Best Upgrade- iPhone DAC or apple Airpods Max

Jamesie M

Active Member
Morning,

looking to spend some allocated cash and find myself a Father’s Day gift!

I use my home cinema solely for AV duties but I’m listening more to music since lockdown. Can’t justify getting a separate home stereo system so was looking to upgrade my headphone experience.

I use my iPhone with Apple Music to listen mostly through AirPods Pro but also with my old bang and olufsen H6 over ears.

Was thinking of getting the apple over ears AirPods Max (to get lossless(maybe?) and spatial sound) OR an external Dac such as the ifi ones, hopefully to either hard wire or Bluetooth to my existing AirPods (will the dac work with the new apple losslee?)

I’m quite fortunate not to have a fixed budget but always believe in getting the best bang for buck or quality up to the point where improvemts become diminishing and really not worth the cash. I also want something that will last £200-£1k

Any thoughts on best upgrade? New cans or a dac?
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
Bluetooth headphones have their own built in DAC. Pairing a Bluetooth headphone with a USB DAC/amp is not the best use of money
 

Jamesie M

Active Member
Bluetooth headphones have their own built in DAC. Pairing a Bluetooth headphone with a USB DAC/amp is not the best use of money
Cheers, was thinking of the best upgrade. The B&O are wired, what’s your thoughts on dac & B&O or just go for a simpler AirPod max?
 

WhiteHartMart

Distinguished Member
Depends (imho) if you want convenience as a priority or sound quality. I have the APM and love the convenience and integration with all my Apple devices but if sound quality were the priority, I'm thinking the £550 could go further if your happy dealing with cables etc ;)
 

Jamesie M

Active Member
Depends (imho) if you want convenience as a priority or sound quality. I have the APM and love the convenience and integration with all my Apple devices but if sound quality were the priority, I'm thinking the £550 could go further if your happy dealing with cables etc ;)
It’s just for the house, sitting in quiet away from my kids and the wife watching catch up tv!

I’ve got the AirPods Pro for out and about and travelling.

is a £2-300 headphone dac really going to improve my B&O or start with better headphone?

really need to get something as promised my wife she wouldn’t have to look for a Father’s Day gift for me from kids
 

Thumpermawer

Active Member
If you're near somewhere that will let you try out a few things that's the best way to know before you open your wallet.

I managed to try a few dac/amps with my iPhone to see what I liked the most. Picked a Dragonfly Cobalt after also trying the black/red ones and a Mojo.

FiiO and others have a good range of alternatives, but couldn't find anywhere near enough to try them out. Maybe one of the online retailers would send a few things out for you to try and keep your favourite?
 

steve iow

Active Member
Hi how is the Dragonfly Cobalt doing, I’ve been reading reviews and it’s getting good ones ,but what’s it like in the real world is it worth the asking price and does it actually work and can you hear the difference
 

ShardsOfMe

Distinguished Member
The Cobalt is great but is restricted to 24/96. I'd recommend a hip-dac 2 as probably the best price|performance headphone amp/DAC out there: up to DSD256, PCM384, DXD384, and a full MQA decoder; sounds spectacular with any half decent headphones; only £150 or so if you shop around. The downside is that the connectivity to an iPhone is, shall we say, inelegant. I'd recommend downloading the free Foobar2000 to get the most out of high-res files.

The APM are fine but don't do Apple Lossless, even with a cable. They sound great but not that much better than AirPod Pros in general use, although the APM's ANC and Transparency Modes are spectacularly good. They are horribly heavy though. And less well known, they are not spectacles friendly, if you happen to wear spectacles.

I own or have owned all of the products mentioned, so I hope this is useful :).
 
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dollag

Well-known Member
i'd look at the khadas tea, which has just been released. great dac/amp solution for an iphone. Having gone through numerous dongles including the cobalt, it's heads and shoulders above.

no need for a usb adaptor kit, has bluetooth capability, including mics so do not need to remove your headphones to take a call, and as is magsafe, can just become part of your phone.
 

JayCee

Distinguished Member
The Cobalt is great but is restricted to 24/96. I'd recommend a hip-dac 2 as probably the best price|performance headphone amp/DAC out there: up to DSD256, PCM384, DXD384, and a full MQA decoder; sounds spectacular with any half decent headphones; only £150 or so if you shop around. The downside is that the connectivity to an iPhone is, shall we say, inelegant. I'd recommend downloading the free Foobar2000 to get the most out of high-res files.

The APM are fine but don't do Apple Lossless, even with a cable. They sound great but not that much better than AirPod Pros in general use, although the APM's ANC and Transparency Modes are spectacularly good. They are horribly heavy though. And less well known, they are not spectacles friendly, if you happen to wear spectacles.

I own or have owned all of the products mentioned, so I hope this is useful :).
Yes, they’re heavy but you don't (at least I don’t) feel the weight), I wear glasses but there is little to no pressure from the cups…I was specifically looking into this when I bought my APM.
A lot depends on the thickness of the glasses arms.
 

ShardsOfMe

Distinguished Member
Yes, they’re heavy but you don't (at least I don’t) feel the weight), I wear glasses but there is little to no pressure from the cups…I was specifically looking into this when I bought my APM.
A lot depends on the thickness of the glasses arms.
I respectfully disagree entirely :)
 

Misguided

Active Member
Just a couple of suggestions to consider as I have also been looking into portable amp / dac for use with the iphone. Topping NX4 DSD and Fiio Q3 both seem quite good and reasonably priced. A lot of people like the Fiio BTR 5 for Bluetooth and the Qudelix 5k but it's hard to get hold of. There's also the Khadas Tone 2 Pro which is a bit more pricey but has some excellent reviews.
 

dollag

Well-known Member
Bluetooth on iphones imo is not great. using my khadas tea via bluetooth and wired is very apparent and easily confirmed via a blind test.
 

YYDeckard

Active Member
The Cobalt is great but is restricted to 24/96. I'd recommend a hip-dac 2 as probably the best price|performance headphone amp/DAC out there: up to DSD256, PCM384, DXD384, and a full MQA decoder; sounds spectacular with any half decent headphones; only £150 or so if you shop around. The downside is that the connectivity to an iPhone is, shall we say, inelegant. I'd recommend downloading the free Foobar2000 to get the most out of high-res files.

The APM are fine but don't do Apple Lossless, even with a cable. They sound great but not that much better than AirPod Pros in general use, although the APM's ANC and Transparency Modes are spectacularly good. They are horribly heavy though. And less well known, they are not spectacles friendly, if you happen to wear spectacles.

I own or have owned all of the products mentioned, so I hope this is useful :).

Its totally ridiculous that Apple dont do lossless earbuds / headphones.
 

steve iow

Active Member
I’ve got the Hip-dac2 and am well impressed even with my Bose in ear headphones, just the extra hit for the apple adapter is disappointing,but nice piece of kit all the same
 

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