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Best AAC Bluetooth Portable DAC/Amp?

LeShog

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Looking at the data gathered from reviews it seems that the best in class is Topping G5, simply transparent. But considered the bluetooth bottleneck I am wondering if more convenient devices (eg smaller, lighter) can achieve the same quality given as a must the bluetooth aac connection. Looking at more practical devices designed to be used on the go the best in class seems to be Fiio BTR7. Still I wonder if it may be an overkill considered the AAC bluetooth bottleneck. Maybe something smaller like Qudelix 5k could achieve the same quality.. So my question is this: are artifacts in dac and amp sections of these devices going to add up to the artifacts of the bluetooth codec AAC or given a better hardware quality (DAC and amp) the only artifacts I am going to hear (if any) are the bluetooth ones?

If we come to the conclusion that artifacts are not adding up, what is the most sensible device to take into consideration without going overkill?

Thank you :)
 

dtaylo1066

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The question would be what you define as transparent when utilizing Bluetooth, and how good is your hearing, and how critically do you listen to music, and how often, if ever, are you listening without Bluetooth?

Topping G5 at $299 is a top-flight unit, but you can certainly go cheaper. If you don't mind paying the $299, I'd go with the Topping.
 

dtaylo1066

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That would be the practical approach for sure, as I do not regard Bluetooth as a transparent, lossless medium.

Here's a deal for you that I noticed when looking for HP amps/Dacs. I have no connection to this item:

 
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LeShog

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Thank you :D unfortunately I am located in Europe, but still, I appreciate the thought :)
 

G|force

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These output +22dBu balanced, but it requires a 500 series 'lunchbox' power supply

IMG_0491.png
 

dtaylo1066

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I don't see this as overkill but as a great buy, and performance will not become obsolete and, as you have read, it got a recommendation by Amir.

 
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LeShog

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Yes in the end I bought a BTR7. In a couple of days it should arrive and then I’ll add here the rationale behind my choice other than your help (thank you!), so if anyone in the future is bugged by the same curiosity they can find a possible answer here. I want to wait as I want to add as a coda subjective impressions :)
 

dtaylo1066

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Good luck with the purchase. I really like the iFi micro iDSD Black Edition I just got yesterday on a great deal used. About the only feature it does not have is BT.
 
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LeShog

LeShog

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I have an iFi xdsd Gryphon purchased way before finding this forum; it probably (surely?) isn’t worth 600 EUR, but I gotta say it sounds awesome so I believe you when you say you really like your ifi micro :D I just wanted to see if there was something more practical to use on the go without sacrificing on sound quality given that I am using bluetooth on the go.
 

dtaylo1066

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I have an iFi xdsd Gryphon purchased way before finding this forum; it probably (surely?) isn’t worth 600 EUR, but I gotta say it sounds awesome so I believe you when you say you really like your ifi micro :D I just wanted to see if there was something more practical to use on the go without sacrificing on sound quality given that I am using bluetooth on the go.
Yes, that's another great Swiss Army Knife of a portable head amp. I actually was going to buy one of those used but I put down a bid on the micro iDSD Black Edition for $155, and did so well before the end of the eBay auction, and later that day noted that I was the winner. Surprise. Others were asking $350 for the same device, so you never know. A total steal at that price, but I don't view it as totally portable friendly.

The Micro is a mini-tank, the Gryphon far more svelt.

As stated earlier, I don't prefer or often listen on HP much but that is changing as I have a family member working from home for a while so I can't blast the old stereo. It will be fun to put the Micro into preamp mode and see how it sounds in my main rig with DIY Hypex amps and DIY SEAS monitors. I stream music on Volumio via an Asus Tinkerboard (like RPi) and have an older Emotiva DAC.

I'm 67 and could have never imagined getting a device so small that possessed so much versatility, power and sounds so good. It's a massive buffet out there for audio aficionados these days!
 
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LeShog

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haha I can believe that! Gear's quality has skyrocketed in these last years :D I am wayy younger and on my way to find myself my first house. One of the things it needs to have is a small room to use as a listening room among other things; I want to acoustically treat it, I saw Amir published a method, so I'll follow something like that and install there a stereo or even a surround system with a projector. It'll be nice. In the meantime I am listening to music with my Audeze LCD-2C equalized via peq to Harman powered by Gryphon, it sounds superb and I cannot think how sound reproduction could get any better than this!

Also congrats for the deal! The Micro is retailed at waaayy higher prices, good for you!
 
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dtaylo1066

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haha I can believe that! Gear's quality has skyrocketed in these last years :D I am wayy younger and on my way to find myself my first house. One of the things it needs to have is a small room to use as a listening room among other things; I want to acoustically treat it, I saw Amir published a method, so I'll follow something like that and install there a stereo or even a surround system with a projector. It'll be nice. In the meantime I am listening to music with my Audeze LCD-2C equalized via peq to Harman powered by Gryphon, it sounds superb and I cannot think how sound reproduction could get any better than this!

Also congrats for the deal! The Micro is retailed at waaayy higher prices, good for you!
Those are not budget phones, so I hope they sound fantastic.
 
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LeShog

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Fiio BTR7 has arrived and I want to share my thoughts as they might be useful for a future visitor: this thing, eq’d, is the best thing I’ve ever had soundwise. I am feeling mixed emotions right now, bittersweet: on one hand I solved my problem and amazingly so, on the other hand I think at the money wasted on fancy gear before finding this forum and before getting to know eq. I wonder if, when I started (2017), there was already parametric eq, don’t think so, don’t remember it being mentioned. I feel like I’ve been scammed all these years: I wasn’t satisfied with my sound and rightily so, it wasn’t good or right at all. This device in bluetooth sounds so good that now I want to sell my iFi xdsd Gryphon, it just sounds better from BTR7: Gryphon is not neutral and the sound becomes weaker.

A word of advise: neutral gear, if not eq’d, is not going to sound good, cymbals especially. If you want to go neutral you need to eq, otherwise you are going to hear bad. And if you eq it works way better on neutral gear.

The parametric eq from the fiio app accepts only integer values for gain, still, the result is the best thing I’ve ever ever heard. So beautiful, I am touched :) Now I wonder how a Qudelix, which has a better app for eq, is going to perform.. But anyway, I am completely satisfied :)

Thank you all for the help, I appreciate it, peace out :)
 

dtaylo1066

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Glad you are happy. As I get closer to 70 than 60, I am continually astounded by the level of audio quality out there for so little money compared to past decades.

The way I view Dirac, or EQ, or DSP is that all recordings are an illusion in the first place, and we all hear differently, and how and what we hear is influenced by our listening room or the headphones on our noggin'. I have no issue with adjusting or manipulating that sound to make it more pleasing to one's ears. After all, a producer highly adjusted it to try and please the masses, not necessarily audiophiles. And I'm not too concerned about the masses' listening experience, as I am most concerned about maximizing my listening experience.

I find using the EQ in Volumio when streaming music to be very helpful.

And I am tempted to get a MiniDSP Flex unit for its Dirac.
 
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