Mar 1, 20189947 views

[Ongoing] Portable Audio Discussion

On Massdrop, there are beginners who are just starting out and experts who really know their stuff. Wherever you find yourself on the spectrum, you should always be able to find answers to your questions within the community.
PORTABLE AUDIO You can’t always bring your best gear with you, so you need to be prepared for different situations when it comes to your audio setup. There are many options to consider when portability is your main priority. It’s all about finding what works for you while still achieving high-quality sound and comfort.
ASK QUESTIONS Want to know what the best IEMs or headphones are for a long bus, plane, or train trip? For jogging or exercising? Maybe you want to improve the quality of the gear you take with you on the go in general? The best way to find the answers to your questions is to ask the community. There are members who are experts in pretty much every area you can imagine, and they can help you go from beginner to pro.
Ask your question/s by posting in the discussion below.
GIVE ANSWERS Many of you in the Audiophile Community know a lot about portable gear that’s great for traveling and have great information to share. We encourage you to help out anyone who has questions.

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ekeim, kk0529, and 12 others

Looking for upgrades on audio quality that I can take on the go while listening to my galaxy s7 and google play music. Currently I have my audio running through the Dragonfly black 1.5 and listening to vmoda's crossfade LPs. However, the sound I am getting from this combo sounds around the same to what I get from my Sony h.ear on wireless cans. Any closed back headphone suggestions in the 150-200 range?
Sennheiser has some nice wireless headphones like BT 4.50 BTNC. They cost $180 according to Sennheiser's site.
I recently got the HD6XX's and although i have an amp for my PC/laptop, i am looking at portable models to use with my phone on the go. any recommendations?
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Oh I forgot about the nano I was looking at that too. I was worried it wouldn't be enough power. When these are properly amplified hearing bass in them is like standing next to a speaker at a concert. It's not just hearing, you can physically feel the waves in your ears. Once I realized my desktop amp could do that, but my NX-5 could not, that's when I knew I had to get a new portable amp. I was pretty worried with the possibility of buying the lower power nano and finding out it has the same problem as the NX-5. I figured I would save $200 in the long run by putting the extra $200 in now and getting the xDSD. I'm also interested in the native MQA renderer in the xDSD and the higher quality DSD 512 format supported. I wanted to give myself options in the future to get into super hi-res audio now that I have good headphones and a good amp, and I felt like the Nano would end up limiting me on that front in the future and I would just have to end up getting an xDSD anyway. The 3D and X-Bass settings sound amazing. There is no audible distortion even at loud levels, and it fixed all of the issues I had with the NX-5's bass, which had very little but some distortion when the volume was maxed out, and like you said just was missing something; it just didn't kick. also the overall volume on the NX-5 was just not loud enough. even if you have to wait an extra month or two, the xDSD is worth it in my opinion. I haven't tried the Nano though, so your mileage may vary, it may be perfectly adequate.
Thanks a bunch for your input—I really appreciate it. Glad to hear that the 3D and XBass settings work great; definitely keeping the xDSD on my wish list. I would jump at the xDSD (and almost pulled the trigger on it last night; ) but I came across an eBay listing for a new Nano and, after making a few offers, got the price down from $200 to $145. At that price, I don't think I can go wrong. I could probably even resell it for as much as I bought it for in a few months. Besides that, my LG V20 has an awesome built-in DAC that I could pair with it (plus I use I use PowerAmp on Android) and have so many software settings to play around with that I should be able to compensate for any lack of bass. Thanks again for the reply (:
How much difference between HD 6xx and Massdrop Plus IEM? Given that they will be powered by the same DAC/AMP, I am considering get a earplug for summer since the headphone is a bit hot. And I want get a DAC/AMP for HD650. I want to use it to play games as well as music, so latency is very important. Could anyone please recommend one? Currently thinking about get a Dragonfly Red.
Please see my response to arlyn above. I discuss DAC/amps and my DAP and phones (feeling old). These seem to me to be best bang for the buck entering this hobby of ours...
Impressions on the X3iii or Q1 balanced out? worth it at the price?
I stuck my toe in the water with the Q1mk2 by Fiio because of size/price/triple the wattage on balanced. Unfortunately my upgraded wires came before my 4-driver phones. I plan to stack it with the Cayin N3 with high hopes.
So, I really love my Sony MDR7506 but the cable has a short right by the jack and they don't work consistently. What's the best course of action to repair this? Also - any recommendations for replacement ear pads are welcome.
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Somehow I totally missed this when you actually posted it.
Unfortunately, I think that the break is actually on the right lead and also near the jack - necessitating a total replacement of the cable essentially. I've not had time to look into tutorials since I posted this but I'm very interested in trying to replace the cable with a 3.5mm detachable.
And those fit the Sony MDR7506 as well?
Has anyone come across any USB c headphones or IEMs that haven't already been reviewed (not that great from what I can find- Q adapt, AliExpress stuff). Maybe even a USB C dac/amp. I feel like there's a lot of potential with USB C for audio but it's taking a long time to get to market?
Wondering if it's worth $99 to pick up Shure's new mmcx to USB c cable. I could use at least 3 of my current IEMs that way, without going wireless.
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I picked up MEE's new BT to mmcx cable for when I want to go wireless w IEMs...and its worth it!
But as far as I can tell the Shure cable released this year is the only 1 that terminates in USB C. And it has amp/DAC built in, as well as microphone.
You sound farther down the road that I am in this hobby. I agree wired is better. Shure route might be best now... Was that apple yelling, "cannonball"? Finally hearing good things about LDAC and BT4.2 though... A usb-c seems intriguing for sound delivery but so does 4.4mm, depends on ones place in the hobby... The Cayin N3, of which mine has just arrived, is well reviewed, has multifaceted usb-c and bluetooth 4.0 with 130mW SE and looks very gym-friendly. 'Should butt-up (ha-ha) with your Shure...
Used to buy Audio Technica and Sennheiser stuff solely because of recommendations, and they were really good. But, now I'm starting to think that I was missing out on some really good stuff that aren't from these two. What other brands are good quality but mid/budget priced?
Also, any specific recommendations for an on-ear pair? Preferably without foam covers, since they tear really easily for me and I've lost more of them than I can count haha
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If your hair is grown past your ears on all sides, you can probably use PortaPros. This being said, yeah, they are a pinchy experience if you have medium-length hair.
I really like my Sony MDR-7506, but that may be out of your price bracket. What's your definition of "mid range" price?
Z Reviews on Youtube is one of my sources for audio input. He's more of a can-man than I am and he has the wall to prove it! Z usually puts links to his reviewed items on Amazon. That should get you headed in the right direction.
Any good iems or headphones for portable use like in a car, train, or plane? Also any amps/dacs for it too? I kinda want to keep my budget under 300$
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Ok, here's my rig (great reviews before purchased), other options on my list below $99 Fiio: dac/amp with gain, bass switches and balanced h-phone option @ 75mW SE, 220 balanced @ 32 ohms and comes with many accessories $65 BGVP phones mmcx type (v-u shaped sounding) Dual Knowels 30042 BA + Dual Graphene coaxial composite dynamic driver $45 Upgraded balanced wires by Yinyoo Total: $209 shipped, works GREAT on chromebook with paid spotify (now $0.99 for 3 months).
Other items on my list to strongly consider: $149 Cayin N3 DAP (just arrived today, charging, loading chip tonight!) $37 128Gb Chip $45-179 Headphones RBH-EP3. These are Great Benchmark Phones, neutral with surprising Highs and Lows ability and great mids, much better price on sale (and permanently wired) $50 Tin Audio phones mmcx type (neutral sounding, got these for Mom) Duel dynamic $50 MEE audio Bluetooth mmcx wire upgrade Let me know what you think Best regards, happy shopping propdrc
I have used the sennheiser momentum wireless over ear forr about a year now and it's a great portable option. You can pick them up for about £200 now and they don't really need a dac or amp when used out cause of the wireless option. They also have a really nice balance of noise cancelling, it's enough for a journey out the house or a train but it's not completely silent so you won't get spooked by any passing cars and people won't have to shout to get your attention. As for sound quality I really enjoy sennheisers sound as I'm sure lots of people do
Newbie here, I picked up a pair of Primo-8s and am waiting for it to arrive. Was wondering what kind of DAC/Amp combos people use with these iems. Preferably ones with batteries as I'm often on the go. Also, the 6XX is so tempting, but they're open backed ): Does it really make a big deal, if i'm the type to listen to rock and loves to crank it up?
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> A closed back within $200 range with really good sounds
Sounds like Audio Technica ATH-M50X to me. About $150, sometimes less.
I'm really enjoying my recently purchased Fiio Q1mk2, base and gain switches, balanced h-phone out. It's smaller than it looks online, labels hard to read but you'll memorize the features and enjoy quickly. PLENTY of power for IEMs and very portable. I use it with my Chromebook and paid Spotify. You can easily stack with Cayin N3, just about the same size, looks gym-friendly that way too.
Another question from a newbie. Shiit has two types of DAC, a standard and a multibit. Can anyone explain what multibit adds? Any help is much appreciated. Thanks.
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Without any personal experience with it I would be reticent to speculate. R2R was once a lot more common (it has gained another resurgence recently). The reasons I cited have a lot to do with why it fell out of favor, the D/S was easier and less costly to implement. For my money I wouldn't go any cheaper than the Gungnir on the MB side but that is really my own personal take on it. I've actually settled on the Benchmark DAC3 for my next upgrade but that has more to do with feature set and less to do with DAC topology.
Thank you.
Looking at BlueTooth headphones/buds ideally completely wireless ala ZOLO Liberties and/or Koss BT540i or BT539i. Possible AKG N60NC or Y50BTs. Any thoughts on these. Please no Beats. Will be using them in office, and the trains/planes/automobiles, but not wanting to spend a mint for some quality sound.
I recently picked up a set of Aukey Latitude BT earphones for commuting. They work really well with my Pixel 2 and sound surprisingly good for $25.
I also have a set of Jabra Move Wireless BT headphones that I highly recommend for good SQ and durability.
AUKEY Latitude Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, 3 EQ Sound Modes and aptX, Magnetic and Sweat-Resistant Design, Wireless Earbuds with Carrying Pouch for iPhone, Apple Watch, Samsung, Echo Dot and More
No Beats for me either! I have these enroute V-U shaped sound I will make them wireless with these I bought these for my Mother Neutral sounding Hope this helps propdrc
TOPIC::: I need a setup which does not involve a big PC around, something to connect just my DAC, Amp and Headphones. Help. (self.headphones)
I have my setup in my computer in home but it is a work place indeed, but in order to listen while in the sofá on the living room I was planning on putting a little rack set with a DAC, Amp and Headphones... I lack the SOURCE... something little, not too expensive and that would allow me to listen lossless audio like TIDAL or something (not too complex). Any idea out there? (Also the same idea if you want to listen nice music while in bed... and not mess with a PC...) Please help.
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If you have a lossless source, then the DAC in the chrome cast is lossless. Unless I am mistaken, I stream music (FLAC) from my Plex server to my chrome cast into my head amp. That is lossless. Now if you are using a lossy Source, well that it what you get. As for what audiophiles say about chrome cast, that is a subjective thing. I think it is quite good enough for me.
That is a good point as I also had Plex installed... I do not really know if having a lossless source gives the DAC less importance... I doubt about it. I think DAC in lossy or lossless has a really important role in changing the depth and details.
Hey there! I won a contest at my company, and am winning a Bang & Olufson H9i and the A9 standing speaker tripod thingy. Does anyone have any comparison between the headphones and QC35's? And for the standing speaker, the A9 vs Sonos Play 5? I've got the sonos at home, and I love it, I just wasnt sure how they compared sound wise... or honestly, even how much they cost if I were to resell them instead. Any thoughts?
BeoPlay H9i will absolutely kill the QC35 in sound quality but the Bose has more effective ANC. I've only tried the regular H9 but it sounded pretty good, while the QC35 sounds quite compressed and "digital".
Okay, time for a new DAP.
I've been looking at the Cayin N5ii, maybe a Fiio X5, or an Opus. I'd like to stay in the neighborhood of 300 bucks. ...ish.
I'd like to have dual card slots, physical buttons, and balanced out (although that last one is not critical).
Don't need monster power. Mainly using mid-fi IEMs (Dunu hybrids, Wooduo, Sony XBA3, Vsonic GR7, other random beaters) and easy cans like Meze 99 Classics, Sony MDR-7506, V-Moda & their ilk. It would be a hoot to run my HD600's, but that's not the real day-to-day usage profile.
Here's where I need help. I'm a bit ashamed to say this out loud, but almost as important as the sound is moving files and INDEXING. Oh my holy god, scanning that music library is... grrrr. Just swear words, dude! Lots and lots of swear words. Back in the way-back days of the sansa fuze (rockboxed), Creative zen, and I-river players I never had a problem just popping on a temporary earworm or two, and boom: out the door. Easy. I like to put new crap on the player every day. But if it takes 15 minutes to rescan the library, that's pretty much my whole free time for the day (parenthood, don't get me started). Oh yea, I also like to carry around way, way, too much music, because I'm impulsive, and sometimes I do want to hear the theme song from the Jeffersons (like once every 3 or 4 years, but when the bug hits, it's important.
So I'd just love to get my mitts on something that can scan in the background like the old rockboxed players could. It would also give me the warm fuzzies if I could drag and drop in windows (including playlists). It seems like that used to be so easy, but it's harder now. Am I just imagining that? And because I have no shame, I'd be tickled pink if I could browse by album art (hell I could do it with crappy players 10 years ago, why not now?).
Does my player exist?
Thanks all & cheers!
FIIO Q5? Use your android or iphone as the transport, connect to q5 via bluetooth. 2.5mm balanced out.
Hi there, adolescent on MassDrop and newcomer to "can" quality....just got the LG E7P tv and am looking at B&Os Beocenter2. I actually put in a poll for this; not sure what our history is with the Danes. Today was first time playing music thru tv, and quickly realized I need headsets. Don't mind wired at home for loud, so how does an enthusiast get outstanding headphones without overbuying? Or do I overbuy to train my brain? If there's suggestions for reading on wired vs wireless, that'd be great. But, I'm likely to make a choice based on your collective advice. Thanks! Brian
Best thing would be to go to a store and hear 'em all out for yourself. After that, read up on the measurements and the reviews. That way, you'll know how to interpret the graphs and also be familiar with the differences between popular headphones, which makes getting your own pair a breeze
Start cheaper sub $100-$150. Work your way up. Recommendations by me in that range is the SHP9500s, the M40xs, Pro82s, CB-1s and Sony 7506s if you're looking for some headphones. I don't do earbuds over 30 dollars or speakers personally. Pro82s and CB-1s are not balanced like I generally like my headphones, but they're still really great.
IEM's suitable for jogging/weightlifting, preferably bluetooth, but I don't mind corded, simply because I'd get better sound provided I had a device with a decent built in DAC (LGV 20 comes to mind)
Ok, here's my gym rig (great reviews before purchased) $65 BGVP phones mmcx type (v-u shaped sounding) Dual Knowels 30042 BA + Dual Graphene coaxial composite dynamic driver $20 Sport Comply Tips (yes there's a HUGE difference), 3 sets $45 Upgraded mmcx balanced wires by Yinyoo $149 Cayin N3 DAP 130mW a chanel, BT4.0 $37 128Gb Chip $60 MEE audio Bluetooth 4.0 mmcx wire upgrade Let me know what you think Best regards, happy shopping propdrc
That looks like exactly what I need, thank you! I have a home rig that pushes above $1k, but I'd love to take some form of mid-fi/hi-fi on the go, and this looks like it would do the trick!
Got a little surprise in the mail today. (Fiio)
Hey there peeps, got bit by the bug recently and scooped up the HD6xx's, although I have to wait til August now for delivery and don't want to :( To ameliorate this wait, I'm trying to figure out maybe getting some buds (1more quad, simgot 700 pro, something...) and an AMP/DAC. I need more intermediate knowledge on what sound is created (like teaching a young cook how to "season to taste"), with each of these components. The AMP/DAC needs originally were preferred to have USB input (for computer gaming and to have at late nights at school), but if it's not possible for the HD6xx's to have decent usb input, I guess we'll have to get 1 for portable and 1 for home :)
Budget: Ideally under 500 for the set (like 150-200 for buds; 300 for AMP/DAC), but looking to be ultimate bargain master man.
Style: Like a fickle human, a bit of everything; from hip-hop, to EDM, classic rock, alternative / punk (I think this is new screamo?), and anything that has a good recording (I'm down to try classical). I can list specific bands and anything else that may help with this.
Thank you for reading this and for your time, Austin
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This is really helpful, thank you! (I'm so excited Sennheiser responded to :D ) What about individual components? Does a dedicated DAC and amp provide better fidelity or as long as the circuit boards are wired together, it's the same, just in a package?
Glad to be of assistance! Discrete components will not always have better fidelity than an an all-in-one unit, for example the Sennheiser HDV 820 has very high fidelity performance, space and shielding between components to minimize interference, short signal paths to enhance fidelity, and the ability to serve as a pre-amp for other amplifiers or active speakers or accept input from other DACs. That said, let’s lay out the typical advantages of each type of component.
All-In-One vs Discrete components •The fidelity and performance of both will increase with better design.
All-In-One Pros: •A more straightforward setup for cable management and transportation. •Potentially smaller desktop footprint •Less concern about choosing cable accessories between DAC and Amp •Manufacture engineers’ tested pairing of DAC and Amp components. •Often (but not always) have the option to just be used as a DAC or Amp if you buy a discrete component in the future, to upgrade one component at a time.
Discrete Component pros: •Can upgrade one component at a time, as budget permits. •Choose your own pairing of DAC and Amp (though manufacturers often have an option for each), often with more input and output connector flexibility. •Sometimes a manufacturer specializes solely in DAC designs, or Amp designs •DAC technology is tied to computer advancements, and models with better speed, accuracy, and precision continue to be released with perhaps faster development cycles. •Easier to prevent interference
A thread for me! Looking to get into audio, will be commuting every day by train and bike, driving out of my phone. I'm really interested in the EDC, are they good starters and are the EDC3s worth 40 bucks more?
Also, K7XX or 6XX? I love the looks of the first but I've had only good experiences with Sennheiser.
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I don't plan to take $200 headphones on the train much, so I know about the open back sound leak.
Thanks for the headphone recommendations, I'll look into the ones I don't know yet. I've had a wayyy better experience with Sennheiser 461Gs than the Momentums. The earpads are really stiff but it didn't bother me much once I got used to it.
I can't imagine spending $900 on an audio set up yet. All that money being taken away from keyboards!
Not huge fan of Sennheiser Momentum M2s either, headband is too thin, the leather ear pads come flatten out on one edge, and they are sibilant on all sources I’ve tried them on.
If you ever save up enough, I’d recommend the PM-3s (Oppo is going to discontinue it soon though) or the new P7 wireless (not the wired originally p7, the new wireless p7 has better sound revisions).
I'm looking for a DAC that can work with my phone and IEM's, any suggestions in the lower price range? I.E. sub 100 dollars
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I think for sub 100 it isn't easy to find a dac that substantially improves audio quality over the native dacs of most phones now. Depending on what you're using, you may only want an amp, or not at all :p
The dragonflies are popular. But to use them you'll need an OTG usb cable for the data flow.
Fiio Q1mk2 $99, seen as low as $87 I love it with my IEMs, small but powerful, labels faint and rather small but the unit is easy to memorize and enjoy quickly. Has bass boost and Gain boost hardware switches. Works great with paid Spotify on my Chromebook! All I need for a very long time! Don't buy the thumb drive ones!
I'm trying to find a good headphone for fiio x5 iii that I recently purchased. Came down to hifiman he 400 ( bummed I missed that deal), akg 7XX and sennheiser hd650 ( 300 ohm will require amp). Also, any advice on focal elex drop here ? Can anyone give some insight on these three or any other better alternatives? I'd say the budget would be $200-$300. Thank you
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Lol, so much for the budget.
Ha ha... We're at the wrong place to even contemplate it.
I an looking for a quality Tube headphone amp for my Senhieser HD 6XX. Any Advise?
The little dot 1+ hybrid tube amp. You won't be disappointed (mine is equipped with a pair of Western Electric WE408A tubes)
Alright so, Ive been looking for some nice, clean looking bluetooth noise cancelling over ears, And for not like 350$ like the QC35s, So far ive found some Logitech UE9000s, Does anyone have anything good/bad to say about them, Or even a better pair?
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Nice, Thanks they look like they could be the ones.
Have you tried the P7 wireless? They are Bluetooth, not sure about noise cancelling.
I was wondering if anyone has experience with the reliability of wireless/wired headphones with built in amps much like the Blue headphones that recently dropped. I'm looking to invest in a good one that would last at least 5 years. Been pretty spoiled on headphones like high quality Senns which people keep forever so I want to make sure what I buy will last a while
Portable headphones make no sense. IEM and CIEM are superior in every aspect. Come at me
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Thinksound really enjoys my constant business lol. Though I finally bit the bullet and got some CA Vegas and they are getting more use around my house than I'd care to admit.
I'm a big fan of comfort.
Can we get a poll going for Workout headphones? Preferably analog 3.5mm audio for those of us blessed with the headphone jack still. Or maybe those few select Bluetooth/analog hybrids.
Im not on board just yet with spending 100's of $'s for small under powered Bluetooth earbuds that I have to charge every few days. Also I never liked the idea of leaving a battery powered device in my car in the Texas summer heat.
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Actually, hold on m6's, stumbled on these. I own m6 pro, but now stumbled on these, and I want.
went with the model 3's since they were less than $100. Im very pleased that these guys get so loud and clear for being Bluetooth.5 stars . Go 4 it
I don’t know if I can get any help on this, I’m looking for a wired open back set of headphones. I like my sound to be clear but with a little more pronounced bass. I currently run the Sony xb950n1 and love them but I feel like I could have better sound quality within that 200-300$ price range. I'm open to just about any suggestions so anyone that has some, go ahead and tell me. I'm willing to look at closed back as well. Also would like a good quality set of earbuds, as I just rock a pair of skullcandy method blue-tooth ones which are okay for running around but could always stand to have something with better sound.
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Got it.
I am actually getting a Hiby R3 and a balanced cable for my HE4XX. I will let you guys know how it goes!
When it comes to portable audio, I’m all about DAPs. Some pretty fantastic products are being released now.
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Ah I might have been thinking about the i5 they are currently dropping. I saw one in person that I found to he kind of big.
Yeah the N5ii is like a mini version of the I5.
I bought recently the seinnheizer pxc 550 and I want to know if there is a proper dac/amp for when I will be wired! I think I prefer a portable one, but I will consider any suggestions about non-portable too! Thanks in advance!
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ok you can try the teac 101.
I have the Onkyo DAC-HA300 and would definitely recommend it, or consider the DAC-HA200 if cost is a concern. What do you plan to use as an audio source while on the go?
If an iOS based device go for the 200, Hi-Res playback (96 kHz/24-bit FLAC, WAV, or 5.6 MHz DSD) is supported, whereas Android only supports lossless - provided your device is AOA 2.0-compliant. If Android and AOA 2.0-compliant, get the HA-200 if you're happy with CD quality - upto 48kHz/16 bit, what you get with a Tidal Premium subscription, if that helps.
Advantages of the HA-300 (the ones that come to mind, there may be others: -DAC chip: Butt-Brown PCM1795 rather than the PCM5102 of the 200 -microSD slot gives it the ability to act as its own audio source
They both use the same amp and although I would like a little more power for lower volume recordings, I do have it powering Sennheiser HD800S phones.
Both would serve well as desktop amps.
What is the most robust set of earbuds that still sounds great? I want something for when I'm out hiking or working out, something that could get wet or manage being accidentally fallen on in my pocket.
I also want something that I can listen to and appreciate the sound when I'm reading a book. It seems like there is either durability or audio quality. Are there any indestrctible hifi buds?
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You might want to get "expendable" earphones. 1More pistons and Xiaomi pistons are adequate sounding and really cheap
Xiaomi earbuds are a very solid value and pretty durable. I had a pair of the Piston 5 (the triple driver model) and they sounded pretty good, had mostly aluminum construction, were super durable and survived a few washes in the laundry. For $25 on gearbest they were a great buy!