Desktop DAC/Amp: Would I benefit?
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Current gear
  • Senn HD-6XX (w/ balanced 2.5mm cable)
  • KZ ZS10 pro (w/ balanced 2.5mm cable)
  • Radsone Earstudio ES100

Current source
  • Nearly 9,000 tracks in iTunes (192 kbps AAC)
  • Some hi-res tracks (around 35 albums on BluRay-Audio or DVD-Audio)
A friend introduced me to Drop a couple years ago and I've made a few audio purchases, as you can see above. I enjoy my gear and my listening situation, which 98% of the time is iPhone to Radsone. Still, I do look at DAC and Amp offerings (or, DAC/Amp offerings) on here and sense that I could be enjoying my music much more with some additional investment...and perhaps a change of source. Questions:
  • Given that most of my current listening is via iTunes with compressed tracks, would I (should I) experience a noticeable difference?
  • Could anyone attempt to quantify the difference between listening via Radsone vs. a good quality desktop unit (i.e., maybe the Radsone is 5 or 6 out of 10 and the DROP O2 is a 7 or 8). I understand this is highly subjective and not always easy to express.
Thanks in advance
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postwarscars
419
Jun 29, 2020
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The 6XX would probably improve with a good desktop DAC/AMP. Generally Bluetooth isn't as good as wired(though there are excellent wireless implementations out there), so there's that. Even with lossy formats you'll likely still notice the uptick in quality. 192 AAC is listenable, you could maybe notice its weaknesses with good gear, but it will be decent (compared to, say, a 128 MP3...). Either way, it's better than FM Radio! I think it's worth it for the 6XX, to experience why they're so special, but I certainly don't think it's required. That said, you shouldn't need to spend a large amount to get something good, which is the crux of audiophilia typically. If you could upgrade your library to FLAC/ALAC you'd probably be doing yourself a service.
Jun 29, 2020
WordsandMusic
57
Jun 29, 2020
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And, the THX 789 kinda looks like the holy grail. But at this point, I have no idea on budget. Just starting to think about it.
Jun 29, 2020
postwarscars
419
Jun 29, 2020
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Basically had the same conversation with a friend who did a lot of recording and mastering for local/regional bands about the same time. While I prefer my collection to be max bitrate these days (or just FLAC), I can still listen to the 192 MP3 files I have and not be put off. That's especially true in a vehicle, where external noise mitigates subtle details. Having a 789 I can absolutely say it's great. There are other options for cheaper that are just as good (and a few that are better, for more). But it was a fair step up from previous amps I had, and it definitely made audio more enjoyable to me. That said, I enjoy the JDS Labs Atom that I have just as much, it's just not as nicely built, but it's also $100. Paired with a Topping D50S you really don't have a lot to complain about in terms of transparency.
Jun 29, 2020