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Portable Amp/Dac Recommendation

  1. gabetjh
    Hi All

    I currently own an audiogd nfb 11.28 with HD6XX & ER4PT. Really love the sound improvement from it.

    however i dont use it much as i started working and travelling alot. Therefore I am looking for something portable instead.

    Will upgrading to the Chord mojo be worth it? or probably the Fiio Q5?

    I usually listen using my iphone 7 with spotify. My plan will be up soon so I was actually eyeing on the LG V30 but i might actually grab a new iphone
  2. surfgeorge
    I started looking for a portable audio system, for travelling and office use, and ended up with the Chord Mojo after trying the FIIO Q1MK2.
    IMHO the Mojo is really astounding - if the headphones are able to deliver the music it is capable of.
    Interestingly I found the most revealing use of the Mojo was connected to my (pretty high-end) stereo system. It just blew away my 16 year old 3.500€ DAC in sound stage depth and clarity.
    I have since bought a used Chord 2Qute to replace my DAC.

    I suppose you read about the technology and Rob Watt's design philosophy on the Mojo thread?
    When I listen to Mojo I understand what he is talking about. To my ears it really sounds fundamentally different to the DAC chip implementations I have heard so far.
    Detailed but smooth and natural and with a really deep, 3D soundstage.

    But I also have to say that with the mid-fi IEMs I have tried, the improvement I get with the Mojo over my lower end DAPs (Cayin N3 and HiBy R3) are less pronounced. Still clearly audible, but the IEMs are simply not as good as my AudiQuest NightOwls.

    So while I have not heard the FIIO Q5 I can only say that I can highly recommend the Mojo.
    Chord's FPGA DAC technology is really impressive.

    redkingjoe, gabetjh and Stillhart like this.
  3. gabetjh
    thanks for your comment george! I will take a look at the Mojo thread!

    i think the best thing for me to do is head down to test the products out to see what i like the most!
  4. surfgeorge
    You‘re very welcome!
    Info is here:

    Go to the 3rd post, there‘s a ton of links to the most comprehensive information I have ever seen on a product, ever.
    I learned a lot.

    Testing the products sounds like the way to go! You seem to be lucky to have a place where you can test!

    I had to rely on research, but worked out well too.

    What headphones are you using? (Edit: I missed the statements in your opening post, was looking for the info in your profile)
    Rob Watts named the AudioQuest NightHawks as his favorite in the past, and the MrSpeakers Aeon Closed as his current choice, especially for travelling.

    I went for the NighOwls, the closed variant of the NightHawks, and love the sound.

    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
  5. ootrom
    Really, you should just buy more efficient headphones and a proper mp3 player that already has a good amp built in. No need to drag a lot of crap around.

    Actually, your er4 should be easy to power. An Ibasso or Astel and Kern or a Cowon could probably drive your HD6XX too.
  6. surfgeorge
    I love dragging my "crap" around :L3000:
    But you make me realize that there is more to it, I like the Mojo for it's purity, both in approach to the music as well as the design.
    I guess I am just willing to make that sacrifice to drag it around. Paired with a HiBy R3 it's actually not all that big.

    To each his own :beerchug:

  7. gabetjh
    Oh yes i actually had that saved in my bookmark but i did not have the time to review it.

    Yea actually in Singapore theres a place called Zeppelin and Co. where its like a headphone cafe and they do provide testings for potential customers! pretty cool!

    Yup tbh im just using a HD6XX and ER4P which might not really be worth getting a portable amp/dac because they are pretty easy to drive, but comparing it by itself to being attached to NFB 11.28 imo the sound is so much better.

    Actually I am currently not looking for more headphones. Previously i had the Fidelio X2HR and ATH AD700X, but they were cast aside completely so I sold it off!

    Thats true. I was actually looking for a DAP with Spotify functions but I cant find any decent ones.

    I will head down to test my er4s with portable DAC/amps to check whether its worth buying..

    There are so many mixed reviews on the extreme. Some mention that its not worth the money at all, and some swore by it..

    I recently read about the HiBy R3! looks pretty decent!
    surfgeorge likes this.
  8. surfgeorge
    Ah, Singapore! That store sounds fabulous! :ksc75smile:

    Worth the money? That's always up to your ears and wallet! :ksc75smile:
    I am impressed what kind of quality you can get today for a moderate amount of money.

    the HiBy R3 is a little bit of a mixed bag...
    Really nice form factor and screen, nice user interface with a few bugs.
    Soundwise I'd say it's not pursuing natural and balanced sound, but rather a bit more processed.
    Punchy bass, a little bit sharp treble. Personally I wish the default sound balance were more on the natural side.
    And the amp section is rather weak. But it's a really nice transport!

    Have fun at Zeppelin & Co.!
    If I ever get to Singapore again I'd love to go there!
  9. gabetjh
    an update after my visit:

    Tried the Mojo/iDsD nano/iDsDx or something. don’t hear much improvements in the sound quality. iDsd sounds more brighter to me and the Mojo is warmer and has better separation.

    might save my money after all hehe.

    i feel the the nano iDsd is surprisingly pretty good and almost on par with the Mojo imo
  10. Rhamnetin
    For me, Chord is the only way to go for anything portable. I never heard anything from iFi or any DAP come close, though it has been a while since I've listened to a DAP.
  11. surfgeorge
    Which headphones (or IEMs) did you use, and what kind of music did you listen to?
    I find both factors to play a big role.

    Comparing my Pinnacle P1 IEMs and NightOwl headphones, the IEMs are much less able to reveal the Mojo's capabilities.
    But that's the limitations of the IEMs. Mojo connected to my Stereo system is even better than the NightOwls, with a more precise soundstage focus, depth and layering.
    For me it feels like:
    Detail: P1 IEM > NightOwl HP >= Stereo
    Soundstage, depth: P1 IEm << Nightowl HP < Stereo
    Emotions, musical flow: P1 IEM << Stereo <= NightOwl HP

    The second factor is the music and recording. I find the biggest improvements with good recordings of live performances, classical music (orchestra) or Jazz (smaller stage and room)
    The Mojo made me realize how my conventional DACs fail at keeping complex music clean, clear, separated and focused.
    Go to a classical concert and no matter how loud they play, everything stays clear and focused. The Chord DAC manages to extract (most of) that from a good recording. My conventional DAC based components mush it all together.
    With a good Jazz recording it is even clearer to hear though, since there are less elements, it's easier to hear their precision and placement.
    Take those recordings of the Cowboy Junkies

    When I first listened to this in my office with the Mojo and NightOwls I literally thought there were people around me and on several occasions subconsciously looked around because it felt so real.

    In the end it has to sound good with your music and your setup - so if the iFi Nano is to your liking you just saved yourself some money :beerchug:
    I have not had the chance to hear an iFi DAC, I only read that the Micro is much closer to the Mojo than the Nano.

    Keep us updated! :L3000:

    P.S.: It's good to hear your opinions and experiences!
    Makes me go back in my memories and try to recall my own experiences. I am learning a lot that way.
  12. gabetjh
    i only have er4pt and HD6xx. i usually listen to all kinds of music dont really have a preference

    i think for portability i will probably use more of the er4pt. but i think its easy to drive so the mojo is redundant for it?

    Might look into Iems or custom ones
  13. surfgeorge
    Did you listen to the Mojo only with the IEMs?
    My headphones sound A LOT better on the Mojo than my IEMS, but I don't know if that is representative, since I have preety good headphones but only better entry level IEMs (Pinnacle P1).
    I have no way of knowin how the super expensive IEMs sound, but I got the impression that you get much more sound for your money with headphones.

    Listen to the Mojo through a good set of headphones if you want to know what it is capable of.
    Rob Watts, the developer of Mojo used to use the NightHawks, and now uses the MrSpeakers Aeon.

    And Mojo sounds great with easy to drive and hard to drive headphones.
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2018

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