Recommend me a DAC/AMP

Hello, I am semi-new to the audio game. I listen through IEM’s exclusively, as full headphones hurt my ears after just very short periods of time. I have been using the FiiO e17k Alpen 2’s for ~4 years now, and it has served me well, but recently it has started glitching and randomly disconnecting from USB. The main reasons I picked it was because it was the only one at that price point with separate controls for treble and bass. I do not care about the portability of it, that was just a bonus. So the only real requirement for me is a DAC/AMP fit for an IEM, with separate treble/bass adjustment and preferably with minimal noise floor.

I have seen other people ask questions like this on other forums, and they just get recommended either some $1k+ solution, or building a schiit stack. Both of which seem extreme overkill for me.

Thanks in advance!

I mean there are not really alot of amp dacs combos in this price range that have separate controls for treble and base adjustment. You can buy whatever combo you want and add a loki to it for that adjustment if you want but again it will be a stack.

Otherwise for IEMs I would recommend a DAP and you could do treble And bass adjustment with EQ instead. That would be my preferred method for this.

Thanks, I forgot to mention, I am willing to go up to ~$400, so the price range is a bit wider.

I would love to use a DAP, but I also watch movies, tv shows, etc, which would mean I can’t use it to consume all the content I do now.

Hmmmm, I would say a chord mojo, but you can’t eq with that unless you eq from your phone or PC, but the mojo preforms very well with sensitive iems

In that case something like a asgard 3 with dac chip and a loki would probably be pretty worthwhile with that budget. That is if you don’t mind being stationary.

I actually have a question regarding DAP’s. Can the USB port on them be used as a “DAC” that is connected to a PC, or is it purely for charging?

Edit: And stationary is not an issue for me, as long as they can be physically moved.

Yes. Some of them can. My ibasso dx160 has that functionality as well as my Fiio m6

Oh, interesting, is there a list of ones that support it? That would be perfect in that case.

Most of them do nowadays it just really depends on the DAP, some do it better than others.

For your budget my recs would be, fiio m11, ibasso dx160, hiby r5.

My only concern about a DAP is that it will be plugged into power basically 24/7. And usually that does not bode well for Li-Ion batteries, and I would prefer not to kill it. I am surprised how well the e17k has held up, but I would still like to be on the safe side.

Yeah that would be a concern with any portable solution unfortunately. I havent had a lot of issues out of portable players but I also have not reached past 2 years on them yet either so… I would say maybe do some research and see what other people have experienced with longevity.

I think it’s posssible to replace batteries on some daps (I know you can with dx160) but it requires a teardown and voids warranty.

There are some dac/amp combos that can go into desktop mode where they either disable the battery or preserve it somehow. Not many daps do this to my knowledge

Ok thanks, I will have a look at reviews of the ones you listed. This was very helpful :slight_smile:

@Towa I have just noticed that many of them run outdated Android, which is a concern, as the I use Google Play Music. None of them seem to come pre-loaded with it, which makes me think they won’t even be able to side-load it?

The hiby r5 has google play support. Stuff like the ibasso or fiio don’t have Google play framework and it can be a pita to get them to work non natively

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Doesn’t the Monolith THX Portable have EQ options?

Yes, but they are rather basic, the fiio q5s has a pretty nice built in eq tho, that would be my rec for a feature rich portable

Ibasso dx 160 doesn’t come with Google play, but it’s fairly simple to flash lurker rom which includes it.

I honestly would only recommend a DAP if you are gonna use digital media and not streaming imo. Other wise you would be pretty good with a fiio Q5s with your phone.

Ah so it isn’t locked bootloader? Damn fiio and their shitty locked bootloader lol, I have to do some real garbage to get anything working with Google play on there (I have just decided to emulate Android inside Android and it works surprisingly well)

Nope it was rather simple process.