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Portable DAC/AMP for DCA Stealth

Zapador

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Hi

I'm more or less completely new in the "audiophile game" and I can't make complete sense of all the numbers which is why I've ended up here.
However I think that I have made enough sense of the numbers to conclude that the iFi xDSD Gryphon has a fair bit of headroom with the DCA Stealth and thus should be good enough to make the Stealth perform about as good as they can.

I have also used the Headphonesty Headphone Power Calculator which I saw mentioned on this forum. Plotting the numbers for the Stealth (86 dB/1mW, 23 Ohms and 110 dB loudness) leads me to believe that 252 mW, 2.41 Vrms and 105 mA Irms is adequate - according to iFi the xDSD Gryphon is up to 1W at 32 Ohms and max 6.7V and thus enough and with some headroom.

Is that correct?

More details, if anyone cares to read:
I haven't bought either of the two things yet. My previous experience with audiophile equipment is owning the HD600 some years ago and I currently have the HD660s with a Pro-Ject S2 amp.
I'm interested in this particular DAC/AMP because I find that the size makes it actually portable, it will fit a large pocket, it has a nice display and fairly intuitive controls and all the features I could desire (and more) such as Bluetooth for those scenarios where cables would get in the way.

I'm interested in the DCA Stealth because I want an experience that is about as good as it can get, something that's a contender for the title as "the best closed-back headphones ever made".

According to the review by Amir that I've both read and seen it is one of those quite rare audiophile products that actually does perform really well and deliver, and isn't just about the hype, looks and snake oil (though I think he did mention they're still very expensive even for what they are and I could probably get very close to the same experience for much less money.)
However I really like how they're constructed, I like machined aluminium and I like the flexible titanium headband and that's all something that I am willing to pay a good bit extra for. It's also a huge plus that they fold and fit in a fairly small carrying case. Not a huge fan of the red stitching but I guess you can't have it all.

I was previously looking at the Focal Stellia until I realized that the headband is so poorly designed and cheaply made it could be a 30$ headphone, I'm almost inclined to call their headphones a scam. I'm not interested in anything that looks good on the outside but is in fact borderline garbage on the inside.

I've also looked at numerous other options, like the HD 820 and Meze Liric and while they appear to be great it seems the Stealth might get me that 1% better experience and I'm fine with paying for that even though I honestly find the price to be rather insane.

Open-back headphones aren't an option here as I need them for use at the office and in other places where blocking out sound (and not disturbing my surroundings) is a must.
Anything with wood isn't for me, I'm fine with wood floors but don't want any of that in my car or on my headphones. That alone ruled out a lot of options, like ZMF Vérité.
All of these factors combined seems to have completely ruled out something like than 97% of headphones on the market leaving me to believe the Stealth are more or less the only thing that tick all boxes - but if you've read through this wall of text and have any other suggestions please let me know. If I can tick all the boxes for less than the Stealth at 5400 USD where live, with the VIVO cable included, that would be great.

Thank you!
 
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staticV3

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Is that correct?
Amir measured the Stealth's efficiency at 82.8dB/mW.
Accordingly, here's how much power you need:
Screenshot_20230131-162438_Chrome.png

I would advise against the Headphonesty Power Calculator, as its underlying math is questionable.

Wolf-X700 has measured the ifi Gryphon on his APx555 Analyzer: https://www.l7audiolab.com/f/ifi-gryphon/

Via the 4.4mm output, it will start clipping at ~4.3Vrms:
Screenshot_20230131-163227_Chrome.png

That's enough to drive the Stealth to 112dB SPL Peak, which is fairly loud (certainly louder than my usual listening volume).

The only issue I see is that the Topping G5 can drive the Stealth about 15% louder than the Gryphon, with less noise and distortion, at half the price.
And you don't even have to buy a special balanced cable for it, like you'd have to do for the Gryphon.
 
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OP
Zapador

Zapador

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The only issue I see is that the Topping G5 can drive the Stealth about 15% louder than the Gryphon, with less noise and distortion, at half the price.
And you don't even have to buy a special balanced cable for it, like you'd have to do for the Gryphon.

Thank you very much for the informative response!

The Topping G5 seems like a no-brainer with virtually all the same features, and a bit more oomph, for less money, so I'm definitely getting that one instead.

I'm not exactly sure what you mean by special balanced cable as both G5 and xDSD Gryphon have a 4.4mm balanced output, wouldn't that be the same cable?
The Stealth come with such a cable included, at least at the shop where I'm buying from there's a choice of various VIVO cables and one of them is with 4.4mm balanced. The DCA website just mentions that a VIVO cable is included, no mention of what plug it has.

Thanks!
 

staticV3

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I'm not exactly sure what you mean by special balanced cable as both G5 and xDSD Gryphon have a 4.4mm balanced output, wouldn't that be the same cable?
The Gryphon has much weaker output via 3.5mm. You need a 4.4mm Pentaconn cable to get the full performance.

On the G5, 3.5 and 4.4 output exactly the same signal.
That means you can use a normal 3.5mm cable and still get the full performance.
Or you can get a 4.4mm cable if you like the chunkyness/durability more. But you're not forced in either direction.
 
OP
Zapador

Zapador

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The Gryphon has much weaker output via 3.5mm. You need a 4.4mm Pentaconn cable to get the full performance.

On the G5, 3.5 and 4.4 output exactly the same signal.
That means you can use a normal 3.5mm cable and still get the full performance.
Or you can get a 4.4mm cable if you like the chunkyness/durability more. But you're not forced in either direction.
I had to read the same few articles again as well as the specifications for the two DAC/AMPs to understand this. Turns out what got me is the specifications being somewhat misleading.

Based on the specifications I've assumed that both these DAC/AMPs were balanced but I now understand that they're not, but they have a "balanced compatible" output that's wired in such a way that you can plug in a balanced cable and it'll work - but what you get has absolutely nothing to do with being balanced. I guess one should assume that balanced doesn't mean balanced, but true balanced does mean balanced. Slightly confusing.

Since I plan on getting a true balanced non-portable amp later down the line it could make sense to get the cable with 4.4mm even if there's no benefit when used with the G5. The downside here being that I can't plug the headphones into virtually anything as would be the case with a 3.5mm but that seems to be something that could be solved with an inexpensive adapter.

Hope I got it right this time and once again thank you for your help! Much appreciated.
 
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