Dear Mr Winer,
I am a big fan of your writing and your critiques especially on audio snake oil! I was curious what the fundamental determinant of SQ in the a portable gear set up is.
I understand that a good amp and good pair of IEMs (I am taking the quality of the recordings in lossless format as a given and I understand that correct EQing can make a big difference in your sonic experience) are important and that expensive cables are utter B.S.
But then, I am always slightly careful when I see portable players that are in excess of 1000 dollars and the hype surround some of these exorbitantly priced players. What differentiates say a Sansa Clip + and an Altmann Terra Player that audiophiles claim that there is such a huge chasm in the SQ difference (or can most of this be attributed to perception bias and so on)? I understand that portable players are essentially DACs + amps. Where the DACs have a simple function and the best ones are available in bulk at low prices. So does this mean that the sound quality of a portable player is mainly dependent upon the built-in amp (given the DAC is decent enough quality) or is there another important factor that determines how great a portable player is?
I would be extremely grateful for your feedback. Thank you!