Ok, so some of you have probably heard of that awesome little PocketPC, called the Pandora, that's used for emulating older consoles and things like that.
One thing you probably didn't hear however, is that an audiophile was on the development team for the handheld, and put some extremely powerful circuitry in said handheld.
Here's an excerpt from my chat with him:
The DAC is the PCM1773 from TI (who bought out Burr Brown, the company that created this chip). It uses an isolated LDO power supply at 2.8V, putting SNR at 99dB. This DAC has line driver capabilities which gives it over 1.7Vpp outputs, great for keeping the gain down in the amp stage.
The audio amp, also from TI, is the TPA6110A2. It runs on a 5V, filtered supply to provide the 150mW per channel on the headphone outputs. The gain stage is set low to provide as close to the 100dB SNR as possible and it seems to do a nice job. The gain is set to almost never clip with anything other than a near 0dB sine wave so distortion should be very low at all volume levels. Most music (unless rediculously overmastered to near 0dB) should never get messy at the top of the volume wheel setting.
I have a set of Sennheiser HD-650's which use 300ohm voice coils and it drives them very nicely. They get pretty loud and the Pandora handles delivering all the bass energy, but it doesn't go to deafening volumes.
I was quite impressed when I was told that this handheld was capable of driving an HD650.
Another thing to note about the Pandora is that it has TWO SD card slots, each capable of using 128GB SDXC cards. That means up to 256GB of storage, which would prove very helpful for people who use lossless or even just higher bitrate MP3s.
Another quality of this handheld is that it runs a totally open-source OS, and that means that there are plenty of different music players available from the awesome community that develops for it. If you don't like the players they have available, you can even run Android on it and use the Android music player.
Yet another awesome feature is that it has a USB HOST port and USB OTG support. This basically means that if you have, say, a portable DAC/amp (like the FiiO E7, E17, AlgoRythym Solo, etc etc) that it should work with the Pandora, allowing you to use your own equipment if necessary. It also has line out capabilities via the EXT connector on the back of the unit, so you can use a standalone amp with it.
And since this unit is more than just a player, you can also use the built-in WiFi to download music directly from the unit. You can also browse this forum, look up some headphones... the possibilities are endless.
The basic unit retails for $500. There is an upgraded version available for $700, but that only upgrades the CPU, not the audio section.
US shoppers can go here: http://www.ithic.com/
For those who live in Europe: https://www.dragonbox.de/en/
And, if you want, you can read up about the other features of the handheld here: http://openpandora.org/index.php
I have reviewed this device. Go here: http://www.head-fi.org/products/open-pandora/reviews/8570
Edited by takato14 - 3/4/13 at 6:11pm