Headphone DAC/Amp for desk and pocket?

Apollo83

Active Member
Hi all,
Last time I was in this sub-forum you pointed me to some great headphones; the Beyerdynamic DT880Pro.
over-ear, wired headphones

They sound good direct from my PC and even Phone, but great from my headphone amp in my Rega Brio...

So what I'm looking for is something that will upgrade my sound from my PC and phone to something like that I hear from my Amp...

Ideally a combined DAC/headphone amp with an internal battery for on the move which I can plug in to charge while on the desk and listening to it.

I thought I had found a contender in the iFi Hip-DAC, but unfortunately it seems it doesn't charge and play at the same time...

So, any other suggestions?

EDIT: Almost forgot, lets say a budget about the same as the headphones of ~€200
 
Last edited:

Hixs

Distinguished Member
Used Chord Mojo. Bit over budget at around 250ish though.

Keep in mind many use them as hifi dacs thus leave them plugged in 24/7, so worth checking battery health if you go down that route.
 

pk4425

Standard Member
I think the Qudelix 5K charges and plays simultaneously. It's a $110 battery-powered USB-C dongle that has Bluetooth, balanced and unbalanced inputs, good power and a built-in parametric equalizer for all sources.

It's out of stock now at Amazon, but the company told me today on its forum that the unit should be back in stock at Amazon in two weeks.

Looks like a really trick little device. Rave reviews at audiophile gathering places all over the Internet.

 

muljao

Well-known Member
Dragonfly red

Doesn't charge but uses very little power due to some tech wizardry
 

Apollo83

Active Member
Thanks all.

That Chord Mojo is coming in over the 300 mark second hand after import fees, so as well reviewed as it is I will have to pass.

I hadn't heard of the Qudelix - thanks.
It seems to be primarily marketed as a bluetooth receiver/dac/amp.
It has a usb for power but the user guide is not clear whether it can also be used as the data source? Anybody know?
I would not use the Bluetooth so would need to switch it off somehow.

The Dragonfly Red I had seen and it seems to have better output than the Black which would help with the headphones.
My only concern would be when running it off my phone... Would the lack of built in battery not drain the phone quickly?
Has anybody got any experience fo the Dragonfly Red when used with a phone?

Any others to throw in the hat that anyone can recommend?
Cyrus Soundkey?
Audiolab MDAC nano?
FiiO K3?
 

creepyg

Active Member
Hi all,
Last time I was in this sub-forum you pointed me to some great headphones; the Beyerdynamic DT880Pro.
over-ear, wired headphones

They sound good direct from my PC and even Phone, but great from my headphone amp in my Rega Brio...

So what I'm looking for is something that will upgrade my sound from my PC and phone to something like that I hear from my Amp...

Ideally a combined DAC/headphone amp with an internal battery for on the move which I can plug in to charge while on the desk and listening to it.

I thought I had found a contender in the iFi Hip-DAC, but unfortunately it seems it doesn't charge and play at the same time...

So, any other suggestions?

EDIT: Almost forgot, lets say a budget about the same as the headphones of ~€200
Just to chime in, the Hip Dac does indeed play quite happily while charging. I use mine like this frequently. IFi just don't recommend it as it can introduce 'noise' into the sound. I generally don't notice it unless I plug some sensitive IEMS into it, it's like a faint whine that disappears if I unplug the charge cable. It's only audible if there's nothing playing. I don't hear it if I use the 3.5mm socket however, which your Beyerdynamics would likely be using.

Oh, and just to add that the Cyrus Soundkey is awesome too. Sounds great and the battery drain on your phone, while noticeable, isn't ruinous. Worth checking Richer Sounds for them. Got mine for £20 as a clearance item!
 

Apollo83

Active Member
Thanks CreepyG.

@iFi audio can you confirm that the Hip DAC plays while charging from USB? In another forum it was reported it didn't but maybe that was an earlier version?

The Cyrus Soundkey seems to be reported as having the typical Cyrus crisp sound with a possible fall off in bass... I'm on the fence on that one as the Beyerdynamic DT880's are neutral (unlike most Beyerdynamics which can be slightly warm) - the two combined might be 'too much air and not enough oomph'... :)

Reading around, two others that report well are:
The SMSL Idea from China which seems to have very low distortion and would suit easy to drive headphones.
The Centrance DACPort HD from Japan which has built in battery and more power than the Dragonfly/SoundKey/Idea suiting harder to drive headphones.

My Beyerdynamics are 250ohms so 'medium' I guess :)

I think I'm edging towards Dragonfly Red as the 'safe' choice, considering taking a punt on the Cyrus or SMSL, wondering if I need the power of the Centrance...
And now thanks to CreepyG thinking I may return to my original choice of the ifi Hip DAC :)

Why are there so many choices in this market segment! :)
 

iFi audio

Member
AVForums Sponsor
Also, they look good together. They'd make a good couple.​

017.jpg
1617174363456.png
 

Apollo83

Active Member
Thanks for the info everyone.
I think I'll go have a wee dram while I think about this...
 

Apollo83

Active Member
It is indeed...

The iFi 'Uisce Beatha'

I'll order mine to go...

:)
 

Daniel 70

Standard Member
Thanks all.

That Chord Mojo is coming in over the 300 mark second hand after import fees, so as well reviewed as it is I will have to pass.

I hadn't heard of the Qudelix - thanks.
It seems to be primarily marketed as a bluetooth receiver/dac/amp.
It has a usb for power but the user guide is not clear whether it can also be used as the data source? Anybody know?
I would not use the Bluetooth so would need to switch it off somehow.

The Dragonfly Red I had seen and it seems to have better output than the Black which would help with the headphones.
My only concern would be when running it off my phone... Would the lack of built in battery not drain the phone quickly?
Has anybody got any experience fo the Dragonfly Red when used with a phone?

Any others to throw in the hat that anyone can recommend?
Cyrus Soundkey?
Audiolab MDAC nano?
FiiO K3?
User of the Soundkey.. according to the expert measurement group for DACs it is not really that hot as a DAC in terms of signal noise distortion .... However It is incredibly loud and clear and distinct when driving any good headphones. I usually run it at 15% of maximum output and that is plenty loud. I have given up usung it with my phone Samsung S7 , because the usb port in the phone s iffy.. and yes while it is less power consumption than the Dragonfly, it does eat up phone power.
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
"Loud" with what headphone though? Is this apples to apples. The OP is using a full sized Beyerdynamic that requires a certain amount of power
 

jonnybee123

Active Member
Hi all,
Last time I was in this sub-forum you pointed me to some great headphones; the Beyerdynamic DT880Pro.
over-ear, wired headphones

They sound good direct from my PC and even Phone, but great from my headphone amp in my Rega Brio...

So what I'm looking for is something that will upgrade my sound from my PC and phone to something like that I hear from my Amp...

Ideally a combined DAC/headphone amp with an internal battery for on the move which I can plug in to charge while on the desk and listening to it.

I thought I had found a contender in the iFi Hip-DAC, but unfortunately it seems it doesn't charge and play at the same time...

So, any other suggestions?

EDIT: Almost forgot, lets say a budget about the same as the headphones of ~€200
Im selling my Audio quest DragonFly Red if interested

Audio quest DragonFly Red For Sale
 

Apollo83

Active Member
Thanks all. I decided to go with a powered device to avoid the phone drain.
I think if I was using my higher senstivity ear buds I might just go for a Soundkey / Dragonfly type option but my 250 ohm Headphones probably require a little more.
So in the end I have ordered an iFi HipDAC. (The Centrance competitor was hard to source in Europe)
I'll report back once I get it (some delays in it getting to Ireland at the moment apparently)
 

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