Originally Posted by aamefford
I don't remember if this is posted elsewhere in this thread, but www.taperssection.com has an enormous string of threads on the PCM-M10. It is a very loved digital recorder over there, both for open (venue/band allowed) and stealth (sneak it in, and act like a mic stand) live taping. A pretty versatile little recorder for sure.
Yes, it's a recorder first, and a very good one. It's a shame more people don't take the plunge and sample what it has to offer as a DAP, though.
I've been using my PCM-M10 almost daily now for 21 months straight. I've been unable to find a better portable source (but I have no problem believing the iPod Classic -> Cypher Labs Algorhythm Solo (CLAS) would overwhelm the Sony PCM-M10 - at easily $950 (with interconnects) vs. $249 for the PCM-M10 - not to mention the difference in weight and volume).
In comparing the PCM-M10 to both portable and desktop sources, in my opinion, for my tastes, with my equipment chain and my ears, the Line-Out from the Sony PCM-M10's proprietary delta-sigma DAC outperforms a Rockboxed Sansa Clip+ that I own and use only with my Shure SE530 when I want to keep things very compact and light, a Red Wine Audio iMod I borrowed for a couple of weeks, an iBasso DB2 (balanced out to my iBasso PB2), and a JDS Labs Standalone Objective DAC (ODAC). These last two DACs are currently in my possession, having ordered them recently for comparison to a friend's Centrance DACport LX that I've borrowed on many occasions.
I found the Sony PCM-M10 Line-Out to be nearly dead-even with a $700 April Music Stello DA100 that I borrowed for about 30 days.
But the Sony PCM-M10 is bettered, in my opinion - my equipment - my ears - my tastes, by only one DAC that I've personally had a lot of experience with: The Centrance DACport LX - and the gap is readily detectable - I love the DACport LX.
Thus, I'm willing to say that, in my opinion - for my tastes, my equipment chain, my ears - the PCM-M10 Line-Out ranks as NUMBER TWO among the following sources with which I've spent a lot of time auditioning - not listed in any specific order, beyond the DACport LX, holding the number one position:
Centrance DACport LX
April Music Stello DA100
Rockboxed Sansa Clip+
iBasso DB2 (balanced out)
JDS Labs Objective DAC (a.k.a ODAC)
Source -> 16-Volt powered iBasso PB2 with LME49990 op-amps in L/R + HA5002 buffers (balanced out) -> Toxic Cables Silver Poision -> LCD-2 Rev. 1
Earlier in this thread, I've reported comparisons of my PCM-M10 to other sources, performed by two head-fi members who borrowed my PCM-M10: dj nellie and Misterrogers.
Revisiting their findings, let me summarize by saying that one or the other of them found the PCM-M10 Line-Out to be inferior to the CLAS and NuForce HDP, but competitive with the HiFiMan HM-801 and Music Streamer II+. And, for the record, a reviewer (at the Steve Hoffman forum) of the older, more expensive Sony PCM-D50, finds the Sony PCM-M10 to offer superior playback quality.
Lastly, don't forget that this $249 DAP offers 24-bit/96 kHz portable playback - and the ability to make 24/96 recordings in the field (as aamefford has pointed out)!
I'll be posting a review later, once I'm finished with my testing - which will include the results of a blind study I did with the help of a friend, yesterday - comparing the ODAC, DB2, and Centrance LX - all of which are currently in my possession. See this post in the DB2/PB2 impressions thread.