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bay24's picture
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Portable headphone amps and DACs
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Why have there not been any portable headphone amps with DACs which can get the digital signal from iPods/pads/phones? With the growth of people spending a lot of money on headphones (the number of £200+ beats I see around is quite amazing) I would have thought this could have quite a market. I would deffinately be interested.
Have I missed any products that do this?

dalethorn's picture
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RE: Portable headphone amps and DACs

Fostex HP-P1, Algorhythm Solo, NuForce Icon, maybe a few others. Portable is questionable though. Basically, if they run off of a "Wall wart" or AC-to-DC box, you can build a battery cage from Radio Shack parts and make them portable as well.

AKG K812/K712, Beyer T1/T90 Jubilee/DT1350, v-moda M100/XS, Beyer A200p/v-moda Verza/Microstreamer DAC/amps, Portaphile Micro/PA2V2 amps.

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RE: Portable headphone amps and DACs

Does the Nuforce Icon work as a DAC with the iPod? I thought it was just as an amp only and that it was way too cheap for that. The first two on your list do work as DACs too because they pay Apple a vast sum of money to unlock the digital out whcih normally is not allowed. This in turn makes them really expensive though, The HP-P1 is £500. The Algorhythm Solo is dificult to find in the UK but in America it's about $580 but it has to be combined with yet another unit (amp) because the Solo is a just a DAC, so if you use it with an iPod you will need 3 devices for headphones making it not very portable at all...

http://cypherlabs.com/images/uploads/Bundled_Rx2_AMP_and_Nano.jpg

Another portable high quality audio option would be to ditch the iPod/iPhone alltogether and get one of the portable DAPs that have a good DAC and headphone amp built in. Things like the Colorfly c4, Hifiman HM-801 or iBasso DX100.

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RE: Portable headphone amps and DACs

bay24 wrote:
Why have there not been any portable headphone amps with DACs which can get the digital signal from iPods/pads/phones? With the growth of people spending a lot of money on headphones (the number of £200+ beats I see around is quite amazing) I would have thought this could have quite a market. I would deffinately be interested. Have I missed any products that do this?

Like Dale said, there have been plenty out there....you could also try the centrance dac for ipods....its tiny and fits in the dock connector. I have listened to the fostex one and the algorithm solo....the performance from them is almost the same as the performance from my macbook n dac-magic....pretty amazing if you ask me....they might be better, but I only had like a 15 min audition.

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RE: Portable headphone amps and DACs

shafesk wrote:
there have been plenty out there....you could also try the centrance dac for ipods

Can you link to the CEntrance one? I can't see it on their website. Links to any others would be useful too as I only knew about the Fostex and Cypher Labs ones. As far as I knew portable DACs that recieve digital audio from Apple devices are rare as rocking-horse s***.
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RE: Portable headphone amps and DACs

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/22498927@N05/7007400748/][img]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7256/7007400748_c7dc81ec41_z.jpg[/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/22498927@N05/7007400748/]IMG_3808[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/22498927@N05/]AlmaAtaKZ[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/22498927@N05/7007400838/][img]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7097/7007400838_2a57e999de_z.jpg[/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/22498927@N05/7007400838/]IMG_3807[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/22498927@N05/]AlmaAtaKZ[/url], on Flickr

 

Portable enough? http://www.nuforce.com/hp/products/iconudac2/

 

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RE: Portable headphone amps and DACs

I think you can use ipad digital out to usb via the camera kit. not neat, I know.

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RE: Portable headphone amps and DACs

quadpatch wrote:
shafesk wrote:
there have been plenty out there....you could also try the centrance dac for ipods.
Can you link to the CEntrance one? I can't see it on their website. Links to any others would be useful too as I only knew about the Fostex and Cypher Labs ones. As far as I knew portable DACs that recieve digital audio from Apple devices are rare as rocking-horse s***.

I just Googled ipod dac and looked. Sometimes you have to tell Google to change to a different location so you see better results. I set my location to Long Beach CA which is closer to where this stuff comes from.

Edit: For example, NuForce Icon Ido DAC and headamp

AKG K812/K712, Beyer T1/T90 Jubilee/DT1350, v-moda M100/XS, Beyer A200p/v-moda Verza/Microstreamer DAC/amps, Portaphile Micro/PA2V2 amps.

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RE: Portable headphone amps and DACs

So no CEntrance one? The Nufornce iDo is not portable at all because it needs wall power and doesn't work with a computer as a DAC - Stupid. The HRT iStreamer is just like the ALO and thus needs an amp as well. So the Fostex is the only one that properly does this on the go and I still can't help thinking that for that money you'd be better off with a separate unit like the iBasso, Colorfloy or Hifiman (oh hey those are all Chinese - why is it that nobody else has thought of making one of those?).

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RE: Portable headphone amps and DACs

:cheer:

AlmaataKZ wrote:

I think you can use ipad digital out to usb via the camera kit. not neat, I know.

If this is the case that would be a good option as things like the fiio E10 or 11 would be possible? I have been eyeing up a new iPad since my phone contact came up and my call plan reduced.

It seems the the other options available are not particularly portable (and expensive) and in some cases needing dither boxes which would not be practical for me. I am not particularly in the know about these things but if fiio can make portable amp and DAC units like the E7 and 17 it should not be too hard to get a nice portable version which can convert from the I device not just from a computer.

I did think about a different portable player with better dac but I am quite set up on the apple bandwagon now so it would be a bit of a headache to change.
Thanks very much for the input everyone, as always it has given me lots to think about!

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RE: Portable headphone amps and DACs

:cheer:

AlmaataKZ wrote:

I think you can use ipad digital out to usb via the camera kit. not neat, I know.

If this is the case that would be a good option as things like the fiio E10 or 11 would be possible? I have been eyeing up a new iPad since my phone contact came up and my call plan reduced.

It seems the the other options available are not particularly portable (and expensive) and in some cases needing dither boxes which would not be practical for me. I am not particularly in the know about these things but if fiio can make portable amp and DAC units like the E7 and 17 it should not be too hard to get a nice portable version which can convert from the I device not just from a computer.

I did think about a different portable player with better dac but I am quite set up on the apple bandwagon now so it would be a bit of a headache to change.
Thanks very much for the input everyone, as always it has given me lots to think about!

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RE: Portable headphone amps and DACs

"why is it that nobody else has thought of making one of those?"

This is a question I asked hundreds of Apple people and customers from the time the first docked speakers appeared until years later when the first dock extension cables appeared. I was told (when they replied at all!) that nobody ever asked for such a thing. I began to think that Apple users were the most conformist people on the planet. Why would I want to surrender my handheld iPod to a large device "over there somewhere" and have access only to primitive functions with a remote? The more people I asked the more I thought I was on an alien world.

BTW, if the NuForce works from a "wall wart" AC/DC box, just get a battery box with the same voltage and you'll get portability plus better sound.

AKG K812/K712, Beyer T1/T90 Jubilee/DT1350, v-moda M100/XS, Beyer A200p/v-moda Verza/Microstreamer DAC/amps, Portaphile Micro/PA2V2 amps.

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RE: Portable headphone amps and DACs

dalethorn wrote:
BTW, if the NuForce works from a "wall wart" AC/DC box, just get a battery box with the same voltage and you'll get portability plus better sound.

I guess the definition of portable is subjective but I wouldn't clasify that setup as such, transportable perhaps but not portable. For the bulk of a battery pack and a DAC I don't see much difference just carrying around a small laptop and then you could have a DAC from a decent company that's much better value.

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RE: Portable headphone amps and DACs

Supposedly the software industry is very concerned about user interface and usability. I'd say that concern isn't keeping many of the big players awake at night. Especially Apple. While there isn't exactly an industry for portability, there should be. Nobody gets it. Bill Hewlett got it, in 1971/1972 when he personally insisted on a portable pocketable scientific calculator, which evolved into the first personal (pocketable) computer in early 1974. Bill was rare, and I was right there at the cash register when the first unit came out. The lack of decent fully portable iPod DAC's is completely in line with the (still!) complete avoidance of the docking issue by Apple et al - i.e. why would anyone want to "dock" their handheld computer into a system that doesn't have access to all of the facilities of that computer? You think this might be off the mark? In the early 1980's HP produced a series of small pocket sized computers with one-line displays, but with the capability to "dock" with up to 900 peripherals simultaneously on a serial bus, much like USB. And so external keyboards and full-size monitors became available for that bus, and you could do work on that fully-functional desktop system, then, pull the serial plug from the pocket sized CPU and put in in pocket and walk away with everything in your pocket. Except keyboard, screen, external disk drives etc. But today we have primitive docks with only a couple of marginal vendors supplying dock extension cables, quality unknown. How can that be, with hundreds of millions of these little computers sold?

Oh, wait - I think I have the answer. HP encouraged third party peripheral support with free documentation of the interfaces, and Apple is the opposite of that. (Note: that was the old HP, not the current HP)

AKG K812/K712, Beyer T1/T90 Jubilee/DT1350, v-moda M100/XS, Beyer A200p/v-moda Verza/Microstreamer DAC/amps, Portaphile Micro/PA2V2 amps.

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RE: Portable headphone amps and DACs

dalethorn wrote:
"why is it that nobody else has thought of making one of those?" This is a question I asked hundreds of Apple people and customers from the time the first docked speakers appeared until years later when the first dock extension cables appeared. I was told (when they replied at all!) that nobody ever asked for such a thing. I began to think that Apple users were the most conformist people on the planet. Why would I want to surrender my handheld iPod to a large device "over there somewhere" and have access only to primitive functions with a remote? The more people I asked the more I thought I was on an alien world. BTW, if the NuForce works from a "wall wart" AC/DC box, just get a battery box with the same voltage and you'll get portability plus better sound.

 

That is a point which is worth a thread of its own......... Wink

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RE: Portable headphone amps and DACs

Old thread now I know take a look at theSONY portable headphone amplifier PHA-1

 

 

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