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I used to have a nice speaker setup however since that is not possible for now I want to move over to headphones. I had the el8 for a while and although I enjoyed the sound, esp the highs, but in the lists it was not to totally there for me yet, esp with pop and rock. I have to admit I did not listen to them through an
amp. I am looking for fun sounding phones. As much as I enjoy high resolution, instrument placement I also enjoy a fun sound, To me I often found these things
don't go hand in hand. Regards of cost, with speakers I could never afford the better setups (talking >>10k), however the top tier headphones can be had in the 1.6-3.5k price range. I do have to agree that the amps make the whole setup much more expensive. I was hoping there would be one amp that could rule them all. But from reading I see that a lot of phones often work well with different amps.
There's a lot of snake oil and mindless consumerism when it comes to DACs/Amps. Not many audio enthusiasts are going to buy expensive DACs then claim that they're worthless; keep that in mind. Tom's Hardware did a review in 2014 and they could not tell the difference between a $3 on-board chip and a $2000 setup. I bought a FiiO E10 and could not tell the difference between that and my on-board audio. Unless I have a pair of cans that are not loud enough at max volume, I will never own a dedicated DAC/Amp.
DAC chips shouldn't sound different from another the only difference are the features and you better be using those features or its a waste of money.
"if you have a DAC that you claim sounds different because its expensive, than its probably fricking things up"
Was a quote from Z Reviews said that in this video:
Now of course a $3 on board DAC vs a $2000 DAC. The difference becomes more noticeable with a higher end amp / more transparent amp. And higher bit rate audio / source. And there's amazon reviews about the FiiO E10 saying its no better then a macbooks. So... yeah...
I didn't see that video from Z reviews; thanks for linking.
I have yet to be able to discern amps when they are correctly volume-matched either. I'm young with excellent hearing, so I don't think it's specific to me or anything. (For example, I can ABX 128 vs lossless quite well)
Anyway I agree with your comments. Just wanted to throw in my 2 cents about DACs and Amps and how (imo) they are horrendously overpriced and often provide little to zero value. Not always, but often.
That's why you do your research to make sure your getting something worth your time and money!
The DAC chip itself might not have a "sound", but the circuitry around it does, and yes, good design, good parts, good R&D rightfully cost more money but it doesn't mean that some engineers can't do miracle for very little and you do pay a premium for very small compagnies vs asian giants, it's not just about quality of their products but also buying power and cost of labor.
The Headphone account for a greater difference than the DAC and the amp, at same sample rate, word lenght and volume. If you have average headphone you might not see a difference even with good earing, but with good headphones, the differences will start to appear, start by paying attention on how it resolve the bass that's probably the first thing that sticks out when comparing amps, and then the rest, but if the headphones are not the bottleneck of your system thats where you'll see what it's about, not saying that your headphones are not good but it might be a reason why they all sound the same to you.
How many hours of listening do you have? I don't mean ear buds at the gym or in the bus. I mean dedicated alone time in a quiet space with just the music? Spend this time first with some mid-fi gear and high end source material. Spend a couple hundred hours with different setups, like and HD600 and ODAC+Objective2 combo or a DT880 and Bottlehead combo or an E10K and ATH-M50, which would be an outstanding beginner combo. One you understand the differences of these pairings, then go with the signature you like. I ended up going with a Modi 2 + Lyr + DT880 Manufaktur for comfort, detail, balance and some warmth. The dt880 is analytical as hell, but the Lyr dials it back just enough to have no harshness. The Modi 2 is the most accurate DAC I found for the price. I mention this because it took a couple years and a bunch of trial to find what I wanted. Don't buy the most expensive stuff in existence, you might find what your looking for before you get there.
that's a lot of money just to practice his earing and see if it will make a difference, and judge if the difference is worth it....I also do think a lot of it is hype, no need to spend a fortune. I'm quite happy with a DIY Pete Millett butte wich is pretty much the same price than the E10...You get a great deal because you only pay fore the sum of it's part and nothing else but you need to do some soldering, simple stuff tough. That being say, dedicated doesn't necessarily mean better, and on board doesn't necessarily mean bad. In fact I really enjoy the headphone output of my uh-7000 audio interface, my sony mxp-21mixer, and my Nad 1600 preamp. None of these are actually designed to be driving headphone as their main purpose, they just put the love to do it well, that's miles from a laptop or phone output, and only very marginally inferior to the Butte.