New Earphone suggestions

Audiolab 6000A Amplifier

tidalseeker

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Hello y'all folks, hope everyone is safe during the lockdown

I need all your expert advice (and I'm sorry if this is a duplicate thread, but I have looked at existing threads and there maybe an overlap, but my query isn't directly answered anywhere else)

I am looking to replace my Gen1 AirPods bought in 2017, they have drained their batteries and do not last more than 30 mins during calls when connected via iPhone or my MacBook.

Just looking at the sheer price tag that Apple Products possess, I do not want to go for AirPods Pro directly as a replacement and want to consider other options out there, since I am sure, there are better products/combinations that provide a pure and High-Res sound experience compared to AirPods Pro.

So here's my requirement:

1) Sound quality - Priority 1
2) Possibility to play High-res music via Tidal, Qobuz, FLAC (if possible wirelessly too) - Priority 2
3) Preferably an in-ear piece due to the ergonomics while international travel and local traveling (Priority 2/3)

I am inclined towards the True Wireless in-ear such as Sony WF-1000XM3 or Sennheiser Momentum 2

I am also fine to buy an in-ear + DAC/AMP as a combo. (P.S I always get confused between what I need between a DAC and AMP, e.g. I get confused what aFiiO BTR3K is .. vs FiiO M3K.. I have Bose 2015 in-ear in a new packed condition, which do not sound good directly with an iPhone, but maybe I can leverage those with any of these FiiO products to enjoy more pure music?)

Budget range is close to 20-25K INR!

So let me know you guys from your experience and knowledge, which is better .. A) True Wireless new earphone OR B) A new AMP/DAC + Earphone (or use Bose with the new AMP/DAC)


Thanks so much and my apologies to push a lot of questions on a lazy Saturday morning :-D
 

mannukiddo

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Since you are into wireless, I would suggest something like Shanling UP2 DAC/AMP that I use and it has all the hi-res codecs in BT like LDAC, APT-X and so on. I use a nice in ear iem like an Etymotic ER2XR which due to its deep insertion fit, gives me a superb passive noise cancellation that rivals or betters almost every active noise cancellation HP I have tried. Plus on pure SQ, the ER2XR is one of the best DD iems that once can buy so you are covered in SQ as well. And, did I mention that the UP2 can also do calls with its inbuilt mic.. It IMHO is the best way to go wireless and get great great SQ. If you think that the UP2 is too cheap go for it its bigger brother the UP4 or the Fiio BTR5. I doubt if you will need any BT headphone after this.
 
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If wireless isn’t a must, Etymotics could be the best bet on 1, 2, and 3 in that price range.
 
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tidalseeker

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Thank you guys! I tried finding official dealers of Etymotic in India but couldn’t find. Is Headphonezone authorized to sell?

Does anyone know of Etymotic dealers in Pune?
 
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tidalseeker

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Since you are into wireless, I would suggest something like Shanling UP2 DAC/AMP that I use and it has all the hi-res codecs in BT like LDAC, APT-X and so on. I use a nice in ear iem like an Etymotic ER2XR which due to its deep insertion fit, gives me a superb passive noise cancellation that rivals or betters almost every active noise cancellation HP I have tried. Plus on pure SQ, the ER2XR is one of the best DD iems that once can buy so you are covered in SQ as well. And, did I mention that the UP2 can also do calls with its inbuilt mic.. It IMHO is the best way to go wireless and get great great SQ. If you think that the UP2 is too cheap go for it its bigger brother the UP4 or the Fiio BTR5. I doubt if you will need any BT headphone after this.
Thanks a lot! Is the Etymotic really a go to? Or if I find a good price on Sennheiser IE80s, I should consider it too?
 
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tidalseeker

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Thanks again for the inputs! I am having trouble finding authentic Etymotics in India. Anyone knows their national distribution/dealerships?
 
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dextrostar

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Thanks again for the inputs! I am having trouble finding authentic Etymotics in India. Anyone knows their national distribution/dealerships?
I had the same initial query about using Tidal and experience its full potential. Given Bluetooth has limitation still based on wireless convenience while travelling I decided on the Sony MX3. Even though I had Bose Qc35 II the Mx3 had better SQ and uses LDAC codec hence Sony was my choice.
Then I realized that you cannot get that Tidal quality with Bluetooth so changed my plan and got an Astel&Kern IEM with a DAC and that gives way better performance than the Bose.
Though I don't have any idea about Etymotic dealers but yes you can get one with a DAC preferably with MQA if you have taken the HiFi subscription.
Do note that you cannot play MQA directly on your phone like you do on the PC as the desktop Tidal app does the first unfold. You will need to purchase UAP app and also pay for the MQA decoder.

Cheers
 
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mannukiddo

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I had the same initial query about using Tidal and experience its full potential. Given Bluetooth has limitation still based on wireless convenience while travelling I decided on the Sony MX3. Even though I had Bose Qc35 II the Mx3 had better SQ and uses LDAC codec hence Sony was my choice.
Then I realized that you cannot get that Tidal quality with Bluetooth so changed my plan and got an Astel&Kern IEM with a DAC and that gives way better performance than the Bose.
Though I don't have any idea about Etymotic dealers but yes you can get one with a DAC preferably with MQA if you have taken the HiFi subscription.
Do note that you cannot play MQA directly on your phone like you do on the PC as the desktop Tidal app does the first unfold. You will need to purchase UAP app and also pay for the MQA decoder.

Cheers
There are MQA decoders at all budgets available in India. Earmen and Ifi audio have a number of MQA dac amps available at budget prices. The Uapp only does first level decoding after which you need a MQA renderer for full MQA unfold. This is exactly what the above mentioned Earmen and Ifi DAC/AMPs. Some iFi models also do BT.
 
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tidalseeker

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There are MQA decoders at all budgets available in India. Earmen and Ifi audio have a number of MQA dac amps available at budget prices. The Uapp only does first level decoding after which you need a MQA renderer for full MQA unfold. This is exactly what the above mentioned Earmen and Ifi DAC/AMPs. Some iFi models also do BT.
woah! that's some real nerdy stuff @mannukiddo
this MQA/UAPP decoding etc canoe done by FiiO BTR5 equivalent or this is an extra device we are quoting to buy?

I am summarising the perfect setup
1) FiiO BTR5 (since Shanling UP2 DAC/AMP is not available currently)
2) Etymotic ER2XR via Headphone zone as soon as they are back in stock
 
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tidalseeker

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Moreover, I found this video, which is quite good -

But I use an iPhone and Tidal doesn't work in India - how do you run Tidal in India?
 
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mannukiddo

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woah! that's some real nerdy stuff @mannukiddo
this MQA/UAPP decoding etc canoe done by FiiO BTR5 equivalent or this is an extra device we are quoting to buy?

I am summarising the perfect setup
1) FiiO BTR5 (since Shanling UP2 DAC/AMP is not available currently)
2) Etymotic ER2XR via Headphone zone as soon as they are back in stock
No the BTR5 will not do a full unfold after UApp. You need MQA certified renderer to do that. An earmen Sparrow is a good chocie here but it won't do BT, Any way no BT DAC will do MQA if that is what you are looking for.
 
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tidalseeker

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No the BTR5 will not do a full unfold after UApp. You need MQA certified renderer to do that. An earmen Sparrow is a good chocie here but it won't do BT, Any way no BT DAC will do MQA if that is what you are looking for.
Thanks a lot. It seems I need to prioritise my requirement. But at least the FiiO BTR5 will be able to play High-res lossless audio on IEMs over BT right?
for the High-res source, how do you guys manage Tidal or Qobuz in India? I will use Source of music (Tidal) > iPhone > FiiO BTR5 > ETymotic
 
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mannukiddo

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Thanks a lot. It seems I need to prioritise my requirement. But at least the FiiO BTR5 will be able to play High-res lossless audio on IEMs over BT right?
for the High-res source, how do you guys manage Tidal or Qobuz in India? I will use Source of music (Tidal) > iPhone > FiiO BTR5 > ETymotic
I think if you want highest fidelity out of your lossless files, BT will always sound inferior to a wired connection but whether you can hear the difference will depend on your transducers, amp and DAC in your chain. Most cant but on a revealing chain its quite easy to differentiate. If you are looking on pure SQ front, the Earmen Sparrow has a better SQ than BTR5 on wired mode.

Lots of us are using Tidal family Hi-Fi plan on the Turkey server which is the cheapest shared family plan on Tidal. Comes to around 60-80 INR per month per head.
 
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dextrostar

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Thanks a lot. It seems I need to prioritise my requirement. But at least the FiiO BTR5 will be able to play High-res lossless audio on IEMs over BT right?
for the High-res source, how do you guys manage Tidal or Qobuz in India? I will use Source of music (Tidal) > iPhone > FiiO BTR5 > ETymotic

Yes as Mannu mentioned you cannot get the max out of Tidal with BT. I tried the Earmen sparrow but there was driver issues so I returned it. I believe the company released driver to take care of the issue since.
I use the iFi audio Hip DAC along with the IEM which is something you can look into in this price point.

Cheers
 
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dextrostar

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There are MQA decoders at all budgets available in India. Earmen and Ifi audio have a number of MQA dac amps available at budget prices. The Uapp only does first level decoding after which you need a MQA renderer for full MQA unfold. This is exactly what the above mentioned Earmen and Ifi DAC/AMPs. Some iFi models also do BT.
BT is definitely a no go when it comes to lossless audio. I got myself the Hip DAC which works to out the MQA with the Uapp.
 
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tidalseeker

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Yes as Mannu mentioned you cannot get the max out of Tidal with BT. I tried the Earmen sparrow but there was driver issues so I returned it. I believe the company released driver to take care of the issue since.
I use the iFi audio Hip DAC along with the IEM which is something you can look into in this price point.

Cheers
Can you share the link of the iFi HIP DAC? Also which IEMs do you use? Etymotic ER2XR?
 
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