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Smallest possible amp for Dan Clark Aeons?

Jimbob54

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So I did exhaustive research (and exhausting for me anyway lol).

If one is to take DCA’s recommendation seriously, ie 500 mE at 16 ohms and output impedance of less than 1, then the portable options are limited and expensive.

Chord Mojo or Mojo 2
IFI IDSD Micro Black Label or Signature

That’s either over $700 for something new or still having to spend over $300 for a used unit several years old… hardly a tantalizing prospect either way after having spent so much on the headphones themselves.

The cheapest option is to use the Apple dongles combined with Topping NX7 ($179) portable amp.

The others that come close to but do not quite meet the specs but might be worth trying:

EarMen TR-Amp
Topping NX4DSD
Monolith by Monoprice 24460

If I were you I would take a punt on getting an e1DA 9038S (G3) unless you use hefty EQ with your Aeons. Assuming you have a balanced cable that is.

Will it give ear bruising volumes? No- but it might just be enough and as portable as they come

 

MalinYamato

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Smallest possible and powerful!
I prefer ifi go blu because it has BT LDAC and is very convenient with a lovely volume knob.
It may drive the very power-hungry Argon T60RT and has both a 4,4 pentacon as well as a 3.5 SE hole.
I have used: Oppo ha-2 se, E1DA 9038S Gen3 Susumu and Fiio BTR5, but now I only use Go Blu when out on the go -- of them all, I like the sound of Go Blu the most.

If you don't care about BT, a volume knob and drain your phone, and if you have a 2.5 BAL cable, E1DA 9038S G3 is a great choice. The sound is great.
goblu.jpg
 
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stanroz

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I was made to understand that getting enough power for Aeon 2s is not just about how loud you want them, but has direct effect on the quality of performance…. If you’re interested in getting the most benefit out of the headphones…
 

tifune

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Chord Mojo or Mojo 2
IFI IDSD Micro Black Label or Signature

EarMen TR-Amp
Topping NX4DSD
Monolith by Monoprice 24460

Personally I'd never buy anything by Chord. The price to performance ratio is outrageous and, as a competent designer, he absolutely knows his claims around performance are entirely inaudible (if they're even real at all).

As someone else mentioned, the iFi Gryphon is enticing but I think the xCann is a better deal. $300 NiB with basic BT connectivity but also a 2.5mm input so you can bring Qudelix, etc. if needed. You can find measurements of xCan here, and it's quite probable Gryphon's amp section measures similar or same:


iFi doesn't outright lie about specs, they just cherry pick. Sort of like xDuoo that gives power output at 10% THD instead of the usual 1%. I've had all iFi modules, all were returned. surprisingly their most powerful offering is the Diablo's SE output at 2.5W/ch. The balanced output will trip it's protection circuit around 1W with low impedance headphones like DCA. The Signature has a similar issue

If you're OK with no extra bass boost, E1DA 9038s. If you plan on adding a little 'oomph', IMO your best bet is Topping NX7 or Ampersand + DAC of your choice. For mobile I like Qudelix, but on a tight budget ES100 is also pretty good.
 

MalinYamato

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Personally I'd never buy anything by Chord. The price to performance ratio is outrageous and, as a competent designer, he absolutely knows his claims around performance are entirely inaudible (if they're even real at all).

As someone else mentioned, the iFi Gryphon is enticing but I think the xCann is a better deal. $300 NiB with basic BT connectivity but also a 2.5mm input so you can bring Qudelix, etc. if needed. You can find measurements of xCan here, and it's quite probable Gryphon's amp section measures similar or same:


iFi doesn't outright lie about specs, they just cherry pick. Sort of like xDuoo that gives power output at 10% THD instead of the usual 1%. I've had all iFi modules, all were returned. surprisingly their most powerful offering is the Diablo's SE output at 2.5W/ch. The balanced output will trip it's protection circuit around 1W with low impedance headphones like DCA. The Signature has a similar issue

If you're OK with no extra bass boost, E1DA 9038s. If you plan on adding a little 'oomph', IMO your best bet is Topping NX7 or Ampersand + DAC of your choice. For mobile I like Qudelix, but on a tight budget ES100 is also pretty good.
I have used the Ifi Gryphon but I returned it becase the sound from it was not as good as I wanted for that price.
 

tifune

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What exactly didn't U like?

For me, it was the fact that there's quite a few equal or better performers for less $. Ironically, xCan is one of them. IMO strange idea on iFi's part to say "if we cram xCan and xDSD into one box we can charge the same as buying both units."
 

Snoopy

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For me, it was the fact that there's quite a few equal or better performers for less $. Ironically, xCan is one of them. IMO strange idea on iFi's part to say "if we cram xCan and xDSD into one box we can charge the same as buying both units."

Less stuff to carry around. I wouldn't want to carry a xCan, XDSD and if I'm using apple Devices a apple camera adapter. + A phone or a tablet something.
 

tifune

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Less stuff to carry around. I wouldn't want to carry a xCan, XDSD and if I'm using apple Devices a apple camera adapter. + A phone or a tablet something.

Fair, but at that premium? IMO, no. Attaching a LDAC receiver to the xCan adds barely any weight/size so the pricing should be commensurate, say $450. iFi definitely makes a hearty living on the religiosity of people who fantasize about the relevance of their signal chain
 

ZolaIII

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Buy a normal 32 Ohm's hedaphones for normal portable use instead of something that is 13 Ohm's 94 dB LSP and it's not about high power requirements but SNR on lo loads.
If you insist best portable dongle is luxury & precision W2 (Black) but it's not worth the money in my opinion.
 

Snoopy

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Buy a normal 32 Ohm's hedaphones for normal portable use instead of something that is 13 Ohm's 94 dB LSP and it's not about high power requirements but SNR on lo loads.
If you insist best portable dongle is luxury & precision W2 (Black) but it's not worth the money in my opinion.
Might as well just buy in-ears if it has to be super portable ☺️
 

ZolaIII

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Might as well just buy in-ears if it has to be super portable ☺️
Some folks can't stand irritation caused by IEM's (including my self) for those who can see the Creative Aurvana Trio that's around 100$ in both flavours I use open earbuds (Aurvana).
 

stanroz

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Personally I'd never buy anything by Chord. The price to performance ratio is outrageous and, as a competent designer, he absolutely knows his claims around performance are entirely inaudible (if they're even real at all).

As someone else mentioned, the iFi Gryphon is enticing but I think the xCann is a better deal. $300 NiB with basic BT connectivity but also a 2.5mm input so you can bring Qudelix, etc. if needed. You can find measurements of xCan here, and it's quite probable Gryphon's amp section measures similar or same:


iFi doesn't outright lie about specs, they just cherry pick. Sort of like xDuoo that gives power output at 10% THD instead of the usual 1%. I've had all iFi modules, all were returned. surprisingly their most powerful offering is the Diablo's SE output at 2.5W/ch. The balanced output will trip it's protection circuit around 1W with low impedance headphones like DCA. The Signature has a similar issue

If you're OK with no extra bass boost, E1DA 9038s. If you plan on adding a little 'oomph', IMO your best bet is Topping NX7 or Ampersand + DAC of your choice. For mobile I like Qudelix, but on a tight budget ES100 is also pretty good.
Suppose I go with Topping NX7 so I will need a portable dedicated DAC, or unit with good DAC section and line out, or any good unit and double amp it. If I don't need or want bluetooth, and certainly have no interest in MQA, then what are my best options?

I looked through the entire review index. There are no portable dedicated DACs... they are all desktop. I need something with its own battery but not a dongle. Any ideas? Currently I am thinking to use Topping NX4DSD as a DAC. It has pre outs too if that matters.
 

staticV3

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Suppose I go with Topping NX7 so I will need a portable dedicated DAC, or unit with good DAC section and line out, or any good unit and double amp it. If I don't need or want bluetooth, and certainly have no interest in MQA, then what are my best options?

I looked through the entire review index. There are no portable dedicated DACs... they are all desktop. I need something with its own battery but not a dongle. Any ideas? Currently I am thinking to use Topping NX4DSD as a DAC. It has pre outs too if that matters.
Every headphone output can be used as a line output. Just get a regular dongle. The internal headphone Amp won't have any meaningful impact on sound quality.
 

stanroz

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Every headphone output can be used as a line output. Just get a regular dongle. The internal headphone Amp won't have any meaningful impact on sound quality.
ok even if thats true, I still want something with its own battery power, and I am quite open to the idea of listening to high res...not sure if I will experience the difference but would like to have that option nevertheless. Apple dongle goes only up to 48 khz.
 

Illtrick

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The BTR7 is going to be here one day…. Maybe that’ll be the right portable for the Aeons? I’ve got both the RT/X opens and Noires and have been looking for a Bluetooth portable for just letting me sit in a different room in the house than using my desk setup. So I’ve been hunting for the right solution too.
 

tifune

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The BTR7 is going to be here one day…. Maybe that’ll be the right portable for the Aeons? I’ve got both the RT/X opens and Noires and have been looking for a Bluetooth portable for just letting me sit in a different room in the house than using my desk setup. So I’ve been hunting for the right solution too.

Gryphon was recently measured, and it's a bit better than I had anticipated.


I'd still say Qudelix+NX7 is the best price: performance option out there for now, but if you're absolutely dead set on using a single device (and willing to pay nearly double) Gryphon isn't too bad.
 

Illtrick

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I’m hoping to find a single unit / less than $300. Luckily I’m patient so I can keep waiting.

The xCan has an output impedance above 1ohm. Normally that’s not a big deal but the ratio against a 13ohm load isn’t very favorable. I’m no expert so don’t know the exact point where it has an effect on frequency response but I suspect it’s closer than an output device with <0.5ohm.
 
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