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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 5:05 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:43 pm
Posts: 28
Location: Wheatley, ON, CA
Greetings,
I am using an iPhone 6S and Sennheiser HD598. Spotify as a music source (mostly).
The SQ is decent overall but I find that the open back design of the 598 brings a significant
reduction in volume. There are times when the volume is near maximum and not enough.
From what I've been reading, the DAC in this device is very good so no need for an external
one.
I'm seeking input from those who can recommend an amp for this particular combination.
Portability is not a requirement as most of my listening takes place at home.
Please help me get the most out of this!
Many thanks!


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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 5:46 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2005 12:02 pm
Posts: 172
Location: Ottawa, ON, CA
Do you want this amp to be mobile?

Maybe check out the Fiio line of portable and desktop amps : http://www.fiio.net/en/products/59


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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 6:35 am 
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Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 11:01 am
Posts: 1452
Location: Comox, BC, CA
When I moved into a condo, I tried a Bottlehead Crack w/speedball but it was not a good match for my Hifiman HE-500's and only just barely for Sennheiser HD 540's. I sold it and bought a Schiit Lyr II and love it. Lots of jam for the two sets of cans mentioned plus a set of Mr. Speaker Alphadogs.
I guess it depends on your budget.

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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 8:55 am 
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Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 1:54 pm
Posts: 291
Location: Edmonton, AB, CA
For those headphones which are pretty easy to drive, something cheaper like a Schiit Fulla 2 would fit the bill nicely. I have the closed 598 at work with the Fulla and I barely have to move the dial.


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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 9:06 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 10, 2005 9:39 pm
Posts: 590
Location: West of GTA Boonies, ON, CA
The DAC in the iPhone is comparatively poor and needs a bypass for quality hi-Rez audio performance . Similarly the standard iPhone music player app is a distant minimalist offering.
When compared to an external headphone amp/ DAC , and upgraded app player, the upgrade is huge.

The ultra-simple system pathway:

IPhone source
Apple Camera Adapter3 (Lightning to USB adapter, but you need V3)
Audioquest Dragonfly headphone amp/DAC
Headphones 3.5 mm cable direct plugin into the AQ
Note: upgrade the music player app to the ONKYO HF player app... an ultra cheap but noteworthy significant iPhone 6 music player app performance upgrade , especially with the hi-Rez file capability.

Check out the WIFIHIFI link for a comparative of the "new" Black vs Red models. The "New" Black V1.5 is a a revised upgrade to the "old" Black V1.2 model.

Call John at WIFIHIFI in Oakville for his take and suggestions. (He is also the editor of the WIFIHIFI.ca digital site -- see different website hyperlink farther down)

His complimentary bricks and mortar store link: https://www.wifihifistore.com


What I found was that the AQ Dragonfly microDAC/ amp kit selected is curiously system dependent .

-- The "Red" had a narrow edge over the "Black" with my Beyerdynamic T51i overear phones;
but
-- the cheaper "new 1.5 Black" AQ microDAC/ headphone amp had a better overall performance with my superior build and superior performance (and more $$) Master & Dynamic MH40 over-ear phones, primarily in the mid-range and upper bass , ESPECIALLY with the hi-Rez playback with the ONKYO HF player.
-- I bought the "New Black 1.5 " as my best-bang-fer-yer-buck with the MDs.

-- The double-the-price new "Red" has a higher output geared for hard-to-drive headphones and a reported somewhat "better ??" -(still the same mfg) DAC chip. If you don't need that added output feature because you do not have hard-to-drive cans, then IMO save your cash and consider the "New Black V1.5 " AUDIOQUEST Dragonfly microDAC / headphone amp.

-- In any case, -- IMO-- You should DEFINITELY do a direct Red-Black shootout hands-on audition with your own headphones.

Note: I also bought the TEAC HA-P50 HEADPHONE AMPLIFIER/DAC for my kit stable.

-- Is it better than the AQ Dragonfly , Red or Black ?
-- Yes, but it is also 3 times the price of the AQ Dragonfly Black.... and it is a better kit, but not 3X better in a linear graph line comparison.
-- IMO the AQ Dragonfly is the way to go for optimal performance vs budget constraints .

AQ DRAGONFLY

https://www.soundandvision.com/content/ ... acs-review
http://www.theabsolutesound.com/article ... -red-dacs/
https://www.wifihifi.ca/LatestNewsHeadl ... 5/Red.html

ONKYO HF player app

https://www.whathifi.com/news/onkyo-hf- ... io-iphones
http://www.headfonia.com/ios-corner-fac ... -neplayer/
http://www.mensjournal.com/gear/electro ... r-20131121


Last edited by Gunner on Thu May 25, 2017 2:12 pm, edited 9 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 9:49 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2005 8:43 am
Posts: 935
Location: Burlington, ON, CA
Gunner has some good ideas.

I liked the 598's with the iFi Nano iDSD LE from my iPhone too. I did not record that in my review of the unit over at Audiocircle, as I ran out of time with my demo unit and returned it. I later had the chance to try the iPhone with relevant camera kit and thought it was good.

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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 10:43 am 
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Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2011 4:51 pm
Posts: 506
Location: Mont St-Hilaire, QC, CA
You dont mention budget so I'll suggest a used Chord Mojo (with the CCK adapter). Its the best I tried with an iPhone. Buy used. If you dont like, resell with minimum loss. But I think you'll like it.
Good luck.

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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 10:50 am 
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Joined: Wed Dec 23, 2009 8:26 am
Posts: 134
Location: Toronto, ON, CA
I don't think the DAC in the iPhone 6 is bad at all. Agree with getting the Onkyo player if you want Hi Rez. Changing headphones could play just as well as an amp. Try out the B&O H6, for instance; sounds terrific with the iPhone.

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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 12:02 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 10, 2005 9:39 pm
Posts: 590
Location: West of GTA Boonies, ON, CA
Hi -Rez streaming:

If you decide to upgrade the hardware to hi-Rez capable, then take TIDAL HIFI hi-Rez 1411 Kbps FLAC cD- quality file format (via an upgrade to their premium Hi-Fi subscription from their own base-level "standard" compressed lossy format .... a la SPOTIFY, Apple Music, ) streaming for a test drive .

TIDAL HIFI Good news:

A whole step up audio performance-wise (IF you have the Hi-Rez FLAC file playback performance capable gear) from the just-pick-one-of-'em base services from Apple Play / SPOTIFY / TIDAL /GOOGLE Play .... all these base-level" 256 to max 320kbps are just compressed lossy file formats. Quantum leap better than the crap bottom of the barrel ultra-compressed and ultra-lossy MP3 format and still a big step- up in audio quality from the 320kbps "still lossy / compressed" base SPOTIFY and base TIDAL file formats ....)

TIDAL HIFI Bad news:

more expensive monthly subscription price ~ twice the monthly price for HIFI than the "standard" TIDAL or SPOTIFY subscription rates.


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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 1:35 pm 
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Posts: 1010
Location: Kingston, ON, CA
I like the Korg DS-DAC-100m. For $100 it's very good.
http://www.korg.com/caen/products/audio/ds_dac_100m/

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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 3:31 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:43 pm
Posts: 28
Location: Wheatley, ON, CA
Some great advice and recommendations. Many thanks!
So... this high end jazz (with some language I'm not familiar with but I'm educating myself as we speak... err... type)
If I'm to understand correctly, in order to bypass the internal DAC, I must go through the lightning port. This will be a beginning point of sound upgrade. I will start there. Gunner is suggesting a particular outboard DAC but am I safe to assume any amp/DAC combo will do the trick providing I'm bypassing the internal components?
I may begin experimenting with some other formats etc... once this particular upgrade neglects to satisfy. The never ending pursuit and the law of diminishing returns...
I've been eyeing up the Fiio Alpen as an option.


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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 4:04 pm 
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Location: Markham, ON, CA
I have been down this road before esp on the AQ Dragonfly. If portability is important to you then this is the way to go. However there's a limit in how good the sound quality will be. Jumping to a "bedside" headphone system, for example, running a Raspberry Pi with Volumio into a DAC and/or Headphone amp from (let's say) Schiit Asgard. Same headphone, night and day.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:22 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2015 3:01 am
Posts: 60
Location: Windsor, ON, CA
The Senn HD598 doesn't get enough respect as a great headphone: not just a great headphone "for the price", but a great headphone period.

But it does thrive with an amplifier, especially the soundstage which will really open up and is a strong point of this headphone.

The DAC is good on the iPhone but it lacks amplification. I don't think you will benefit from the DAC portion of a DAC/amp, so better to invest in just the amp. Teac makes a good unit, the HA-501 with adjustable damping. If you want to try tubes inexpensively, Hifiman has some excellent units for sale as well and their units have a soft sound which can take the edge off compressed music.

IF you plug the iphone into a DAC/amp it will sound better, but it won't be the DAC making the different. It's the amp.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 6:57 am 
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Joined: Sun Jan 15, 2012 9:57 am
Posts: 43
Location: Dartmouth, NS, CA
I use a Beyerdynamic A20 Headphone amp with my Sennheiser HD518 and my AKG Q701's . The sound is amazing and drives the Senn's with ease . The amp is dead quiet and takes the Senn's to a whole other level .The A20 can be had for $500 on Amazon . The build quality and fit and finish are second to none . Good luck in your quest !!


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 10:58 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 11, 2013 10:57 pm
Posts: 298
Location: Vancouver, BC, CA
The iphone 6s actually has decent sound quality straight out of the phone.

I use a denon MM400 headphone or IEM's and for portability I'm very happy with my iphone 6+

I strongly urge you to check out the Peachtree shift. Not that bad in price but I enjoyed it more than the ifi products. The sound quality seemed rich and that amp is able to drive more headphones on the market. The black or Red dragonfly sounded thin and shrill to my ears compared to the Canadian made Peachtree shift.

Test with your own ears :)


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