Showing 1 of 1232 conversations about:
View Full Discussion
So I am a noob, can someone suggest the best amp/DAC combo for these under 200$?
I’m in the same situation. I’m looking for portable option. Somewhere within $100 or a bit more.
Get a Schiit stack (modi + magni).
Pretty great for $200.
Any recommendations for a portable option?
Im only familiar with the Oppo HA-2SE, but that's pricey. Sorry :/
I'm running mine off a Soundblaster E3 while I save up for a Schiit Jotunheim, if you want something a bit nicer there is the E5 as well for around $200.
The E3 and E5 really aren't bad units for the money, especially considering the fact that they have bluetooth functionality as well as being DACs and AMPs and let you use any set of headphones as a BT headset, though the E5 is a bit large to have clipped to your collar.
I have to chime in and say I have an E5 (and a G5 and an X7) and I love it. I'm not an audiophile True Believer, by the way; I can appreciate some of the bleeding edge equipment and accessories but expect a high return in sound quality for my investment, so I cannot speak to the purist voices out there, but I know I love this thing. I use the E5 nearly every day. It's pretty much an audio swiss army knife. I've used it as a mixer, hooked it up to an outdated PA system to add bluetooth audio to a party, used it for interview recording and phone calls, and even used it as part of a jury rigged electronic ear pro setup.
I'm using an Audioquest Dragonfly Black. They sound awesome.
Man, just get Fulla Schiit (2) and don't give a shit. It's cheap, 99 bucks and you have to pay for a shipping.
Replying with an update:
So now that I've received my Jotunheim and balanced cable for my HE-4XX, I have come to the conclusion that even "highly efficient" planar drivers still need gobs of power to perform to their best.
Now I would rate the HE-4XX driven by a cellphone as acceptable, driven by a portable amp like the E3 as "Good" and driven by a proper desktop amp (balanced preferably for maximum power capability) as Best.
The most noticeable difference in sound going from underpowered, to adequate, to fully driven is the lack of punch and slightly muddy transient response when under driven, VS punchy bass and extremely good transient response that prior to getting my pair of HE-4XX I only expected out of my best balanced armature IEMs (my 4XXs are my first planar cans).
TL:DR: I have no reason to disagree.
BT Adapter < Portable Amp < Desktop Amp.
($ < $$ < $$$)
I'm not so sure about balanced setups yet.
I'm going to read into that as: something in the E3 class of amps (and decent BT adapters) is underpowered, in the E5 class (portable or semi portable) is going to be pretty good, especially with hi-gain turned on, and I'm going to get closer to a theoretical 'best' with a desktop unit, for me the X7. This is something that I'm ok with.
I'm sure balanced headphones are the bee's knees, but I have a feeling were walking into Emperor's New Clothes territory, especially for a headphone that by all reports doesn't really need a Titanic amount of power. I would like to see a good nearly empirical review of this (and balanced setups in general), but it's this is a very subjective ecosystem. My X7 doesn't do balanced headphone output, but I have thought about bodging together a stereo speaker banana plug to 4-pin XLR adapter "just to see what the fuss is about" regarding balanced gear. I saw a reviewer in some article do something similar, and as long as I don't crank the volume should be ok. I just can't bring myself to pay $150 for new cables for headphones that cost a smidge more than that.
I just ordered the iFi Nano iDSD Black Label portable on amazon. $200. I haven’t receive mine yet but the few reviews I have read say good things about it. One reviewer even uses them with the He4xx. I currently have the Audioquest Red. It’s a great a little Amp but i think the max volume it provides for the He4xx is a bit low. It does improve the He4xx clarity, punchiness and overall pleasantness of sound. I just wish it could get it a bit louder. I like earbleed level. I have to set it at 90% to get a nice volume for me. I wish it could do it at 60%. You lose some volume when using with a phone, I use it one an iPhone X. You also get annoying click and pops with the old 2.0 camera kit. I’m told the 3.0 fixes that but it’s so bulky. Right now I use it on the PC only. I’ll let you know when I get the iFi. Just remind of this thread. Lol.
Oh, the E3 provides plenty of power, as long as you aren't using planar headphones that is. I really can't tell much if any difference going back and forth between the unbalanaced output of my Jotunheim and the E3 with my HD6XX and K7xx, the improvement in sound comes from the larger voltage swing afforded by balanced drive and the extra power delivery capability as well.
I'd say a good single ended amp will get you 90-95% of the way to what most planar headphones can do, high power afforded by balanced drive just gets you the last little bit of performance.
With normal dynamic drivers that most headphones use, the improvement is more like the last 1-2% on top of a good single ended amp as all you get is slightly faster transients from the larger voltage swing.
Speaking of which, measuring amp sag on planar vs dynamic drivers with an oscilloscope would be an interesting thing to do.
On the cost of cables, yea I totally agree that $100+ for cables is crazy, hell I think $50 is too much in most cases.
Which is why I made my own!
Those were around $20-25 in cable and connector cost if you are willing and able to solder up a set.
I'm thinking I might end up making a few every so often and selling em for $40 or so as I've already decided to make several pair for friends as xmas gifts.
Oh and a note on my outlook on audio stuff, accuracy and efficiency are the most important things in my book.
As long as you are VERY careful with the volume control you should be fine with an adapter like that, though you might have trouble with granularity of volume adjustment.
In regards to my cables, I'm really liking these 4 pin mini XLR connectors, they are small and light enough that I can have a short stub cable on the headphones and make my adapter as long or as short as I want, I kinda hope they become more common and end up replacing the full size XLR for balanced headphones.
Is there a real difference between and Mini XLR and Tiny XLR? I haven't gotten them in my hands yet.
Mini and Tiny XLR appear to be the same standard, just different manufacturer branding, the pinout and connector diameter seem to be the same, though they might use slightly different pin diameters or something to make the connectors "almost compatible" as I've never tried mixing the REAN connectors with the Amphenol ones.
I just saw the Aune MK3 drop. Would that be a good DAC/AMP for the HIFIMAN HE4XX vs the Schitt Stack?
One thing to keep in mind IMO is that this 4XX leans dark-warm and it's sound is lackluster with low power devices (even tho it may get "loud."), and any added tube warmth may not be that great. I find this dark-warm-recessed characteristic of 4XX lifts in the presence of ample solid-state power. It's not really scaling, but just how this not-so efficient-for-its-numbers hq planar headphone likes it.
So Aune vs. Schiit stack? Schiit stack.
How has the iFi Nano Black Label been working for you? I was debating between this, the Dragonfly Red, the Fulla 2, or the O2/SDAC. Still can't decide!
I'm on the same boat! What were your top 5 choices and what did you end up buying?
I kept the iFi Nano Black Label. I use mostly on my desktop PC. It sounds fantastic with the He4xx. But I keep getting audio drops using it in battery mode with my iOS devices. Not long audio drops, like maybe a millisecond. Sometimes it happens once in three hours of listening. Sometimes it happens a lot in one song. I think it's pretty random. Also it hard sometimes to get it working with iDevices. You have to do a lot of unplugging and replugging.
I think the dragonfly red also sounds great. It has more "fun" sound to me. Get the 3.0 camera kit though. The old one had so many pops and clicks. It was bearable. Also the red doesn't get as loud as the nano black label that's why I kept Nano.
If I didn't have a he4xx and just used my momentum 2s, the dragonfly red would be my choice. It's portable and you don't have worry about charging. Although it will drain phone battery faster. But that's what battery banks are for.
I think for most people, the dragonfly red will fullfill their needs. But I think it still depends on what headphones your planning to use it with. Btw, if you decide to get a schiit, get a stack instead.