Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Source Gear › Recommendation for a high-end DAP
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Recommendation for a high-end DAP

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 

Hi Guys,

 

I'm an persistent follower of the forum, but this is the first time I'm actually asking a question. I'm looking to get a high-end portable DAP and leaning strongly towards the AK100 or AK120 (not sure which yet). I know they are quite pricy DAPs but I'm willing to pay the money for the quality. I own Triple. Fi10 IEMs and just recently got a pure silver cable from Chris himself and thus, would like to have a DAP that qualifies to the same standards. My current portable DAP is Cowon J3, which is nice by all means but is not a high-resolution one. My questions are as follows:

 

1. Which high-end DAP do you recommend and why? As I said, I'm leaning towards the AKs but am also open minded.

2. I've read a lot of reviews on the AK100 and AK120 (as well as the comparison between the two) and in some of these reviews it was written that the difference between them is heard mainly when playing DSD files. Do you agree with that? If not, what are the advantages of the AK120 over the AK100, when playing FLAC or WAV files?

3. I'm not sure this is the right place for the following question, and if it's not I'd be glad to get a link to the right place but anyways. 

    (a) What's the difference between DSD and, say, the FLAC files you can download online (I think they're around 700-1000 kbps and 44KHz) or the WAV files you get when ripping from a            CD (at around 1500kbps and 44KHz)? 

    (b) Where does one gets DSD  files from? Is there is a free download source for these? Does all music is available in DSD or only limited artists and albums?

4. Will the AK100/120 sound good with my other gear?

 

Thanks a lot in advance,

 

Ziv

post #2 of 46
The AK100 and the AK120 won't work well with your TF10s. You would be better off with a Sansa Clip+ or Fuze+, iPod Touch 5G or iBasso DX100.
post #3 of 46
Thread Starter 

Why don't the work well with the TF10s?

post #4 of 46
I don't think you need the AK players personally for TF10, I say this because TF10 will basically hit a glass ceiling how much better they'll perform, going all out could be a waste. I'll recommend iBasso DX50, I say this from owning a J3 and knowing it will be a nice improvement. Although if user interface isn't a concern I much prefer the sound of Hisounds Rocco BA which I've tried with TF10 using a silver plated cable. I've owned two pairs of TF10, they're decent, but aging a little now. I don't think you need a high end DAP for them personally. You may find yourself right at home with DX50 and buy the wife some jewellery with your change.
Edited by H20Fidelity - 11/10/13 at 2:21am
post #5 of 46
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the response. Of course I'm not ruling out replacing the TF10s at some point with better IEMs. This is why I am thinking of going all out this time, so that I won't feel the need to get another DAP upgrade once I'll upgrade my IEMs. What makes the TF10s "not good enough" for the AKs?

According to the above, would you say that the AKs are the way to go? If so, which one of the two would you recommend?

Thanks again!
post #6 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by zg1984 View Post

Thanks for the response. Of course I'm not ruling out replacing the TF10s at some point with better IEMs. This is why I am thinking of going all out this time, so that I won't feel the need to get another DAP upgrade once I'll upgrade my IEMs. What makes the TF10s "not good enough" for the AKs?

According to the above, would you say that the AKs are the way to go? If so, which one of the two would you recommend?

Thanks again!


As I said the TF10 will most likely cap out and you won't be able to take full advantage of the AK players.

I highly suggest you take a read of our iBasso DX50 thread as some members are going as far as selling their AK120's and keeping the iBasso. But if your heart is set on AK player then it must be 120 because AK100 has rather high output impedance, as mentioned isn't suitable at all. Unless you get it modded my Red Wine Audio and drop the output impedance. It all becomes quite complicated but Skamp does know what he's talking about. He made a very good guess a few months ago going off graphs on Colorfly C3's output impedance being low while other members thought differently. After having C3 measured by ClieOS, Skamp was indeed correct. 

Have a read, and just remember spending the most isn't necessarily the best in portable audio. 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/679473/ibasso-dx50-appreciation-thread-new-4-firmware-update-v1-2-2

Goodluck. :smile:
 


Edited by H20Fidelity - 11/10/13 at 2:36am
post #7 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by zg1984 View Post

Why don't the work well with the TF10s?

Sorry, I meant to edit my post, but I forgot :P

Like H20Fidelity intimated, the problem is the combination of the AK's high output impedance and the non-flat impedance curve of your TF10s, which are notoriously unforgiving in that regard. Even the AK120's output impedance of just 3Ω has an incidence on the frequency response of the TF10s of 3.5dB at 10kHz, which might be audible, depending on your own sensitivity to that frequency band.

Red Wine Audio provides a service to lower the output impedance of the AKs to less than 1Ω, which fixes the problem. But that service, combined with the high cost of the AKs, makes it a very expensive offering.

Personally, I don't believe that spending a lot of money on a DAP will give you extra sound quality, because I believe it doesn't get any better than "high fidelity", unless you intentionnaly alter the sound with some DSP. In any case, I suggest you make sure that the output impedance of the headphone out is low, ideally less than 1Ω. I know that's the case for the Sansas, the iPod Touch 5G and the iBasso DX100, which is one of the reasons I mentionned those. The other reason is that they measure very well, which means clean, transparent, high fidelity audio.

Another solution is to use a headphone amplifier with a near 0Ω output impedance, but that's bulky and less practical (and also not strictly necessary, when there are several low impedance DAPs to choose from).

I'm not aware of measurements for the DX50, so I don't know about that one.
Edited by skamp - 11/10/13 at 3:48am
post #8 of 46

UE TF10 are THE best universal IEM's I have used and I have them ALL. It's even better than my UE Custom11. It lacks a bit of bass but the it's crystal clear highs are unsurpassed.

 

Get Fiio X3. I have many players including iPod Touch 4/J3/Colorfly C4/iBasso DX50/X3/Sony z1070/B&O Beosound 2 &6. Have tried the AK's. 

I'm not saying X3 is the best player. Z1070 could be the best sounding but the combo of X3 with TF10 is killer. No touch screen and no EQ - a few buttons and Treble/Bass index. No fuss no complexity. Pure SQ excellence. Cheers.

post #9 of 46

Forgot to mention that DX50 is weak bass-wise. With my Denon AH-D 7000, DX50 is great, though. Not with IEM's. Very lacking in bass.

post #10 of 46
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by skamp View Post


Sorry, I meant to edit my post, but I forgot :P

Like H20Fidelity intimated, the problem is the combination of the AK's high output impedance and the non-flat impedance curve of your TF10s, which are notoriously unforgiving in that regard. Even the AK120's output impedance of just 3Ω has an incidence on the frequency response of the TF10s of 3.5dB at 10kHz, which might be audible, depending on your own sensitivity to that frequency band.

Red Wine Audio provides a service to lower the output impedance of the AKs to less than 1Ω, which fixes the problem. But that service, combined with the high cost of the AKs, makes it a very expensive offering.

Personally, I don't believe that spending a lot of money on a DAP will give you extra sound quality, because I believe it doesn't get any better than "high fidelity", unless you intentionnaly alter the sound with some DSP. In any case, I suggest you make sure that the output impedance of the headphone out is low, ideally less than 1Ω. I know that's the case for the Sansas, the iPod Touch 5G and the iBasso DX100, which is one of the reasons I mentionned those. The other reason is that they measure very well, which means clean, transparent, high fidelity audio.

Another solution is to use a headphone amplifier with a near 0Ω output impedance, but that's bulky and less practical (and also not strictly necessary, when there are several low impedance DAPs to choose from).

I'm not aware of measurements for the DX50, so I don't know about that one.

 

Thanks for the detailed explanation. First of all, as I've said initially, I'm not fixed on the AK's at all. I get the problem of combining the TF10's with either of the AK players and, most definitely, would not like to add another component (as an external amp) to the player. Surely not to a player that costs as much as the AK's :). The Red Wine Audio is indeed very expensive (1500$ - WOW). So I guess the AKs are off the table for me. In which case would you say that the AK's are superior to other DAPs?

What do you mean by "it doesn't get any better than "high fidelity""? Sorry for the lack of common knowledge :) but I'm unfamiliar with the term.

 

The DX100 sound interesting (I don't bond well with iPods and for some reason prefer to avoid the Sanasa Clip). Wouldn't you say that the DX100's DAC will outperform this of the Sansa Clip or 

the iPod Touch 5G when combined with the TF10s and the PS cable? I've done some reading about the DX100 and it seem it has a pretty awesome DAC which suits my IEMs.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sabatar View Post
 

UE TF10 are THE best universal IEM's I have used and I have them ALL. It's even better than my UE Custom11. It lacks a bit of bass but the it's crystal clear highs are unsurpassed.

 

Get Fiio X3. I have many players including iPod Touch 4/J3/Colorfly C4/iBasso DX50/X3/Sony z1070/B&O Beosound 2 &6. Have tried the AK's. 

I'm not saying X3 is the best player. Z1070 could be the best sounding but the combo of X3 with TF10 is killer. No touch screen and no EQ - a few buttons and Treble/Bass index. No fuss no complexity. Pure SQ excellence. Cheers.

 

 

Would you guys say that the Fiio X3 qualifies to the same standards as the DX100? The latter sounds a bit more luxurious to me...

 

Finally, I would also like to mention I intend to use the DAP to play music on my living room Yamaha's HS80 monitors. Although this is not the primary use for the DAP, but it would be nice to get something that would perform well there also.

 

Thanks again for all the help. It's dearly appreciated!

post #11 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by zg1984 View Post

What do you mean by "it doesn't get any better than "high fidelity""? Sorry for the lack of common knowledge smily_headphones1.gif but I'm unfamiliar with the term.

High Fidelity = Hi-Fi (surely you have heard that one before). It means faithful reproduction of the source, without noise or distortion.
post #12 of 46
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by skamp View Post

Personally, I don't believe that spending a lot of money on a DAP will give you extra sound quality, because I believe it doesn't get any better than "high fidelity"

 

Yes, of course. But I'm not sure that I follow. Isn't the choice of the DAP is a part of achieving Hi-Fi? What did you mean by the above statement?

 

Do you think the the AK120 with the Red Whine Audio adjustment would be the best when considering sound quality only?

post #13 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by sabatar View Post

UE TF10 are THE best universal IEM's I have used and I have them ALL. It's even better than my UE Custom11. It lacks a bit of bass but the it's crystal clear highs are unsurpassed.

Get Fiio X3. I have many players including iPod Touch 4/J3/Colorfly C4/iBasso DX50/X3/Sony z1070/B&O Beosound 2 &6. Have tried the AK's. 
I'm not saying X3 is the best player. Z1070 could be the best sounding but the combo of X3 with TF10 is killer. No touch screen and no EQ - a few buttons and Treble/Bass index. No fuss no complexity. Pure SQ excellence. Cheers.

So you rate TF10 over Tralucent 1Plus2 do you, having 'them all'?
Edited by H20Fidelity - 11/10/13 at 3:30pm
post #14 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by H20Fidelity View Post


So you rate TF10 over Tralucent 1Plus2 do you, having 'them all'?

 

That must be some special TF10 :).

post #15 of 46
In my opinion, you can upgrade from the TF10 before getting a new DAP. And you can still use your cable with the new iem (might need some modification depending on the cable).

Otherwise on the DAP side, the ak100 needs modification, the ak120 is a great DAP but only if you get a low price, it is definitely not worth 1.2k$. To me soundwise the 901 is the best at this stage, but it has other issues such as battery life. If I was you, I would hold out for a while on the DAP side because many new offers are coming out soon...the Fiio X5, the Hifiman 802, the Calyx M, the Sony ZX1, a new DAP from AK...I am sure one of these, in my opinion the Fiio X5, might fit your needs better than any currently on the market.

Another option is the dx100, because it is still among the best sounding, and goes for prices lower than 600$ these days on the FS thread.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Portable Source Gear
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Source Gear › Recommendation for a high-end DAP