Aug 15, 2016

Suggestion on a small sized, portable or transportable DAC/Amp combo for SE846/ HD650/ HD800/ and soon the Fostex TH-X00

I'm looking for a small sized, portable or transportable DAC/Amp combo to drive the following iem and headphones: SE846/ HD650/ HD800/ and soon the Fostex TH-X00 from Massdrop.
If everyone can chip in their experiences and suggestion, I'd be grateful.
Current contenders are:
  • Chord Mojo
  • Woo Audio WA8
  • Woo Audio WA7 (new version)
  • ALO Continental Dual Mono
I understand solid amp/ tubes/ and hybrids are quite different in sound signature, but I'm wondering which will drive the full-sized headphones well enough to their potential.
Please chime in with other suggestions if there are other better small sized dac/amp combo other than the above.
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I personally don't think it would be wise to sacrifice too much sound quality to go for the most portable set-up, seeing that you have so many full-sized cans. In this respect, I would suggest you get a O2+Odac revB 2 in 1 unit and pair it with an Ifi Nano iUSB3.0. My own set up which is similar is far better sounding than the Ifi micro Idsd Black Label, which is often compared to the Chord Mojo.
XRKaudio Pocket class A amp

https://www.etsy.com/shop/XRKAudio
Echoing Heefty’s comment - definitely look at either thr HiFi M8 or the DACportable, both from CEntrance. Both drive the 6xx without a problem. The DACportable had a small form factor but the M8 can be fitted with balanced XLR output should that be something you prefer. Both are Class A amps, meaning they run off their own power supply so won’t drain your playback device, but that does mean you will be limited in terms of listening time between charges. I get a few hours with either when running the 6xx,but can go for 11 hours or so running IEMs. Both also have tone shaping switches to boost either bass or treble subtly.
I think the creative labs sound blaster e5 would be good, amp and dac combo, support for up to 600ohms, toslink and has bluetooth
I was in the same boat for the past couple months. I have the hd650s and th-x00 as well as a few others, and I’ve been trying to find portable amps. I heard so much about the Mojo and when it finally came in the mail, I was so disappointed! Especially after I tried the ifi iDSD Black Lable! That thing Is amazing! The Mojo gets loud af, but that was about it. It didn’t sound good with the hd650s and I don’t think it complimented the th-x00 either. But the iDSD works so well with both! And it has so many cool feature! I highly recommend it. I can’t comment on the Woo’s or ALO, but I can give wonderful praises on the iDSD. I happily returned my Mojo when it arrived lol
I don't know why more people dont know about the oppo HA2 it is super small and compact and sounds truly amazing it is a little bit pricy but for the quality and features you get in that form factor its unbearable
I have the WA7, and I can tell you it's not portable. It may be transportable, but inconveniently so. The total weight is 40lbs all together with the PSU. It sounds amazeballs though.

For portability, I've been pretty happy with my Cozoy DAC/AMP
try Hifime Sabre 9018. it is surprisingly powerful and very good soundwise.
I have the HD650, it's so much matching with the Darkvoice, Schiit Vali and Schiit Lyr2. For portables l have the Aune B1 and the ifi nano l can. I was actually surprised by the aune, wonderful sound and perfect matching. I'm talking about classical music and jazz only, l am unaware of the sound quality of other genres on these products.
CEntrance Hifi M8 should be on your list to check out for sure.
I suggest oppo ha 2 se
How can Chord Mojo be 'best bang for your buck' when oppo ha2se exist?
I use a Oppo HA2 -SE with Audeze EL 8 open back headphones. The sound is excellent and this
little amp has no isssues powering them.
The WA7 is not portable or transportable. It is heavy with a big external power supply and a big block of glass on top that just kind of sits there. I have a first gen WA7, and unless you are extremely careful, you need to remove the tubes and put it back in the box to transport it. That said, I really like mine. I like that it is heavy, as you can plug/unplug headphones without it moving around. The noise floor is low enough to use with IEMs, and it just works with no operational quirks. The volume knob feels nice, too. It's a great desktop DAC+amp.

I think you should consider the Grace Design m9XX. I have one, and it has become my daily-use desktop DAC+amp with TH-X00 and EL-8c headphones, and I'm listening to JH-13Pro IEMs on it right now. It is a nice little package with great features (USB only or add second USB power supply for more power, crossfeed, 4 digital filters, RCA outs muted by second headphone plug), thoughtful design, excellent sound and excellent build quality. It isn't as portable as the Chord Mojo, but you can run it directly off a phone with no other connections, and it is small and light enough to be quite transportable. Highly recommended.

I don't have any direct experience with the Chord Mojo, but that is truly portable and also seems like a good match for your needs.
HappyMax
Thanks for the reply and recommendation, the Grace m9XX just got on Massdrop today, and it's added to my list for consideration as well. Sound-wise, as they are both capable of driving EL8 planars, how would you compare WA7 and the m9XX?
hh83917
I haven't done extensive *comparative* listening between the WA7 and m9XX.

I've had the WA7 for ~1.5 years. When I got the m9XX about 9 months ago, I found the sound to be clean, and well, perfect. I switched from using the WA7 to the m9XX on my desk. For a while, my impression was that the m9XX sounded better than the WA7, or at least different and not worse. However, I recently tried using the m9XX DAC with the WA7 amp, and that sounded pretty amazing, maybe better than the m9XX amp, but it could be just in my head. So, I really don't know, but I do think they are both outstanding, and they are both purchases that I am totally satisfied with, which is rare.
I'm using an Oppo HA2 with my 846's. No complaints. But if you can afford anything by Chord....
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That sounds very convincing, I don't think I will have trouble selling the mojo if it ended up not being my taste.
hh83917
Definitely not, I've been trying to get a used one in mint condition for ages. People that sell them either don't usually drop the price enough to be worth the hassle or the ones that do give it away immediately :D

Still sorta' happy with my Oehlbach, but it's not portable and it doesn't play well with high sensitivity headphones :(
Though I use IEMs exclusively with my Teac HA-P50, I've plugged my HD5/6XX phones into it, and on high gain they sound remarkably good. with as much volume as I need at about 1-2 (5 being maxed out). I really like the solidity and rugged tactile feel of the amp, which suits my 'travel' mission for the amp, though for other users with a different goal that might translate into ' too heavy'.

Saying that, if you're considering an $1800.00 WA8 (whose 'Genuine Leather Case' costs about what the Teac goes for) and you're carting around HD800s, your mission (and budget) are different than mine. Good luck!