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Should I upgrade my iBasso Mamba?

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by masqueraid, Oct 9, 2018.
  1. masqueraid
    Hello Head-Fi!

    I purchased an iBasso D4 Mamba portable amp/dac almost a decade ago after reading about it on these forums. I got them to power my Sennheiser HD650 when I thought that I would need a portable amp/dac. Turns out I really don't, and I've been wondering whether it's worth a maximum budget of about a $100 to buy a new desktop amp (and/or dac) to pump out better quality from my HD650s.

    I have no idea how the D4 Mamba stacks up against more modern amps and whether it's any good of a device in the first place. It certainly wasn't cheap when I bought it. Should I ditch it for a max $100 amp (and dac?) and expect a better show from my HD650s?

    Advice much appreciated!
  2. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    You might as well stick with the Mamba instead of getting anything with both DAC and HPamp for $100.

    Doesn't that have a line out though? If it does then you can use it as a DAC and maybe try the Schiit Magni3.
  3. masqueraid
    Yep, it does have a line out. Do you think the Schiit Magni3 amping my candwould make a noticeable difference compared to the Magma?
  4. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    Maybe. I found older portable amps to have a tendency to either be too thin or too dark on high impedance headphones, not because of output impedance but because of weak voltage output.

    However if you only listen at a lower volume level differences between amps can be subtle. Think of it like driving cars. Unless you're a little lead-footed, a Camry will feel pretty much the same as an Audi S7 Biturbo in a parking lot. It's not until you have to overtake a rig doing 100kph with oncoming traffic or when you hit apexes and crawl out of it like a cheetah going after an antelope using the throttle to steer that the Audi will really feel different.
  5. masqueraid
    Thanks for the analogy! That makes a lot of sense. Just to clarify, turning up the volume on my audio source doesn't affect the input sound quality for the amp since it's only getting DAC'ed by the Mamba, correct? With the source volume all the way up, I usually wind up amping the HD650s to about 50%. Do you think that's enough for me to pick up a difference? I do notice that at higher amounts (>80%) the cans start to clip and get distorted.
  6. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    Source volume should be all the way up if you're using digital output from it (and even then you shouldn't use a preamp to feed an amp that has its own preamp).

    If anything, if you used a Modi3, you'd send a full 2V signal into the Magni3, instead of a 1.xV signal.

    As for whether you'd likely hear a difference, it's still sketchy. On one hand, overall output might be a little low it's difficult to tell; on the other, teh Mamba might have enough distortion by that point. The old Mamba is fairly dark sounding to me overall though, while the Magni2 is very bright by comparison. Not sure about the Magni3 but so far the reviews I've read basically said the Magni3 isn't bright.
  7. PaganDL
    Hi @masqueraid,

    If you interested to try a different amp for comparison, especially on a budget, I would suggest something like the Presonus HP 4, a good pro grade head amp with no frills.

    Like @ProtegeManiac has stated, it really depends on several factors, at the end of the day, personally, if your source quality isn't great in , then no amount of levelling will fix anything but that's another story.

    Hope you have a great day !

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