking for Assistance w/ a Portable Solution

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  1. jmg999

    I've read through the forums, and I couldn't find exactly what I was after, so I thought I'd post this. I'm really interested in creating a Schiit stack, but from my reading, the prevailing opinion seems to be that they're not really all that portable. Is there a reason for this? The devices don't seem very big; at least no larger than others of a similar type. The most active thing I'd be doing w/ them is hiking and/or cleaning around the house. Aside from being portable, I'd also like the ability to plug the devices into my laptop, when I'm at home, and the Schiit stack seems perfect for this.

    I'm really looking for volume out this setup. So, any suggestions on which devices to stack would be greatly appreciated. Finally, I'd have an older pair of Sennheisers at home, but for being on the go, I'd like to pair this w/ some decent IEMs. I haven't checked the forums for this, yet, but I will do so. Any expert analysis would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  2. pbui44
    The thing about Schiit products is that a vast majority of individual products require a power adapter. FiiO develops a few portable battery-powered DAC/Amps, like the FiiO e10k:


    However, even the e10k uses a decent amount of battery life, so days-long-treks or anything else like that will be easier with a solar-powered DAP, like this one:


    This microSD card should work with the above DAP:


    As for in-ears, if you are going to trek or do something that will require hearing some external sounds to detect danger, I think the JVC FX850 wooden IEMs sound great, will allow certain loud external sounds through (great to hear co-workers, per se), and can be worn as intended or over-ear (at least my old FX700 did):


    Also, if you need a reliable 3-prong-power-bank for your laptop, the Omnicharge 20 (amongst their most expensive) looks to naive great reviews:

    jmg999 likes this.
  3. serman005
    Budget for the IEM?
  4. jmg999
    Thank you very much for all the recommendations. As for the hiking, it would just be a quick up-and-down the trail for a couple of hours. They're well-worn w/ lots of people and very little wildlife since it's in an urban area. Out of curiosity, does the above DAC/amp produce the type of power output that a Schiit-equivalent would? I'm just going solely off the price of these devices, and what I'd looked seen of a couple of the FiiO models on Amazon, previously.

    As for the IEMs, I hadn't really considered a budget, yet. A while back, I was looking at purchasing some noise-canceling IEMs that would allow me to study, and in reading through the forums, there seemed to be some advocacy for IEMs coming out of China that were relatively inexpensive ($20-$50), yet still equivalent to a more expensive counterpart. I was thinking that the devices I was looking would be relatively high-powered and would, therefore, require the need for something similar in the IEMs. I just want to make certain that if I spend a bunch of money on IEMs, I have something to drive them w/, obviously.
  5. pbui44
    The FiiO e10k will drive lower-impedance stuff close to what basic Schiit amps can do, but higher-impedance stuff will require a FiiO A5 to drive stuff close to what basic Schiit amps can do.

    As for cheaper Chinese in-ears, check out the KZ KSA, which is on flash sale for $16 at gearbest, which has a link in this thread:


    As for ANC in-ears, also check out the Xiaomi ANC 3.5mm in-ears, which are also $62 at gearbest (use the KZ KSA for active stuff, as it has a detachable cable).
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
    jmg999 likes this.
  6. serman005
    Check out the iBasso IT01 and see what you think. It is possible it could work.
    PaganDL and jmg999 like this.
  7. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    If you're controlling for price, then no. You can't get the same power out of a 7.2v lithium ion battery as you can out of a 120v to 240v wall power. If you do spend more, and I mean waaaaaaaay more, you can get a balanced drive amp like what RSA makes which has power comparable to some lower tier desktop amplifiers, and even these have to work wonders just to have a circuit that can get a lot of voltage swing and hence output from a 7.2v battery.

    Maybe in 30 years we'd have Hyper Deuterion batteries light enough to be able to easily allow a lot o stored energy, but even then it's more likely that we'd end up with more graphene drivers that will make insane levels of amplifier power unnecessary.

    They're IEMs. Nearly all of them have 100dB/1mW sensitivity already. If anything, it would make more sense to just blow more money on an IEM with 110dB/1mW sensitivity that can seal your ear canals well (heck, maybe get a custom fit in-ear monitor) than on sub-$100 IEM that you might require more power than what a decent smartphone can give it.

    Think of it like using a Lotus carbon fiber chassis with a 3.5L Toyota V6 engine with reprofiled camshafts to get more torque at low RPM but gain another 1000rpm at the top end before redline than use a heavy steel muscle car that needs a 7.0L V8 with a roots type supercharger.
    PaganDL and jmg999 like this.
  8. jmg999
    I read a bit more on the comparison of impedance in headphones for portable vs. home usage, and I'm wondering, should I wait to decide on the IEMs, after I've chosen my DAC/amp? I saw some mention of the manufacturer of these devices offering suggestions regarding the impedance rating of headphones to pair w/ them. I should mention that I'm not overtly opposed to Bluetooth IEMs. I know that the protocol is still wonky, but it has its usefulness, especially in what I'd be using them for. Does anyone have any favorites? I've seen a few that appear promising.

    In regard to the devices themselves, just from having read about the IEMs, it seems that since they range in impedance from 16-300 ohms, and pbui44, you said that basic Schiit amps would power either the high- or low-end, wouldn't it make more sense to go w/ a stack, and if I choose at a later date, I'd have the option of building out; in this case buying higher end IEMs or over-the-ears for at-home use? I could also possibly get another device for the stack, when I'm at home. I read on the Schiit site that they make their products w/ this in mind, no?
  9. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    That's mostly a problem with output impedance, but considering how nearly all decent amplifiers out there today have 2ohms or lower, then it's practically never a problem. Not in that way.

    When some manufacturers state an impedance range for the load impedance it's usually because:

    1. Some amps might not be all that stable or get some distortion when driving some loads lower than 16ohms. Note that this is also not as big of a problem as speaker amps being hooked up to an incorrectly wired speaker or subwoofers that end up with a 4ohm or lower load.

    2. Some manufacturers warn you that, for example, voltage drops significantly, so they can't drive high impedance loads well.

    3. Some larger company wants people to think their product has enough voltage output to drive a 600ohm load well enough.

    4. Some smaller company wants to convince buyers that their OTL amp has no problems driving all loads down to 16ohms, without clarifying that there can be issues, which can just be brought up by reviews that paired them.
    PaganDL and jmg999 like this.
  10. buke9
    Another Chinese iem that is pretty good for the price is the KZ ZS10. Slightly V shaped but with out the highs being too bright and decent mids not too forward hence the silicate V shape.
    jmg999 likes this.
  11. jmg999
    ProtegeManiac, I like the IEM analogy. As I've looked at more and more of them, it makes more and more sense. I really don't see much, if any, amongst them, although I have not looked at the higher end of the spectrum, yet.

    buke9, thank you for the recommendation. The KZ ZS10s looked very promising. I'm still looking at the Bluetooth IEMs, but that's seeming less and less likely at the moment. Amazon has 75 different manufacturers all making the same Bluetooth IEM. haha
  12. buke9
    Bluetooth is nice for convenience but the sound is not there yet. My wife wanted a pair of noise canceling Bluetooth headphones and went with the HD-1 over ear. Bluetooth they are decent enough but hook a wire to them and a whole other headphone IMO. I’m jaded a bit because I’ve got some pretty good gear and except a bit more but I work construction so I use fairly cheap iems like the KZ ATE,Mee M6P,s along with the ZS10’s and can see being forced to go Bluetooth as my iPhone 6s Plus is starting to die on me.
    jmg999 likes this.
  13. jmg999
    Buke, I completely agree. I work in IT, and the last thing I ever want to hear is, "But, it's supposed to connect via Bluetooth."

    Stubbornly, after some digging around, I did find these: Shure Bluetooth earbuds w/ a detachable cable for true wireless capability. However, if it sounds better wired together, I can always go that route.

    The actual model I was looking at was the SE215: https://smile.amazon.com/Shure-SE21...F8&qid=1529186560&sr=1-3&keywords=shure+se215

    I just have two questions: 1) If I went w/ a Schiit stack, or something of similar quality, would I have to worry about output impedance w/ these earbuds? 2) Is the frequency range sufficient for the volume levels I'd like to produce, or will it inhibit the higher end of the dB range? Shure Comparison.png
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
  14. jmg999
    @pbui44 I meant to ask before and forgot, but what would the power bank you'd recommended be utilized for? Which devices would require a power source such as that when connected directly to a computer? I won't need to carry something like that around w/ my DAC/amp/MP3 player, will I?

    Edit: I know you said that the majority of Schiit products required a power source. Is this the type of device you were referring to? If so, does Schiit (or someone else) make something a little more modular? I'm looking on Amazon right now, and I see a few, but I'm not certain they'll be sufficient. For instance...https://smile.amazon.com/NexGadget-...=1529187474&sr=8-18&keywords=ac/dc+power+bank
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
  15. pbui44
    The power bank I linked above would only be needed for extended laptop use. As for what you have linked in your edit, it has more mixed reviews than the one I linked, but is cheaper.

    Now using a power bank to power a Schiit stack...now that kind of a stack would require something like this for decent portable usage:


    Otherwise, I would stick with FiiO for more modularity and portability.
    jmg999 likes this.
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