Great Job, dj nellie and Mike. I have almost everything that dj has except for the HM801. However, I do have the Sony PCM D50. I am somewhat surprised by the finding of the M10/HM801 comparison. The 801 supposed to have a very good DAC. I feel the same with the CLAS-it is just more clean and transparent with the CLAS.
When I use my PCM-D50, I tried the following combinations:
1. Headphone Out---PCM-D50--headphone out to JH13/ESW10jpn.
2. Line out---PCM-D50--SR71b/PICO Slim/Protector
3. Optical OUT---PCM-D5 optical out to-DB1--balance to SR71b--Balance to JH/13/ED8/LCD2/HD800
Of the three configurations, I find the difference between 2 and 3 the most significant. I loose a lot of graininess that DJ observes with lino out. So when I by pass the AMP/DAC of the D50, the whole presentation becomes much more refine with more body.
I do believe that the M10 may have a better built in dac than my D50 due to the M10 being a newer model. But if anyone have use of a digital recorder, the recording ability on the D50 is unbelievable. Thanks again, I have always wonder how the 801 compares.
Revisiting an earlier post I made to this thread:
"The big advantage the M10 has over the D50 though is very long battery life (40 hours versus about 20) as well as far better sound out of it's line and headphone jacks, particularly at 48 khz and beyond. The D50 sounds terrible out of the line and headphone jacks - the sound becomes very fatiguing and coarse and anything beyond 24/44.1. Perhaps the DACs are very old technology or something. The M10 sounds fine in these respects though."
So, it seems this fellow agrees with your conjecture that the D50's DAC is inferior to that of the newer, but less expensive, M10.
Without having heard it, I'm thoroughly convinced from dj nellie's impressions that the iPod Classic + CLAS is superior to the PCM-M10, and Misterrogers concluded that although the PCM-M10 is nearly the equal of his HRT Music Streamer II+, it falls short of the DAC in his Nuforce HDP.
Going back in this thread earlier still, you can find my notes regarding comparisons I made with tnmike1's 80GB 5.5g iMod, which I found to be less detailed and darker than the PCM-M10 (which correlates with dj nellie finding the PCM-M10 to be bright).
Earlier still I posted that my comparisons to Yuceka's USB-fed April Music Stello DA100 DAC, where I found the PCM-M10 to be almost identical in overall signature, but with a little less detail (98% instead of 100%) and a little less bass extension than what the DA100 DAC offers. (All of my comparisons were made into a 15-Volt powered Stepdance with LCD-2.)
So there you have it - I'm content to not lend it out for any further comparisons, as I feel I have a good handle now on where the PCM-M10's DAC sits relative to other gear. I've known all along that I very much enjoy the detail and neutrality, but now I'm far less interested in spending money anytime soon to upgrade to a better source. I'll stick with enjoying 95% of the perfection for 25% of the cost. We can't all afford a Ferrari F40.