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The Sad State Of The So Called Audiophile DAP Market - Page 19

post #271 of 1303
Quote:
Originally Posted by zilch0md View Post
 

Not taking sides on this debate, I'm nevertheless compelled to revisit Hutnicks' post #19 to this thread:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/682750/the-sad-state-of-the-so-called-audiophile-dap-market/15#post_9827829

 

Mike

 

Another take. Even big companies that produce big ticket items like broadcast equipment, computer products and factory instrumentation have time and financial constraints. In the real world, you get equipment all the time with incomplete or non-existant documentation, non-implimented features, unexpected bugs and unintuitive or non-typical operation. In order to stay profitably in business, at some point companies have to ship product. And those of us who have to deal with this equipment know this is just how it goes. Most of our vendors come in periodically with updates and bug fixes, it's good that they do and we assist them where we can offer insight. It's in our best interest to see the equipment working as well as possible in the long run. Just kvetching about it doesn't help anyone.

 

If even large companies cannot devote the resources and time to insure that every I is dotted and T crossed, small "botique" companies obviously CANNOT have the resources. Even the Ipods I had in the past had flaws, periodic freezes and missing functionality (Hi rez playback? User replaceable battery? Expandable memory?) and Apple is one of the most capitalized companies in the world!

 

The IBasso and Fiio are in the new vanguard, hi-rez, high sonic performance and low price. And, in the case of the Ibasso, you have highly expandable storage, a must in my view for a hi-rez music player. You can say that the frustrations we sometimes encounter are the price we pay to have a $250 DAP today rather than a $500 DAP that will come out two months from now.

 

I am glad these new units exist, even with a few rough edges.

 

Kevin

post #272 of 1303

I have been thinking about this rant and the Sony ZX1. I think that a lot of people in this thread underestimate the resources that would be necessary to get to market with a great piece of hardware running with great software, but Sony could certainly bring that level of resources to bear without breaking a sweat.

 

They're going to the parts bin, using a relatively cheap display, a processor that is anything but state of the art (but still going to have a lot more horsepower than what, say, the DX100 is running). They have implemented Android 4.X already (Android 4.X is just a massive step up from 2.X), so we could get a great piece of hardware, with solid construction, a good UI, and great sound.

 

If it's true that its sound compares to the 901, then this could shake up this little niche market (that, or the boutique DAP builders will just weather the storm until Sony decides they aren't making enough money in the market). But I hope they actually get a decent return on what will likely be a pretty inexpensive investment. 

 

If the ZX1 lives up to the hype, I could have a great DAP to drive the Merlins I have just ordered. Now, there is certainly a chance that it will be a bit of a dud, but man am I hopeful. If it had an SD slot it would be perfect, but I can work with 128GB of space, we'll probably get a good 115GB of that for music, and I won't be installing a bunch of apps on my DAP. I would probably drop some pictures on it, and other than that, just music. I am pretty excited about the potential that the Sony has. 

post #273 of 1303

The ZX1's output of 15mw per channel into 16-Ohms is identical to that of the Sanza Clip+.  

 

So, unlike the HM-901, the ZX1 will likely sound its best only with fairly efficient IEMs and very efficient headphones.

 

In this price category, I wish Sony had given it more power at the headphone out (and a larger battery), but when it comes to DAPs, Sony seems to be more concerned about Joe Consumer's lust of the eyes, rather than Joe Audiophile's lust of the ears.  They're in the jewelry business.

 

Mike

post #274 of 1303

Marketing plus eternal optimism keeps this niche alive, right?

 

I'm getting more cynical and pessimistic by the day (and not just about a U.S. debt default). The thing is, I not sure what happened. I joined this forum a few years ago because I was excited about the synergy that I serendipitously stumbled upon with my T'Mo Galaxy S2/Shure 535/Poweramp (and adapter) combo. I loved it for 10 months. Then, I had to replace the phone because of a headphone jack issue and also my 535 due to sound out issues. Nothing has been the same since (or has it?). Maybe the sound returned to that previous level (with the replacement items) but I was dissatisfied at that point and needed an “upgrade”. Maybe Poweramp had changed (with various updates) or I needed to go back to Gingerbread (a previous version of Android) to restore the sound that excited me a few years ago. I actually did the Gingerbread thing and it didn't work. Do I have an intractable case of upgraditis?

 

I have been resisting the urge to upgrade until Shure came out with a new “an improved” flagship earphone. I got sucked in and spent $1000. I wanted to be wowed again like I was a few years ago. It didn't happen. The SE846 is a fine earphone. I lowered my expectations publicly to only wanting a bass increase (but in the recesses of my mind), I wanted to be blown away. In reality the 846 is a slight improvement from the 535 (which is an ever-so-slight improvement from the E5c). The expense is unjustified to date, but I'm still hopeful.

 

Now I'm searching for a portable source “upgrade” to make that 846 shine. A few years ago, a new Sony Walkman (with Android) was all the rage. It seem to have bombed worse than Last Action Hero, and yet here we go again. But hey, I'm hoping it's the one.

 

I took my SE846 to the T-Mobile store (several times) to listen to the Note 3, LG G2, HTC One, and iPhone 5s. I left less than impressed. Mind you, I couldn't hear my own music on most of those phones. The iPhone 5s has some songs on it that I own (so that was a good sample). I put Poweramp on the Note 3 in the store but I couldn't detach it to put in a micro-SD card so I was still stuck listening to the limited selection already on the phone.

 

I can afford to buy any of the players out there (DX100, AK120, HM-901) or all of them at one time. I believe the bad stories and have little faith that the SQ justifies the price. And now here comes Sony “to the rescue” with a new device, ---again. Is it Last Action Hero (part 2)? Or, is it required that I be eternally optimistic in order to even be “amazed”? It was the opposite back in the car-audio days. You could be pessimistic (going in) if you so desired, but the sound would blow you away when it was good.

post #275 of 1303
Quote:
Originally Posted by truckdriver View Post
 

I have been resisting the urge to upgrade until Shure came out with a new “an improved” flagship earphone. I got sucked in and spent $1000. I wanted to be wowed again like I was a few years ago. It didn't happen. The SE846 is a fine earphone. I lowered my expectations publicly to only wanting a bass increase (but in the recesses of my mind), I wanted to be blown away. In reality the 846 is a slight improvement from the 535 (which is an ever-so-slight improvement from the E5c). The expense is unjustified to date, but I'm still hopeful.

 

 

I think you need to realize that there are diminishing marginal returns as you climb the price ladder, that's just how it is. This difference between a good $50 pair of headphones and a good $150 pair is going to be far larger than the difference between a $900 pair and a $1,000 pair. 

 

The DX50 actually sounds great, I really enjoy it. And time will tell on the Sony, but it's a lot more fun to be optimistic than pessimistic (so long as you don't sweat it if it's not as great as you'd hoped).

post #276 of 1303
If you can afford all those players at once, why not go for iPod classic + cypherlabs 720 or the hifimate? You get the best usability and best sound quality possible

Quote:
Originally Posted by truckdriver View Post

Marketing plus eternal optimism keeps this niche alive, right?



 



I'm getting more cynical and pessimistic by the day (and not just about a U.S. debt default). The thing is, I not sure what happened. I joined this forum a few years ago because I was excited about the synergy that I serendipitously stumbled upon with my T'Mo Galaxy S2/Shure 535/Poweramp (and adapter) combo. I loved it for 10 months. Then, I had to replace the phone because of a headphone jack issue and also my 535 due to sound out issues. Nothing has been the same since (or has it?). Maybe the sound returned to that previous level (with the replacement items) but I was dissatisfied at that point and needed an “upgrade”. Maybe Poweramp had changed (with various updates) or I needed to go back to Gingerbread (a previous version of Android) to restore the sound that excited me a few years ago. I actually did the Gingerbread thing and it didn't work. Do I have an intractable case of upgraditis?



 



I have been resisting the urge to upgrade until Shure came out with a new “an improved” flagship earphone. I got sucked in and spent $1000. I wanted to be wowed again like I was a few years ago. It didn't happen. The SE846 is a fine earphone. I lowered my expectations publicly to only wanting a bass increase (but in the recesses of my mind), I wanted to be blown away. In reality the 846 is a slight improvement from the 535 (which is an ever-so-slight improvement from the E5c). The expense is unjustified to date, but I'm still hopeful.



 



Now I'm searching for a portable source “upgrade” to make that 846 shine. A few years ago, a new Sony Walkman (with Android) was all the rage. It seem to have bombed worse than Last Action Hero, and yet here we go again. But hey, I'm hoping it's the one.



 



I took my SE846 to the T-Mobile store (several times) to listen to the Note 3, LG G2, HTC One, and iPhone 5s. I left less than impressed. Mind you, I couldn't hear my own music on most of those phones. The iPhone 5s has some songs on it that I own (so that was a good sample). I put Poweramp on the Note 3 in the store but I couldn't detach it to put in a micro-SD card so I was still stuck listening to the limited selection already on the phone.



 



I can afford to buy any of the players out there (DX100, AK120, HM-901) or all of them at one time. I believe the bad stories and have little faith that the SQ justifies the price. And now here comes Sony “to the rescue” with a new device, ---again. Is it Last Action Hero (part 2)? Or, is it required that I be eternally optimistic in order to even be “amazed”? It was the opposite back in the car-audio days. You could be pessimistic (going in) if you so desired, but the sound would blow you away when it was good.


post #277 of 1303

truckdriver and reginalb - your last posts were both excellent reading! 

 

I feel for you truckdriver.  

 

Regarding our current choice of half-baked DAPs, I just yesterday learned that FiiO's forthcoming X5 will have the same SOC (the same processor, able to run the same UI code) as the X3, and thus - this is big, in my opinion - most of the bugs reported, fixed, and verified by X3 users will NOT be seen in the X5.   Joy!

 

That's awesome news, when you consider that most DAP series just start over again from scratch with each new model (i.e. the HM-901 has had every bit as many birthing pains as did the HM-801, and by the time they've just about got the firmware beat into submission, the device becomes obsolete.)  James Zhong (of FiiO) is also saying that they've hired some guy who is killer at programming UIs...  So, time will tell...

 

I'm not sure what you're looking for in terms of wow factor, but the X5 will use TI's PCM1792 DAC (which is known for being warm and musical, for lack a better description.)  I had the Shure SE530's for a couple of years, and would think their relatively neutral, transparent signature would match well with a warm signature.  So, just guessing, perhaps that's the kind of DAC/amp your state-of-the-art Shure IEMs are seeking.

 

Something to look forward to, but I don't plan to jump on the X5 until its firmware has become relatively stable - probably about a year from now - despite the promise of its X3 heritage.   Ugggh....

 

Mike

post #278 of 1303
Quote:
Originally Posted by reginalb View Post
 

 

I think you need to realize that there are diminishing marginal returns as you climb the price ladder, that's just how it is. This difference between a good $50 pair of headphones and a good $150 pair is going to be far larger than the difference between a $900 pair and a $1,000 pair.

 

The DX50 actually sounds great, I really enjoy it. And time will tell on the Sony, but it's a lot more fun to be optimistic than pessimistic (so long as you don't sweat it if it's not as great as you'd hoped).

 

It's not that I need to realize it, it's that I have indeed realized it (with the evidence in my hand). I'm just posting about it now. I'm not sweating the expense. I kept the SE846. I could have returned it inside 30 days. I'm sure I could fetch what I paid for it even now (given the shortage). I just want to say that there is a lot of marketing hype going on. To be honest, the mid-vocal range on the (9 year old) E5c is better than the 846 and 535. They win in overall hifi-like sound (the high and low end).

 

Time will tell on the Sony. If it ever comes to the U.S., I'll give it a listen (while not over-expecting).

post #279 of 1303
Quote:
Originally Posted by KamijoIsMyHero View Post

If you can afford all those players at once, why not go for iPod classic + cypherlabs 720 or the hifimate? You get the best usability and best sound quality possible

Because some audiophools only buy products for the audio quality. Never mind if the interface was made by a 5-year old, it sounds great!
post #280 of 1303

KamijoIsMyHero, thanks for the advise. I am researching the alternatives to the boutique DAPs.

 

zilch0md, yeah, I'm looking at the upcoming X5 as well.

post #281 of 1303
Quote:
Originally Posted by miceblue View Post


Because some audiophools only buy products for the audio quality. Never mind if the interface was made by a 5-year old, it sounds great!

 

Actually for audiophile dap the UI is completely unnecessary, because they do blind testing all the time anyway. :wink_face:

post #282 of 1303
post #283 of 1303

What they need is something like an iPod Classic that can be Rockboxed, that can support SD cards, and that has a good DAC in it like the FiiO X3 has.  This would make a great audiophile portable player.

post #284 of 1303
Thread Starter 

@ truckdriver and reginalb

 

Great post guys, your views were a pleasure to read and I wish more users on here posted discussing their views like you two just did. As of now I've almost completely given up on the idea of being able to find a good one box hi-fi sounding on the go solution. I exchanged my EX50 hoping when I get the replacement back it will be halfway usable. If that doesn't work out I may be looking in Sony's direction as the only real alternative I have left. If Sony bombs I guess I'm stuck with a brick in my pocket for god knows how many years.

post #285 of 1303
DF, have you tried the X3? I've been definitely surprised...
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