Portable Amp

Discussion in 'Ask The Experts' started by Rancid Badger, Jul 20, 2011.

  1. Rancid Badger

    Rancid Badger New Member

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    Jul 8, 2011
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    I currently have a Fiio E7 portable amp, which I am using to drive a pair of Klipsch Custom 3's, generic helmet speakers & an about to be purchased pair of ATH-M50's, from a Sony Walkman NWZ-X1060. Musically my tastes seem to be quite heavy - prominantly Prodigy, Kasabian, AC/DC, Led Zepellin etc.

    Whilst I haven't had any problems with the E7 (although I don't like the display), I am considering upgrading it & would like some expert opinion on the best portable DAC/Amp with which to do so.

    Principally, I have been considering either the iBasso D2+ Boa or Graham Slee Voyager - despite a quest for perfection, financially there is a limit & £200 is a hard ceiling.

    So, rambling aside, will either of these amps give me a notable improvement over and above the E7? Will either drive my headphones any harder? Are there downsides to either (are either substantilly larger than the E7, as it will need to fit in the pocket of my bike jacket with my Walkman)?

    Your advice would be much appreciated.
     
  2. RobinHiFi

    RobinHiFi Super Moderator

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    The Graham Slee Voyager (67x125x28mm) is considerably bigger than the iBasso D2 (51x21x82mm ) or the Fiio E7 (96x55x15.5mm). The E7 is very much like a stripped down D2, they even sound very similar, the E7 misses out on an aluminium case, a nice Alps potentiometer and a few other little features. Although the E7 has a couple of tricks of its own you can spot quite quickly why there is a big price difference, having said this when I tested them against each other I though they did a remarkable similar and really good job. Both units sound great but the iBasso just has it on audio quality.

    The Voyager does not have a DAC, which in a way makes it the worst value for money, it is also considerably bigger, not helpful when you are mobile. As an amp however it is really quite excellent with some interesting controls. I have spoken to a lot less people who use the In Ears with the other two amps but tend to find more Voyagers go to full size headphone owners, this could be because it is a bit more powerful which is not necessarily great for IEMs.

    If you want a big change, something bigger and warmer sounding, and the size is not a problem and you are happy still using the E7 if you need a DAC, the Voyager is an interesting upgrade. I would not bother trading up to the iBasso unless you really really want to, the iBasso amps are excellent but Fiio have done an amazing job to get so close for so little money. For me there would not be enough improvement to justify swapping to the D2 but there are other iBasso amps with more features which may be well worth considering.

    I have one of these

    iBasso D10 DAC & Headphone Amplifier in Black
    £275.96

    I use the optical port on the back to connect to my Blu ray player, you get sucked right in to a film with headphones when the sound is that good:)
     
  3. Rancid Badger

    Rancid Badger New Member

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    Jul 8, 2011
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    Hi Robin,

    many thanks for your candid/honest reply.

    As there would be little benefit to me upgrading to the D2 (& a size issue with the Voyager), I'll stick with the E7 until such time as I can substantiate going the whole hog to a D10.

    I have however ordered a pair of ATH-M50's as recomended by yourself & Jon in another post.

    Kind regards

    John
     
  4. RobinHiFi

    RobinHiFi Super Moderator

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    I am sure you will love them:)

    Happy listening John!
     
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