Originally Posted by Fortunex
What's wrong with the DAC/amp sections?
The DAC/amp section is too easily abused. Head-fi is not an open forum. It exists and is owned solely to make money and is moderated as such. They make a lot of money by pushing products from their sponsors, who pay them for that right. DACs/amps are very cheap for a company to make and very easy to sell for a lot of money. They are also hard for most people to understand, so audiophile myths become concrete fact very easily and get "proved" with poor anecdotal evidence and expectation bias.
All this rolls into the wonderful Head-Fi "Flavor of the Month Amp/DAC!" where some magical $300 bargain amp from a brand new audio pioneer finds its way into the hands of a seasoned Head-Fi veteran who does extensive comparisons to find that it’s a great bargain and performs like twice its price, except that $700 amp really does better still and you should probably buy that if you can afford it. And as soon as the massive hype train starts to slow down... guess what?! A Magical $200 DAC is about to find its way into the hands of another seasoned Head-Fi veteran who can't believe how well it pairs with his $300 FOTM amp! And it really shines with this interconnect and some boutique op-amps, and get your power cables without extra shipping!
This cycle repeats over and over, and any newcomers constantly get swept up thinking they got in at the perfect time and the owners do everything they can to keep the cycle rolling. iBasso, Audio-GD, the ocassional DIY, NuForce, Schiit... all of these companies (not DIY of course, unless a company is selling a DIY design) POUR our designs as fast as the reviewers can praise them. Problem is, many of these companies don’t have nearly the right tools to test their designs and many of them DO NOT WANT TO because it would cut into profit. I'm not even talking audio testing in every case, just basic circuit testing. Schiit products were destroying headphones (youtube it), NuForce was flat out lying on specs and produced the amp with the worst volume pot channel imbalance ever sold, DIY designs often lack important safety features for battery imbalance, current overprotection and RF filters, Audio-GD sells those awful discrete op amps and fused power cables with the fuse polarity reversed so they don't even work, and iBasso sells portable amps with high output impedance (WHY!?) and has 24bit USB circuits designed poorly enough negate the entire benefit of 24bit audio.
I've spent too much time on that website and seen too many good posts warning people of these issues either moderated away to avoid hurting sales or even flat out attacked by the community because they really want to believe their pretty aluminum box is special and the magic electronics inside are beyond all human understanding to justify the potential thousands they spent on their equipment. Don't get me wrong, I've also spent a lot on audio and chasing better sound is fun and not completely a marketing lie, but a reasonable hobby quickly turns into flat out scam unless you know exactly what you are buying and why.
I guess to summarize I could just say this. Head-Fi takes a real problem, turns it into an imaginary one that people didn’t even know they had, and solves it poorly over and over again while making a huge profit and doing everything they can to make audio and expensive mystical journey devoid of all logic. The amp/DAC section (along with cables) is the easiest to take advantage of due to pricing and lack of knowledge of the user base. I find the section to be 90% marketing/misinformation, and that makes it nearly impossible for someone new to this to make an educated decision.
Sorry for the rant. To end on a positive note, good choice on that Fiio, they make much better stuff than the companies I had to mention above. Did you get those HE400’s yet? Planars are very high on my list of next audio purchase, but I would have to sell my current amp since I just don’t have enough specs on it to know if it can supply the crazy requirements that planars have.