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Overall Best SQ for Portable Player?

post #1 of 59
Thread Starter 

What is the all-time best SQ quality to come out of a portable player? It doesn't have to be too compact, it can just be something that you can use portable, such as the Sound Devices recorders, etc. Anything! Let's just have this solved once and for all. smile.gif

post #2 of 59

The Hifiman HM-801.

post #3 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by DotChannel View Post

What is the all-time best SQ quality to come out of a portable player? It doesn't have to be too compact, it can just be something that you can use portable, such as the Sound Devices recorders, etc. Anything! Let's just have this solved once and for all. smile.gif



There is no answer to this question. It's subjective....everyone will have their favorites.

post #4 of 59
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Achmedisdead View Post

There is no answer to this question. It's subjective....everyone will have their favorites.


That doesn't matter. Not unless we compare all of them.

post #5 of 59

Sony portable DAT recorder DTC-D3. What is my prize?biggrin.gif

post #6 of 59

HM-801 for no compromise Sound Quality. 

 

As in you'll get the best sound quality, but at the cost of large size, heavier weight, and low battery life.  Some find the UI with the buttons a bit clumsy to navigate, but once you get used to it, it's easy, and the buttons are more resposive than the HM-601 / 602.

 

Also, the stock amp boards are lacking in my opinion, you'll be best off getting a Pico Slim and velcro'ing or mounting it to the back of the HM-801 for the best portable combo, IMO, but you'll be spending close to a $1K USD for a portable audio system.  Also add in the cost of an extra battery for the HM-801 for all day battery power if you need it.

 

As much as I like the Sansa Clip + (I have a few of them), overall sound quality is just not up to snuff, especially with the opposite extremes of the frequency spectrum and detail/clarity.

 

But you can't beat the Clip+ for size and features for it's very low cost.  Best bang for the buck, but there's not a lot of bang for a small amount of bucks.

post #7 of 59
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Edwood View Post

you'll be best off getting a Pico Slim


Is the Pico Slim the best of the Pico amps? Or is it just the most portable? I got a backpack you know. wink_face.gif

post #8 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by DotChannel View Post




Is the Pico Slim the best of the Pico amps? Or is it just the most portable? I got a backpack you know. wink_face.gif

 

This seems to have gone from a discussion of sources to a search for the best amp. I spent a lot of time trying to determine which was the 'best' portable amp, and almost everyone who gave me feedback seems to prefer the TTVJ Slim to the Pico Slim. The original Pico still has a lot of fans here too.

 

Interestingly, Mike from Headfonia didnt put the Pico Slim in the same 'class' as the TTVJ Slim in his 'Usual Suspects' shootout, presumably because its smaller:

 

http://www.headfonia.com/the-usual-suspects-12-portable-amps-compared/2/

http://www.headfonia.com/the-usual-suspects-12-portable-amps-compared/3/

 

 

 

post #9 of 59

Easy. Cowon J3.

post #10 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by wind016 View Post

Easy. Cowon J3.


Its certainly a lot more attractive than the HiFiMan. wink.gif

 

post #11 of 59

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post




Its certainly a lot more attractive than the HiFiMan. wink.gif

 


I couldn't care less about the Hifiman tongue.gif  Nothing about it looks good, especially it's measured roll offs.

 

Cowon has BBE trump card, so there. =)

 


Edited by wind016 - 6/14/11 at 8:54pm
post #12 of 59

Quote:

Originally Posted by wind016 View Post

 


I couldn't care less about the Hifiman tongue.gif  Nothing about it looks good, especially it's measured roll offs.

 



 

" After HifiMan released, it has been met with a lot of doubts and criticisms. Some of the more noticeable one is the treble roll off (attenuation) between 10 kHz to 20 kHz. It is about -2.5dB on 15 kHz and roll down to about -5dB at 20 kHz. While some consider it as a defect in design, it is actually being done intentionally. There is always a low pass filter after the DAC stage (or integrated internally) to remove the high frequency component (> 20 kHz) in order to remove noise as well as the inaudible frequency. Human hearing is generally recognized as 20 Hz to 20 kHz, but in real life the full range is between 16 kHz for most adult and down to 80 Hz in bass (*anything below increasingly tends to be felt more by skin rather than heard by ears, which we often refer as ‘chest pounding sound’). What HifiMan employed is called a Butterwoth filter (a.k.a. Maximally Flat filter). AS I have read, the characteristic of this filter is that the passband (the desired range) has a maximally flat response (no ripple in frequency response) as well as a more linear phase response (no uneven phase shift in individual frequency). The downside is that it doesn't roll-off quite as fast as other types of filters (which create the slope or ‘roll off’ in HifiMan’s upper treble). I think the consensus is that there is no such thing as one perfect filter for everything. Each type of filters has its own pros and cons and it is up to the implementation as well as what goal the designer wants to achieve to determine what is best for a certain design. In fact, quite a few well regarded high-end DAC and CD player also employs Butterwoth filter because it is considered more analog, musical sounding than other filters. I think the problem of Butterwoth filter on HifiMan has less to do with actual performance, but whether some can accept that you don’t need absolute perfect flat line to create a player that sounds good. If you can’t, then you know what you won’t be buying. I am not an electronic or audio engineer that can tell you what should have been done that could yield a better result or whether a Butterwoth filter is indeed the right choice – but rather trying to interpret whether the end result sounds good to me or not

 

 

Add on to the issue of filter, there is also measurement done on HifiMan to show that they don’t measure-up to many of the popular brands of DAP in the market. This reminds me an old saying: “If it measures good and sounds bad, -- it is bad. If it sounds good and measures bad, -- you've measured the wrong thing.” (*quoted from Daniel R. von Recklinghausen) No one will argue that a vinyl LP will measure badly when compared to a CD, or a tube amp will introduce noise to a bit-perfect signal. If such are the cases, why oh why anyone want to listen to LP and use tube amp? If we were to look at the other side of the story and assume there is some way of reproducing music perfectly - won’t we be listening to the exact same sound from whatever source, amp, and headphone we use? I have listened to some very well regarded headphones in my life, yet none of them sounds identical or could everyone agree that one of them is undoubtedly the ‘correct’ sound. Perhaps the real reason is, we are not listening to just plain sound reproduction, but music – sound that tries to convey a certain emotional attributes from the musician to the listener while also being affixed with some kind of unique emotional value by individual listener. On that understanding, I would personally like to believe that whatever gears we choose to ‘feel’ the music becomes part of the emotional value we add to the listening experience. From the source to the headphone, they are the instruments that translate the music for us and help us to interpret the music in each of our own ways. That is, sound isn’t just being transformed to music by modern tools with subjective measurement based on bit-prefect’s theory, but also how it is transformed and whether the transformation allows us to better enjoy the music (*which in some way related to how we interpret synergy between gears). That is, if you can enjoy the sound of LP or tube amp, then perhaps it is not too obscure to think that measurement is not the only factor on determining sound quality on a piece of gear. In the end, it is in my opinion that the music experience should go beyond simple sound reproduction or pure artistic expression but transcend both science and art in reach of a balance. As for how to define the ‘balance’, it should be up to the individual listener.

 

 

Understandably there are those who believe gears should be as faithful to the original recording as possible or at least trying to be ‘technically ideal’. I can’t say such school of thought isn’t correct in its own perspective. However, it should be noted that whether you find your own balance on one side or the other (or in the middle), you are still only your own judge. There is no need for anyone to prove to the world that (s)he has a better way of listening music, but merely what could contribute to a more fruitful experience on individual level. The real important bit for a reader and potential buyer is to be informed about the choices you have and able to make the decision without totally based on hearsay or denying all but one possibility because someone has said so. If you can’t be sure, just gives yourself more time and take the chance to audition gears from friends, in meets or retail stores before making up decision. No matter how much you read, nothing in the world can replace real experience. You can still make mistakes, but it is part of the process in learning and discovering your way around the audio world. "

 

Source

 

post #13 of 59

Start rolling off your source = a good thing?  You may as well starting putting strong filters in all your music too.

 

If you wanted to roll off the high frequencies, Cowon's BBE can do it fantastically, but with the added benefit of not being stupidly permanent.


Edited by wind016 - 6/14/11 at 8:58pm
post #14 of 59

Quote:

Originally Posted by wind016 View Post

Start rolling off your source = a good thing? You may as well starting putting strong filters in all your music too.

 

If you wanted to roll off the high frequencies, Cowon's BBE can do it fantastically, but with the added benefit of not being stupidly permanent.

For me the HM-801's frequency response brings out the fun and enjoyment in the music more so than any other source I've heard. There's enough treble presence for me.

 

 

DAC Filter >>> EQ


Edited by Tronz - 6/14/11 at 9:03pm
post #15 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tronz View Post

The Hifiman HM-801.



biggrin.gif you won't go wrong with that.. 

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