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Current top DACs for portable use?


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What are the better DACs currently available, for portable use with an Android phone?

 

I have Samsung S8, Oppo PM3, and iFi Nano. I could upgrade to the Nano Black, but it really is somewhat cumbersome as a portable device. Can I have some (or better) sound in a smaller package?

 

I use the rig for business trips and size matters. In fact I'm also considering moving to IEMs instead of PM3.

 

Considering Dragonfly Red plus Jitterbug, Resonessence Herus. Don't need DSD though. Is the Meridian Explorer a contender?

 

Others I might be missing?

Your experience with any of these would be very valuable. 

 

Thanks!

 

Roon Server: general purpose Gigabyte GA-Z170X UD5, i5 6600, Crucial MX200 SSD, HyperX 1x16GB RAM, Win 10 Pro, convolving in Roon digital xo + DRC + upsampling. Output through ethernet.

Roon Client AudioPC: Uptone etherRegen (with LPS 1.2) into Intel S1200KPR, Xeon E3 1265lv2, Crucial V4 SSD for OS, 8GB ECC RAM, Streacom FC8 Evo case, lab linear PSU, Windows Server 2019, AudioPhil's Optimizer, Acourate (digital xo, room correction)

Rest of Chain: Lynx Hilo as 8-channel DAC, McIntosh MC275 MkIV for mids & treble, Hypex UcD400HG for midbass into DIY dipoles 18" midbass/2x8" mids/AMT tweeter, 2 DIY 12" Rythmik subs, Equi=Core 1800 balanced power, dedicated power lines, room treatments

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The iFi xDSD is remarkably good (between the Nano and Micro, by all accounts) and even more portable than the Nano.  I like it very much.

John Walker - IT Executive

Headphone - MacMini running Roon Server > Netgear Orbi wireless > Blue Jeans Cable Ethernet > mRendu Roon endpoint > iFi Audio xDSD + iFi Audio xCAN > Focal Elegia

Home Theater - Mac Mini running Roon Server > Blue Jeans Cable HDMI > Pioneer Elite SC-81 > MartinLogan Motion series home theater speakers + M&K subwoofer

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I have no experience with these devices to call upon.  Circumstances have seen me looking at this segment of the market the last week or so.  The longer I do so the less inclined to own wired headphones I've become.  Or devices that require a corded connection to the phone for that matter.  Haven't seen a single tiny device that adds both complications back into the mix worth owning.

 

Were this me I'd have a chat with my tailor and expect every security checkpoint to be a source for intimacy.  ?‍♂️  IEM's with a Chord Mojo + Poly, mounted in a way it didn't ruin the lines of a suit, is about the best solution to traveling light I can see.  Obviously you would remove it along with any light content scattered among your pockets as required at airports etc.  

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1 hour ago, rando said:

IEM's with a Chord Mojo + Poly, mounted in a way it didn't ruin the lines of a suit, is about the best solution to traveling light I can see.  Obviously you would remove it along with any light content scattered among your pockets as required at airports etc.  

 

What is a Poly? I've considered the Mojo (first version) but later discarded for impracticality when travelling of having phone plus Mojo connected by a wire and wired to phones. But sounds like the Poly is a wireless device connected (thru bluetooth?) to the phone and hopefully a USB plug into the Mojo. So Mojo (or iFi Nano or xDSD) plus headphones might be an acceptable solution.

Roon Server: general purpose Gigabyte GA-Z170X UD5, i5 6600, Crucial MX200 SSD, HyperX 1x16GB RAM, Win 10 Pro, convolving in Roon digital xo + DRC + upsampling. Output through ethernet.

Roon Client AudioPC: Uptone etherRegen (with LPS 1.2) into Intel S1200KPR, Xeon E3 1265lv2, Crucial V4 SSD for OS, 8GB ECC RAM, Streacom FC8 Evo case, lab linear PSU, Windows Server 2019, AudioPhil's Optimizer, Acourate (digital xo, room correction)

Rest of Chain: Lynx Hilo as 8-channel DAC, McIntosh MC275 MkIV for mids & treble, Hypex UcD400HG for midbass into DIY dipoles 18" midbass/2x8" mids/AMT tweeter, 2 DIY 12" Rythmik subs, Equi=Core 1800 balanced power, dedicated power lines, room treatments

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Exactly, it snaps into the right side to add BT, micro SD, and charges Mojo.  xxx GB stored in the DAC with phone only needing to run player software, outside of streaming, is the allure. Depending on HP draw you should get 8+ hours listening between charges. 

 

Worthy of mention here, but do keep in mind my opening statement.  I'm fairly certain you could find someone here that's lived with it who'd be willing to offer details. Possibly about it's replacement by a newer model in the near future?

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I started with a Fiio E18 paired with cheap iems. Eventually got hooked by the "Geek" crowd and sucked into that black hole. I ended up with a GO V2+ which was very nice. Had it upgraded to the GO2Pro Infinity.

 

I got tired of bundles and wires and decided to go down the DAP path. I tried several of the Shanling devices up to the M3s, but found build quality not so good - case is a must have and Shanling has good ones. Their products are pretty decent for the money but I wanted streaming options for Tidal & Spotify. So I bought the HiBY R6 in stainless steel. I found my travel end game DAP with this device.

 

I used mine balanced with Empire Ears Spartan IV's. It is a very satisfying experience that I can drift off with. 

 

My advice is start with a decent pair of iems. It's a totally different experience for 2 channel playback. 

 

If you're interestd in a LH Labs GO2Pro send me a pm (with leather case). It'll move you up the tethered ladder quickly.  

 

The other option to consider is the LG V30.

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I have:

SMSL IQ

Topping NX4

iFi xDSD

iFi Nano BL

Fiio Q5 (with new DAC module)

Sony PHA3

 

These all sound good (Westone, Shure, and Etymotic earphones) but have not had the time, or inclination, to compare.  The Fiio, dimensionally, is not all that big and is similar to the xDSD but it weighs quite a bit more.  The iFi's connect quite easily to my PC laptops (JRiver23) while the Fiio is a bit more finicky.  The SMSL was quite easy.  They all connect easily to my PIxel 2 XL phone and, with USB Audio Player Pro, sound really good.

 

By far the smallest is the SMSL but since it is so small the controls take 5 extra minutes to master. 

 

I actually got these to use with my Sony NWZX2 & ZX1 but I had trouble connecting one of them...cannot remember which...but I stopped flying so much and now primarily use with my laptops.

QNAP TS453Pro w/QLMS->Netgear Switch->Netgear R7800 Router->Ethernet (50 ft)->Netgear switch->SBT->iFi xDSD->Linn Majik-IL (preamp)->Linn 2250->Linn Keilidh; Control Points: Squeeze Commander (DroidX) & iPeng (iPad Air); Also: Rega P3-24 w/ DV 10x5; OPPO 103; PC Playback: Foobar2000 & JRiver; Portable: Sony NWZ_ZX1 & ZX2 w/ PHA-3; SMSL IQ, Fiio Q5, iFi Nano iDSD BL; Garage: Edifier S1000DB Active Speakers  Wish List: New DAC,  SBT replacement; Dream system: Linn EXACT or ATC Active or Big Tubes (KR or Nagra or Shindo or ...)

 

My goal is to use appliances and take home PC out of the chain...

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8 hours ago, Lobbster said:

 

My advice is start with a decent pair of iems. It's a totally different experience for 2 channel playback. 

 

Thank you. I've owned Etymotic ER4 for about 15 years now. Still have them, but they don't have a good low end compared to the PM3. I understand newer models improve on this and I might revisit IEMs in the future.

Roon Server: general purpose Gigabyte GA-Z170X UD5, i5 6600, Crucial MX200 SSD, HyperX 1x16GB RAM, Win 10 Pro, convolving in Roon digital xo + DRC + upsampling. Output through ethernet.

Roon Client AudioPC: Uptone etherRegen (with LPS 1.2) into Intel S1200KPR, Xeon E3 1265lv2, Crucial V4 SSD for OS, 8GB ECC RAM, Streacom FC8 Evo case, lab linear PSU, Windows Server 2019, AudioPhil's Optimizer, Acourate (digital xo, room correction)

Rest of Chain: Lynx Hilo as 8-channel DAC, McIntosh MC275 MkIV for mids & treble, Hypex UcD400HG for midbass into DIY dipoles 18" midbass/2x8" mids/AMT tweeter, 2 DIY 12" Rythmik subs, Equi=Core 1800 balanced power, dedicated power lines, room treatments

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On 10/31/2018 at 7:15 AM, rando said:

Worthy of mention here, but do keep in mind my opening statement.  I'm fairly certain you could find someone here that's lived with it (Mojo) who'd be willing to offer details. Possibly about it's replacement by a newer model in the near future?

 

Glad even I don't listen to myself much of the time.  The Mojo looked interesting and certainly has sold well.  Friend Amir is currently putting the apostrophe on what had fast shaped up to be a mixed bag image of the device over the weekend.  A revision that corrects for the major issues in this device could be very welcome.  Maybe Chord even manages to make it more polarizing in the looks department to assure it stays hidden in a pocket?

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On 10/30/2018 at 8:10 PM, LewinskiH01 said:

What are the better DACs currently available, for portable use with an Android phone?

 

I have Samsung S8, Oppo PM3, and iFi Nano. I could upgrade to the Nano Black, but it really is somewhat cumbersome as a portable device. Can I have some (or better) sound in a smaller package?

 

I use the rig for business trips and size matters. In fact I'm also considering moving to IEMs instead of PM3.

 

Considering Dragonfly Red plus Jitterbug, Resonessence Herus. Don't need DSD though. Is the Meridian Explorer a contender?

 

Others I might be missing?

Your experience with any of these would be very valuable. 

 

Thanks!

 

If you want to use a phone, that means you are listening on the go. In which case I'd suggest going with the best noise blocking Bluetooth headphone you can afford.

Bose 35 MkII are a good choice. That way you don't have a third device to juggle and you can actually hear your music outdoors when there is a breeze. Bose does a good job of optimizing the built in wireless DAC/amp to match the headphone driver

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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