Portable solution + IEM under $350 (Dragonfly? Cowon Plenue D?)
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malalol

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Dear fellas,

I listen mostly to metal, progressive rock and jazz. I'm looking forward to a balanced sound signature with great soundstage. A slightly v-shaped frequency response would be OK if the soundstage is spacious, airy and detailed. I've been looking into a DAP + IEM combo to use mostly for work, where I could use a windows laptop as a source, however portability is a strong plus.

I've narrowed down my searches to the Cowon Plenue D, Dragonfly Red DAC, Ibasso IT01, Fiio F9 PRO or whatever midrange TFZ is readily available on Amazon (maybe Secret Garden or Exclusive King right now). I live abroad and I'll be traveling to the US for work so Massdrop only works if it's in stock.

I've read a few people say the Plenue is not that good in terms of instrument separation and soundstage, so I leaned towards the Dragonfly, although its integration with Android is very questionable. Most budget DAPs a step above the Plenue D seem to have poor quality control, which could be a huge problem since I live abroad.

I wonder however, if IEMs in this price range would have enough resolution that the Dragonfly would clearly outshine the Plenue D. I'm willing to sacrifice portability if that's the case.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 
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serman005

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I am not a DAP expert so cannot really help you with that, sorry. I do however know about IEM's and it would be my strong preference to have an IT01 over an F9 Pro. I just think the IT01 is a really special IEM that far exceeds its pricepoint in performance. The cable is fantastic, too--more like something you would find on a $300 IEM than a $99 one. I have found mine to be durable as well. Some thoughts for you.
 
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Will Chiu

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I am not a DAP expert so cannot really help you with that, sorry. I do however know about IEM's and it would be my strong preference to have an IT01 over an F9 Pro. I just think the IT01 is a really special IEM that far exceeds its pricepoint in performance. The cable is fantastic, too--more like something you would find on a $300 IEM than a $99 one. I have found mine to be durable as well. Some thoughts for you.
I agree. I will even say it01 is one of the best under 100 bucks.
For the dap part, however, I think cowon plenue d might not be the best choice, as it has a really low output power and it has been out for quite a while. If you really like cowon's product, I think cowon plenue j is a better choice. Other wise, I think hiby r3, hidizs ap80 are some good ones
 
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megabigeye

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I can't speak to the Cowon, but I use the Dragonfly Red on Android and haven't had many problems. I think it sounds great. The only drawback that I see is that it's a draw on the battery, but that's mostly down to the phone, in my experience. I've used it on an HTC One M8, an Essential PH-1, and now on a Samsung S9. The Samsung is the only one that seems to take an appreciable hit on the battery while using the DFR. It drains it at about 10% faster than when I'm not using it. The S9's battery is by far the worst of these three phones, even when not using the DFR. The Essential, though, only drained about 5% faster, if that. The HTC was already on its last legs, so it's hard to judge, but I don't remember noticing anything out of the ordinary.
 
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