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Semi-portable AMP/DAC for office use with CIEMs?

  1. DougofTheAbaci
    I listen to a lot of audio content when I'm at work and I've started to feel that my current setup (Audioquest DragonFly Red to Noble Audio Katanas) is letting me down and I'm putting my money on it being the DragonFly.

    Here's where I feel I'm being let down:

    Sound Stage. I've heard my Katanas plugged into other setups and I get a more bigger sound stage, more on the high-end, a much more neutral sound (which is what I want). Despite it's otherwise acceptable capabilities I feel the DragonFly is holding my Katanas back.

    Volume. In short, it's just too loud. It's clearly designed with harder to drive headphones in mind. I'm regularly bouncing between 2 and 3 ticks of volume (of 16). So not only do I have to run it very low but I have no fine control. I'd really want 2-3 more ticks of control there and I will not get it with my current setup.

    In the past I've used an O2+ODAC with good results but the unit I had sort of died so that's not an option... I also have a Schiit Fulla but while it solves some of my issues (sounds pretty good) it doesn't solve others (way too loud).

    What I'm looking for is something that meets the following criteria:

    - Will pair well with my Noble Audio Katanas (it won't be used with anything else I own).
    - It will mostly live attached to a Mac laptop so it needs to play well there.
    - 24/96 capable.
    - Sound signature that is neutral and bonus points for spacious.
    - Cost around $100-$300 (will exceed slightly for the perfect device).

    Bonus points:

    - USB powered
    - Portable
    - Works with an Android phone (Google Pixel 2 XL in my case)
    - That it looks nice (I'm fussy, OK?)

    Based on my own research the current front-runner is the FiiO Q5 as it seems to meet or exceed most of my criteria. But the price is a bit more than I was hoping to spend and I've no experience with FiiO...
  2. Grimbles
    Q5 has been well received but i havent heard it. Ifi have both the nano bl and the new xdsd (which i found a real step up from the nano bl but slightly exceeds your budget). Big advantage of nano bl is iematch for your sebstive iems, though i never heard iem hiss with the xdsd. Theybare also aesthetically opposite and both work perfectly with the samsung note 8 and s8 using uapp.

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