Looking to make the leap
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Domojin

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Hey gang. First post here. I've been doing a lot of reading and researching and these forums have been a great help.

I'm looking at finally making the leap into some quality portable audio gear and would love some opinions.

I currently have an 8gb 2nd gen Nano and a Droid mobile phone as my portable sources. I've had a few earphones of quality over the years. Nothing more than 75$ though. I'm currently using Sony IEMs with thin rubber tips (not sure of the exact model number but they cost about 60$ when I got them a few years back) They seal well and sound pretty good to me, a bit light on the bass end but they're currently the best earphones I've owned up to this point. I listen mostly to progressive rock and heavy metal music, but a fairly wide variety of stuff does find it's way into my collection.

I have about 300-350 US$ to spend on upgrading. After a lot of research on this and other websites I'm temped to dump most all of it into Shure SE530s, and a Fii0 E5. I know that the E5 isn't much in the way of an amp, but for what I have to spend the SE530s, from what I've read in multiple reviews, seem to be the best IEMs in that price range by fairly wide margin. I'm more than open to suggestion here, hence my posting. I've never owned any of this stuff before, and if there's a better combination of gear I can get for my $$ I'd love to hear about it.

Another thing I could really use some help with is encoding. Looking at my current MP3 collection most of it is encoded @ 128 bit rate. Is there a way to convert that up, or do I need to basically delete my library and re-encode everything from CD all over again? Admittedly I'm fairly inexperienced at this and usually just jam my CD into the computer and let ITunes take it from there. Should I be using something other than ITunes? I'm not sure what file formats and encryptions rates would work best with both my Droid and Nano.

Any help, advice or direction is greatly appreciated.

Thanks for the great forum!
 
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rawrster

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First off I would not bother with a E5 amp really..I would run it ampless or save up to get a better amp but that's just me.

SE530 being the best at that price range is incorrect. At that price range it is no longer about what is best but what YOU prefer. Most top tier earphones at that range are more based on your preference than being inferior. Some in here may prefer the SE530 over another similarly priced iem or vice versa.

You cannot increase bitrate from the same file. Once you rip to a lossy format (in your case mp3 at 128kbps bitrate) that is as high as you can get in quality. You would have to either rip from a CD or if you have a lossless file (flac, wav, etc) you can use that to convert it to your lossy bitrate of choice.
 
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Napilopez

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I have no experience in that price range, but the one of the top monster phones might be something you might like, some consider them top of the line IEMs, desite being found in the 200-300 price range. They all sound good apparently, with the gold and copper being similar except the gold are "funner" by having more bass emphasis, while the copper are more neutral with a bit of a bigger soundstage. As far as I know there is only one head-fier with the Miles Davis, but he is enjoying those the most of the three top monster IEMs, which are more mid-centric.

There are plenty of other choices, just thought I'd help out with some of the stuff I'd been reading recently.
 
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theKraken11

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Domojin /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Another thing I could really use some help with is encoding. Looking at my current MP3 collection most of it is encoded @ 128 bit rate. Is there a way to convert that up, or do I need to basically delete my library and re-encode everything from CD all over again? Admittedly I'm fairly inexperienced at this and usually just jam my CD into the computer and let ITunes take it from there. Should I be using something other than ITunes? I'm not sure what file formats and encryptions rates would work best with both my Droid and Nano.


You'll have to know which file formats your Droid and Nano can play. Re-encoding lossy files into lossless files won't increase quality at all; in fact, it might lose some quality, and it will only make the files larger. This is because once you go from lossless to lossy, the data that was compressed was lost for good.

I recommend using a dedicated ripper instead of iTunes. dBpoweramp is a good program, and pretty easy to use. You can test out different quality levels to see what's transparent for you. (Transparency means no discernible difference between the compressed file and the original.) 128 is only decent, and you should usually go for variable bit rate to get better quality than you would have, while saving some file space.
 
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KramitDfrog

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Quote:

Originally Posted by rawrster /img/forum/go_quote.gif
You cannot increase bitrate from the same file. Once you rip to a lossy format (in your case mp3 at 128kbps bitrate) that is as high as you can get in quality. You would have to either rip from a CD or if you have a lossless file (flac, wav, etc) you can use that to convert it to your lossy bitrate of choice.



.. which would be greater than 192 kbps, at least, otherwise you'll definitely see flaws. I find 192 a noticeable difference, but perfectly listenable, and vbr around that bitrate indistinguishable.

That was with headphones cheaper than the SE530s though, so I'd recommend trying a few yourself and just seeing. Rip to a wav or flac, then compress to a lossy format. Then put them both in a playlist and turn shuffle on, close your eyes, don your headphones, and see if you can actually tell the difference!

TBH, I just use iTunes Plus setting, which is 256k vbr - small enough files I don't have issues getting stuff onto my ipod, and high enough quality I don't frown when my favourite song sounds crap :wink:
 
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rawrster

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I just use foobar with 256vbr mp3 which works fine for me. I convert it for flac and put the flac file on my hd as well as my portable. The size isnt too big (typically 5-6mb) so perfect size for your mp3 player.
 
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semisight

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iTunes is a decent ripper. Just set it to encode in maybe 192 to 256 variable bit rate AAC or MP3 and you should be fine. At that bit rate I can't tell the difference.

Fiio makes good starter amps, the E5 isn't a bad choice. The SE530 is definitely a good earphone, if a little on the pricey side in today's market. For rock you might really enjoy the Triple.fi 10, and personally think the RE0 isn't half bad either but that's just my opinion. Other good earphones to look at might be the Klipsch X10 or Custom 3.
 
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Domojin

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Quote:

Originally Posted by theKraken11 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I recommend using a dedicated ripper instead of iTunes. dBpoweramp is a good program, and pretty easy to use. You can test out different quality levels to see what's transparent for you. (Transparency means no discernible difference between the compressed file and the original.) 128 is only decent, and you should usually go for variable bit rate to get better quality than you would have, while saving some file space.


Exactly what I was looking for, thanks!! I'm DL'ing dBpoweramp now and I'll try out a few different file formats/bitrates and see what works out best.

Thanks everyone else for your input as well! I'm processing it all before I make any kind of decision.
 
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ben4345

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Quote:

Originally Posted by rawrster /img/forum/go_quote.gif
First off I would not bother with a E5 amp really..I would run it ampless or save up to get a better amp but that's just me.

SE530 being the best at that price range is incorrect. At that price range it is no longer about what is best but what YOU prefer. Most top tier earphones at that range are more based on your preference than being inferior. Some in here may prefer the SE530 over another similarly priced iem or vice versa.

You cannot increase bitrate from the same file. Once you rip to a lossy format (in your case mp3 at 128kbps bitrate) that is as high as you can get in quality. You would have to either rip from a CD or if you have a lossless file (flac, wav, etc) you can use that to convert it to your lossy bitrate of choice.



I concur
 
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Kate

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You should really improve the source to 192 or 320 if possible, if not, the difference of getting a high quality IEM like SE530 or UM3x might not sound a lot better compared to say a SE420 or UM2.
 
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thepredestrian

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Not sure if it has already been mentioned in this thread but what I do for my cds is to rip it in iTunes using Apple Lossless.

You can do that by going to iTunes--> edit--> preferences --> import settings. Im sure you can take it from there
 
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Domojin

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Well.. looks like the Droid doesn't support FLAC files. Seems to me that the format that works best for both the IPod and Droid is MP3 @ 320kbps. I tested out a few songs and could definitely tell the difference between 128 and 320, even with my current Sony phones. Background vocals were much clearer and some general instrumental muddiness seemed to disappear.

As to comments about the Fii0 E5. I know that it's not a very good amp, but from what I've read here it's at least a step up from no amp at all. I also see a lot of people using it in the "Pics of your rig" thread. Is there another inexpensive headphone amp that would be better? something in the <100$ price range? Most of the other amps I've seen seem to start at about 200$ and up.
 
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Domojin

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Update: Just found out a friend of mine has some older Shure E500's that he's going to let me try out for a few days. If I like them he said he would give me a deal on them... If not I'm thinking of picking up the UE Triple.fi 10's as a first purchase, based mostly on reviews and recommendations I've read in dozens of posts here. If nothing else, opinions seem to be pretty polarized about the Shure's, which has me a bit wary. People either really like them or were pretty disappointed with them. While most people seem to be fairly impressed with the UE TF10s. Plus they're bit cheaper... Which helps a bit, as I'm on a budget and because if I want to re-encode my music library to a lossless format I'm going to need to start saving up for a new, higher capacity, portable media player.

Anyone have any suggestions for high capacity PMP's that I should check out?

I'm still curious about suggestions for a quality amp in the 100$ or less range as well.

Thanks again for all of your comments and assistance. Please keep it coming.
 
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durden

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Quote:

Originally Posted by theKraken11 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I recommend using a dedicated ripper instead of iTunes. dBpoweramp is a good program, and pretty easy to use. You can test out different quality levels to see what's transparent for you. (Transparency means no discernible difference between the compressed file and the original.) 128 is only decent, and you should usually go for variable bit rate to get better quality than you would have, while saving some file space.


I highly recommend dBpoweramp as a dedicated music ripper. And may I recommend ripping CD's at a VBR (Variable Bitrate). I used V0 for all of my music on my DAP. Other than that, you can rip a CD to FLAC and then use dBpoweramp's converter to convert it into V0 or your choice bitrate.
 
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