1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

    Dismiss Notice


Discussion in 'Portable Headphone Amps' started by vlooienuker, Jun 26, 2012.
  1. Vlooienuker
    Hi Head-fiers.
    So I was wondering which amp I should get, I have a Cowon J3 and a pair of Westone 3's.
    My budget is 500 USD.
    Personally I dont really like the W3s on the flat EQ and I increase the bass slightly and the highs slightly.
    Portability is a huge factor. So is instrumental separation...
    Oh and should I buy a dac? I dont even know what one of those does... I know it means digital to analog converter but what does that mean anyway?
    Any help would be highly appreciated... Thanks :)
  2. PurpleAngel Contributor
    Audio is stored in a digital (zeros & ones) format, amplifier are analog (wave), we human hear in analog (wave).
    DAC, Digital to Analog Converter.
    Anything that stores audio and outputs (analog) audio is going to have a DAC, like your Cowan J3.
  3. Vlooienuker
    Thanks for your reply.
    Well if it already has a dac why do we need a better one? I can see there will be a slightly increased performance but is it worth the money?
    Also do you know which amp I should get?
  4. PurpleAngel Contributor
    Usually add-on external DACs are better then what comes "built-in".
    I do not even know if your Cowon J3 has a digital output to hook an external DAC.
    Not sure how much an external headphone amplifier will improve the audio, as your Cowon J3 may already come with a decent headphone amp.
    Try a Fiio E11 portable headphone amplifier, see how much that helps.
  5. Eric_C
    Same question could be applied to amps. Anything with a headphone port has an amp, otherwise you wouldn't be able to hear the music that's been converted to analogue waves.
    Is it better? That's the belief, and that's why people buy one. 
    Is it worth it? That depends on a lot of things: your player, your earphones, your music files.
  6. Vlooienuker
    Thanks for your reply.
    Do you know which amp to buy for the W3 and Cowon J3?
  7. Eric_C
    Not for that combi, sorry. Was just trying to help you consider the "right" questions before deciding on a particular amp.
  8. ostewart
    Maybe consider a JDS Labs C421, a big step up from fiio E11
  9. Vlooienuker
    Ive  never tried the E11 but how is it compared to the E5? Thats the only amp Ive tried, ever. So I'm looking for a big upgrade...
    Is the JDS Labs C421 better than a Tomahawk or maybe a Mustang P51? Oh and btw I'm leaning towards the Pico Slim
  10. ostewart
    Pico slim looks nice, the JDS is fairly cheap, and sounds great. customer support is great, and the amp is very well built.
  11. Vlooienuker
    But how does it compare to the Mustang P51 and the Pico Slim?
  12. ostewart
    never had them, so i cant compare.
  13. Vlooienuker
    hmm :/
    Is the cmoy bb any good?
    Well im definitely leaning towards the Pico Slim because its a very good size and is good for low impedance phones like my W3s...
  14. Vlooienuker
    Any one?
  15. Mutnat
    You're a bit all over the mark here :wink:  It's tough because there are a lot of choices in your price range, starting from quite inexpensive (such as CmoyBB well south of $100), intermediate (such as C421 @ just under $200), the headstage arrow or alo national ($300), right up to the pico slim, TTVJ slim, etc.
    Here's some good starting points for you:
    Budget amps round-up:  http://www.headfonia.com/music-on-a-budget-sub-100-portable-amps-shootout/
    (includes CmoyBB, others)
    A bunch of portables round-up:  http://www.headfonia.com/the-usual-suspects-12-portable-amps-compared/
    (includes pico slim, mustang, etc)
    JDSLabs C-421:  http://www.headfonia.com/?s=c421
    Fiio E17: http://www.headfonia.com/the-upgrade-fiio-e17-alpen/
    Once you've read through all that you will be in a better place.  I think if form-factor is your absolute most important thing then the pico slim, mustang, or headstage arrow will probably fit the bill nicely.  If you're okay with a bit bigger but still quite slim, the C-421 is great, or even the E17, and both are quite a bit cheaper.  The CmoyBB is supposed to be quite good for it's price, but is quite a bit bulkier and the whole mint-tin thing never really did it for me personally, but your mileage may vary!

Share This Page