Why does my portable rig not impress me!?!? Is there any hope?
Nov 7, 2008 at 8:11 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 34

monsieurguzel

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So I currently have two setups for my music...my home and portable. At home I have a pair of HD650s with Silver dragon Cables hooked to Woo Audio 6 SE and an Apogee Duet. I am completely floored by this setup and sounds really wonderful and airy with just about anything I play on it. My problem is that my portable/office rig doesn't impress me very much in comparison. I have a Zune 80 hooked to an iQube and a pair of SE530s and it seems really flat in comparison. The SE530s honestly don't sound much different through the headphone out vs. the iqube. Would an iPod through LOD be much better? Is there really any way that that I can get my portable system to sound anywhere near as good as my home one through my current IEM's? Would a Ray Samuels SR-71a give it a more impressive sound than my iQube? Is it too much to ask for something that sounds great AND is portable? I know you guys always have a wealth of experience and good advice. Feel free to substitute any part of my current setup but not my IEMs since they are quite new and I really like their fit. Btw, my musical preferences range anywhere from classical/jazz to classic rock, to electronica...

Finally, if you think its not worth the hassle of an amp for the SE530s, please let me know and suggest a good portable DAP for them.

Thanks a lot!!
 
Nov 7, 2008 at 8:20 PM Post #2 of 34

panda

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while i havent heard the iqube, a dual 9v ppa is going to be at the max level of portable sound. having said that, seems like you're just not digging the sound of your shures.

for me portable amps are a waste as no portable source is good enough to warrant a boost in amplification for on the go use due to all the distractions going on (ambient noise & what ever else you are focused on at the moment)

if you insist on squeezing the most of your rig, try an original rio karma (mp3 player), it's definitely the best sounding dap i've tried to date.
 
Nov 7, 2008 at 8:44 PM Post #3 of 34

jamato8

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I like the combination of my iRiver H140 with lossless files and the 71A and a couple of other portable amps. Plenty of life and space. For portable I use my modified Portapros.

I do not agree that a portable source is not good enough to warrant a portable amp.
 
Nov 7, 2008 at 9:45 PM Post #4 of 34

monsieurguzel

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It gets me wondering what kinds of headphones people are using with all these amps. Are people actually using IEMs when comparing portable amps or are they running full sized headphones. I feel that HD650s and high impedence headphones would benefit a whole lot more out of a portable amp than most IEMs would.

Are there any owners of SE530's out there? I would really like to see if people actually warrant using an amp with these headphones since they are so sensitive in the first place.
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 1:46 AM Post #5 of 34

Eagle_Driver

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Contrary to what you may think, many low-impedance headphones/earbuds/IEMs are in serious need of an amp, as well. A lot of headphone outs on portable audio devices, in order to achieve the longest battery life from such devices on as little physical size and weight as possible, usually skimp on both the current and voltage output capacity. As a result, the headphone out might not have enough available current output to drive low-impedance headphones with any sort of guts - while at the same time, it might not deliver enough voltage swing to properly drive a lot of high-impedance headphones.
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 1:56 AM Post #6 of 34

davidhunternyc

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This is a terrific thread. I think that the original post is on to something. If in fact, incredible portable sound is difficult to attain, then it seems to be a great argument to be able to bypass the DAC's in these portable players. In the meantime, I would love to hear about a portable rig that someone seems to think is a superior one and why.
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 2:22 AM Post #7 of 34

monsieurguzel

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How cool would it be if there was an mp3 player out there that supported flac and had a usb port on it! Imagine being able to hook up a predator and bypass the amp and dac of the mp3 player! No need to worry about stupid LOD or imods for perfect sound.... If a windows/mac computer can output through usb would it be so hard to do the same with an mp3 player?
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 2:46 AM Post #8 of 34

psyllium

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Quote:

Originally Posted by monsieurguzel /img/forum/go_quote.gif
How cool would it be if there was an mp3 player out there that supported flac and had a usb port on it! Imagine being able to hook up a predator and bypass the amp and dac of the mp3 player! No need to worry about stupid LOD or imods for perfect sound.... If a windows/mac computer can output through usb would it be so hard to do the same with an mp3 player?


I would think instead of the USB port, an optical or coax S/PDIF output would be more appropriate. Unfortunately the market for this sort of thing is restricted to the audiophile domain, at least until we start seeing a completely digital world...
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 3:15 AM Post #9 of 34

jamato8

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I have a portable dac with optical in. I can use the optical out of the iRiver with lossless or wav to my dac and to a nice amp. The sound? Excellent.

Oh, the portable dac with an optical in is not commercially available but that wasn't the question, was it?
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 9:02 AM Post #10 of 34

Podtweaker

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I don't know ,but I think there's really not that much wrong w/ the Zune dac. I have a setup of 1of my Zunes /a Zen Head ZH1 / & a pair of Denon AH-D5000 Headphones that I am absolutely thrilled with. I listen to lossless acoustic music(mostly well recorded "representative" classical recordings) that I've ripped to WMP 11 & then synced to my players. The amount of detail I get from most of the music I play through this setup leaves me shaking my head at how good it sounds. For home listening I listen to SACDs & CDs on dedicated players for each format (I can't afford a player like an Ayre,well at least not now) so I have a pretty good idea of what good sound is. From my own experiences I'm somewhat puzzled that more posters aren't that impressed w/ their similar setups. I don't know if it's because of the quality of the source material that I use ,but I'm beginning to believe it may have a lot to do with my results. Unfortunately the saying " " in " " out seems to be playing havoc with the results others are having with their setups. I hate to even mention the fact that my setup does'nt use a LOD connection.
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 9:22 AM Post #11 of 34

monsieurguzel

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I see what you mean but all of my music is all really high bitrate or is encoded lossless, so I don't think that is my problem.

So i did a little test this evening comparing a couple sources. I test my Zune 80 through HO and through iQube, as well as my iPhone 3G through HO and through LOD to iQube. To be honest with you, I couldn't tell enough of a difference between the 4 combinations to warrant the use of a portable amp with my SE530 IEMs. Granted with my D5000s and HD650 the use of the iQube is drastically better, but then again those aren't portable headphones. I am wondering if I need to try a more colored amp like an RSA SR-71a or Predator to enjoy my music more through my SE530 IEMs. What do you think?
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 9:29 AM Post #12 of 34

mortonjl

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Quote:

Originally Posted by monsieurguzel /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I see what you mean but all of my music is all really high bitrate or is encoded lossless, so I don't think that is my problem.

So i did a little test this evening comparing a couple sources. I test my Zune 80 through HO and through iQube, as well as my iPhone 3G through HO and through LOD to iQube. To be honest with you, I couldn't tell enough of a difference between the 4 combinations to warrant the use of a portable amp with my SE530 IEMs. Granted with my D5000s and HD650 the use of the iQube is drastically better, but then again those aren't portable headphones. I am wondering if I need to try a more colored amp like an RSA SR-71a or Predator to enjoy my music more through my SE530 IEMs. What do you think?



I feel the same, so I have an iBasso D3 python on the way, hopefully, to see if it makes that much of a difference. I'm thinking the se530 don't really need a portable amp.
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 4:00 PM Post #13 of 34

holland

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office rig, I use a setup like my home, but cheaper and a USB DAC. It's still too big to be portable and I use full-sized cans.

IEMs, as you found, don't need much power at all. Shure SE530 has a rated sensitivity @ 1mW of 119dB/mW. That's incredibly loud @ 1mW. Any opamp output is more than capable of driving that, no matter how much is skimped.

Try the SE530 out of your home rig. If that's to your liking, try to look for a small tube amp like the Earmax. It's surely not portable though, but any opamp based amp may not be able to color it enough for you.

FWIW, I could never get used to the sonics of IEMs. There's always something "wrong" with them compared to full-sized cans.
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 4:03 PM Post #14 of 34

Podtweaker

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Quote:

Originally Posted by monsieurguzel /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I see what you mean but all of my music is all really high bitrate or is encoded lossless, so I don't think that is my problem.

So i did a little test this evening comparing a couple sources. I test my Zune 80 through HO and through iQube, as well as my iPhone 3G through HO and through LOD to iQube. To be honest with you, I couldn't tell enough of a difference between the 4 combinations to warrant the use of a portable amp with my SE530 IEMs. Granted with my D5000s and HD650 the use of the iQube is drastically better, but then again those aren't portable headphones. I am wondering if I need to try a more colored amp like an RSA SR-71a or Predator to enjoy my music more through my SE530 IEMs. What do you think?



Your comment about how your HPs sound as opposed to how your IEMs explains more to me. (I always forget that most people don't consider full sized cans "portable". I suppose how & where I listen when I'm out makes my use more a case of "transportable" use, but I'm getting a bit off subject!) . I don't know if changing the "flavor" of the amp you use will change the characteristics of the sound of you hear using these IEMs, it may but it is actually the IEMs that are "colored". To work the way they do , they are designed to have certain colorations. Having tried the 4 combinations & not detecting much difference, it sounds like the IEMs are the control here. Another thing to consider is ; Can the IEMs have a bit more "impact" to their sound? As good as IEMs can be they normally are'nt known to be able to develop the same degree of lower frequency "punch" or "slam" that Headphones routinely & easily are able to. Hope this helped some.
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 4:45 PM Post #15 of 34

monsieurguzel

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yeh the more i think about it the more it seems that the shure IEMs are the problem. I just don't understand how many ppl in this forum say SE530 sound a lot better with an amp or even throgh LOD. I am also starting to think that IEMs are just not going to sound anywhere as good as full sized cans no matter what. I guess its kind of funny how many consider them to have the most amazing sound ever probably because they haven't tried a really good home setup yet. Marketing hype with all those double/triple/quadruple driver IEMs might also be a little misleading in terms of actual perceived sound quality. Maybe I just need do get a pair of portable headphones like the esw9 and see if they are a lot better
 

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