Can anybody suggest a good amp and/or DAC to use with my iPhone?

Discussion in 'iPod' started by mattcube64, Feb 17, 2009.

  1. mattcube64 macrumors 65816


    May 21, 2006
    Hey guys! My Fiio E3 just broke, and I was about to order a replacement. But then I started considering an E5. Then, wouldn't you know it, I was looking at $100-$500 portable amps.

    Anything more than a hundred bucks is out of my price range. Honestly, if the Fiio is just fine, I'll just stick with that. However, if someone has a good suggestion, I'd love to hear it!

    Right now I'm considering the NuForce Icon Mini. Seems pretty nice. I'll be using this with Shure 3 + 5 series earbuds, and Sennheiser 280s. Along with my iPhone and shuffle both playing Lossless.

    Anybody have a recommendation?
  2. SurferDude macrumors newbie

    Feb 19, 2009
    Grado RA1 Excellent

    The Grado RA1 is about $399. Maybe too pricey for now, maybe not. As the hot-rodders say, "Speed costs money. How fast do you want to go?"
    The RA1 is an excellent amp. There are models for high impedance or low impedance cans. The RA1 can be either battery powered (two 9v) or wall powered.
    You can view reviews of the RA1 and other amps at, a truly unbiased audiophile site.
    I was just about to buy one last week, but job crisis intervened. The money is still in my piggy bank, but I am waiting for a sunny (economy) day. I have auditioned the RA1, and am convinced they are the best for my purposes. My music tastes range from rock to classical to R&B to country to jazz. And I do like music fidelity.
    You can get good sound from many amps. I just prefer the RA1.
    Good luck with your search.
  3. dmblue macrumors member

    Jun 18, 2008
    what would be the benefit of using this? and what kind of scenario.
  4. Sesshi macrumors G3


    Jun 3, 2006
    One Nation Under Gordon
    Basically, when you want a badge of Nerd.

    It's not even Geek, because in the vast majority of cases portable amps actually degrade the signal - but simply has the effect of altering the tone a bit (as well as deafening you quicker, of course).

    Analog-wise, if you can get Xin to deliver which is a struggle at times, his amps are probably the best out of a largely useless lot due to the size and spec.

    In terms of DAC/amps there's the HeadAmp Pico (, which is well reviewed by the peers on Head-Fi. I thought it was OK, but suffers from the same general problems with portable amps of practicality. It's also iPodlike in that it scratches really easily. Bear in mind that the DAC part only works with laptops/desktops.

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