Suggestions for Desktop DAC and IEMs
Oct 18, 2016 at 12:35 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 9

still0ears

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So actually I already asked this questions in a earlier post in this sub-forum, but since I didn't get any feedback and I cannot see my post being anywhere on the 1st page, I'm making this new one:
 
I was looking also into some IEMs to fit with my still-to-decide DAP and stumbled upon this list: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone-list/ and I was wondering if on these forums there is anybody selling more or less used IEMs, possibly and probably connected to that list. Like, for example, any IEM of the first 10 in that list. Nonetheless and even though that list seems to be quite updated and well done, I'm always open to anybody personal experience.
 
And about the DAP, I'm also looking into a portable amp/dac to "fix' my laptop's quite horrible audio card and to pair with some nice portable speakers, like the Rive Turbo X seems to be, but also regarding these speakers I'm completely open to other suggestions. For the amp/dac, I'm not sure why, but from all the things I've read, the review/description of the iFi Audio micro iDSD, seems to stick to my mind the most. So, any suggestion/experiece to share? And, of course, here too, would be nice to know if there is anybody selling any good used stuff.
 
Oct 19, 2016 at 1:35 AM Post #2 of 9

PurpleAngel

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Fiio Q1, USB-DAC/AMPl, $70.
 
Oct 19, 2016 at 3:10 PM Post #3 of 9

still0ears

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Why? Why exactly that one? It's true that at the beginning I'll be using this DAC/AMP mostly with those speakers, but it is also possible that one day I might buy a more complex system of speakers and also, even now I would be pairing it with some very good quality IEM. Btw, any more suggestion about that? And how this Fiio Q1 does if compared to the iFi Audio micro iDSD?
 
Oct 19, 2016 at 3:59 PM Post #4 of 9

PurpleAngel

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  Why? Why exactly that one? It's true that at the beginning I'll be using this DAC/AMP mostly with those speakers, but it is also possible that one day I might buy a more complex system of speakers and also, even now I would be pairing it with some very good quality IEM. Btw, any more suggestion about that? And how this Fiio Q1 does if compared to the iFi Audio micro iDSD?

 
The FiiO Q1 costs less.
Just trying to save you money.
 
Oct 19, 2016 at 6:33 PM Post #5 of 9

Me x3

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I've used the Q1 with a Yamaha A-S500 integrated stereo amplifier and a pair of DALI Zensor 3 speakers in the past and it worked great.
 
Oct 19, 2016 at 6:35 PM Post #6 of 9

PinkyPowers

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I saw a V-6 Stage on sale in the Head-Fi Classifieds not too long ago.
 
Oct 19, 2016 at 6:39 PM Post #7 of 9

buke9

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So actually I already asked this questions in a earlier post in this sub-forum, but since I didn't get any feedback and I cannot see my post being anywhere on the 1st page, I'm making this new one:

I was looking also into some IEMs to fit with my still-to-decide DAP and stumbled upon this list: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone-list/ and I was wondering if on these forums there is anybody selling more or less used IEMs, possibly and probably connected to that list. Like, for example, any IEM of the first 10 in that list. Nonetheless and even though that list seems to be quite updated and well done, I'm always open to anybody personal experience.

And about the DAP, I'm also looking into a portable amp/dac to "fix' my laptop's quite horrible audio card and to pair with some nice portable speakers, like the Rive Turbo X seems to be, but also regarding these speakers I'm completely open to other suggestions. For the amp/dac, I'm not sure why, but from all the things I've read, the review/description of the iFi Audio micro iDSD, seems to stick to my mind the most. So, any suggestion/experiece to share? And, of course, here too, would be nice to know if there is anybody selling any good used stuff.
Did you mean RIVA Turbo X ?
 
Oct 19, 2016 at 11:32 PM Post #8 of 9

ProtegeManiac

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Quote:
Originally Posted by still0ears /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Why? Why exactly that one? It's true that at the beginning I'll be using this DAC/AMP mostly with those speakers, but it is also possible that one day I might buy a more complex system of speakers and also, even now I would be pairing it with some very good quality IEM. Btw, any more suggestion about that? And how this Fiio Q1 does if compared to the iFi Audio micro iDSD?

 
If you're going to get into speakers later on you need to think about what kind of speakers as early as now. Most headphone amps or DAC-HPamps use a preamp output, no straight line out, because the presumption is they'll be used with amplified speakers. If you get passive speakers, this can be trickier to use - you'll have to run through two preamp stages unless you use a power amp (no integrated preamp) or a large integrated amp with power amp direct input. Either way, unless you DIY a tripath or IcePower module, they'll be too large for a desk. Powered speakers, and preferably active studio monitors, will be the way to go.
 
One problem though, and why PurpleAngel suggested the Q1, is that you prefer using IEMs. The reality however is that due to their high sensitivity they don't need a lot of power at all (add to that their high levels of isolation, so you need less volume out of them as well) to make your ears bleed, and if anything, portable amps improve the sound when whatever people have been using before have a high output impedance or, in the case of smartphones, some kind of software EQ that is bypassed when USB output is used. On top of getting a very powerful amp with preamp outputs not being much use for an IEM that doesn't require that much power, the gain setting on most of these on top of the quality of the analog potentiometer (there is an inherent level of imbalance when set close to zero) can render some desktop units completely useless with IEMs.
 
At minimum, you can get some Schiit or Meier amp now (note that the preamp output on Meiers is on their DAC unit), but there is a chance you might not hear a lot of difference vs your laptop. Do you have the IEMs now? If they totally suck with your laptop it could be due to any number of things: the laptop might have a high output impedance, or it's a really bad design that it has high levels of noise and distortion, or it could be the IEMs. Getting a powerful desktop DAC is unnecessary for the IEMs' power requirements, and will only really be different if the laptop has too high output impedance. It can help with noise, but then there's the risk that when you do use a DAC with it, its USB output might even have its own noise that will get transferred to the audio components you spent money on and will have to get at least a USB power/signal cleaner.
 
If you want to try the iDSD, especially since it will save you money down the road as it's ready to use with powered speakers, go right ahead. Just manage your expectations on how much difference it can be with your IEMs vs your laptop.
 
Oct 22, 2016 at 10:44 AM Post #9 of 9

still0ears

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@buke9
 
Yes, I meant, the RIVA Turbo X, sorry to the typo. What do you think about that speaker? Do you have experiences with it?
 
@PurpleAngel
 
Thanks for trying to save my bucks, but I would really like to make sure that choosing the Q1 is actually going to save my bucks and not only for a bit of time and only with specific situations and settings :wink:
 
And generally thanks everybody for coming in and trying to help :)
 
@ProtegeManiac
 
Firstly, thanks for your detailed answer, and then a few questions back to you based on what I understood from what you wrote.
 
So, is the RIVA Turbo X a power speaker? Can it be easily combined with the Q1 or the iDSD?
 
I don't always prefer using IEMs, in fact I usually alternate them with speakers when I'm at home, otherwise, yes, when I'm on the go, I usually use IEMs. That's why anyhow I was asking also for suggestions regarding small and possibly kind of portable speakers.
 
Your considerations are interesting and I don't 100% understand them I believe, however, the problem with my laptop is mainly about the speakers and about the integrated audio card (you must consider that it's a kind of old ThinkPad), I don't think that the output impedance is so high and anyhow, btw, I don't have now the new (still-to-decide) IEMs with me, but I had and tried some others and while the audio is not so bad with them as with the integrated speakers, it's still quite bad and as soon as you turn the volume wheel a bit up, the noise raises considerably and it's then not so pleasant to hear anymore. Also, I always heard and knew that often having an external DAP, is better than having a new more reliable audio card for improving the overall "sound quality", as DAPs have an external circuit which is not in direct contact with the noise from the other integrated components in the laptop, as thus can give a clearer output, which should also be often correlated (to my simple knowledge) to being able to raise the volume a bit up without having to hear all kind of hiss and noises. Or is it different? And if so, could you also try to explain me why? And what is a USB power/signal cleaner? Is it something expensive and where to get it? Would it clean the USB signal that much? Are there DAPs that, somehow, have this feature integrated?
 
Now my other question would be, can this Q1 deliver as well as the iDSD with the RIVA speakers, or not?
 
For the future speakers upgrade I can only say that it'll probably happen also with speakers that are too big to stay nicely on a desk someday, but I really don't know when and planning this now wouldn't make that much sense, since in the not so close future there might be speakers with a better quality/price relation than now.
 

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