looking for ideal setup of amp/dac combo for listening via streaming
Jun 1, 2020 at 9:47 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 13

aggillator

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Hi there,

I'm still new to the hi-fi world. I'm looking to optimize what I have to meet my needs. So I'll list what I'm looking for in the hopes that someone can advise me better. So here goes:

  1. I almost exclusively listen to music streamed from a service, in my case, Amazon Music. (sometimes from phone, sometimes from pc
  2. I really like clear vocals that are not drowned out by other frequencies. I listen to country pop, rock, and the like
  3. I currently own Sennheiser hd598cs, Fostex t50rp mk3 (unmodded), and awaiting Drop.com Hifiman HE-4xx.
  4. I'm looking for a combo portable (preferably battery powered) dac/amp under $120ish.
I think that about sums it up. Can anyone recommend for me a specific set of headphones (or if what I have seems fine then ok) but more importantly a dac/amp that meets what i'm looking for?

Thanks in advance to all you people out there who help newbies like me.
 
Jun 1, 2020 at 10:12 PM Post #2 of 13

c4sadler

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A fun headphone would add to your experience. Try th-00x ebony. The tr-00x are the same, but the cable is detachable. Drop stopped selling them, but you can find them used. Also, give IEMs a try.

So I'm clear, you're looking for a portable dac/amp? Like with Bluetooth? If so get the fiio BTR5 or EarStudio ES 100. I prefer the BTR5, but both are great.
 
Jun 2, 2020 at 5:11 PM Post #3 of 13

corgifall

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The fiio q1 mk2 would be a good portable setup. Would still allow you to plug into the pc to work as your "desktop" set up or on the go with a cable from the phone to the q1. The only real problem with the q1 is gonna be trying to power the t50rp. Decent power out of the 3.5mm jack but not enough for the t50. The IFI hip dac would push out more juice out single ended but that's going to cost you around $150.

Oh and what you have headphone wise is perfectly fine. Especially for the genres you listen to.
 
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Jun 3, 2020 at 11:46 PM Post #4 of 13

aggillator

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A fun headphone would add to your experience. Try th-00x ebony. The tr-00x are the same, but the cable is detachable. Drop stopped selling them, but you can find them used. Also, give IEMs a try.

So I'm clear, you're looking for a portable dac/amp? Like with Bluetooth? If so get the fiio BTR5 or EarStudio ES 100. I prefer the BTR5, but both are great.
Not necessarily with bluetooth. Just something that I can take around and not have to worry about pluggin in. Thanks for your reply!
 
Jun 3, 2020 at 11:49 PM Post #5 of 13

aggillator

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The fiio q1 mk2 would be a good portable setup. Would still allow you to plug into the pc to work as your "desktop" set up or on the go with a cable from the phone to the q1. The only real problem with the q1 is gonna be trying to power the t50rp. Decent power out of the 3.5mm jack but not enough for the t50. The IFI hip dac would push out more juice out single ended but that's going to cost you around $150.

Oh and what you have headphone wise is perfectly fine. Especially for the genres you listen to.
Thanks so much for the reply! So you don't think the q1 mk2 would cut it? How can I tell how much power I need from the amp to meet the specifications of the headphones? I know there's that calculator but I don't really understand how to use it.
 
Jun 4, 2020 at 12:39 AM Post #6 of 13

corgifall

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I had the zmf classics(t50rp) which I had balanced and while it did fine with my roommates q1 Mk2 it still didn’t sound as good like it did with my FiiO q5s. Still sounded best on desktop. I think the q1 will have enough power to get it to a decent volume but you might run into a sound quality issue. Would that matter out and about portable wise? Probably not. I tend to not really analyze music when I’m using either my dap or q5s when I’m not at home in my comfy chair haha.

The power calculator helps but planars can be picky IMO with power. Idk why that is but even my new RT Aeon flows sound pretty meh out of just my iPhone headphone adapter. It’s technically not a picky eater via its specs but it’s fairly noticeable once you step up the power. I only have 4 planars but they all need power to sound their best. My dynamics don’t take as much of a hit from normal sources. I would recommend using amazon since if you don’t like the q1 you can always return it without much fuss.
 
Jun 4, 2020 at 1:11 AM Post #7 of 13

aggillator

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I had the zmf classics(t50rp) which I had balanced and while it did fine with my roommates q1 Mk2 it still didn’t sound as good like it did with my FiiO q5s. Still sounded best on desktop. I think the q1 will have enough power to get it to a decent volume but you might run into a sound quality issue. Would that matter out and about portable wise? Probably not. I tend to not really analyze music when I’m using either my dap or q5s when I’m not at home in my comfy chair haha.

The power calculator helps but planars can be picky IMO with power. Idk why that is but even my new RT Aeon flows sound pretty meh out of just my iPhone headphone adapter. It’s technically not a picky eater via its specs but it’s fairly noticeable once you step up the power. I only have 4 planars but they all need power to sound their best. My dynamics don’t take as much of a hit from normal sources. I would recommend using amazon since if you don’t like the q1 you can always return it without much fuss.
Thanks that's really helpful. Do the Fiio BTR5 and ES-100 have more or less power than the q1? Also, to use the balanced port, do you just need to buy a balanced cable and swap it out, or is there something you need to do to the headphone itself?

Thanks!
 
Jun 4, 2020 at 1:54 AM Post #8 of 13

corgifall

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Thanks that's really helpful. Do the Fiio BTR5 and ES-100 have more or less power than the q1? Also, to use the balanced port, do you just need to buy a balanced cable and swap it out, or is there something you need to do to the headphone itself?

Thanks!
Both have less power via single ended. The benefit however is that you get Bluetooth as an option where the q1 is wired only. If you have a normal stock t50 it won’t work with a balanced cable since it’s not internally wired to work balanced. You could mod it yourself but idk how hard it would be. The t50 should have one driver wired to the second driver which means the ground wires are soldered together rendering it unable to be usable with a balanced cable. That being said, the hifiman would work with a simple cable swap since it has a jack on each side of the driver. Meaning each jack on the cups has a separate positive and ground. If looking to move that to balanced they make lots of cable options for that set.

While I’m not sure If FiiO’s next revision of potable dac/amps will include the q1 or not, we should be getting close to a new release of some type of portable unit as both the q1 and q5 have been out a nice chunk of time and both those devices are some if not the only FiiO products that still use micro usb.
 
Jun 4, 2020 at 1:57 AM Post #9 of 13

Infoseeker

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For your planar headphones you probably need to use the E1da 9038s gen 3 dongle... With a balanced cable.

It is the only portable thingy with enough current (350mw) to drive your planars properly.

It is very portable when used off a phone. You will be tethered to your phone; it is not a wireless thing.
 
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Jun 5, 2020 at 6:25 PM Post #10 of 13

aggillator

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For your planar headphones you probably need to use the E1da 9038s gen 3 dongle... With a balanced cable.

It is the only portable thingy with enough current (350mw) to drive your planars properly.

It is very portable when used off a phone. You will be tethered to your phone; it is not a wireless thing.
I guess there would be no way to know the difference between powering them according to the "formula" and giving them as much power as they need. So the ifi hip you think would be enough?Do you know if there's a doable way of converting t50rp mk3's to balanced?
 
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Jun 5, 2020 at 6:46 PM Post #11 of 13

corgifall

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I think that would be the best you can do for single ended yes. As for converting the t50rp to balanced, you could do what Modhouse does which is turning the standard 3 pole 3.5 jack into a 4 pole 3.5 jack which would make it balanced. You could always shoot them an email and see if they would steer you in the right direction if you want to simply convert the jack. I would personally leave them as is. That or they can be sent to modhouse to be converted to argons with a balanced 3.5 jack for I believe around $90. Like the zmf classics, they turn into some really clean bass heavy headphones.

Edit: Modhouse will actually do the balanced conversion for $35. https://www.modhouseaudio.com/t50rp-balanced-conversion/t50rp-balanced-conversion
 
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Jun 6, 2020 at 12:58 AM Post #12 of 13

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What I use when I want to walk around the house with the 4xx. Es100 feeding a topping nx3s. Streaming amazon hd from iPhone XR. Works great.
 
Jun 15, 2020 at 4:17 PM Post #13 of 13

aggillator

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Thank you all for your replies. I'm still researching like crazy. But I'm not sure how to tell from the specs of the portable amp/dac which one has the most driving power. Because I've found so many but can't tell which is the most powerful. Like for example the Topping NX5. Looks powerful but how would I compare it say to the Fiion Q1 mkII? I want to make sure I have enough power for the hifimans and the fostex. But if need be, I'll sell the t50rp's if it means I need to pay for an amp that's beyond my budget.

Thanks again for your patience with me.
 

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