General purchase advice: Ask your questions/for advice here!

First time commenter here. Look forward to your expert feedback.

TL;DR: DAP choice: Cayin N3Pro or the soon-to-be released Fiio M11 Plus ( … which of course no one has heard yet).

I don’t “need” a DAP (see below) but I’m considering one anyway. I had narrowed it down to the Cayin N3Pro…but it looks like Fiio is introducing an M11 Plus for $699. Instead of AK chips, it uses two ES9068AS. I have the Monolith 24459 desktop DAC/Amp, which is fantastic. It has AK chips, so a DAP with ESS could be an interesting, complementary path, as would be the numerous output options of the Cayin. I don’t have any experience with tube output.

If they were the same price, I would lean Fiio. But, the Fiio is some $200 more and so my question comes down to if it’s actually $200 better.

Use case: DAP would be my source for, primarily, two IEMs, IMR Elan and 7Hz Timeless. I have a decent amount (202 GB) of high res sources. Also stream from Amazon HD. Understand my only option doing that with the Cayin is Bluetooth. Which isn’t too annoying, but maybe not ideal.

And if you’re so inclined: I don’t need a DAP because I work from home. Have for almost three years and there’s no sign of a change, and no or very little travel, so my PC>Monolith setup is sufficient. How can you talk me into getting a DAP anyway? :slight_smile:

Thanks in advance.


What about walking around the neighborhood or the park? I’m always walking around with my dog.

You have to make a portable use case. An android DAP can do music playback better than any all-purpose phone.

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Hello, this is my first post on this great forum. I have been reading many posts but never posted myself. But now I am looking for some advice. Please note I am no true audiophile :blush:

I’m a mastering engineering and I find myself using my headphones more and more. I currently have a Sennheiser HD 600 that I have had for 12 years now. But I am itching for something more detailed and not so in your head. I love the neutral tamber of the 600’s as it’s been great in a mastering context but I can’t help the itch to get something more detailed with more natural/transparent soundstage depth. Also not to mention more accurate in the sub-bass area as the 600’s roll-off is pretty deep.

I do use EQ to bring my 600 to taste which is pretty close to Harman curve and will use EQ with any new headphones I get. So I’m not opposed to EQ

My price range is: up to $5000. As I state that I am looking for value. If a $5k headphone is not 2 to 3x’s better than a $1k pair of phones then I would lean towards the $1k one and spend the rest of the money on mastering hardware.

I like to listen to: to everything

I will be using them for: mastering / audio engineering


Oh, sorry. Meant to include that. I do walk the dog almost every day. In the warmer months, this is a 2+ mile walk, but even in winter it’s a good 25-30 minutes, so there’s a start of a use case.


I’m a Huge Dap and Iem fan. I use my Dap for Desktop listening, by plugging into a higher powered amp for overear headphones that need the extra Ooomph. .


I’m a “neutral head” who has long owned the HD 600 and explored upgrades.

Common recommendations might include the Focal Clear (Original) at $1,000 or so, Clear MG $1,500, Sennheiser HD 800 or HD 800 S ($1,100 to $1,400 street; varies per sales and discounts). In the price-is-no-object class, the Focal Utopia ($4,400) is a logical contender for mastering. However there are many esoteric $5K models out there that I haven’t tried. Check out @Resolve’s headphone ranking thread for opinions and reviews based on greater experience.

The Focal family offers dynamic, clean, and punchy sound with better treble extension and detail than the HD 600. However, the stage isn’t very wide (but wider than the notoriously narrow HD 600).

I’m currently bouncing back and forth between the original Clear and HD 800 S, and find the HD 800 S better in every way except dynamics. Its tone and timbre are similar to the HD 600, but the treble is much more extended and relaxed. Its stage is among the widest available in headphones. However, the bass isn’t deep or punchy, so I routinely use it on a tube amp or with EQ. The Clear is easier to drive and not as picky about amps, but the mids are relatively grainy and the highs can be edgy on some setups.

In my experience headphone ROI/value absolutely increases to the $1K to $2K range, but the law of diminishing return bites after that. I’ve demoed $5K to $10K systems but not felt compelled to buy. Still, many others on this forum do indeed prefer these products, and I too hear differences. Everyone’s hearing and priorities differ, so in the end you must try for yourself.


I personally think the argument that a DAP is perfect for travel is flawed. With the increased noise levels while traveling combined with lower focus on the actual music, does it make sense to put a good chunk of change toward a DAP? Those distractions will likely negate the increase in sound quality you’d hear, especially compared to sitting in a quiet environment, fully focusing on the music.

With that said, I think you already listed the best reason to purchase a DAP, which is that you have a decently sized library of hi res music; that alone would be enough for me. Sure, you can just stream everything, but you paid for that music, so…


Given the modest potential of mobile audio quality and high risk of damage, loss, theft, etc. I’m exploring cheap burner phones as Bluetooth MP3 players. The source below strongly recommends <$40 Android phones.

They work fine off WiFi and (at least some, such as the Tracfones mentioned) do not require cellular activation or fees. This functions as a backdoor iPod Touch at a tiny fraction of the cost.


For Bluetooth MP3, I think this is a great option, especially if the primary use-case is while on-the-go or while sitting at a desk and working (not fully focused on the music).

I used to take my Dunu SA6 and iBasso DAP into the office, but I realized it’s just a waste because the music is just background noise while I work. I now just use my Galaxy Buds Pro (previously exclusively used for workouts) and Etymotic ER2XR’s because I’ll never fully appreciate the previous combo while focusing on work instead of the music.


Your budget is terrific and you are gonna get a truly amazing pair of headphones for that. 5g’s is a lot to play with. You could even get 2 very good headphones for that price. Anyhow my recs would be

The D-8000 Pro by Final Audio. Retail is $4,200 USD.

LCD X. Retail 1,799USD and The Sennheiser HD 800’s. retail cost is $1,499 USD.

Honestly these headphones have received high accolades in the audiophile world for mastering.
You get it all. Openness, detail, accuracy and soundstage. All 3 headphones are unique to themselves though. I highly recommend auditioning them all. :slight_smile:

Best of luck and let me know what you decide on. I’m very interested. :slight_smile:


You make a good point that a good DAP isn’t only or even primarily for travel. I think the biggest reason I would have to invest in a DAP is working in an office, which isn’t currently the case. Using one for “travel” is much more secondary.


Earpadz vs. Brainwavz - FIGHT!

I’m looking into getting a new pair of earpads for my Grados (that right I said Grados, you gotta problem with that :grinning:) Looking on I see that Earpadz and Brainwavz are pretty much the same price. I’ve been using the Brainwavz velour for a while but they’re beyond worn so I was wondering if it’d be worth paying the tiny bit extra ~$5 for the Earpadz jerzee.
BTW, did I mention I “modded” my Grados so I can use proper earpads?

Hey, while I’m here… my 58X is needing new pads too. Sennheiser is way backlogged on stock and I wanted to know if anybody has tried the Earpadz jerzee for them. Any effect on the sound?

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I use my DAP for my commute, but I can easily make a case for the DAP for a homebound listener. Listen in your backyard, in bed at night, in the next room when you don’t want to bother anyone. I’d recommend an Astell & Kern model that is Roon Ready, and that’ll make the DAP all that much easier to navigate. I have the SE180, but there are many A&K DAPs that are Roon Ready.

How’d I do?


I think you did great. Sounds like I need to investigate Roon. While I could technically afford an A&K at the moment (the A&K Kann Alpha has especially caught my eye) I’m not sure I have the guts to pull the trigger for a four-figure player. Thanks.

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Yeah, it’s a big ticket. But whatever DAP you get, I think you’ll enjoy the mobility even if you don’t go too far. Enjoy!

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You can get your feet wet with a Shanling M3X

Welcome to the forum!

What amp and dac are you using? There’s a risk that a $5K headphone could sound worse than a cheaper one if it needs a better amp than the one you have. Depending on what you already have, dividing your budget between a new amp, dac and headphones might be the best way to give you the sound you’re looking for.


Yeah, I got a problem with that. You’re picking the wrong earpads for Grados.
If you search the forum, you’ll find I’ve commented extensively on these, as have others who like Grados. I personally think the hybrid ones are exactly right for my RS1e.


Nice, but overkill (read: expensive) for my lowly 1st gen. 125s
The 125s been modded with a large baffle/adapter so I can pretty much use any earpad on them - price is really the biggest consideration (actually if I could figure a way to mount them I’d use Fidelio X2 earpads - if I could also find somewhere that sells them)

If your baffle/adapter is large enough I’d say find the mounting rings for Hifiman ear pads and attach them to the 125. I did this for an old Stax SR-34 that had small, flat, hard and expensive replacements, made them really comfortable, easy to find replacements and even improved the bass level a touch.

With that said, I’d actually stick with generic “G” pads (about $5-7) from China for most Grado headphones. I usually buy 4-5 pairs from different vendors since the QC is not great and shapes and foam varies so I try each and just use the ones that sound good to me.

I’ve also tried the Beautiful Audio ear pads, very comfortable but changes the sound too much for my tastes on the RS2e, Ypsilon G1, Ypsilon R1 and a few others that I tried them on.

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