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The Sad State Of The So Called Audiophile DAP Market - Page 17

post #241 of 1303
That Sony is designed so badly , it looks a mess, it makes an 801 look like an IPod
post #242 of 1303
Quote:
Originally Posted by KT66 View Post

That Sony is designed so badly , it looks a mess, it makes an 801 look like an IPod

 

Care to explain why?  I thought the design on the current F807 is very well done.

post #243 of 1303

Most of the discussion so far has been on the thread topic, but some of the responses fall into the "what can we do about it" category.  Particular devices -- even recording-focused ones like the Sony just mentioned -- might provide a viable option to an audiophile DAP.  In that regard, my two pence is (salvaged from my originally-drafted post, shortened):  

 

As an audiophile and head-phile, I've been trying to figure out what the best portable solution is.  The parameters seem to be:

 

A)  User interface (the point of this thread I think, which is why I put it first)

B)  Sound quality (including DAC quality and amp quality/drive)

C)  Memory capacity

D)  Size/weight/looks

E)  Battery life

 

Given where things are at the moment, I think a two-device solution is still required for good sound with the widest range of headphones.  The options are

 

1)  A digital-only source device like a phone (device #1) , coupled with a compatible DAC/amp (device #2), or

2)  A non-wireless source device with analog line out (device #1), coupled with an amp (device #2). 

 

There still is room for an all-in-one solution, but it will have to contend with all of the parameters of a good solution, and not just sound quality, to be successful.  

 

And finally, for me, the best solution that can travel with me everywhere is something I modded: a Rockboxed iPod mini 2nd gen with 128GB CF card connected via Fiio L9 LOD to a Fiio E17 amp, encased in a neoprene zippered pouch to withstand knocks while it is in pocket.  

post #244 of 1303

@jazzman7, your post makes a lot of sense. It doesn't have to be one piece for portability. There may be technical advantage by separating the source and the amp section due to clean circuit and power supply. I have no electrical background and this is just my guess from my diy experience.

post #245 of 1303

It just needs to be one piece for me.:ksc75smile:

post #246 of 1303
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzman7 View Post
 

Most of the discussion so far has been on the thread topic, but some of the responses fall into the "what can we do about it" category.  Particular devices -- even recording-focused ones like the Sony just mentioned -- might provide a viable option to an audiophile DAP.  In that regard, my two pence is (salvaged from my originally-drafted post, shortened):  

 

As an audiophile and head-phile, I've been trying to figure out what the best portable solution is.  The parameters seem to be:

 

A)  User interface (the point of this thread I think, which is why I put it first)

B)  Sound quality (including DAC quality and amp quality/drive)

C)  Memory capacity

D)  Size/weight/looks

E)  Battery life

 

Given where things are at the moment, I think a two-device solution is still required for good sound with the widest range of headphones.  The options are

 

1)  A digital-only source device like a phone (device #1) , coupled with a compatible DAC/amp (device #2), or

2)  A non-wireless source device with analog line out (device #1), coupled with an amp (device #2). 

 

There still is room for an all-in-one solution, but it will have to contend with all of the parameters of a good solution, and not just sound quality, to be successful.  

 

And finally, for me, the best solution that can travel with me everywhere is something I modded: a Rockboxed iPod mini 2nd gen with 128GB CF card connected via Fiio L9 LOD to a Fiio E17 amp, encased in a neoprene zippered pouch to withstand knocks while it is in pocket.  

 

You forget connectivity.

Example: Sony and Apple's not-standard USB-ports.

 

A two-device solution could also be with a analog line-out and amp. In my case that's Fiio X3 with iBasso T5. I prefere line-out on a audiophile DAP because of this beats a headphone-out when used with an external amp.


Edited by s0lar - 10/1/13 at 2:16pm
post #247 of 1303
Quote:
Originally Posted by s0lar View Post
 

 

You forget connectivity.

Example: Sony and Apple's not-standard USB-ports.

 

A two-device solution could also be with a analog line-out and amp. In my case that's Fiio X3 with iBasso T5. I prefere line-out on a audiophile DAP because of this beats a headphone-out when used with an external amp.

 

Line-out cables are commonly available for Sony players with the "not-standard" WM-Port connector, and of course for Apple devices with the "not-standard" 30-pin connector. I will grant your point though, in regards to the Lightning port Apple devices of recent vintage.

post #248 of 1303
Quote:
Originally Posted by goodvibes View Post
 

It just needs to be one piece for me.:ksc75smile:

 

I certainly respect that wish. But there could be trade offs with one piece limiting your options (e.g. choosing your own amp, being stuck with the UI you may not like it).

 

I have not had the opportunity to compare my 2-piece dap gear with any one-piece highend dap. The main reason is mine has exceeded my personal expectations for in-ear audio. With that said, I am still thinking about getting the "best" dap out there just for a comparison to prove myself wrong.

post #249 of 1303
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzman7 View Post
 

Most of the discussion so far has been on the thread topic, but some of the responses fall into the "what can we do about it" category.  Particular devices -- even recording-focused ones like the Sony just mentioned -- might provide a viable option to an audiophile DAP.  In that regard, my two pence is (salvaged from my originally-drafted post, shortened):

 

As an audiophile and head-phile, I've been trying to figure out what the best portable solution is.  The parameters seem to be:

 

A)  User interface (the point of this thread I think, which is why I put it first)

B)  Sound quality (including DAC quality and amp quality/drive)

C)  Memory capacity

D)  Size/weight/looks

E)  Battery life

 

Given where things are at the moment, I think a two-device solution is still required for good sound with the widest range of headphones.  The options are

 

1)  A digital-only source device like a phone (device #1) , coupled with a compatible DAC/amp (device #2), or

2)  A non-wireless source device with analog line out (device #1), coupled with an amp (device #2).

 

There still is room for an all-in-one solution, but it will have to contend with all of the parameters of a good solution, and not just sound quality, to be successful.

 

And finally, for me, the best solution that can travel with me everywhere is something I modded: a Rockboxed iPod mini 2nd gen with 128GB CF card connected via Fiio L9 LOD to a Fiio E17 amp, encased in a neoprene zippered pouch to withstand knocks while it is in pocket.

 

 

This is why there is so much difference of opinion on these DAP's. Jazzman's parameter list is valid for himself, but mine would be a bit different:

 

A) Sound quality (including DAC quality and amp quality/drive)

 

This is the only reason I would have any interest in something other than an Ipod. The Ipod works fine. But it doesn't feature sound quality as job one, fair enough. For the average consumer (Apple's target), the unit as is sounds fine, so no need for fancy caps, exotic chips or hi-rez file support (which figure into my parameter B). For me, I am glad there exist "boutique" companies that cater to sound quality. I don't expect them to necessarily dot the "I's" and cross the "T's" like Apple or Sony, that's just not realistic economically.

 

B) Memory capacity

 

Whats the point of a hi-rez capable player that doesn't offer expandable memory storage options? File sizes can be well over 1 Gb per hi-rez album, so a limited 64 or 128 Gb storage just doesn't get it done for me.

 

C) Size/weight/looks

 

For me, "portable" means fits in a large-ish pocket. If I am going to have an external device, with today's state of the art it will be expansion memory, not external DAC's and amps (though I own an amp if I wanted to use it...). The internal amp/DAC in the DX-50 seems pretty darn good as it sits. Good looks? Not that important, but nice to have. Acrually, most of the DAP's look OK to me... errr, maybe not the Colorfly :o.

 

D) User interface

 

I guess I am a pretty basic kind of user. Not interested in playlists, random play or exotic search/sort functions. If there is an occasional glitch here and there, I can deal with it. So if I have to reboot the player or something at some point every 10 or so times I use it, c'est la vie (I would rather not have to, of course).

 

As far as the DX-50 is concerned, mine was from Batch 2, I have used it quite a bit with a full 64 Gb Micro SD card and two almost full 128 Gb USB flash drives and have only had to reboot once. It works fine for my purposes, especially as I get more familiar with its operation (extra points if you know what a Heathkit DX-100 is...). BTW, I keep no music files on the internal memory. I wonder if this contributes to having no real problems with my unit?

 

E) Battery life

 

Even if I had to put the unit on the charger every night, that's not the end of the world. So as long as 4 or 5 hours (or more, of course) is on tap, it's good.

 

Bottom line, with our differing requirements, it's good we have a range of options to choose from.

 

Kevin

post #250 of 1303
@k3oxkjo: Totally agree with your points. The A-E list I gave is my take at a simple feature set that includes what matters to most people, but the ordering and importance is user-specific. Reorder and emphasize as you see fit.

When I first went to the Portable Source Gear forum, I thought there might be a "go-to" choice of DAP. I found there really wasn't a single DAP everyone owned. In fact, there really wasn't a recommended DAP even with which to start, nor was there a thread that recommends DAPs to newbies in the hobby. We're still living in the period of compromise. It led me to invest more time and to figure out a workable solution.

I think we are stuck with a minimum two-piece portable stack until a manufacturer finds that magic combination that causes most of us to leave the amp or DAC/amp at home and only carry one box. Maybe the D50 or X3 or AK120 grows into that magical DAP that has it all with a future software update. The OP's point of buggy firmware is still the sticking point, IMO. Maybe one of the new Sonys has the solution. We'll see.

And, to DMinor's point, two-piece setups might be better anyway. If EMI is kept out of the equation, maybe we should be talking ampless sources that are separate from high-end DAC/amps. That's how high-end digital audio systems for the home work for the most part.
post #251 of 1303
While its not a portable solution, I'm definitely going to audition the MF M1SDAC - hard to believe that Bluetooth audio could even begin to approach CD quality, but if the reality matches the hype I'm keen. Also reading good things about the latest all-in-one wireless solutions from KEF, Focal and Dynaudio. I dont know anyone who wants to keep their entire collection on a 'phone, DAP or tablet, but for non-critical listening I'm happy to embrace wireless from a handheld device.
post #252 of 1303
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzman7 View Post
 

I had a whole post written on how two-device solution is the way to go, but that was before I watched the video.  Silly me -- do your homework.  

 

Now that I've watched the video, I think I know what the issue is.

 

It is all about expectation.  With personal music, we got spoiled with records.

 

Records worked. Well, except when they got scratched, but they still made sound.  

 

When cassettes came along, the key thing was, they had to work.  They more or less did (except when the tape came out of the shell).  If the tape was in the shell and you could still see it, they worked.

 

When CDs came along, they worked.  Well, except when they got scratched, but you kept them pristine, and they worked.  They were digital, they ran using programs, and there was a miniature computer inside of the players to run the buttons.  But everything was designed to work when it shipped.  

 

Sony got this, and when they made cassette Walkmans -- portable music! -- they worked.  Discmans worked.  Well, except that they skipped when they moved, but put in some RAM, and they worked again.

 

Apple, when they made their iPods, they said, "they've got to work."  Think records. Cassettes.  CDs.  Gotta work.  They were little computers with click wheels and hard drives, but their designers set the standard that they had to work without the user needing to worry too much about it.  

 

Somewhere along the way, we got clever.  CDs probably started it.  "Shuffle play," they called it.  Hmm, a new feature.  Random song order. Then programmable song order.  Then CD Text, so I can see the music title.  Multi-disc players, first 3, then 5, then 100, then 200, then 400.  Lots of silly clicking to enter in the CD names using a remote.  To save time, attach a keyboard, just like a computer.

 

We got clever with features.  It wasn't just about playing the music any more.  How about auto-tagging the music?  Cover art?  Compress the music when you load it in to save space?  How do you want it compressed?  Do you want streaming?  

 

As the feature count grew, the software to run things got more complicated.  What did the audio device manufacturers do?  

 

Field-updatable firmware.  Yes, the manufacturer can reprogram the device after the user bought it, with the user's "help."  So, things can be "fixed after purchase."

 

Without this feature, devices would have to ship "working."  Now they could ship with limited functionality, with a fix coming later.  

 

Some people consider this capability a feature.  Obviously, when misused, it is a rather messy bug. 

 

Music is less fun when you are worried about playing the music in the first place.

 

good point, I still like my Hifiman Players, it really only does one thing. Plays music, play lists don't work all that well, there are no pretty pictures to look at

 

just music 

post #253 of 1303
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzman7 View Post

@k3oxkjo: Totally agree with your points. The A-E list I gave is my take at a simple feature set that includes what matters to most people, but the ordering and importance is user-specific. Reorder and emphasize as you see fit.

When I first went to the Portable Source Gear forum, I thought there might be a "go-to" choice of DAP. I found there really wasn't a single DAP everyone owned. In fact, there really wasn't a recommended DAP even with which to start, nor was there a thread that recommends DAPs to newbies in the hobby. We're still living in the period of compromise. It led me to invest more time and to figure out a workable solution.

I think we are stuck with a minimum two-piece portable stack until a manufacturer finds that magic combination that causes most of us to leave the amp or DAC/amp at home and only carry one box. Maybe the D50 or X3 or AK120 grows into that magical DAP that has it all with a future software update. The OP's point of buggy firmware is still the sticking point, IMO. Maybe one of the new Sonys has the solution. We'll see.

And, to DMinor's point, two-piece setups might be better anyway. If EMI is kept out of the equation, maybe we should be talking ampless sources that are separate from high-end DAC/amps. That's how high-end digital audio systems for the home work for the most part.

 

Problem is that I prefer the sound of 2 of my different one piece solutions to your stack so your minimum is very different than mine. It doesn't matter which of us is wrong or right but the 2 piece stack as universal minimum is a nonstarter. AK120 needs no further FW updates to be great and my Anniversary 3 UI works well enough for my needs that I ignore my Ipods and Sansas and it has a VG internal amp stage. I don't even think the e17 improves every Ipod. Internal dacs have a huge advantage of not needing to be reclocked or defeat added interface jitter. Full size phones are another matter and carry size already chosen so an amp is appropriate... but for IEMs, one piece if done well, is the right way to go.


Edited by goodvibes - 10/2/13 at 4:51pm
post #254 of 1303
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mshenay View Post
 

 

good point, I still like my Hifiman Players, it really only does one thing. Plays music, play lists don't work all that well, there are no pretty pictures to look at

 

just music 

 

Music is good.

:ksc75smile:

post #255 of 1303
Quote:
Originally Posted by goodvibes View Post
 

 

Problem is that I prefer the sound of 2 of my different one piece solutions to your stack so your minimum is very different than mine. It doesn't matter which of us is wrong or right but the 2 piece stack as universal minimum is a nonstarter. AK120 needs no further FW updates to be great and my Anniversary 3 UI works well enough for my needs that I ignore my Ipods and Sansas and it has a VG internal amp stage. I don't even think the e17 improves every Ipod. Internal dacs have a huge advantage of not needing to be reclocked or defeat added interface jitter. Full size phones are another matter and carry size already chosen so an amp is appropriate... but for IEMs, one piece if done well, is the right way to go.

 

I like my 2 piece for both music and fun. I can switch between any of my two amps, all kinds of LOD's and different caps. With an amp wallet, the 2-piece is about 1.5" thick, I can comfortably hold it in my hand or throw it into my pocket if needed.

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