I read it, but everyone can say they are making 'audiophile-grade' products for marketing purpose. Just about half (if not more) of the audio opamp TI makes are "audiophile" worthy, if you buy into their marketing. If fact, just about every audio opamp any chip maker make tend to get labeled as audiophiles grade. They are not wrong of course, as audiophile-or-not is largely a perspective and not some standard.
Whatever ES9601 may be, I am more interested in it as a mobile solution to the smartphone industry rather than an audiophile DAP. Well, maybe more to the mid to low end audiophile DAP. I still like to see proper power on higher end, even though many other might not need it but we are talking on a very niche market on some very specific consumer that are far more demanding than the average.
Regarding IEM, I am not actually referring to the high impedance IEM, but more to the really low impedance, under / near 10ohm variance that requires a really good (and fast) amount of current to behave well. Those are the one I often find to benefit from a beefy amp much more than the high impedance IEM.
Actually, you're taking that statement out of context; that's them making a case for the 901X-2M DACs, which have been used in the Vivo X3 and TCL Idol X+ (I"m sure you know that already), and they're marketing the 9601 as the ideal companion for those DAC chips (better to sell both than just to sell one), but whatever that's beside the point. The point is, that regardless of the wording, is that they're trying to market to the upper end of electronic supply. Plenty of audio companies use non-audiophile grade parts to great effect, so "audiophile-grade" as a term is purely marketing semantic.
BTW, I just noticed that the 9601 uses a charge pump, so it does in fact use switching to convert voltage --- it can likely output +/- 9V or even 12V. It seems to be a common solution for IC headamps these days; Maxim's MAX972XX series seems to do the same thing, and all of TI's DirectPath stuff do it.
But let's not make this about the 9601. I want to call upon my earlier suggestion that a device like the X7 could feature dual outputs --- something with low power consumption, small footprint, and tightly integrated (e.g. the ES9601 or the WM5110 chipset, etc.), and then something else for high-output instances that features traditional, big power, true Class A-biased amplification. That would make it the best of both worlds.
The DAP as a device, in the mass consumer world, is just about going extinct (or at best gravely endangered), as smartphones have largely taken over as the primary multimedia, cloud-connected device within our mobile lifestyle. It's only us "crazy audiophiles" that are suddenly getting all into the DAP thing, but sooner or later, these product lines will inevitably converge. It's sensible that all these companies are making components that are geared for low-power mobile devices. It's a matter of adapting them to perform at a level that hi-fi aficionados will accept.
To date, unless it has a diaphragm (dynamic or BA) with an inordinately high-sprung mass, I still have not seen an IEM that taxes any normal amp.
Anyway, I'm getting way off-topic. Sorry for the derail, guys. Back to the X5. It was fun while it lasted.