Amp shopping is making me insane and I need help... again

So I was ORIGINALLY going to get a portable amp dac for taking from home to drumming studio, but then said fuck it, I’ll just haul a desktop amp dac around… so what I need is an amp dac that’s the size of the neve or kliptch headphone amp from the price range of up to 500$ (but very preferably cheaper). I’m gonna use it with my audioquest nighthawks (but do want some head room for more power later down the line). I listen to mainly 70s prog rock, funni mashups (meaning the mastering quality may not be the best) and 90s rock/metal. Also weeb shit galore. Also also willing to go for some tubes. Pls help…

For your use case I think you should look at the JDS Labs Element II (assuming you’re US based). But I give it 6 months max before you leave that one either at home or the studio, buy a stack for the other place, and then have a 3rd mobile amp/dac :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Have you looked at the iFi micro bl? That would be a bit more portable and has plenty of power for pretty much everything you’d throw at it.

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Ye I am planning to get the amp when I head back to the us (around February - March). I really won’t buy more because I hate having things I don’t use much. I like having one thing for everything.

I did but a bit out of my price range and heard that you can get more bang for your buck with a desktop.

If you’re willing to go second hand, I’ve seen them going for around $350 or so

Ehh I can’t really go second hand due to just shipping, no return and that kinda stuff…

Yep… iFi Micro Signature now with 4.4mm :+1:

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Fair enough, if you’re looking for a dac/amp combo then I think the element II that @WaveTheory mentioned would be a good choice

What about any tube options? I really do want a tube amp just for the tube goodness and how cool they are/sound

Tube amps typically don’t play well with the nighthawk and even if they did there really aren’t many that I would recommend in the price range you are looking for that are even somewhat portable. I do like some hybrids like a monolith liquid platinum or whatnot but I highly doubt you would want to move that around and you would also need a dac and to recable to balanced

There are tube amps like the Darkvoice in that range, but from what I’ve been told/heard is that it’s better to save up a bit and go for something like a Bottlehead Crack/Feliks Echo/Hagerman Tuba. Also for the Hawks, they’re low impedance so don’t tend to play very well with tube amps, something like the tuba may play well with them but I have not heard that combo so can’t confirm, also the tuba is $650 iirc.

With my hawks I personally currently use the Schiit Asgard 3 and the Topping E30 and it sounds great. If you could afford it, the allo revolution dac is also a good choice for a bit more over the E30.

Could try a Little Bear B4 for fun?

Wow, three replies at once lol. Well the reason I asked was because I don’t really like that Crystal clear sound, but more of a warmer, dirty sound. Is there any good amps that aren’t tubes that do that?

Asgard 3 is really nice for a warmer sound IMO. But it is quite big

I mean there are some warmer more fun amps but I wouldn’t say I would really ever recommend a dirty sounding amp, you can still have fun while maintaining quality of sound. The aforementioned micro bl is really what you seem to be looking for here if portability is a consideration, works well with the hawks and has a signature you are most likely after. The asgard 3 is a really good match with the nighthawk and most likely is something you would like as well, you could get it with the multibit dac for more fun and an all in one, but I would agree with @Kron it’s not something I would want to carry around with me all the time

Thanks for the help, one last question, is there any sound differences between the black label nano and micro?

Yes very, the micro is a big step up in most ways, it takes the warmer more fun signature of the nano and just kinda amplifies it, also you get way more features as well like bass boost and crossfeed which are pretty cool, def worth the price increase

Oh well, I guess I’ll try my best to get the micro. Thanks for the advice guys.