Showing 1 of 7395 conversations about:
shmearlof
22
Feb 15, 2018
bookmark_border
K people, for the sake of conversation while we wait for these cans, NFB-11...... Or Jotunheim?
Feb 15, 2018
joshy_bennett
15
Feb 15, 2018
bookmark_border
Personally, I like the Jotunheim. It's a very clean amp and its 24/192 so you don't have to deal with finicky problems some 32 bit dacs have. Honestly though, I feel like the real question should be Jotunheim or Aune S6. They're more directly comparable. The Aune has a much cleaner amp, but is digital instead of analogue. If you like analogue more than digital like I do, Aune also has the X1S and the X7S as separate dac/amp(x1s) and amp with balanced out(X7s) and it has an analogue volume knob and they all look very clean which matters to me. That's why the NFB-11 won't be sitting on my desk. I like the Jotunheim out of all of them since it's an all in 1 unit, looks very good, and I don't think there would be much of a difference in sound quality as the dac bit depth and rate goes above 24/192. So it really just depends on what amp has the cleanest power delivery and great square wave response.
Feb 15, 2018
joshy_bennett
15
Feb 15, 2018
bookmark_border
And it's nice to have a balanced output on the headphone amp incase you want to go balanced. It helps deliver cleaner power and lower noise floor which can help bring some details forward you didn't hear before.
Feb 15, 2018
Jackula
1692
Feb 15, 2018
bookmark_border
Actually, balanced has twice the noise and distortion of single ended amplifiers. Their benefits are reduced crosstalk and increased power. The extra details you're hearing is likely to do with clarity in higher frequencies caused by reduced crosstalk and better transients due to increased power and headroom. I would say the NFB is technically the superior single-ended amp. Sound-wise, the choice between NFB-11 and Jotunheim is a choice between a laidback sound and an aggressive sound.
Feb 15, 2018
joshy_bennett
15
Feb 15, 2018
bookmark_border
Which one do you think is more aggressive?
Feb 15, 2018
shmearlof
22
Feb 16, 2018
bookmark_border
Really? I honestly had no idea about that with balanced amps. Part of why i was eyeballing the jotunheim was for the balanced output. I am new to the audiophile world but from the little I have heard people have been saying balanced sounded MUCH better. but if thats not the case that changes things for me because the NFB 11 is cheaper. could you tell me more, or point me towards an article or something that talks about sound difference/quality of balanced vs unbalanced? I am also interested in which of these amps you find more aggressive
Feb 16, 2018
joshy_bennett
15
Feb 16, 2018
bookmark_border
Here's one I found within 5 minute of looking. I'll keep an eye out for more. https://www.head-fi.org/threads/an-analysis-of-balanced-headphones-and-their-benefits-now-with-numerical-data.741776/
One thing about that though is he tested with TRRS 2.5mm and 16/44.1 lossless, so I don't know how much different it would be if he used 4 pin xlr or 24/88.2 or higher
Feb 16, 2018
Jackula
1692
Feb 16, 2018
bookmark_border
Here is a good source: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/what-is-balanced-what-are-balanced-amps-do-they-sound-better-discussion-for-noobs-and-boobs.733/
And to quote "With a properly implemented source, the differences between balanced out and single ended out are not going to be significant. Choose the better sounding amp regardless of topology and don't worry about the chain being "fully" balanced throughout."
Remember, balanced amplifiers have 4x the amount of internal amplifiers than single ended amplifiers. This adds to production cost. With the cost of 4 amplification paths, a better quality single ended amplifier can be had. Balanced is better than single ended at a certain price point, not at the cost of a $400 amplifier. The Jot is still really good, but most people are just attracted to the aggressive and engaging Schiit sound that has little to do with the topology itself.
The way the Jot is designed, SE output uses a single amplification path while Balanced uses all amplification paths. So there would be an improvement going from SE to Balanced on the Jot. But that doesn't mean it's going to be 4x better than a good quality SE amplifier like the NFB 11.
Feb 16, 2018
Oakbing
87
Mar 3, 2018
bookmark_border
Like for HD 650s? Or just the two amps by themselves?
If paired to HD 650s or 6XXs for the sake of this being on the drop, then I'd still pick Jotunheim as it pairs well with the 650s. It's got a tight punch in the bass, and the clarity (or glarity) helps bring up a little bit of the slightly veiled sound for the 650s. Overall it's a good combination, and frankly a relatively reasonably priced gear that has no fuss and is easy to just plug in and play. (There's no DSD support but let's face it, it's Schiit.)
If comparing the two amps by themselves, the NFB-11 has a lot more going on compared to the Jotunheim, it's compatible with a lot more stuff, covers a better range of format, has DSD compatibility (I think), and what can you say, great China stuffed everything living and dead into the plastic sounding aluminum body and shipped it out to your doorstep, with the sweat blood and tears of the poor children in the sweatshops trailing behind it...
In this regard Jotunheim is quite lacking in comparison, there's not as much output/input options, there's less format to choose from, DSD compatibility is non-existent, and even power output is probably not as high as the NFB-11. The one thing it got that the NFB-11 doesn't have is the 4pin XLR balanced port, which paired with the HD 650/ 6XX is actually really good. However, if you don't got a 4pin XLR cable for your cans, NFB-11 is probably good enough and you can save yourself $180 dollars or so.
BUT do you really want to deal with the bugs, the driver issues, the fear that the spirits of those poor children in the sweatshops coming to haunt you, and some functions (like the fixed gain) that just... don't work very well? If not then I guess you can always buy the Jotunheim.
Sound quality-wise I wouldn't say NFB-11 is better than the Jotunheim, let's just say you're not missing out on anything in sound quality if you get the Jot instead of the NFB-11, and if you get the NFB-11 you don't really need a Jot, they may sound a little different but it's not whether one is better than the other, it's more like they're just different... while on about the same sound quality level.
But all in all I still enjoy the Jotunheim a bit more because it warms my hands up during these cold winters when the heater's broken.
Mar 3, 2018
Oakbing
87
Mar 3, 2018
bookmark_border
It depends on what kind of headphones you are listening from. If you're listening from the HD6XX then you're better off with a Jotunheim due to its more aggressive/ punchy sound signature. It pairs well with the HD6XX, compared to a laid back NFB-11 that makes your already buttery smooth headphone sound like it's now on acid.
Balanced is "better" because it gives more power to your headphones and things will likely be "louder", which to humans will translate to "better". Will it be like night and day? Nope. Will it be discernible? Yup. Should I get NFB over Jot for the HD6XXs? Nope nope nope nope nope. It's a synergy issue, has nothing to do with the quality of the amps themselves.
Mar 3, 2018
XrN1
6
Mar 3, 2018
bookmark_border
I'm still waiting for my HD6xx to be shipped. My plan was to try it out with my current non-existent gear and continue from there. I have a gaming grade motherboard (MSI Z170A GAMING M5) with a lot of buzz words trying explaining how they put effort into making it sound great. Compared to what I previously have experienced from on-board sound chips it really is pretty good. There is no noise and it sounds pretty good on my Sennheiser CX3.00 and Superlux 668b. The next step up is to try out the HD6xx. The motherboard says it can drive headphones that have up to 600 ohms, so it should "work", obviously working and sounding great are two different things, but my plan was to start from there.
I started reading about dac/amps, Schiit is mentioned a lot. Thought about the Fulla2, but quickly dismissed it, it is an entry level thing and famous Schiit stack is supposedly a lot better suited for the HD6xx. With that much of room for improvement I was easily persuaded to not even consider the entry level headphone dac/amp. It would not satisfy my curiosity and I would end up trying something else out anyway, so I decided to bite the bullet and find something that costs more, possibly saving me some money from not having to upgrade. ;)
Magni3 plus Modi2 is mentioned a lot, I thought about just getting a Magni3 because people often also say that the DAC is not as important as many people think, and considering the fact that I think my motherboard is doing pretty well. But then again, I'm curious, what IF the DAC is important, and this on-board DAC isn't as good as I think it is. And once you consider the stack, you get to the point where you consider the Jotunheim, at least I did.
"Luckily" for me, I'm in EU and Schiit's EU distributeurs don't have any of the interesting equipment on stock and they don't know when they will be. I generally prefer to buy locally because in case support or repairs are needed, it is easier to get when it's closer. So it was either buy directly from the US or wait.
And while waiting, I kept reading more and watching more videos and somehow came across the NFB 11. Doesn't have the balanced output, but do I really need it? I'm already upgrading to more expensive headphones, a dac, an amp .... does it really also need to be balanced? Not only does that cost more, I would also have to buy cables for it. Aside from that I've read that the DACs in the Jot aren't all that great, while the NFB has a really good one. I drew the line there. I went from "Let's try out the Superlux 668b with aftermarket pads for 50 bucks and see what the fuss is about" to spending 250 (EU shipping and taxes) on headphones and considering another 400 bucks on an amp, just in less than a year time. :)
So I ended up buying a NFB 11.28 from an EU distributeur. Instead of emailing China and sending money that way and wait for weeks while it gets shipped and goes through customs, I paid a bit extra and got it within a few days. The NFB 11.28 comes with the Amanero combo 384 chip which used to be a paid upgrade. Most video reviews are older and mention both problems with installing drivers and having the option to get the different chip. Anyway, here comes the whole reason why I started ranting.... the NFB 11.28 I received was very very easy to use and the drivers were almost impossible to be easier to install. Links to the drivers are on the Audio GD website, but also on the distributeur's and they have also e-mailed me the links as well. I plugged in the NFB 11, downloaded a zip file with the drivers, inside was just a simple setup.exe file. It installed the drivers and the NFB 11 was immediately recognized and it works. If the NFB 11 is switched on, sound goes through the NFB, if I switch off the dac/amp sound automatically switches over to the onboard headphone/speakers outputs.
So anyway, it might have been an issue before, but with the NFB 11.28 the drivers are extremely easy to install and it should not be an argument to use to convince people to consider other dac/amps instead.
As far was my experiences with the NFB 11, if anyone cares, I was nervous whether or not I would hear any difference at all, but I can hear the difference and it sounds better than the on-board sound. That is not to say that the on-board sound is terrible, because it isn't. I have also tried connecting the pc to the NFB with an optical cable, so using the on-board DAC but also the amp on the NFB. The differences were a lot smaller, I would have a hard time telling them apart in a blind test. This also probably means that the improvement in sound is most likely to mostly come from the amp part of the NFB. I would say that a well implemented on-board sound chip can sound good, but with the NFB 11, I can hear things that the weren't there before. I would almost have to conclude that people with a really good on-board solution, do not necessarily need a separate dac. (please don't shoot me) But, so far these experiences are only with the Superlux 668b and the Sennheiser CX3.00. I'm still waiting for my HD6xx and I'm curious to find out how much different it will all sound.
Mar 3, 2018
shmearlof
22
Mar 3, 2018
bookmark_border
Dude thanks for that awesome reply! Literally all the thoughts that went through your head are currently stirring around in my head. I'm waiting on the 6xxs, and I have a motherboard that I got specifically for the sound quality (before I knew as much as I do now about amps and dacs). But I haven't for sure decided on an amp yet. But I am glad to know that you can tell a difference in sound. AND, it is great to hear that driver issues on the NFB 11 are not an issue any more. That was almost a deal breaker for me, honestly. Also optical is something I really want. Because its driverless so I could use that with consoles and what not.
On a side note: just so you're informed, your optical signal is still being processed on the NFB's dac because optical is a purely digital signal and hasn't gone through any analogue conversion. It is just ones and zeroes traveling via beams of light and there are no voltage changes or anything.
Optical is only limited to the number of audio formats or sample rates it supports(If I'm not mistaken), but it's driverless. So you pick your poison. People argue, however, that sample rates higher than 192khz are indescribable to human ears. So... just optical may or may not be an issue. That's why I like optical. I'm still going to mess around with every formatvand setting i have if/when i get a dac amp. Still processed through a DAC though so a dac still might make a slight difference... you would know that better than I would
Mar 3, 2018
XrN1
6
Mar 3, 2018
bookmark_border
Ah you're right. So basically what I compared was the Realtek's digital out vs the Amanero chip, and the Amanero sounds every so slightly better to my ears using my lower end in-earphones.
Mar 3, 2018
Oakbing
87
Mar 3, 2018
bookmark_border
well glad to hear they fixed the driver issues, honestly it wasn't really a point I was trying to make to make people deter away from the amp, it's just a minor annoyance in the past that can be resolved but is just not as convenient. Part of that was really just a joke poking fun at it.
And yes, I understand a WHOLE lot of people are not happy with the DAC module on the Jotunheim, but to be honest I am not hearing the issues others are hearing with the DAC, perhaps it's the headphones I use (650s and a CA Andromeda), but in any case it's definitely not as big of a problem as people make it out to be.
As I also had previously mentioned, whether you get a NFB or a Jot is really up to you, I personally think the Jot will synergize better with the 650s (Basically the same as 6XX with a different paintjob) due to its more punchy and what a lot of people are calling glaring treble and highs. The 650s are very warm and laid back in the mid and highs, so with the Jot it will help balance that off a bit. Of course, if you prefer a syrupy warm sound signature this would not be for you, and perhaps the NFB (From my experience with a few demos is less aggressive in sound signature overall) will be a better fit. But in terms of trying to get a more "neutral" and musical sound maybe the Jot is a better choice.
But then again NFB is like almost half the price of a Jot so ... D:
Mar 3, 2018
joshy_bennett
15
Mar 4, 2018
bookmark_border
I'm more of an aesthetics guy, so the Jot is my go to. I'm not a huge fan of the AKM dual mono DAC they put in it, but its a great place to start for an all-in-one. The DAC in it is just ever so slightly dull compared to other DACs I've listened to like AK4493 or 4495. AKM's 'Velvet Sound', I think, adds incredible smoothness and flow to pretty much everything played through it. With how the Jot is made, the difference between balanced xlr and single ended rca inputs won't be audible at all (there is a slight difference with the bal v unbal headphone out, but I think it has to do more with the power) so don't worry about having to find a fully balanced DAC to input into the Jot. It won't matter.
Mar 4, 2018
View Full Discussion