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What are you listening to balanced - on the go?

  1. Mhog55
    Just sitting here trying to picture people walking around with their balanced DAP, and wearing a full size headphone that looks like two cans of corn.
    Kinda curious what unmodified headphones we are using for portable use with our balanced portable source gear. Not a whole lot comes to mind, but I'm relatively new to this madness. I guess I could obtain a balanced cable for the Meze 99s or 1more triple driver over ears. Denon ah-d600s? Those are pretty big. I don't think I'd feel too good about wearing my open back Senns around town, but I'm sure some of you like sporting your Hifimans out and about. I saw a pair of Beyerdynamic Dt1350s with a balanced mod in the classifieds, but I'd rather hear suggestions for non modified, readily available gear.
  2. kukkurovaca
    As far as use with balanced DAPs goes, probably most folks are using IEMs with balanced cables. Balanced cables for MMCX and 0.78 2-pin IEMs are readily available at all price points. (I have inexpensive balanced cables on my iSine 20, Massdrop Plus, and iBasso IT01.)

    I also have a 2.5mm TRRS cable for my secondhand HD800, and I'll sometimes use those with a DAP or with a portable amp, although I'm not wandering around outside with those, that would be pretty impractical. But any headphone with a detachable cable that connects to the left and right cups independently can be used with a balanced cable. Also, there are some headphones (Oppo PM, Fostex's new T60RP) that are single-entry but will accept a balanced TRRS cable.
  3. Rhamnetin
    I've listened to a ZMF Ori connected to a Chord Hugo 2 on the NYC subway. Annoying since the Hugo 2 isn't easy to velcro to a smartphone like the Mojo is.
    gimmeheadroom likes this.
  4. Redcarmoose
    Sony 1Z with 4.4mm balanced N3 IEM

    Mee Adapter 4.4mm balanced with Sony Z5

    Sony Z7 balanced 4.4mm Sony 1Z

    qdc Anole V3 IEM with 4.4mm balanced Sony 1Z

    The question is if you can hear balanced out and about. I don’t take full-size headphones outside, but balanced is the way to go with IEMs. Balanced has more power, lower noise floor and a better soundstage at times; so why not use it. Suggestions on full-size headphones outside? I would search for a pair of IEMs with great isolation qualities. The qdc Anole V3 blocks out most outside noise.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
  5. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    Most just use headphones as transportables: into a bag, whip out at work/on a plane/hotel room/etc and listen along with a balanced output DAP or even a balanced output DAC-HPamp. The few who still use their headphones while walking around outside tend to have fit issues with universal fit IEMs or just can't take IEMs in general (ie universal tips itch or hurt and some think blowing any money on CIEMs will likely be an expensive way to find out that the materials on the tips isn't the problem).
  6. Mhog55
    Yeah, I kinda figured most folks with a balanced DAP would be using in ears. Unfortunately for me, that's a no go. I understand any headphones with dual entry cables can be used balanced, I'm just trying to see which people are using for portability.
  7. Mhog55
    So which headphones would you recommend? I'm just looking for ideas beyond what I've already listed, that aren't crazy huge in size.
    It's kinda strange really. The balanced output of a DAP generally provides quite a bit more power than the single ended, but people are using IEMs. Why make the balanced more powerful if the idea is portability with in ears? Just because?
  8. kukkurovaca
    Increased channel separation is the main thing, I think. Or maybe it's 100% a placebo, as many say.

    (My sense, at least with the devices I've used, is that the difference is preetttty subtle)
  9. buke9
    I don’t think balanced is all that much better myself in terms of sound quality. I think the doubling of power has something to do why people want it. The added cost of going balanced on headphones is another thing to consider. The Dap I have can run quite a few full sized headphones without a problem in single ended but the new version has added balanced 2.5mm connection also but gave up a SD slot for it.
  10. Mhog55
    That's what I've been reading for the most part. Subtle difference, but I think I need to find out for myself. In all likelihood, that subtle difference isn't worth the expense. Cables aren't cheap.
  11. Mhog55
    Which dap are you using? I have the Shanling M2s, but the new ibasso DX120 has my attention. Most "portable" cans are single ended, so I guess I just can't wrap my head around extra power and balanced connection for use with IEMs out of a "portable" device, meant for listening on the go.
  12. buke9
    I have a Questyle QP1R. It is a great sounding player that will run a lot of full sized cans. I love it with my Ether-C’s and also does a good job on the HD-800’s. Just picked up a Hiby R3 as hearing so much about it and it does sound pretty good but is woefully under powered I guess the reason for the balanced output on it. I don’t have any 2.5mm balanced cables to see the difference but had to turn it up almost all the way for my Meze 99 Classics and with my Havi B3 Pros IEM’s it was lacking volume a lot.
  13. kukkurovaca
    I'm currently using an Onkyo DP-S1 and actually I mainly use it in "ACG" (Active Control Ground) mode which uses the balanced connection but does not have higher power output. Lowers noise floor in comparison to a standard balanced connection, IIRC.
  14. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    I can't think of anything for your requirements since compact, closed, portable headphones tend to have single side entry cables. As much as they'd benefit from balanced drive more than IEMs for example, the convenience of single entry on these is more common while the necessity of dual entry cables makes it easier to just swap out a balanced cable for IEMs.

    Off the top of my head the only one I can think of that would be compact and just need a balanced cable swap is the Sennheiser HD25 series. Most others either have single side entry or non-swappable cables that will require some modding, or are too large and likely with low enough sensitivity or high enough impedance you might as well just use a balanced drive amp or a good single ended portable amp. The size and comparatively low sensitivity (vs portables) are due to making less compromises in favor of size and sensitivity so that they can get a smoother and wider response.

    I don't get your point there. Using balanced and for more power isn't going to make a DAP any less portable other than say if one were to not use a DAP in the first place and just use a smartphone. That being said, as much as high sensitivity IEMs like the 125dB/1mW Aurisonics ASG series and their 115dB/1dB Harmony series won't need more than the clean first 5mW out of a really good flagship smartphone or tablet, most others are well below that mark and while in absolute terms the portable devices have more than enough power, the THD and noise tends to pile on faster than on a real amp circuit, and even the channel separation isn't all that good. Always note that when reviews say some smartphones are brilliant as DAPs it's from a relative scale of how most others suck, and this is coming from somebody who still prefers smartphones over DAPs since I'd need to know easily if calls are coming in more than the improvements of using a DAP (that I won't be able to appreciate if I'm running around up/down to the rails and getting squished by other passengers).

    Balanced drive circuits don't necessarily make the DAP any larger in the same sense as using four Beta 22 boards instead of two to run balanced, since the Beta 22 is a more complex amp with a larger power supply and capacitors designed as a scaleable kit (ie, you can use 2 for SE; 3 for active ground; 4 for balanced drive), while you can design a DAP to have a balanced drive amp circuit from the start and creatively package it on the PCB.

    The balanced cable itself doesn't impact portability either other than the need to pack a power bank to recharge the DAP or a 3.5 converter to use the IEM with a smartphone once the battery dies (then again, either way, most people would carry a power bank anyway).
  15. Quasimodosbelfry
    For me:
    On daily commutes to work when it's crowded, IEMs are the way to go.
    But I work till really late into the night so on a quite a few occasions I go home with headphones on. One time I had an HD650 on and smacked the side of my head while getting into an Uber. The mesh on the HD659 have a horizontal dent now. Sigh.
    Also on long flights, I find headphones more comfortable. Usually bring a B&O H9i (BT, not balanced, obviously) but on a couple of occasions I've brought a Nighthawk onto the flight only because I didn't want to jam it into my luggage.

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