Portable headphone DAC/ Amp with iPad

[email protected]

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I’ve been out of the portable music game for few years for various reasons. However of late I’ve been listening to my Sennheiser HD598 SE (lying idle for the past 4-5 years ) on my iPad Air and want to improve the experience. Currently I feel the iPad is not able to drive these cans , with especially the bass pretty low.

I have the Audioquest Dragonfly Black DAC-Amp which too can’t drive these to its fullest potential. Besides , it’s a big battery drainer as well.

So I’m looking for a good portable DAC/ Amp to pair with only iPad Air. Budget is flexible from 5k-20K.

Thanks
 

aeroash

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I’ve been out of the portable music game for few years for various reasons. However of late I’ve been listening to my Sennheiser HD598 SE (lying idle for the past 4-5 years ) on my iPad Air and want to improve the experience. Currently I feel the iPad is not able to drive these cans , with especially the bass pretty low.

I have the Audioquest Dragonfly Black DAC-Amp which too can’t drive these to its fullest potential. Besides , it’s a big battery drainer as well.

So I’m looking for a good portable DAC/ Amp to pair with only iPad Air. Budget is flexible from 5k-20K.

Thanks
Try the Shanling UA2. It's a portable beast. Plenty of power at 125mw @ 32 ohms.
Be warned though, you'll have to unplug them after your listening session as these will sap your phone battery, even when not in use. Shouldn't be a problem for the iPad with its bigger battery.

You can also try the Wavelet app to tune your cans.
 

shibashis

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Helm Bolt is what I have used and is quite happy with its performance. The Cayin RU 6 is making waves recently, it is a R2R DAC and brings all the goodness that R2R brings with it.
My brother has the Lotoo Paw S1, that is a more feature rich DAC than my Bolt, SQ wise I would put both of them on the same plane. There are quite a few options, almost too many today, overwhelming!
 

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@[email protected] - if you can define portability for you with a couple of examples - that will be a great way to give suggestions.
Portable in the sense that I can use the DAC with iPad Air & iphone (compatible ) , without causing much battery drainage , while commuting as well as in my home. Needs to adequately drive my HD598 SE adequately.
 

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Helm Bolt is what I have used and is quite happy with its performance. The Cayin RU 6 is making waves recently, it is a R2R DAC and brings all the goodness that R2R brings with it.
My brother has the Lotoo Paw S1, that is a more feature rich DAC than my Bolt, SQ wise I would put both of them on the same plane. There are quite a few options, almost too many today, overwhelming!
The Cayin looks interesting. Is it compatible with iPad Air / iphone ?
 

fLUX

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I’ve been out of the portable music game for few years for various reasons. However of late I’ve been listening to my Sennheiser HD598 SE (lying idle for the past 4-5 years ) on my iPad Air and want to improve the experience. Currently I feel the iPad is not able to drive these cans , with especially the bass pretty low.

I have the Audioquest Dragonfly Black DAC-Amp which too can’t drive these to its fullest potential. Besides , it’s a big battery drainer as well.

So I’m looking for a good portable DAC/ Amp to pair with only iPad Air. Budget is flexible from 5k-20K.

Thanks

IMO, get a dac/amp worth 20k only if you would be investing further in headphones/IEM. HD 598 did not seem to scale a lot for me(OG and Se alike) had tried them out with a few amps in the past.
 

chander

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Portable in the sense that I can use the DAC with iPad Air & iphone (compatible ) , without causing much battery drainage , while commuting as well as in my home. Needs to adequately drive my HD598 SE adequately.
Ok why I asked you to define 'portable' is - that for me only dongle type AMP/DACs is what I consider portable, but some people are ok with carrying about iFi Audio Hip DAC type things as well.

So - if you are looking for a very small form factor dongle type thingy - you have no option but to sacrifice majorly on the battery of your device - I have used a bunch of dongle thingies - from ibasso, shanling, DDhifi, AQ DFs (all of them) and a few other brands. They are all battery suckers and there is no way around it - unless you are happy rigging a battery pack in there.

If you are Ok with larger things that have their own battery - I would whole heartedly suggest FiiO Q3 for the budget. This thing will have no discernible effect on your source device's battery (at least I couldn't tell). Now I am not sure if FiiO is considered Audiophile enough - but in the case of Q3 (and I know it will not perhaps be the most transparent/neutral/other fancy superlatives), it is a lot of fun to listen to - all day long. It paired fantastic with my Westones, Etymotics & Shures IEMs and Focal & Audio Technica Headphones (Mind you none of these headphones require much amplification). The suggestion is strictly considering your budget - obviously there are always subjectively and objectively better product available. There is another one Topping NX4 DSD - that seems to be great - I have never used it though.

Now if you want a no hassle - no pain - no feature - simple to use dongle dac (not really an amp) - try the apple 3.5mm dongles - for 900rs they are a very cheap experiment if nothing else. I use this most of the time.
 
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fLUX

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Options wise you can look at XD-05+ if you are ok with something big in size , does 1W and has swappable opamps for experimenting. If you are looking for a dongle sized unit quiet a few options at that price range which are known to be quiet good albeit( L & P , Lotoo , Earmen)
 

shibashis

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The Cayin looks interesting. Is it compatible with iPad Air / iphone ?
Should be or at least no reason for it not to be. I have not used it myself though.
A quick search on Head-fi reveals that Cayin has tested it with several iPhones and it works but they do not guarantee compatibility since Apple might change things without any notice which I might add does happen.
 

mbhangui

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I use the O2 Headphone Amp to drive my AKG and AT headphones. It has an internal user replaceable rechargeable battery and can be also used with an AC adaptor.

If you have the lightning adaptor to 3.5mm you can use the famous O2 Headphone amp by NwAvGuy. He made an opensource headphone amp and challenged the biggies. He even got banned from head-fi.org for showing and proving how shitty the Schit Asgard product was and can damage your headphone. His opensource headphone amp is manufactured by lot of companies.


A critical review

The episode of him getting banned.


Post about O2 Amp by the original designer

Here is another company manufacturing the same amp but with a 6.35mm headphone jack instead of 3.5mm
 
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amit11

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I’ve been out of the portable music game for few years for various reasons. However of late I’ve been listening to my Sennheiser HD598 SE (lying idle for the past 4-5 years ) on my iPad Air and want to improve the experience. Currently I feel the iPad is not able to drive these cans , with especially the bass pretty low.

I have the Audioquest Dragonfly Black DAC-Amp which too can’t drive these to its fullest potential. Besides , it’s a big battery drainer as well.

So I’m looking for a good portable DAC/ Amp to pair with only iPad Air. Budget is flexible from 5k-20K.

Thanks
I have a chord mojo dac, if you are interested.
I had not yet thought of selling it... but was thinking of recently.
 

manek

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I’ve been out of the portable music game for few years for various reasons. However of late I’ve been listening to my Sennheiser HD598 SE (lying idle for the past 4-5 years ) on my iPad Air and want to improve the experience. Currently I feel the iPad is not able to drive these cans , with especially the bass pretty low.

I have the Audioquest Dragonfly Black DAC-Amp which too can’t drive these to its fullest potential. Besides , it’s a big battery drainer as well.

So I’m looking for a good portable DAC/ Amp to pair with only iPad Air. Budget is flexible from 5k-20K.
I use the O2 Headphone Amp to drive my AKG and AT headphones. It has an internal user replaceable rechargeable battery and can be also used with an AC adaptor.

If you have the lightning adaptor to 3.5mm you can use the famous O2 Headphone amp by NwAvGuy. He made an opensource headphone amp and challenged the biggies. He even got banned from head-fi.org for showing and proving how shitty the Schit Asgard product was and can damage your headphone. His opensource headphone amp is manufactured by lot of companies.


A critical review

The episode of him getting banned.


Post about O2 Amp by the original designer

Here is another company manufacturing the same amp but with a 6.35mm headphone jack instead of 3.5mm
Ah ! Just came upon something that interests me. Been wanting to build this O2 headphone amp for a bit. Maybe before the end of the year. Its quite simple and very customisable on the power one needs. The jrc/njm/njr 4556 opamp is very interesting to me. Rated to sink in 70ma into a 150ohm load and i am sure wont sound all that bad as its made out to be by some.
 

rsklogin

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I've been using the FiiO Q3 to power my Hifimam he400se. It's not the most sophisticated solution as it involves several cables and you have to charge the dac amp.

But it won't affect your phone battery and it has enough power to drive most entry level headphones and it's a very good dac for almost all Iems.
 
Purchase the Audiolab 6000A Integrated Amplifier at a special offer price.
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