Easily Lost: "Portable" DAC/amp Comparisons

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Torq, Feb 8, 2017.

  1. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    Hah, nice update. The narrative continues to be "Sony smashed it", shockingly. I totally agree with the need for another Slot/more on-board flash on the 1A, and maybe some streaming clients would be nice.

    I'm not sure I could justify the price or the pocket-destroying weight of the WM1Z, but that's fine as I am quite delighted with the 1A. I don't need much more romance in my portable sound- I'll leave that as a job for my desktop rig's main tube amp. I can zone out on the train quite nicely hearing a detailed and clean rendition of my favourite music just fine, it turns out. I find myself actually volunteering for errands, simply because I can listen to music on the way- that's pretty telling.

    Still, damn. I had mentally written Sony off for consumer audio for some time, despite being a user of some of their better pro video gear over the last N years. They really pulled out all the stops and produced a beautifully-engineered and focussed product this time, with the 1A/1Z.
     
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  2. sheepdog2112

    sheepdog2112 Rando

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    thank you for your narratives Torq, i'm learning a lot. i recently (and grudgingly) got into mobile hifi since work has been keeping me on the road a lot. anyway, have you tried the iFi Micro iDSD Black Label with the Fiio X53, with the X5 as a transport only? thank you and be well.
     
  3. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    I have not.

    I sold the iFi Micro iDSD Black Label before I got the X5iii, so they were never together in order for me to try them that way.

    That said, the iDSD Black Label is going to sound like the iDSD Black Label regardless of what you drive it out of (and especially if you're using COAX, which you can with that combination). And using the X5iii as a transport, at least right now, works fine with the exception that it won't operate beyond 24/96. It'll play high-resolution content just fine internally, but it's digital output is currently limited. This was not, it seems, addressed in firmware 1.1.5 ... and it remains unclear whether this is really a firmware problem or if there's some other limitation at work.
     
  4. sheepdog2112

    sheepdog2112 Rando

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    thank you for your inputs Torq! I'll visit a local retailer over the weekend and ask for test drive. be well.
     
  5. drfindley

    drfindley Secretly lives in the Analog Room - Friend

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    ok, I haven't read this thread to closely, but as far as I can tell, I don't see a ranking of the Apple DAC/amp (aka: headphone adapter). Any thoughts? I've often been surprised how much I enjoy the sound out of my iPhone 6S. I have low (very low) expectations for it, but I'm curious where you'd rank it.
     
  6. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    It'd come last, overall, though it's the quietest (in terms of hiss) of all the units (excepting the iFi Micro iDSD BL with iEMatch engaged). It is an improvement, for me, tonally, over the built-in output on the 6S, and is slightly warmer sounding as well with more weight to the bottom end. With my iPhone 7 I have to use some kind of adapter and for travel purposes this just stays attached to the end of each pair of IEMs I have.

    When driving my QC20i in travel conditions (e.g. on a plane) the benefits of the other, more capable, units are essentially lost - so any more I just tend to use those with the dongle and not think beyond that. With "proper" IEMs with either triple flange tips or suitable foamies then the differences are more apparent moving up the line.

    Factor in value, though, and even compared to the next least expensive option then it's the cheapest unit in the list by a factor of 20 ... which means unless you need the higher power-output of those other units, it's far from a bad place to start and has benefits over some of them if you're dealing with fussy/sensitive IEMs.
     
  7. David De Lucena

    David De Lucena Science Nut

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    Very interesting review, thank you Torq! I'm also looking for a portable solution in audio. This Sony signature series seems to be a nice option. Where I live I cannot try those gear, and have to select them reading senior members experience. I know they are apple vs orange comparison, but in respect of audio quality, could hugo 2 plus fiio x5iii compare to the Sony nw-wmz1? Cheers
     
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  8. bengo

    bengo Friend

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    @David De Lucena You'll have to wait until @Torq has actually heard the Hugo 2... could be a long wait.

    Why are you so desperate for this DAC to sound great, anyhow? If you want to buy a Hugo 2, just buy one. If you want to buy something with good "audio quality", get something else.
     
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  9. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    I have, briefly.

    Enough to know it's better than Mojo or Hugo, but is closer, tonally, to Hugo's presentation than Mojo's (with, or without, the "Mojo Filter" setting) and wasn't remotely in the "must have" or "reasonable value" camps (and the thing has gone up ~10% in price since launch, which further impacts that).

    Beyond that, I'm not going to bother with it at this point. It would have been included in "Life after Yggdrasil", but that's not going to happen now. And I have no interest in it as a DAC for my personal use, so even if one fell into my hands for a week by chance at this point, any commentary I might make on it would be, at best, a paragraph or two focused on whether it was worth checking out or not.

    In other words ... it's likely to be an indefinite wait ...
     
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  10. donunus

    donunus Friend

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    I may have missed it but sound quality wise out of the balanced headphone jack, how do you feel about the wm1a with full size cans like sennheisers against say the idsd micro BL?
     
  11. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    Edit: Correcting to address misinformation resulting from going purely on memory (and too little sleep). So see here ... and I re-verified that with a quick re-listen.

    I in terms of signature and technicalities, I prefer the WM1A/Z over the Micro iDSD BL in most cases; it's no contest when it comes to drive/grunt though.

    And then, STILL from memory, since other specs aren't published and I can't find a reliable reference currently, I think that, flat-out, it winds up having about 16mw output at 300 ohms, which is good for about 115 dB on the HD650 - whether that's enough headroom for your listening I can't say.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2018
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  12. donunus

    donunus Friend

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    16mW? I thought the design of the wm1a was same power regardless of the impedance so if that is true it should remain at 250mW at 300 ohms the way their built in amp is made. Of course this info with impedance is from a source other than sony since the power at different impedances aren’t posted on their site.
     
  13. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    I've never seen any reference to that.

    I don't even remember where I got the 16mW @ 300 ohms figure from. Though that'd be about where it would wind up given a simple application of ohms law to the figures that are available.
     
  14. Tacit

    Tacit Rando

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    Sir, I plan to buy Modi MB, would it take portable DAP as digital transport? I would appreciate your advice.
     
  15. bengo

    bengo Friend

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    Better to use the advice thread.

    Probably it won't work without a USB OTG cable, and a DAP supporting OTG.
     
  16. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    There are some daps that have non-usb digital outs like my fiio x5 (coax) and some AKs (opt), that should work fine with the Modi MB without screwing with usb/otg. I use my x5 with the Gungnir Multibit coax and bnc inputs without issue.
     
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  17. YMO

    YMO Friend

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    I was thinking of doing the same thing for my X5 3rd Gen. Just I need to see which mini coax to coax cable I need in order to make it work. The supplied cable that came with my X5 sucks.
     
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  18. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    The ones that came with my x3 and x5 work fine. Don't see how it could be very hard to DIY one if you can solder. Not that I would bother, mind you.
     
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  19. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    The Cayin N5 I use has a coax output and can use a USB DAC. I don't think I've used the USB with a DAC though, but it's one of the features.
     
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  20. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    I have had numerous frustrating experiences trying to use otg usb digital out. If I was designing a dap, I would insist on a coax digital out.
     
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