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A DAP Philosophy Perspective

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

Here's a philosophical thought regarding DAP's and EQ. I just ordered a Cowon C2. (I don't really need another DAP, but hey, Head-Fi is a hobby, not a necessity!) I wanted the killer battery life, gapless playback, and FLAC support.

 

Regardless - here's what I'm thinking. We see posts here almost daily regarding the sound signature of this piece of gear versus that piece of gear. I compared my iPod Touch 3G 64GB to a Cowon D2 (both flat EQ, both playing lossless) and thought the iPod was better. But what if someone at Cowon knew that I liked a warm sound with tight crisp bass and rolled off highs, end set the EQ accordingly so that that was the "flat" signature of the unit. I would then love it and post that it has a warm sound .... yada, yada yada.

 

Any DAP provides a sound signature that is based on what's inside it. Duh! If a manufacturer set the sound (maybe even using EQ *only* controllable by the factory) a certain way, we here on head-fi would post about it having a specific sound sig. Bass heads may hate one player, while loving another. My thinking is that DAP sound comparisons should be made according to what the player is capable of, not how it sounds flat. No matter how you slice it, "flat" is still a function of how certain things are engineered and/or set at the factory. So - flat is a fallacy. Does that make sense?


Edited by FlatNine - 5/16/12 at 10:34am
post #2 of 29

You make a very good point, but all I could think of is

 

20507979.jpg

post #3 of 29
That is a good point. A lot of the time, we judge things on how they perform straight from the factory without any personal change. If I were to do that with Rockbox, I wouldn't use it because I don't like the initial layout of everything. After some tweaking though, I love it. Same goes for players.
post #4 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mosshorn View Post

You make a very good point, but all I could think of is

 

20507979.jpg

 

You summed up my rambling with a funny picure and comment, and I agree that that is the core of my point. :-)

 

BTW - Keanu Reeves?

post #5 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlatNine View Post

 

You summed up my rambling with a funny picure and comment, and I agree that that is the core of my point. :-)

 

BTW - Keanu Reeves?


 Yea, it's just a popular meme floating around.

 

But I thought about what you said more. Maybe a lot of people just assume flat is flat to keep one more "oh lawd SQ" out of their chain. This is merely speculation though :P

post #6 of 29
Thread Starter 
0Quote:
Originally Posted by Redrider469 View Post

That is a good point. A lot of the time, we judge things on how they perform straight from the factory without any personal change. If I were to do that with Rockbox, I wouldn't use it because I don't like the initial layout of everything. After some tweaking though, I love it. Same goes for players.

 

Agreed. So - hopefully I can find some great EQ for the C2 for my tastes. It will be my "beater" DAP. I also have the Sansa ClipZip which sounds great, especially for just about $60 USD. But the loud noises between tracks drive me nuts! So it's C2 time. :-)

post #7 of 29
That depends on how people interpret "flat." For one, why the revival of NOS TDAxxxx chips from the 1990's in everything from standalone DACs to even the HiFiMan 60x? It's close to "flat" for DACs of that era, but it rolls off the high frequencies more than 'better', newer DACs, whose detail retrieval some may interpret as "sharp" or at the very least "less forgiving." So in a sense, they contoured the sound specifically by choosing these chips, although of course the whole circuit counts for more than just the choice in DAC chips. Here's another problem: the load on an amp or DAP's output can affect their frequency response, and not every earphone and headphone or amp can be tested by the manufacturer of the source units. Even if theoretically you can have two devices that measure as close to flat as possible on test tones, there's always the possibility that there would be differences in the sound even given the same headphone. In any case there are times that gears that measure close to flat would, if you jumbled up the system combos, would result in varied enough overall sound, and in that the source is just the start of that chain.
post #8 of 29
The sound of your taste should be achieved through the headphones, not from the DAP. The headphone, for me, is a most important part of the setup.
 
Not all manufacturers implement  well their equalizers, so it is best to use them in "flat" or "normal." And the correct headphone will work well with any kind of DAP.
 
The problem is the time and financial costs to reach the ideal headphones. But in the end, you will be greatly rewarded... :o)
post #9 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlatNine View Post

 

 I also have the Sansa ClipZip which sounds great, especially for just about $60 USD. But the loud noises between tracks drive me nuts! 

A firmware update cured that problem.

Rockbox would too, along with increasing the battery life a lot when using FLAC, and adding a better EQ.

post #10 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Achmedisdead View Post

A firmware update cured that problem.

Rockbox would too, along with increasing the battery life a lot when using FLAC, and adding a better EQ.

 

There's ClipZip firmware upgrade that makes it a gapless player? That would be cool, since it would be great as a "gym" player.

post #11 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlatNine View Post

 

There's ClipZip firmware upgrade that makes it a gapless player? That would be cool, since it would be great as a "gym" player.

No, the SanDisk firmware update only cured the noise at track change that was happening. Installing the Rockbox firmware does make it gapless though, along with the other benefits. 

post #12 of 29

I agree with the OP one hunderd percent. My sennheiser hd 25-II's sound terrible (cold) on a stock ipod classic. However with rockbox EQ settings, giving the lower bass some extra volume and lowering the volume between the 8k-9k frequencies, the sennheiser sounds fantastic. And the EQ made all the difference.

 

I understand that many head-fier prefer to find their prefered sound signature in a headphone with flat settings, but this can be expensive... Therefore I think that the EQ'ing abilities of a dap are important and need to be considered for any purchase.

post #13 of 29

I'm using Rockbox and an external 8GB SD card. The loud noises are when reading from the external card. It is killer. Because of that issue (which doesn't go away as the SAnsa reads about ever 10 seconds), I hear loading sounds during music and in between music. It is enough with sensitive earphones to have killed it and that external card for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achmedisdead View Post

A firmware update cured that problem.

Rockbox would too, along with increasing the battery life a lot when using FLAC, and adding a better EQ.

post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by shigzeo View Post

I'm using Rockbox and an external 8GB SD card. The loud noises are when reading from the external card. It is killer. Because of that issue (which doesn't go away as the SAnsa reads about ever 10 seconds), I hear loading sounds during music and in between music. It is enough with sensitive earphones to have killed it and that external card for me.

 

 

IIRC you have a Clip+, not a Clip Zip. The noise at track transition I was talking about was an issue in early-release Clip Zips using the Sansa firmware.

 

I have read of others experiencing the Rockbox noise you are describing though..... makes me glad my most sensitive headphone is 32ohms. biggrin.gif


Edited by Achmedisdead - 5/22/12 at 7:30pm
post #15 of 29

Thanks for that update. I'm not getting another sansa product just because I've had several and always ended up letting them die. I'm glad the zip problem is going away. The clip+ is fine with rockbox as long as you don't use external memory. My earphones are generally 43-55Ω and that noise is terrible. With 16Ω and 112dB earphones, it is simply impossible.

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