Q & A -

Headfonia Q & A

Feel free to post any questions you may have below at the comment section and I will try my best to answer them promptly. I try to answer all the questions, but I may miss one or two at times. Do repost your question if it’s left unanswered for a few days.

Please also go over the Buyer’s Guide articles before you post your questions, they may help to answer your questions.

 

Here is a link to the older Q & A pages:

 

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  • Marc

    Can we expect a review on the new Cypher Labs AlgoRhythm Picollo soon or is it still far from commercial?

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      Yes of course. I hope to have it soon but it depends on CypherLabs

  • Zeppie

    Hi guys! Have you already tried the dx90? Im looking for a portable amp that can drive the audeze LCD-XC but then can be use to my ciem that will have a good synegy too. Any suggestion?

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      Cypher Labs Duet.
      DX90 review is coming soon

      • Zeppie

        How was the synergy of the two? Any thoughts? Im also thinking of the vorgz pure II which is said to be like the duet. And now the latest Picollo of cypherlabs.

  • Marc

    Hi guys!

    I haven’t seen any iFi products here yet but you guys here at Headfonia should really consider taking a look at the soon-to-be-released iFi iDSD Micro!! Specs are looking good so far and I believe they haven’t released all its secrets yet. Of course specs and features aren’t anything if it doesn’t sound good and I really hope to see a review of it here for that reason. That being said, I’ll place the currently known features in a later comment here so the people interested wouldn’t have to dig the entire iFi thread in Head-Fi

    • Marc

      1) Dual Mono USB DAC featuring two DSD1793 chips by Burr-Brown Japan and claimed to be made before the TI’s acquisition

      2) Up to 32/352.8 and 32/384 for PCM and Quad DSD/DXD all those fancy formats and Coaxial input/output (limited to 24/192) I believe

      3) Proprietary “ZeroJitter” tech, digital filters, crossfeed, bass boost, and the usual Async

      4) Usable with smart phones/iDevices (through CCK)

      5) Class A DAC/preamp stage with choice of fixed line-level and variable output for the DAC section (RCA output)

      6) Class AB Amplification, 400mW(32Ω), (whether it will have a gain switch or some feature is yet to be released)

      7) 4800 mAh battery (around 10-14 hours portable usage) and also features a USB A port at its side to charge devices when not active for audio use. Charging and Data via USB B

      8) A “Turbo” gain mode which outputs 4000mW(16Ω) and 1000mW(64Ω) and which they also claim drive the HE-6 with relative ease and the AKG K1000 (but not as much)

      9) Just announced: 3.5mm analog input for standalone amplifier usage

      All these are possible through some complex and delicate power system control chip (I don’t even know anymore). The potentiometer isn’t in the analog domain but controls power regulation instead so it’s not technically in the signal path for greater purity and also for the variable DAC output. Lastly, iFi mentioned that this no longer needs a separate PSU such as the iUSB power. There are still more features to be released but again, they wouldn’t matter if this didn’t sound any good. For those who who don’t mind lugging around a CLAS rig (myself included) I think we have a challenger.

      Cheers

      • Marc

        I think this final feature announcement by iFi deserves a post of its own. iFi iDSD Micro is the first ever DAC to all feature Octa-DSD512, PCM768kHz, and 2xDXD. Headfonia, please review this. Maybe it doesn’t sound as good as it sounds (see what I did there?). One last claim that iFi is making is that it’s “Bit-Perfect” filter option, once chosen, has the sound of vinyl-done-right. It has something to do with very near perfect impulse response instead of the “Standard” filter with a near perfect sine wave which iFi suggests to be used for the measurement freaks.

  • Alton Britt

    You guys are great! I hope someone will help me with my present dilemma! I have the Beyer DT990 pro/250 and am very satisfied with them. I want to get one of the following headphones in addition:
    1. Grado SR80E—new model for $99.00
    2. Beyer DT770 Pro/32—used for $125.00
    I am aware that the Grado new E model is open and that the 770 is closed, neither of those matter, I don’t think; that’s where you come into play!
    First, will there be enough difference in the Beyers that I would enjoy the difference?
    Secondly, I’ve heard that the Grados E series is much improved, and would I enjoy general music listening, movies, with I-Phone and Onkyo 626 sources more than with the 770?
    I’m hard of hearing, non-audiophillic, and just enjoy good sounds from good headphones! I have a Fiio E11 presently, with the Schiit Vali and Modi due later this week. Thanks in advance for any help with my decision!!

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      Hi Alton, I would go for the Grado and get a different sound signature. I have heard good things of the new grado E line.

      • Alton Britt

        Thanks for your reply, L! I’ve just come across a Beyer Custom One in like new condition for $120,00. What about that vs the Grado?

        • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

          The Grado has a very lively signature with a lot of treble energy, and the Custom One Pro is much less energetic there, having a darker sound. Since you mention hard of hearing, that makes the Grado even more important of a choice.

        • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

          It’s not just a matter of price, those have completely different sound signatures. Dale explains it well.

          • Alton Britt

            Thanks L & Dale—I’ve ordered the Grado 80E!

            • Dave Ulrich

              It’s intense!

              • Alton Britt

                Dave—Is that good or bad?

                • Dave Ulrich

                  That depends on you. There is plenty of treble and the midrange takes no prisoners. It is a sound everyone should hear so they can make up their own minds. Oh, btw, review forthcoming.

                  • Alton Britt

                    Thanks! I’m anxious to try it out. I had a really hard time choosing between the e80, 770 pro.32, and the Custom One Pro! Appreciate remarks by L & Dale! And you, too, Dave!

  • Tacoma

    Can someone refer me to some solid recommendations for headphones/amplifiers for those with hearing problems? Specifically, what headphone/amplifier might work best for “general” music listening with behind-the-ear hearing aids? Any thoughts are welcome!

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      I don’t think amplifier has en effect on that. I would make sure to get headphones but larger cups. George probably has a few recommendations or options

      • George Lai

        Headphone cups largest ones are probably the Audeze LCD pads. They also fit headphones like Hifiman HE-400/500, Beyerdynamic DT770 etc, AKG K550/551. Some other headphones with large ear pads include Grado with G-Cush pads, Sennheiser HD700/800.

  • gerald putra

    will there be a review for the Chord Hugo?

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      As soon as I can get a sample

      • Yupeng Ji

        Looking forward to that!

  • Miyaichi

    Hi,
    I need your help, a friend of mine wants that I recommend him a setup.
    His budget is 300€ and he hadn’t any experience with high or even mid-class gear.
    He prefers more intimate genres like Classical, Jazz and Blues.
    So I thought of:
    Option 1: “Sansa Clip Zip + Etymotic ER4-PT (+ Amp)”
    Option 2: “Ibasso DX50 + an IEM around 100€”
    What do you think about it? Would the Sansa Clip Zip need an amp to drive the ER4-PT with the adapter?

    Thanks

  • Craig

    I’m wanting to find some great headphones for listening to all sorts of music but can handle watching movies and tv shows on my tablet that’s under $300 any suggestions?

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      There are a lot of great headphones in that price range. NAD Viso HP50, B&O H6, Beyer T51P, Senn Momentum, Mad Dog, Philips L2, etc

  • Craig

    Would you say all those you mention can handle movies and music?

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      Of course, all great headphones

    • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

      Yes – all are full-fidelity headphones.

  • Nick Bakis

    I just recently purchased a pair of the HiFiMAN HE-400′s after extensive research and limited budget. Although, I am very pleased with my choice, I feel I may have jumped the gun with my amp decision, which is still on the way. I chose the Fiio E17, before running into the reviews here. I seen it was a choice, but was it wise seeing as I could’ve afforded a bit more higher of a purchase? Awesome site, by the way. Will be visiting often.

    • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

      The E17 is a good amp and a real bargain for the price. But, I prefer amps with volume knobs so I can adjust the volume quickly without being distracted.

      • Nick Bakis

        As do I. I’m not dissatisfied with the choice, seeing as it was suggested, it’s a dac+amp combo, and it was a good bit cheaper than what I had in mind. Are there any decent analog controlled (preferably on the portable side of things) dac+amp combos?

    • Dave Ulrich

      Well, I don’t think I have ever enjoyed the HE-400 more than with the Fiio e9k.

  • Gabriel Ross

    Mike and Lieven, Proud owner of the HP-A4. Will it work well with JH13 Pro’s? I now have GR07MK2′s.
    [ I just got my L2's this month, I'm in PRaT heaven]. You guys have helped me hear my music, like never before. Thanks always.

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      Thanks Gabriel. I do not have the HP-A4, I couldn’t help you, sorry

      • Gabriel Ross

        Thanks anyway. Is a freqphase review coming?

        • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

          freqphase as in?

          • http://ohm-image.net/ ohm image

            Freqphase is Jerry Harvey’s updated JHPro line. Good question Gabriel.

            • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

              To me freqphase is the frequency phase, unless it’s written with a capital F and why not put the JH upfront
              ;)

            • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

              And you can try getting one if you’re up for it

  • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

    Just got the K812 yesterday – very bright, and a huge peak at 4 khz. I can understand now what the negative reviews are all about. I don’t think it’s as good as the T1, even with tweaking.

  • lowbies

    Hello..please help me deciding which amp I will use for my ocharaku kuro..my setup : iphone 4s + fostex hp-p1. My goals are making my kuro to have little more bass impact (not overpowered one) and adding more resolution + 3D sense of space. My option right now are fostex hp-v1, alo continental, pico slim, portaphile 624/micro or maybe vorzuge ii? I didnt like super dark amp like alo national because it’s smoothened the kuro’s treble too much..yes I’m a treblehead btw :P thank you..

  • Jort Ruhof

    I love your website, I’ve been surfing on it everyday since I discovered it a couple of weeks ago. please allow me a suggestion:
    A “Latest reviews” tab on the homepage would make your site the ultimate headphone website to perfection. It will probably be the tab every reader will click on. And it also will makes readers with to less time to read through the whole website return to your site every week. Keep up the good work!

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      Thanks. We call that the homepage, it has the latest reviews in chronological order. Most recent on top

  • Mark Sloane

    Hey how do the new portable amps like the Cypher Labs Theorem or Duet stack up to desktop amps? Say something in the budget to midfi range like the Schiit products? The portable aspect is really great and I’m willing to spend a bit extra for the convenience factor but not if I’m sacrificing too much sound quality. This is for my Audeze LCD-X. Thanks for your help.

  • Mark Sloane

    Hey how do the new portable amps like the Cypher Labs Theorem or Duet stack up to desktop amps? Say something in the budget to midfi range like the Schiit products? The portable aspect is really great and I’m willing to spend a bit extra for the convenience factor but not if I’m sacrificing too much sound quality. This is for my Audeze LCD-X. Thanks for your help.

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      I actually rate them higher than the entry Fi Schiit amps. Theorem and Duet, ALO are often better than those kind of desktop amps. I can fully recommend the Theorem. you will LOVE it

    • Guest

      Oh yes, Id also like something portable..

  • Miles Jason Romain

    I have a pair of Sennheiser hd 439 and I like a balanced or warm sound. Warm without the syrupy sound. What would you say is the best sound around $300 ?

    • Miles Jason Romain

      Oh yes, Id like something portable…

      • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

        Have you considered IEMS? Try the Senn Momentum

        • Miles Jason Romain

          Sorry I didn’t specify what I was looking for. I’m looking for a portable dap like an X3 or amp.

          • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

            DX50/X3/X1

            • Miles Jason Romain

              Thank you. I did listen to the Senn Momentum

              the other day. I liked everything about them except they aren’t that comfortable.

      • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

        My current favorite is the Soundmagic HP150, only $200, and it’s very balanced and detailed.

        • Miles Jason Romain

          Nice, thanks.

          • Miles Jason Romain

            But I do like those Soundmagic HP150.

      • Guest

        Nice thanks

  • Nat PML

    L, I do need your help !

    My desktop amplifier is an Oppo HA-1, with an ESS 9018 inside. I love it.

    I thought the iBasso DX90 would have the same kind of sound, so I bought one for my night listening sessions.

    Unfortunately, it’s too harsh and dry for me (I think it’s a fantastic value tough, just not the one for me), I’m very sensitive to trebles, I like them, but they must not be agressive at all (the “sssss” that sometimes come out of that chip makes me feel like razor blades are sent to my eardrums). Compared to the Sony NWZ-ZX1, I think it lacks life, and emotions (and if I find the ZX1 very pleasing, it’s not the perfect sound for me neither).

    The only way I can appreciate the DX90, despite all its many good points, it’s with the Fostex HP-V1 + DT770/32, but oddly, I don’t like it with my other headphones and this amp, even darker ones, like HD650.

    I’m going to sell it (or keep it to use its coaxial out), and try to find something to replace it. It’s not easy, as I’m unexperienced. I don’t really know what to expect from an AKM, TI or Wolfson chip.

    Considering the little I know about my taste (deeply in love with : Fostex HP-V1, DT770/AE, HD650, HD700, and the polite implementation of the Sabre chip in Oppo’s amp), and considering you probably know the DX90′s sound, as you may be preparing the review, do you think these can be right for me :

    - iPod + Theorem 720 (I’m afraid bass won’t suit me as you mentionned in your review some people may think it lacks bass, and though I mostly listen to classical, I like when things rumble when they should) ?

    - iPod + CLAS (so I can use my beloved Fostex) ?

    - HifiMan 802 ? (I know the 901 could sound like the Oppo, but I’d like to discover something else)

    If you tell me I need all of them … I will understand (it’s awful, I almost hope you will ;-P). These are budget compatible, not the AK240, because I want to buy a tube amp soon (I read the WA7 is like the HP-V1, so I can’t wait to read your review).

    I’m sorry for the very long text that will waste some of your time. I’m at the beginning of my trip, and I don’t have a clear idea of what I need yet. I’m also sorry in advance, I’m going to ask another question now, under the DT770 review. Please be aware that I am quite ashamed.

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      I wouldn’t say the Theorem lacks bass, I actually love it’s bass. so either that ot the CLAS & Fostex should be good man

  • genedel

    Hi- I really like the Soloist SL amp sound. Are there any higher end amps you can recommend that have the same general sound signature? I would love to get something similar but with a thicker “larger” sound.

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      Violectric?

      • genedel

        the Vio house sound just isn’t for me. Maybe the big brother Soloist or Conductor would be the way to go, but I can’t get a feel from the reviews if the gains are worth the price increase…

  • alateralus88

    hi, very noob question… but here goes.

    i was recently checking stuff on amazon and came across ibasso dx90- which in turn led me to this whole world of reference dap and portable balance system or amps. i would like to get something to enhance my music experience and although i have an extensive music collection i stopped collecting since i have no spotify. so here are my questions

    1. if I’m going to be using spotify mainly- is it even worth getting any of these or it will not make much difference

    2. is there much difference between an amp and reference dap? i mainly use my iPhone/pod/computer for music. would there be better quality if i get the reference dap like ak stuff or ibasso stuff? which brand should i try- in a range of $400-700 (would not like to go in the thousands with my first experience)

    thanks in advance

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      Spotify is no good to you when looking at DAPs. You have 2 choices. Go the Cypherlabs route and keep your ipod or go for a DAP: ibasso DX50, DX90. Fiio X1/X3/X5, or the AKs or the Hifiman. But those are all above your budget. You could go for a second hand AK or one of the Fiio Daps to start. Be aware that these DAPs are good for iems if you’re not using an external amp for full sized headphones

      • alateralus88

        great thats what i thought the dx90 and some of the fiio fit the budget but i dunno if i well get much out it since i mainly use music streams. so I’m assuming an amp would be the best way to go. I’ve been looking at this webpage trying to find out what a good one is– are the cypher labs the better ones (piccollo?). i was looking at the international (- from ALO,i think it is called)

        my real hesitation, is that there are so many options that i dunno what a good one is?

        thanks for the response

        • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

          the “problem” is a lot of amps are good but people just tend to go for the new ones, like the Picollo for IEMs. the ALO amps are usually very good too.

    • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

      The FiiO X5 should be a really good value. The reference DAP is for convenience, having everything in one piece. That convenience can be extremely important to some people’s enjoyment when traveling or walking around. But it also freezes everything into one unit – the user interface, the storage for music, the DAC, amp, etc.

  • DTSxJP

    Hello, I have a question.
    I plan on ordering the iPod Classic 7th Generation and the Beyerdynamic DT770 250 Ohms. The only problem is that I’m having a hard time figuring out which amplifier to purchase, ALO audio The National or the JDS Labs C5. Remind you that all my music that will be played on the iPod will be AIFF files. Thanks for your time and help.

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      Why do you want the 250Ohm version? Why not get the 32Ohm version and skip the amp.

      File format has no influence on your amp as you’re not using a DAC in between

      • DTSxJP

        Why? I prefer a coiled cable.

        • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

          Ah

          • DTSxJP

            So which amplifier is better? The National or C5?

          • DTSxJP

            So which one is better? ALO audio The National or JDS Labs C5?

            • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

              I think the National

              • DTSxJP

                Thanks. Could you explain more why you would pick the national over the c5?

                • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

                  It’s character and SQ

  • John123John

    Hi Headfonia,

    I haven’t been on in a while so maybe i didn’t get the memo but is Mike … gone? Or is he just dedicating his time to the store?
    I’m still waiting on the next HD650 review ^^ I think we’re on number 4!

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      Yes Mike sort of is gone. He’s concentrating on his stores in Jakarta while I am doing the Review Website with Nathan. There was no official communication about it ;)

      Oh we are very much doing another HD650 review in the Back To The Future Series… Good huh.

      Long Live the King!

  • Jonathan Darsigny

    Hey guys, is the buyer’s guide being updated frequently or is it getting modified at a given time every year? I’m looking to buy some Mr.Speakers Alpha Dog’s and need a desktop amplifier and a DAC (not interested in portable solutions at all). Aside from portable amps/dacs combos, there seems to be a lack of budget amps and dacs that would do the job. According to your guide, my best bet would be a Schiit Asgard-2 but I’d rather look at alternatives due to Schiit having had some controversy in the past. Thanks for your website, always a pleasure to read!

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      It needs an update badly but I just can’t find the time. Sorry

  • Your Face

    Hi, I was wondering if you could give some recommendations for a Preamp and DAC for a set of powered speakers for my desktop (Yamaha HS7s, I will most likely be adding the HS8S in the near future as well). I would like to keep everything under $1,000 USD but if I have to spend a bit more for something that is truly worth it then I’ll be willing to do so. At the moment I’m looking at the Schiit Asgard 2 as a preamp and the Bifrost DAC, do you think these would be a good buy or is there something better I should be considering?

    That being said, I’m a bit worried about noise caused by other components in my computer and the computer itself, so I was wondering should I be looking for something with balanced inputs/outputs instead? If so, what would recommend?

    Lastly, the motherboard of my computer and my soundcard (Asus Xonar Essence STX) both have SPIDF out, should I be using these as outputs? Or, instead, should I forget about them completely and directly connect the DAC to my computer via USB?

    • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

      You really should try the SPDIF and USB both, even if theory says the SPDIF should be better. You should keep digital cables short to minimize problems, even though the DAC cleans up most of those. But analog cables following the DAC are where losses really build up, since it’s not just cables – it’s the DAC output wiring and jacks, the cables and their terminators, and the amp’s input wiring and jacks. That’s a lot of places for problems to creep in, as simple as it looks.

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      I have no idea about preamps for speakers, sorry

  • Florian GERARD

    Hello
    Lieven did you get the cayin c5 amp to test ?! I’m curious because reviews found comparing it to rsa amps…

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      Nope, nothing

  • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

    Did you just really post a link to head-fi and asked for our help?
    The minimum would be to repeat your question here mate ;)

  • g.

    Okay, apologies, it’s a long post explaining my situation so I thought a link would be more convenient. I’ll copy paste here:

    My current heaphones are knock offs of Sony MDR V6, so I was looking into something decent. My budget is limited, and my choices are as well, because I live in Argentina, so many good cans might not be available, and buying outside the country is a nightmare (products stolen, having to pay huge fees to get it in,
    etc).

    So all I can do is browse local sites and compare prices there (in pesos). The main site is this: http://www.mercadolibre.com.ar/

    Since I don’t have much to go on in terms of experience, I browsed a post with recommendations in Head-Fi and searched for all those cans in the site I just mentioned. These were the ones I found:

    $185 http://articulo.mercadolibre.com.ar/MLA-485383585-koss-auriculares-ur55-studio-_JM
    $395 http://articulo.mercadolibre.com.ar/MLA-491354019-auriculares-koss-portapro-_JM
    $425 http://articulo.mercadolibre.com.ar/MLA-484864058-auriculares-phillips-oneil-the-stretch-red-sho956010-_JM Do these actually sound good? They seem gimmicky
    $477 http://articulo.mercadolibre.com.ar/MLA-487091477-auricular-cerrado-para-moviles-beyerdynamic-dt-235-_JM
    $477 http://articulo.mercadolibre.com.ar/MLA-484996413-auricular-beyerdynamic-dtx-300-_JM
    $888 http://articulo.mercadolibre.com.ar/MLA-485386840-koss-pro-dj-100-auriculares-estereo-profesional-dj-_JM

    Those are the ones I could find that fit within my budget (around
    $900 tops). Just for reference, the Sennheiser HD25-1 II cost over
    AR$2000 and the HD202 are around $300-400.

    I mostly listen to classical music, prog rock, and jazz (and Dawn of Midi, which I can’t put into a genre).

  • dalethorn

    Your selections include the very poorly made and easily broken Beyer DTX300 and the very well-made Philips Stretch. But to cover all the issues and the sound qualities would take a year. But only a year if all the reviews were in one place and condensed without any extra chat. On headfi you would have to read through all the many pages of commentary, so figure 2 years for that. Or — you could go to Amazon and click on the reviews, then sort by most recent first, and then you would be reading the reader/user reviews first and skipping the manufacturer house reviews which are nearly always posted first. That’s where you should start, and get your list down to your 2 or 3 best choices.

  • g.

    Thank you for the reply. There aren’t a lot of places where you can test a variety of headphones around where I live. I’ll go to a store next week but it’s safe to assume I won’t find all these options. I’ve also checked the headphones recommended here and most are either not available or way too expensive, with the exception of the HD202 and the Koss Portapro. I will check the amazon reviews as well.

  • dalethorn

    I think the 202 and Porta-Pro are both good for sound, but in my experience the Koss will need occasional repair.

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