Portable journey - next leg!!

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chander

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Dear forum members - I recently decided to sell my FiiO M11 and go for an ipod touch 7th Gen 256 GB! The M11 was a fantastic player and had everything I wanted except - it was extremely cumbersome to use on the go, because of the bulk and the battery! So iPod was the 'simple' choice - extremely functional UI, battery and the extreme portability.

I also decluttered my electronic inventory and sold all the headphone, IEMs, DACs I owned, and bought myself the Sony WH1000 XM4 for calls etc and kept my favorites - Westone UM Pro 3x IEM for travelling or just being out and about.

I have also moved almost exclusively to Spotify once the HiFi was announced - as I have a US account.

Now - hoping the HiFi is good enough when it launches, I want to get a pair of better IEMs (Perhaps keeping my UM 3Xs), and a small portable DAC.

The options I am considering are - AQ Dragonfly Red (Not the cobalt, I find it extremely fake sounding). I had the dragonfly black (which I sold) and it did make the ipod sound better - no numbers - maybe placebo. The IEMs I am looking at are the Westone UM Pro 50 (I much prefer the westone signature over the shures as I have used multiple westones - Some Ws, some UM series and the shure SE series including the 846). Also I tend to sleep with music when I am travelling and westones are the most comfortable things I have ever slept with ;P

The question, budget being decent (all the money collected after selling everything :p), does it really make sense to have that kind of a rig with an iPod touch (considering it is not the greatest sounding thing out there - not bad at all but not the greatest either)? I am very happy with Westone UM Pro 3x out of the headphone jack of the touch. I can find issues with the sound, but I can do the same with multi lakh sound systems too. So, in your opinion, what do you think makes sense? Go for the kill or don't fix what isn't broken?

Also I do not want BT IEMs, do not want one more thing to charge. I love the cables :p.

****I know a suggestion would be subjective, but that is what I am looking for :)
 
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fLUX

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Dear forum members - I recently decided to sell my FiiO M11 and go for an ipod touch 7th Gen 256 GB! The M11 was a fantastic player and had everything I wanted except - it was extremely cumbersome to use on the go, because of the bulk and the battery! So iPod was the 'simple' choice - extremely functional UI, battery and the extreme portability.

I also decluttered my electronic inventory and sold all the headphone, IEMs, DACs I owned, and bought myself the Sony WH1000 XM4 for calls etc and kept my favorites - Westone UM Pro 3x IEM for travelling or just being out and about.

I have also moved almost exclusively to Spotify once the HiFi was announced - as I have a US account.

Now - hoping the HiFi is good enough when it launches, I want to get a pair of better IEMs (Perhaps keeping my UM 3Xs), and a small portable DAC.

The options I am considering are - AQ Dragonfly Red (Not the cobalt, I find it extremely fake sounding). I had the dragonfly black (which I sold) and it did make the ipod sound better - no numbers - maybe placebo. The IEMs I am looking at are the Westone UM Pro 50 (I much prefer the westone signature over the shures as I have used multiple westones - Some Ws, some UM series and the shure SE series including the 846). Also I tend to sleep with music when I am travelling and westones are the most comfortable things I have ever slept with ;P

The question, budget being decent (all the money collected after selling everything :p), does it really make sense to have that kind of a rig with an iPod touch (considering it is not the greatest sounding thing out there - not bad at all but not the greatest either)? I am very happy with Westone UM Pro 3x out of the headphone jack of the touch. I can find issues with the sound, but I can do the same with multi lakh sound systems too. So, in your opinion, what do you think makes sense? Go for the kill or don't fix what isn't broken?

Also I do not want BT IEMs, do not want one more thing to charge. I love the cables :p.

The Lotoo Paw S1 is garnering a lot of good reviews, have a look at the same (available locally at the audiostore.in). What is the max you are looking to spend ?
 
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chander

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Hey @fLUX, the problem is I would need a USB C to Lightning and then not sure if it will work or not. I know the AQ DF Red works cause I tried the Black and it did, no hassles. Also I already have the camera adapter.

I have a budget of about $1,500/- basically all that I sold, so a little over $1,500/- after buying the iPod and accessories. I am kind of set on what I am going to buy. The sound signature I like. The concern here is primarily, does it make sense to spend that kind of money if ipod is what is going to drive the whole thing. Thru Spotify Hi-Fi - when it launches or TIDAL. That is what I am trying to understand. My current setup is very functional and beautiful. Just want to upgrade if it will make things much better!
 
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fLUX

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Hey @fLUX, the problem is I would need a USB C to Lightning and then not sure if it will work or not. I know the AQ DF Red works cause I tried the Black and it did, no hassles. Also I already have the camera adapter.

I have a budget of about $1,500/- basically all that I sold, so a little over $1,500/- after buying the iPod and accessories. I am kind of set on what I am going to buy. The sound signature I like. The concern here is primarily, does it make sense to spend that kind of money if ipod is what is going to drive the whole thing. Thru Spotify Hi-Fi - when it launches or TIDAL. That is what I am trying to understand. My current setup is very functional and beautiful. Just want to upgrade if it will make things much better!

Since you are going to get a DACAMP it would make sense regardless of what you use as a source. The sound output would certainly be better than using the touch alone. Reason I suggested a different DACAMP is because I have owned the AQ DFR , while it was a handy little device I did not really find the SQ to be really good. The current gen devices released with similar form factor are touted to be way better in terms of SQ that I see it being recommended over sub 20-25k DAPs & work with iOS & Android alike.

You have a really good budget there, but then after selling your DAP getting a DAC & AMP separately or a way bigger DACAMP doesn't make any sense. So 1500$ budget is very generous , I would suggest spending about 15-20k on a portable DACAMP with small form factor similar to AQ DFR and about 50-60k on a easy to drive IEM not overly sensitive as it might result in a very audible noise floor (Campfire Andromeda is one of the most sensitive IEMs i have noticed, used to hiss crazy with certain pairings)
 
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chander

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You have a really good budget there, but then after selling your DAP getting a DAC & AMP separately or a way bigger DACAMP doesn't make any sense
Agreed there - that is what I wanted - something that doesn't need charging and has a very small form factor. Can happily stay inside my earphone box or be permanently stuck behind the ipod cover. I am frankly only aware of the AQ which does that, almost everything else I saw other than 1 or 2 require you to charge them :( I can look at a few other options if you can help me out with that - Lotoo being one.

I am definitely getting the Westone UM pro 50s no doubt about that. Westones are the IEMs for me, the form factor, comfort, SQ, everything is just bang on for me. Having used Sennheiser, Westones, Shure, A&K, Ultimate Ears and a few others (not many) - and having owned the top end of a few of these, I still prefer the Westone UM Pro 3x :p
 
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Analogous

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Hi,
Do consider a pair of custom IEMs from JH audio, Westone, UE, Noble etc. I have been using a pair of JH13pro now for 6 years and (it ended my quest for IEMs) I still love them. I feel they were the best investment I made- terrific isolation, good fit, immersive high quality sound, non fatiguing for long sessions and tough build (except for the cables). I use them with an AKjr (great form and portability, and SQ) I recently got an AK Kann for more robust performance, balanced out, digital out etc but because of the bulk I use it mostly as a transport for my stereo set up. The AK70 or AK100 (dual DAC?) might tick all the boxes for you.
I also have a FiiO M3 which is ridiculously small, astonishing SQ, but very fiddly and sometimes irritatingly so (the UI and screen size) So, beware of choices that are too small!
 
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chander

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thanks @Yogesh!! The lotoo is already a shortlist!

@Analogous - Thanks for the info! I have already bought the Touch 7th Gen - so buying another is not an option that ship has sailed! Also I am pretty set on my choice of earphones too. Westone is my poison! I would be scared to spend so much money on a custom, only to find I do not find the sound satisfying!

The DAC is what I am looking at! AQ DF Red, Lotoo are the two choices yet!
 
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Yogesh

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thanks @Yogesh!! The lotoo is already a shortlist!
I have used Zorloo Ztella MQA and AQ DF Black. I find AQ a bit dry in comparison.

Also, I find volume output of AQ too high. On my PC, I can only go high upto 4/100, 6/100 is also sometimes a bit high for me on Tidal/Sotify/FLAC. Hence I am loosing out on flexibility & control regarding volume. I am using Senn 599 SE & iBasso IT00. A higher impedance transducer may work better I guess. On phone situation is a little better as phone might be pushing little less power.
 
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chander

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@Yogesh - yeah the Black was painful at around 7 from the laptop with my ATH M50Xs (and my laptop goes to 100 - not sure if all do)! I rarely even bothered with my IEMs.

On another note - I lucked out pretty good. A friend of mine was visiting and he was carrying both the AQ DF Red and Cobalt. Red he wanted to sell. So I managed to do a side by side for good 2 days with my iPod. And I have to correct my earlier statement -
"Cobalt, I find it extremely fake sounding" to "if you compare the Red to Cobalt, neither is better than the other, but both are outstanding, it completely depends on what you like!"

- Cobalt is incredible for anything that is rock, jazz, classical and so is RED - Cobalt compliments the sound of Westones better than the Red - the 'analyticalish' sound BUT Red has a bucket load more bass and very good bass too. Listen to Imagine Dragons - Thunder and Red blows your brains out with the bass and the quantity of it BUT Cobalt does everything better - including the quality of bass, quite a bit lesser but so much quicker and impactful; it is an experience - and that from an iPOD. Cobalt could sound leaner in the low end if compared to Red, but it isn't it is just very different.

I loved the Red for bass heavy tracks. A good example will be a band like AC/DC, Red was amazing, it was punchy, drums were real BUT Cobalt was punchier, cleaner, instrument separation was a lot better BUT the RED was loads more enjoyable - a lot more FUN, Cobalt was a lot more musical. If anyone knows the song Demons by Fatboy Slim - I played this song on repeat on the Red because it was a treat BUT Cobalt made it better in everyway - as per my musical tastes. Macy Gray's voice was so raspy on Cobalt, BUT the Bass slam on RED was otherworldly. NOW I am more confused than ever.

I would have loved to get both BUT that is just DAFT so I am going for the Cobalt!
 
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chander

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Reviving this post - for a quick question - as Westone W80 is close to impossible to get right now without paying a hefty import duty - which makes it extremely expensive, I needed a stop gap solution and bought myself the Etymotic ER4XR not the SR from headphonezone, which was sadly double the price of the US amazon listing. But well.

I have used the ER4 in the past - not sure but I believe it was 4S and though I loved the sound, I always found the silicon triple flange tips uncomfortable for longer sessions and the foam tips impossible to use. I have really small ears and ear canal. The 4SR supposedly being close to the original, I decided to give the 4XR a try - to get a little more low end.

Question - Anyone knows of any ear tips, which can give similar isolation like the Triple flanges without being as invasive/uncomfortable?
 
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movedbywheel

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@Yogesh - yeah the Black was painful at around 7 from the laptop with my ATH M50Xs (and my laptop goes to 100 - not sure if all do)! I rarely even bothered with my IEMs.

On another note - I lucked out pretty good. A friend of mine was visiting and he was carrying both the AQ DF Red and Cobalt. Red he wanted to sell. So I managed to do a side by side for good 2 days with my iPod. And I have to correct my earlier statement -
"Cobalt, I find it extremely fake sounding" to "if you compare the Red to Cobalt, neither is better than the other, but both are outstanding, it completely depends on what you like!"

- Cobalt is incredible for anything that is rock, jazz, classical and so is RED - Cobalt compliments the sound of Westones better than the Red - the 'analyticalish' sound BUT Red has a bucket load more bass and very good bass too. Listen to Imagine Dragons - Thunder and Red blows your brains out with the bass and the quantity of it BUT Cobalt does everything better - including the quality of bass, quite a bit lesser but so much quicker and impactful; it is an experience - and that from an iPOD. Cobalt could sound leaner in the low end if compared to Red, but it isn't it is just very different.

I loved the Red for bass heavy tracks. A good example will be a band like AC/DC, Red was amazing, it was punchy, drums were real BUT Cobalt was punchier, cleaner, instrument separation was a lot better BUT the RED was loads more enjoyable - a lot more FUN, Cobalt was a lot more musical. If anyone knows the song Demons by Fatboy Slim - I played this song on repeat on the Red because it was a treat BUT Cobalt made it better in everyway - as per my musical tastes. Macy Gray's voice was so raspy on Cobalt, BUT the Bass slam on RED was otherworldly. NOW I am more confused than ever.

I would have loved to get both BUT that is just DAFT so I am going for the Cobalt!
Hi Chander,
Glad you got to your taste of music. I strongly agree with you, me too thinking in same line to get iPod touch though I have iPhone, I love to listen music from dedicated player. I’m thinking to buy Dragonfly Red, how much is the difference form staring 3.5mm output from iPod and with Dragonfky Red ? Would you recommend to iPod or just to use DAC with my iPhone .?

Thanks
 
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chander

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Hey @movedbywheel - I have always preferred to have a dedicated DAP/PMP rather than using my phone to do that. I have the iPhone 12 Pro and it sounds similar to the iPod, using the apple lightning to 3.5 mm dongle. The phone definitely sounds clearer but I think that is a gain match thing. Once the iPod is a little louder, it is almost the same. I can’t tell a real difference, but I haven’t done much A/B either. Maybe a couple hours at most. The dragonfly won’t do that much in terms of listening to let’s say Spotify/YouTube. The dragonfly makes a huge difference though with hi-res music. The iPod certainly has its advantages - battery being an absolute beast. The dragonfly will make that battery less than half immediately!
 
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