• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Portable DAC/AMP below 200$

Joined
Nov 23, 2018
Messages
26
Likes
11
#1
Hello friends

I'm looking for the best to buy portable under 200$ DAC/AMP to pair with my cell phone.
The greatest suggestion I could find is the Topping NX4 but I would gladly have more opinions from the very experienced users on this amazing forum.

Like I posted on a reply below I am receiving the Tin P1s in the upcoming days and since I know that they are power hungry I am looking for a great amplifier and possibly a way to improve the sound quality coming off my Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus so I can also be using my full size headphones that I strictly use on my desktop setup consisting of the topping d50 paired with a JDS Labs Atom.

I'm also open to Bluetooth suggestions like the Fiio BTR5 or the Earstudio ES100, all I care for is the sound quality.
 
Last edited:

Jimbob54

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
2,239
Likes
1,608
#2
Hello friends

I'm looking for the best to buy portable under 200$ DAP to pair with my cell phone.
The greatest suggestion I could find is the Topping NX4 but I would gladly have more opinions from the very experienced users on this amazing forum.
The best DAP for under 200 is probably your phone if it has a headphone out. If it doesn't, getting a dac /amp dongle for it like the meizu hifi Pro.

DAP don't tend to measure well.
 
OP
G
Joined
Nov 23, 2018
Messages
26
Likes
11
Thread Starter #3
The best DAP for under 200 is probably your phone if it has a headphone out. If it doesn't, getting a dac /amp dongle for it like the meizu hifi Pro.

DAP don't tend to measure well.
Ow ok , well The reason I am looking for such a device is because my Tin P1s are arriving on Tuesday and I know that they are power hungry so I was looking for a portable amplifier to fully take advantage of their abilities plus I see this as an opportunity to increase the sound quality coming out of my phone ( Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus) because I haven't been using my full size headphones since they don't sound that good compared to my desktop setup which is a topping d50 paired with a JDS lab atom.

I also have a question that I want to ask based on your experience and knowledge, would the sound quality be mediocre if I used a Fiio BTR5 or an Earstudio ES100?
 

Jimbob54

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
2,239
Likes
1,608
#4
Ow ok , well The reason I am looking for such a device is because my Tin P1s are arriving on Tuesday and I know that they are power hungry so I was looking for a portable amplifier to fully take advantage of their abilities plus I see this as an opportunity to increase the sound quality coming out of my phone ( Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus) because I haven't been using my full size headphones since they don't sound that good compared to my desktop setup which is a topping d50 paired with a JDS lab atom.

I also have a question that I want to ask based on your experience and knowledge, would the sound quality be mediocre if I used a Fiio BTR5 or an Earstudio ES100?
Well, the Topping you mentioned previously isnt a DAP, nor are the Fiio or the Earstudio. What you are talking about is a portable DAC/AMP. A DAP is a walkman or the modern equivalent. Source, DAC, amp all combined , pleaying either from streaming apps or local onboard storage.

I cant comment on the Topping, Fiio or Earstudio sorry.
 

Berwhale

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
881
Likes
851
Location
West Sussex, UK
#6
Although i'm very happy with my ES100, someone else on here tried it with the Tin P1 and found it lacking as the P1 is hard to drive. You might be better looking for something with a bit more power like the BTR5 or UP4. Personally, i'd lean towards the BTR5 as it's £10 cheaper than the UP4 in the UK and has better performance as a wired DAC.

If you want to play FLAC from your phone (rather than Spotify, Tidal, etc.), I'd also recommend you purchase USB Audio Player Pro (UAPP) and the Toneboosters EQ plug-in. This combination will allow you to get the most out of your IEMs.
 

maxxevv

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 12, 2018
Messages
1,625
Likes
1,584
#7
Depending on your earphone cabling, I would say the E1DA 9038s if you're running balanced. Normal SE jack, the Dense Audio Adaot Reference or if size is not a big factor, the NX4 DSD.
 

Jimbob54

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
2,239
Likes
1,608
#9
Depending on your earphone cabling, I would say the E1DA 9038s if you're running balanced. Normal SE jack, the Dense Audio Adaot Reference or if size is not a big factor, the NX4 DSD.
+1 on the 9038S for the P1 with a balanced cable (look at the linsoul 2.5mm ones with MMCX connectors on amazon. About £18) . Wait a bit for the 9038D to be released and yoiu wont need to get a new cable, it will be standard 3.5mm output and likely blow most other highly portable out of the water.
+1 on @Berwhale suggestion for UAPP- its my go to player app for Android. It streams tidal and qobuz but perfect to connected (wired ) DACs or can send BT to the Fiio etc.
 
OP
G
Joined
Nov 23, 2018
Messages
26
Likes
11
Thread Starter #10
:D I can't express my happiness and my gratitude to you all giving me all this priceless information!

@Cahudson42 I will definitely compare the S10 to the JDS Labs Atom as soon as they arrive on Tuesday!

@Berwhale thank you so much for your opinion on those devices and yes I have a FLAC library of over 100 gigabytes on my phone.
I will surely get the USB Audio Player Pro (UAPP) and the Toneboosters EQ plug-in.

@maxxevv @Jimbob54 I had totally forgotten the 9038! I will surely wait for the D version.
I'm also ordering some new cables

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Linsoul-Cr...insoul+lsc08&qid=1593958167&sr=8-4&th=1&psc=1

Are these 2.5mm ok ?

Noob question, can only a 2.5mm cable be balanced ? Or is the 3.5mm variant of the same cable balance too?
On my Fidelio X2HR 3.5 mm cable has the same amount of black rings at the tip as the 2.5mm one. Does that mean that it is balanced too?

Thank you for bearing with me :)
 

Berwhale

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
881
Likes
851
Location
West Sussex, UK
#11
Noob question, can only a 2.5mm cable be balanced
Any plug with 4 conductors can be balanced (+ and - signals for both L and R). Balanced connectors are usually either 2.5mm or 4.4mm (AKA Pentacon). This is to differentiate them from a 4 conductor 3.5mm plug which would usually be used for unbalanced connection + microphone. The 4.4mm connection is becoming more popular as a 2.5mm plug is quite fragile (which unfortunately I know from experience :( https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...etooth-dac-amp-review.9551/page-2#post-253420
 

Jimbob54

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
2,239
Likes
1,608
#12

Jimbob54

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
2,239
Likes
1,608
#13
Any plug with 4 conductors can be balanced (+ and - signals for both L and R). Balanced connectors are usually either 2.5mm or 4.4mm (AKA Pentacon). This is to differentiate them from a 4 conductor 3.5mm plug which would usually be used for unbalanced connection + microphone. The 4.4mm connection is becoming more popular as a 2.5mm plug is quite fragile (which unfortunately I know from experience :( https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...etooth-dac-amp-review.9551/page-2#post-253420
I HATE 2.5mm, the 4.4mm is no much sturdier. Somebody dont think of "pocket droop" when coming up with 2.5mm.
 

Berwhale

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
881
Likes
851
Location
West Sussex, UK
#14
I HATE 2.5mm, the 4.4mm is no much sturdier. Somebody dont think of "pocket droop" when coming up with 2.5mm.
Yes and to make it worse, the MEEAudio balanced cable became completely useless because the 3.5mm and 4.4mm adapters rely on the 2.5mm plug.

I also have the Linsoul cable (2-pin 0.78 to 2.5mm) on my Moondrop Starfields. The Linsoul 2.5mm plug is much sturdier than the MEEAudio which cost over 3x the price. IMHO, it's a bit of a bargain.
 

Jimbob54

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
2,239
Likes
1,608
#15
Yes and to make it worse, the MEEAudio balanced cable became completely useless because the 3.5mm and 4.4mm adapters rely on the 2.5mm plug.

I also have the Linsoul cable (2-pin 0.78 to 2.5mm) on my Moondrop Starfields. The Linsoul 2.5mm plug is much sturdier than the MEEAudio which cost over 3x the price. IMHO, it's a bit of a bargain.
I have the same cable on the same 'phones. I have a secret loathing of 2 pin too.
 

Berwhale

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
881
Likes
851
Location
West Sussex, UK
#16
I have the same cable on the same 'phones. I have a secret loathing of 2 pin too.
2-pin does seem a bit agricultural compared to an MMCX connector, however, I do worry about the longevity of MMCX for IEMs.
 

Jimbob54

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
2,239
Likes
1,608
#17
2-pin does seem a bit agricultural compared to an MMCX connector, however, I do worry about the longevity of MMCX for IEMs.
MMCX- easily changeable- good for cable rollers BUT prone do wonky connection/ drops/ damage due to changes
2 pin- horrid to change without damaging pins/ sockets- not good for cable rolling, not good for storing unplugged- BUT more secure once in place
 
OP
G
Joined
Nov 23, 2018
Messages
26
Likes
11
Thread Starter #18
OK- slow down. What will you be using the new 2.5mm cable for if you are waiting for the 9038D 3.5mm? If you have a device already with a 2.5mm balanced output, yes it will drive the P1 better than the same device using single ended 3.5mm. But what have you got now thats 2.5mm?

You picked a pricier linsoul- I would wager these sound no different (I have this) https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07ZQCH9CN/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&th=1
A friend has a Fiio BTR5 and I'll give it a try probably this week.
The cable you recommended is probably the one I'll go for , I'll get a 3.5mm and a 2.5mm just to have one in case it's needed in the future.

Thank you once again for the precious help :)
 
OP
G
Joined
Nov 23, 2018
Messages
26
Likes
11
Thread Starter #19
I just received the P1s and I'm using them on my S10+ that I have plugged in Dt1770 Pros with decent volume levels where I wouldn't want extra volume but the P1s are so power hungry :p I maxed out the volume and it's not close to that level, I'd say that it's about 85% up there.

I'm glad that the BTR5 is arriving tomorrow, I'll just get a 2.5mm balanced cable.

@Cahudson42
 
OP
G
Joined
Nov 23, 2018
Messages
26
Likes
11
Thread Starter #20
@Berwhale @Jimbob54

Sorry to bother you guys , I just purchased the UAPP and I have two questions.

1 Do I have to change anything in the settings for the BTR5?
I noticed a setting under Internal Hires audio / Use with Bluetooth output. Should I enable it ? Maybe something else?

2 Where can I find the Toneboosters EQ plugin?

Thank you in advance
 
Top Bottom