Sony D-NE830 is listed as having MD-Link (= SPDIF out via optical) on Sony's websites all over the world, but my player (EU8 Version) doesn't mention anything like that in the manual. Was this option "deleted" at the last moment?
Audio Out is set correctly to "Line Out", and my cable (which works with other players) fits into the correct socket, but no digital signal.
Do I have a pre-production model?
I highly doubt you have a pre-production model. I just don't know that all of these listings are accurate. I have been checking the manuals of the units I am interested in and if it isn't mentioned I don't get it.
Pretty slim pickings on DAPs. And no cell phones, iPhones, iPods, or gPhones.
As far as updates, it lists the Pacemaker as forthcoming. In fact its out, costs $750, and I don't see a digital out. Only hope is where it says "USB 2.0 connector, for data transfer".
I wonder if a little netbook might not be a more economical solution that could be added to the list, I mean you can get a Dell Inspiron 9 running Windows for $250, can't that push .flac out the USB into the OP's iBasso, and probably its as portable as some of the CD-players and 8-track-tape-players listed.
Speaking of which, according to wankerpedia "The iriver H100 series (originally iHP-100 series) is a series of discontinued portable digital audio players (DAP) made by iriver company and originally released in October 2003. The H100 players differ only in hard drive storage capacity, RAM size, color, and thickness. It was succeeded by the iriver H300 series." Which AFAIK doesn't have .flac or digital output. So there's another update.
The dock connector on the Toshiba Gigabeat F and X series (and possibly the S series, potentially 1st generation zunes as well) exposes the I2S signal, and battery power, so a DIY portable digital-out dock is possible. It would require a relatively cheap foxconn connector + a relatively cheap digital audio line driver chip + associated passives and possibly an output transformer. This kind of mod has been constructed for MD decks, for example.
But it's unconfirmed at this time whether anyone has actually tried using the digital output on a gigabeat.
I demand portable digital output! Can we add netbook, cell phone and DAC categories to the OP?
Netbooks: A search reveals scant discussion here of using a netbook for digital output. They all run windoze and have USB out don't they, so shouldn't they work with e.g. iBasso? Or if you want to run OS X... Mac OS X Netbook Compatibility Chart (Updated) - Boing Boing Gadgets
OK maybe not one with a 12 or 10 inch screen but some of these netbooks have 9 or 7 inch screens and can't be much larger than all the PCDP's listed in the OP...
Cell Phones: I heard that the iPhone has digital output on a couple of the pins on its bottom plug. BUT its in a proprietary Apple format!
DACs: how hard could it be to add a SD card slot to an iBasso? And then either tell us "life is random" or add a couple buttons and an alphnumeric display.
No worries. I did so in post #110 a bit. I will wait patiently for the modification. Much as I wait patiently for a proper portable digital source. Another piece of information it would be interesting to add is what years the product was manufactured. I'm guessing at least half of the sources listed in the OP haven't been made for years. Might be info on wikipedia about a few of them. Probably one is left searching eBay or audiogon for a used portable CD player.
Let's add some of this "January 4, 2008 — Wadia Digital, Inc. announced that it will debut the $349 iTransport iPod dock in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) January 7, 2008. Certified by Apple as "Made for iPod®," the iTransport bypasses the iPod's internal D/A conversion to output an S/PDIF signal, "providing CD-quality resolution from full-resolution from file formats such as .WAV and [Apple Lossless]." Stereophile: Wadia Announces Launch of iPod Dock with S/PDIF Output See in particular the information at the end of the article. Its not really portable, but at least it shows what's possible. I wonder if anything new has happened in this area in the year since it was introduced.
At the end of the article, one finds this list of portable digital sources. iPod Nano G1, G2, G3, Video, Classic, Touch... and the iPhone. They are DAPs, they are portable sources, and they are digital. These should be added to the OP.
Followed by an explanation that while they are millions of them out there, the digital output is (by no accident) in a proprietary Apple format, which accounts for some of the huge cost of the Wadia iTransport iPod dock, but not its huge size. Apple could have stuck a SPDIF jack on most of their kit at minimal cost, but since they own us and all our music, they make us suffer and pay for digital.
"Though not explicitly shown, from Portalplayer's website it is clear that the chip contains an SPDIF output. This option has unfortunately not been utilized by Apple, so it is not available on the standard connector." It might well be possible to solder on 2 wires and run them outside the case to a SPDIF plug.
Excuse my french, but Fcuk them. There are no manufacturers out there that wants to spend 2-3 bucks more to add a spdif, thinking we're just a bunch of iphonephile idiots wanting the "best looking audio device".
In auto-sound, the only one that does regular optical spdif is JVC(alpine/clarion optical is proprietary), but even that, the radio portion is analog only. They're getting my money for the next upgrade.
At the same time, I'm gonna get a netbook(MID/UMPC) with touch screen. A Trends audio UD10.1 USB transporter, and get my spdif. Install a custom xp/car linux.
Not the most portable, but works well in a car.
For all the manufacturers out there producing "blinks", they will never get my money. You'd think that a used iriver 140 can regularly commend the price of a new nano in ebay, would tip off the idiots in in China/Korea that people actually care about digital out from a transport.