Portable audio

Discussion in 'All Things Digital' started by billfort, Jan 30, 2016.

  1. billfort

    billfort Administrator Staff Member

    I do some extended music listening where ultimate sound quality takes a hit while portability and convenience rules. Air travel, time away in a hotel on business, walking or biking on the miles of trails where I live, is all much more enjoyable when I can take some of my favorite music along.

    My current set-up; a Blackberry Z30 (because the job says so), Neutron music player, a FiiO Kilimanjaro 2 rechargeable headphone amp and Sennheiser Momentum in-ears.

    Neutron is supposed to be able to play just about anything including flac, wav, even DSD but at this point, I just rip what I want to hear to 320kbps MP3 a 32GB SD card can hold a lot of music this way and easily caries me through those 1wk long trips away.

    Couple hundred bucks and I love this little rig a charge lasts over 5hrs and this little amp really brings on some full, rich bass with smooth, extended highs really brings out the best in these affordable in-ears. I think the over-all balance tends towards a 'smiley face' eq response here but it's subtle and very appropriate where I use this stuff everything from well recorded jazz into blues and rock sounds good on this kit. Maybe I should try flac or DSD. :)

    Anybody else doing portable audio a little beyond a phone and phones?


    Attached Files:

  2. mfrench

    mfrench Senior Member

    raises hand.
  3. Prime Minister

    Prime Minister Site Owner Staff Member

  4. JohnVF

    JohnVF Administrator Staff Member

    I don't bit I need to. I've been on the road for a month and need something better than what I'm using. Which is an ipad running Tidal and a pair of AK Q701 headphones or Sony noise cancelling in ears for air travel. I love the AKGs, I just would like an amp to drive them but know absolutely nothing about portable headphone amps. So any recommendations would be helpful.

    BMWCCA Junior Member

    FWIW: Not the ultimate, but I simply use an iPod Classic 160GB loaded with lossless files from iTunes rips. I have several in-ears but my favorites are BMW Designworks Sennheiser model CX 980. In some circumstances I use B&W P5 series2 headphones I received as a gift from BMW during the launch of the new 7-series with B&W system. I don't use an amp because both the Senns and the B&W seem to have no problem being driven by the Classic. The Classic is my first iPod but when it was discontinued I purchased two as spares which are still sealed in their original boxes. I only occasionally listen to music on my iPhone and that's usually streamed, not stored. I don't waste any time or space on storing anything in the phone beyond apps and photos. I don't expect quality audio from my phone and don't require it, either.
  6. mfrench

    mfrench Senior Member

    Miniature hi-fidelity recording outfit; all battery powered gear.
    Edirol R09 (24bit recorder); Danish Professional Audio (DPA) MMA6000 two channel mic preamp; DPA 4060 miniature omnidirectional pair:

    The recorder is my "iPod" for portable playback as well.
  7. mfrench

    mfrench Senior Member

    Edirol R-44 four channel 24bit recorder and Grace Lunatec V3 two channel mic preamp (also has top notch ADC capabilities).
    All battery powered portable gear.
  8. mfrench

    mfrench Senior Member

    Grace Lunatec V3 (as analog preamp) -> Sound Devices 722 hi-res HDD recorder:

    Again, all battery powered, portable.
  9. King70

    King70 Junior Member

    30 gig 5th gen Ipod, FiiO headphone amp and a pair of Grado SR-80i is my portable system.
  10. JohnVF

    JohnVF Administrator Staff Member

    I had a Astell & Kern AK120, high-end portable device, for a weekend and really enjoyed it, but it was some serious overkill for my portable listening habits. On airplanes, the biggest difference has been with my noise-cancelling Sony earbuds. The passively block noise by, well, being earplugs, but they also have active cancellation and it works really well. I think I paid $50 for them a long time ago at a Sony outlet store. I have a bunch of nice headphones including a pair of Audezes but they're not exactly portable.
  11. MikeT.

    MikeT. Senior Member

    I've got a pair of older Shure earbuds, couldn't tell you the model # but they sound very good just playing with the iPhone. They were <$300 brand new but that was probably three or four years ago. They come with a small hard case, I just wind the cord up and fit them in there and throw them in my briefcase.
    I don't do a lot of critical listening when traveling so these have turned out to be just the ticket.
  12. JohnVF

    JohnVF Administrator Staff Member

    I borrowed a pair of similarly priced Monster Turbine headphones that were very good, too...but again, I really don't get very hi-fi while commuting so its overkill for me to pursue high-end earbuds. A hotel solution would be more welcome, though. I'd bring my Audeze 'phones if I had a suitable small amp that was able to fit in my suitcase.
  13. mfrench

    mfrench Senior Member

    The latest.....
    Tascam DR-70D. I run the DPA MMA6000 two channel preamp/DPA4060 combo, and, my 35 year old Sennheiser MKE2002 omni pair into it.
    This one runs for 10 hours on a USB Power Bank battery, with a very small, skinny profile.[​IMG]


    I'm really liking the last recording, where I mixed all four mics into one two channel mix-down.

    sorry for the thread 'jackin.
  14. billfort

    billfort Administrator Staff Member

    A bit of a new wrinkle on this for me - leveraging Tidal streaming using their 'offline' feature.

    I was a little surprised but their Android phone app works on the Blackberry so I can search and listen to all Tidal has to offer on this portable deal while on our home wireless network - so no data charges or going through the laborious process of converting local content into mp3 and dumping it on the SD card. The cool thing about this - you can go into 'offline' mode and download (apparently) uncompressed content to the phone's memory to listen to while not connected to the internet.

    A few compromises involved like managing these downloads considering available memory and you do have to plan ahead a little to select what you want to listen too, but I'm really liking this. This rig above is getting used a lot on walks but I can also plug the phone output into a stereo input jack in my car and sound quality is great - easily as good as playing a CD in the there and maybe even a little better than playing mp3 sometimes. Regardless, it is fantastic to be able to leverage the huge Tidal library while out of the house.
  15. TubeHiFiNut

    TubeHiFiNut Administrator Staff Member

    Preferred Source: iPod Touch (3rd gen) playing iTunes AAC rips or streaming/offline Spotify, Rhapsody, Google Play, Amazon Music.
    Source: Galaxy III streaming/offline Spotify, Rhapsody, Google Play, Amazon Music.
    Amp: C&C BH2 (up to 70 hours of listening on each charge)
    Headphones: Koss ProDJ 200

    Been using Tidal at home and might convert to it on the road. For now, Spotify works. I'm not sure if I can judge ultimate fidelity over the din of a jet engine. ;)
  16. billfort

    billfort Administrator Staff Member

    Yeah, ultimate fidelity takes a back seat to convenience and flexibility with this stuff for me too, but this combination of low-bucks hardware and the Tidal deal really seems to be delivering.

    And it's a hell of a lot nicer to turn this thing on hooked up to a hotel WiFi for the Tidal connection than turning on the TV. :)
  17. TubeHiFiNut

    TubeHiFiNut Administrator Staff Member

    Amen to that..... :)

    Listening to some wonderful music at the end of a long day of meetings is much more relaxing than turning on the TV. :)
  18. billfort

    billfort Administrator Staff Member

    I have another 2wks in hotel rooms ahead of me and since I've changed phones again - this time a Blackberry dtek50 which is full Android - I'm making some changes. In addition to the Tidal app, I've added USB Audio Player PRO which seems to do a fantastic job of playing local files from mp3 all the way up to hi-res and DSD, in addition to integrating Internet radio streams like Radio Paradise - something I've become very attached too as the catalyst that starts me on my Tidal trips.

    I know I could get most of this to work with individual 'free' apps but UAP does it in a nicely integrated way, plays all formats, sounds good on this phone and provides the future upgrade path of an otg connected external DAC, while working around the limitations of Android with otg connection. For now, I'm using a line-out connector to the FiiO E11K Kilimanjaro 2 amp but I'm looking at options and waiting for some new models to come out before deciding on a portable DAC/amp.

    This has been a nice upgrade; with these apps the phone's naked headphone out sounds really nice and the amp brings more bass, dynamics and ease. I can now have most of the 'digital' music flexibility and variety I've come to love in my home systems while on the road, and if I get a larger micro-SD card, I can carry more of my wav and DSD albums with me.

    If you can get used to portable headphones - something I've struggled with - it's pretty amazing how good something this portable can sound. For sure the home stuff is in a different league and the way HQPlayer upscaling and a DSD DAC elevates AAC streamed radio and Tidal flac to something so much more is lacking in this phone setup, but this will really make my time away from home and family easier to take.

    Looking forward to seeing what an external DAC brings to the picture.


    Attached Files:

  19. Don Ivey

    Don Ivey Junior Member

    I download music from Tidal to my iPhone 6, use a camera adapter to aq jitterbug to aq dragonfly red to b&w c5 earphones. Great sounds!
  20. Prime Minister

    Prime Minister Site Owner Staff Member

    That a neat combo. Is it cumbersome to use?

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