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Upgrading from a Creative AE-7

Lord_Balkan

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I’ve been looking to potentially upgrade from an AE-7. I have been looking at the Topping DX3 Pro+ or the Fiio K7. The K9 Pro ESS looks great too but I’m not sure it’s worth 4x the price of the K7. The balanced output for speakers on the K9 sound appealing but from what I understand are probably not worth it? Would any of these be a reasonable upgrade for me? If not, what would be an upgrade?

I currently have HD 560s and the entry level Hifimans. Thinking about eventually getting the Sundaras and/or HD 600.

I’m pretty new to the hobby, I apologize for any stupid questions in advance.
 

SIY

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First question: what is it that the AE-7 lacks that you need?
 
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Lord_Balkan

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First question: what is it that the AE-7 lacks that you need?
The volume on my HiFiman’s 400se is a bit lower. I also want to have room to upgrade to better headphones later on.

I also have a personal MacBook Pro, and a work laptop that I use at my desk sometimes instead of my desktop, having one external device that I can use for all of my devices is appealing. Also the plus of having an external device that lets me control my speakers via a knob. And having an external device that easily lets me switch between speakers / headphones.

I also hear some very slight humming on my speakers that would be great if I eliminate. It’s not bad but you can tell its there especially when it gets louder.

I’m currently using 4.5” Presonus active speakers with the Presonus sub.
 
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SIY

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The volume on my HiFiman’s 400se is a bit lower. I also want to have room to upgrade to better headphones later on.

I also have a personal MacBook Pro, and a work laptop that I use at my desk sometimes instead of my desktop, having one external device that I can use for all of my devices is appealing. Also the plus of having an external device that lets me control my speakers via a knob. And having an external device that easily lets me switch between speakers / headphones.

I also hear some very slight humming on my speakers that would be great if I eliminate. It’s not bad but you can tell its there especially when it gets louder.

I’m currently using 4.5” Presonus active speakers with the Presonus sub.
OK, good logical reasons! I'm sure there's others here with deeper knowledge of the HP market, but I can personally attest the the RME ADI line will drive anything you throw at it and has a lot of features that you didn't know you needed but then can't live without.:D Not cheap, but it won't ever need to be upgraded.
 

analogue

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If you want to stay with Creative, they just released their Sound Blaster X5 which features a balanced amp that should be enough to drive any headphones.
 
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Lord_Balkan

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If you want to stay with Creative, they just released their Sound Blaster X5 which features a balanced amp that should be enough to drive any headphones.
I was looking at that, but Im worried the specs arent that much better than my ae7, and the power output seems worse.
 

analogue

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Did you check the balanced numbers?
AE7:
Capture d’écran 2023-02-12 à 18.28.44.png

X5:
Capture d’écran 2023-02-12 à 18.28.51.png
 

Inhuman

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Creative's always in my blacklist, they just too bad to make their products work properly -> popping and crackling sound! SB0880, SB1500, AE-5 Plus :rolleyes:
 
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Lord_Balkan

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OK, good logical reasons! I'm sure there's others here with deeper knowledge of the HP market, but I can personally attest the the RME ADI line will drive anything you throw at it and has a lot of features that you didn't know you needed but then can't live without.:D Not cheap, but it won't ever need to be upgraded.
Do you think that the RME ADI would be too complicated for someone new? From the reviews, I see there are lot of things to tweak
 

SIY

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Do you think that the RME ADI would be too complicated for someone new? From the reviews, I see there are lot of things to tweak
There are, but the documentation is great. And most of the default settings are fine, so you can take your time learning about the tweaks that interest you.

It really is an amazing component.
 
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Lord_Balkan

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There are, but the documentation is great. And most of the default settings are fine, so you can take your time learning about the tweaks that interest you.

It really is an amazing component.
It looks good, but I think it’s a bit out of my price range. I’d like to spend maybe 200ish, but I could go up to around 500 max.
 

SIY

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It looks good, but I think it’s a bit out of my price range. I’d like to spend maybe 200ish, but I could go up to around 500 max.
It is admittedly not cheap! I got one as an end game unit and to do measurement, which allowed me to rationalize flattening my bank account.
 

AnalogSteph

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While a combo unit like a Topping EX5 may be a good fit, this use case may also suit the combination of a $150ish audio interface with its headphone output run into something like a Topping L30 II, particularly if you can foresee a use for the inputs provided (e.g. good vocal mic, measurement mic). Prices at Sweetwater seem to have gone up a bit lately but you could place an Audient EVO 4 or SSL 2 on top of the amp, for example, or a UAA Volt 1. If strapped for cash, an Arturia Minifuse 1 at sub-$100 would still be an alright basis though increasingly basic.

And if you want to get away with as little as possible, the $129 Rode AI-1 has a remarkably powerful headphone amp for an inexpensive audio interface. (For some reason its line-level output is quite weak, but I'd think the speaker setup should still accommodate it.)
 
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Lord_Balkan

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While a combo unit like a Topping EX5 may be a good fit, this use case may also suit the combination of a $150ish audio interface with its headphone output run into something like a Topping L30 II, particularly if you can foresee a use for the inputs provided (e.g. good vocal mic, measurement mic). Prices at Sweetwater seem to have gone up a bit lately but you could place an Audient EVO 4 or SSL 2 on top of the amp, for example, or a UAA Volt 1. If strapped for cash, an Arturia Minifuse 1 at sub-$100 would still be an alright basis though increasingly basic.

And if you want to get away with as little as possible, the $129 Rode AI-1 has a remarkably powerful headphone amp for an inexpensive audio interface. (For some reason its line-level output is quite weak, but I'd think the speaker setup should still accommodate it.)
I was thinking about getting the Presonus 26c interface for my microphone- Samson Q2U. I’m looking at the EX5 right now. I ended up ordering an SMSL C200, but maybe I should return it and get the EX5 instead, or go the route you suggested
 
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