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The Fiio A5 thread: an upgrade of E12A, MUSES02+LME49600, 800mW, 19Vp-p, 12 hours

Discussion in 'Portable Headphone Amps' started by holypal, Sep 10, 2016.
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  1. MROOD
    well after a bit of research it seems that the CAYIN c5 is better than the A5, its has a wider sound stage and a punchy bassline and its the same price...

    Anyone owned a cayin c5?
  2. TidalWave
    I haven't used an A5 but I do have Cayin C5. I used to read reviews for both back when I was making a choice. I use C5 mostly on high gain mode (with Audeze SINE headphones which like extra power), and there is a coloring to the sound signature on high gain. The sound, compared to the original source, is warmer, more powerful overall (more impact for everything), highs are slightly reduced. Soundstage is good, feels better than source soundstage. The bass boost ends up boosting lower mids too (can be a bit boomy), which you may or may not like, but if you have an equalizer in your player, then you can tone it down to taste. My phone's output was already on the warm side with mids recessed, so I did not like it with C5 combo. My iPad + C5 was okay, but I liked it as is. Now that I got a Shanling M3s player and combined it with C5, I LOVE the result. Shanling M3s is detailed, bright, and kind of clinical, particularly in the lows--Cayin C5 gives it a very lively boost--I feel like I'm inside the music rather than just listening to it playing nearby. Mids and highs are just where I want them to be, and everything seems better balanced (subjectively).

    I actually had put the amp on the classifieds recently because I just hate using an extra item in addition to a player (phone or DAP), it's a hindrance. But I love the sound so much, I might keep it and "suffer" the inconvenience.

    Anyway, if you like how your DAP/phone sounds without modification, go for A5--it's supposed to be more neutral, and the bass boost does not affect lower mids, if you prefer that / don't have EQ. If you want a more rounded, warmer, powerful sound, Cayin C5 might be a good fit for you. I chose C5 because I was not happy with my phone and wanted to see how I could affect the sound beyond just amplifying it. Turned out I needed a better DAP (or DAC/amp).
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2018
  3. MROOD
    ahh thanks i will order a C5 this week as I think it will be enough to use my HD650s and my fostex over ear headphones.

  4. scott s
    So is there a consensus on using the a5 with a phone that has a good hi Fi DAC but only a headphone out. No dedicated line out. I do not hear any noise with my phones headphone out but it won't power dt770 250 ohm cans for sure. I doubt it will power the 80 ohm either to full potential!
  5. ceemsc
    Surely you would like to think a 800+mW amp could drive 250 ohm even 600 ohm headphones?

    Is distortion or lack of volume heard with the A5?

    Even lower powered amps should be able to drive 250 ohms albeit with less Damping Factor.
  6. scott s
    I am talking about the fact my phone itself does not have a dedicated line out. I will need to use the headphone out to the a5 input. I don't think there will be a problem with "double amping"
    I am stating that I hear no noise out of my headphones out on my phone even when volume is cranked. Phone has a nice akm dac chip.
    I am sure the a5 will drive the dt770 250 ohm easily. The a3 probably would also!?
  7. ceemsc
    No you wouldn't expect phones to typically have line-outs.

    Double-amping should be ok for convenience so long as the source is not boosted too much however purists won't be happy as noise is still introduced into the chain even with low noise amps.

    My humble opinion is any headphone over 100 ohms is deemed high impedance & 250 ohm Beyers would deserve an amp more serious than A3.
  8. scott s
    Thanks. I am confident to order the dt770 pro 250 ohm now. I have an a5 here waiting already lol. Hope it won't be to unusable with fiio f9 pro Iem's I am thinking of getting also. Maybe 1more triple driver's would be a better choice as they are slightly higher impedance and less sensitivity? Not as good sound as the f9 pro I have read?
  9. ceemsc
    I have read that A5 is a bit too powerful for IEMs though YMMV.
    You would have to audition to your own liking to what works for you.
    Even top gear can't fix poorly recorded/mixed/mastered music.
  10. a-LeXx
    I‘ve got an A5 yesterday. Nice little Amp, listening results are a bit mixed...
    Source: Xperia X, HP: AT W5000, Momentum, CD3000, few in-ears, everything low impedance and high sensitivity.

    With gain on low everything sound really nice, I like it very much. Very clean but on a warm side, airy soundstage, nice separation, silky mids, controlled and very tight bass.

    However, when switching to high gain, the picture changes. Bass (especially sub-bass) becomes much stronger, overpowering lower mids. Overall dynamics become compressed, everything is much in your face. Some people might like it, I don‘t, it sounds as a typical dynamic range compression.

    Bass boost is a joke, it completely ruins the sound, the cut-off frequency is too high and overall bass boost too strong, I can‘t imagine ever using it.

    From the technical point of view, this amp is an overkill in low-gain. Here, with 0 dB amplification, it is basically just a buffer, so the output buffer section is completely sufficient, the muses02 is not doing any amplification, neither in terms of voltage nor current, it‘s just adding ‚color‘ to the signal.

    Bottom line: for my currently mostly used HPs (all low impedance) this amp is a big improvement compared to Xperia‘s unamplified output. However, I was hoping to be able to use it with some higher impedance Beyers in the future, and that would require high-gain operation that I don‘t like, hmmm...
  11. Brooko Contributor
    High gain measures perfectly flat. Its the same signal as low gain - just with an additional 14 dB of gain (reference measurements). If you're hearing tonal changes, its a combination of your headphones and then not properly matching volume. It has nothing to do with the A5, and everything to do with psycho-acoustic perception :wink:

    Bass boost is like anything - quite good with the right headphones. If yours are already bass boosted, all you'll get is boost you don't need. The bass boost measurements are also included in that link I left.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2018
    alphanumerix1 and superuser1 like this.
  12. a-LeXx
    Yes, right, W5000 or CD3000 a bass-boosted HP... Right, tell me more jokes! :)

    That measurement diesn‘t show or prove anything. Basically ANY headphone output, even of a really badly amplified phone, shows a perfectly flat frequency responce into open. Do all amplifiers sound the same then? There shouldn‘t be any difference in the sound of any reasonably buffered amplifier, if you base your judgement on a frequency responce curve into open alone, they are always flat on anything that cost more than $5...

    Frequency responce curve doesn‘t tell anything about the dynamic range / kompression, behavior with non-linear load and so on.

    I hear the difference (more bass, maybe partially perceived due to kompressed dynamic range) after volume matching on all my low impedance phones, maybe the result will differ with high impedance phones...

    And btw, I‘m an electrical engineer, so let‘s not start discussing electrical measurements :wink: If we base our listening impressions on the usually performed measurements alone, 99% of the gear should sound the same and we are all just wasting our money... What I'm trying to say, is, that I also first look into the measurements, because they already can show a bad design/implementation. But good measurements unfortunatelly not always correlate 1:1 with a real life performance...
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018
  13. Brooko Contributor
    If you're an EE then you should recognise that gain is exactly that - no other changes. Volume is boosted - including the noise floor. What you've described is not consistent with a gain change. And seeing how you are so knowledgeable - please explain how a change in gain can change compression or DR? Remember we are talking about same circuit, same load. All that is changing is gain.

    What load would you like me to measure with the A5 (I can do anything with IEMs from ultra sensitive to high impedance, low sensitivity)? I will measure frequency response for you - and show that the only thing that changes with gain is the volume level (and obviously noise floor).

    Please refer your original post
    A frequency response will tell you exactly that - and as before, I call BS on your claim. The A5 is linear - both low and high gain, and that is under load, and whats more I can measure and show you.
    alphanumerix1 likes this.
  14. Dobrescu George
    Just to chime in with a thought,

    @a-LeXx - are you volume matching, or you're comparing low gain vs high gain each on their volumes?

    I generally like HG better because I tend to listen very loud and I dislike reaching the max of a volume pot / volume meter, but A5 is quite strong already, I mean really really strong, it is easy to overdo volume on HG with most things out there. I do not use HG on A5.

    I was thinking maybe you're reaching high volumes.

    If you're not trying to volume match, the perceived volume of bass and treble changes with volume, by the loudness equalization curve :)
  15. scott s
    Get some high impedance cans and give it a go. Seems to me you are just over driving your low impedance stuff. If the amp adequately drives your lowimpedance stuff onlow gain why on Earth would you even want to switch to high gain with it's 13 + db gain?
    Just asking.
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