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Portable audiophile-quality DAP at a reasonable price?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Recently, I got a new pair of headphone that I really love (Fostex t50rp, modded by zach915m, he did a great job on them, btw).

 

I really enjoy listening to them at home, but now whenever I use my portable equipment (esp. while commuting to work, or at the office), it all sounds so thin and lifeless in comparison. So  I decided I want to bridge this gap and find a way to get a similar listening experience when I'm not at home too.

 

I bought a Nova N1 player, and frankly, I'm a bit disappointed with its SQ. It's not that it sounds bad. It is significantly better than using my smartphone, but it is still markedly inferior to my listening experience at home. And it's not that I'm using some ultra-expensive high-end audio gear at home. All I have is Headphonia's USB DAC cable (the one with Wolfson WM8740) plus Headphonia's Lyrix Pro amp. Bought them used from ebay a couple of years ago, and payed less than 80$ for both of them together.

 

At first, I thought it was because the built-in amp of the Nova N1 was underpowered for the relatively hard to drive Fostex, but I tried it with my RE0 IEMs too, and there was still a significant difference in quality. First, it sounds less open and lively, which probably have to do with the amp, but also there is less clarity and there is some background hiss with the Nova.

 

So now the question is, is there something else I could try? Unfortunately, I don't have the budget to buy the iBasso DX100, the iRiver AK100 or the Colorfly C4. I can spend up to 300$ for either a DAP with a strong built-in amp, or a DAP+amp combo. Any suggestions?

post #2 of 10
Hisoundaudio range of daps has class A amp built in,
I reckon a roocooP or studioV would give u the more energized sound u desire.
I haven't heard their latest releases...go check them out.
wink.gif
Edited by Lorspeaker - 4/30/13 at 8:40am
post #3 of 10
There have been examples of this in the past but I can't think of any now. The likes of Colorfly's C4 is £550 in the UK. The Wolfson WM8740 is a great DAC. I have two of them in my dual-mono Nationite S:Flo2. Unfortunately you can't buy these anymore. Perhaps the Fiio X3 will turn out to be serious quality at a reasonable price. I read an uncomplimentary review about Hisound's Studio V, and its also rather expensive (in the UK anyway).
post #4 of 10

I'd look for a second hand player like an HM-601 and a second hand amp like Graham Slee Voyager,

post #5 of 10
601 is too warm to match the slumbering fostex i suspect...i had both at different time.
Jus my gauge k...better check if u really go down tat path. N the batterylife sucz...imho.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone.

 

After doing some additional research on this, I found about another DAP called IHIFI 812V2, which is based on the same Wolfson chip I have too, and according to the discussions here, it sounded exactly like what I'm looking for. And even better, I've found someone selling a used one on ebay.

 

Got it by the end of last week, and at first I was extremely happy with it. It sounded great! Better than the DAC and amp connected to my computer, actually. And then I did something really stupid. I've found a firmware update for it (supposed to be both for 812V2 and for 960). And now, after updating the firmware, something is wrong with it. Everything seem to be working properly, but the sound is just wrong. Not even sure how to explain it, but after the update it sounds thin, with far too excessive highs, and listening to it just hurts my ears ...

 

I wish I cound revert to the older version of the firmware, but I cannot find it. Tried to contact the company, but without speaking any Chinese it is not that easy ...

post #7 of 10

geez, some firmware updates are tuned for better clarity to fit the iem crowd. 

jus send them an email in simple english, see wat happens.

post #8 of 10

you can consider QLS QA350v2. It is bulky box like player sold around $240 on ebay. Plays wav only from SD card. Sound quality is super for it's price. I tried to drive Sennheiser HD650 the result is reasonablely OK. 

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorspeaker View Post

geez, some firmware updates are tuned for better clarity to fit the iem crowd. 

jus send them an email in simple english, see wat happens.

 

I don't think this it optimized for an iem. I tried using it with iem, and it doesn't sound right either. I suspect they tested it on the 960 model, but not on the 812V2 model. Tried to email them, an also contacted a Chinese seller who sells the product in ebay. Hope it will get me somewhere.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by teddy-no-ear View Post

you can consider QLS QA350v2. It is bulky box like player sold around $240 on ebay. Plays wav only from SD card. Sound quality is super for it's price. I tried to drive Sennheiser HD650 the result is reasonablely OK. 

 

Thanks. I already got the IHIFI 812V2, which is supposed to be quite similar to the QLS, and according to some reviews, even better in terms of SQ. It doesn't have digital out, but I don't care about that. Once I'll hopefully manage to recover from my disastrous firmware upgrade, I think I'll be happy with it.

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 

Ok, I finally fixed it. After some not-very-effective attempts at communicating with the company, I've found that the firmware flashing software have an option to completely wipe the internal memory of the device. After doing this I flashed the new firmware again, and somehow this solved the problem, and it sounds great again.

 

I've been listening to this device for few more days now, and I must say - boy, this thing sounds AMAZING! There are few design quirks, and it is a bit too bulky to be truly portable, but the sound quality is so good ... I used to think my Headphonia DAC+Amp are pretty good, but in comparison to the IHIFI 812V2 it sounds cheap. I tried it with my headphones, IEMs, and even my computer speakers (M-Audio BX5a), and they all sound much better with it.

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