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Would you consider buying outright a low to midrange Android as your new DAP?

Poll Results: Would you consider buying outright a new low to mid range Android purely as your new DAP?

 
  • 58% (7)
    Yep
  • 41% (5)
    I'll stick with real DAPs (iPod, GoGear, Walkman, FiiO, iRiver, Creative, Zune etc.)
12 Total Votes  
post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

I recently unearthed an old Acer Android phone sitting in my house that runs on Gingerbread 2.3.5 and it came with a 4GB SD Card but little internal memory. I immediately thought of either rooting it and put voodoo sound or in general try it as a new DAP.
Hardware-wise it's pretty old a single core Qualcomm MSM7227 (the same type used in the HTC Explorer/ Wildfire S/ Sony X10 Mini, and HTC Legend) not sure what the DAC used inside will be.

I haven't listened to it for long, but I'll probably post a few impressions back here a bit later.

 

BUT it did raise an interesting question for me.
 

Considering Android supports practically all format's of music (with FLAC support from 3.1 onwards) and the Google Play store, it can be Android's answer to the iPod Touch.

Although it is annoying some of the lower ended phone's don't support (or have very little) internal memory and rely completely on your SD Card for media storage. Sound Quality-wise I cant really decide yet since I haven't done a side by side comparison between any Android phone to any of my current DAPs.

Of course Sony's Walkman F or Z series already does this with great sound quality. But avaliability is limited in some countries, or not avaliable at all or just too expensive.

What do you think? Would you consider buying outright a low to midrange Android purely as your new DAP? Perhaps only try the prepaid phones or older Android phones that run 4.0.4 and above.

 

post #2 of 22
I had exact the same thought until I got hold of my X3....
post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 

So no one actually even considers doing this despite that some low-midrange Android phones are cheaper than an iPod Touch or iPod Classic and supports FLAC/MP3/AAC/WAV/WMA etc?????

post #4 of 22

I used to have this thought of obtaining a cheap transport and uses it with external DAC/AMP, like ipod or android. Now, I much prefer to keep it simple and have a one-box solution HM901 specifically.

Having said that, I assess the connectivity of the DAP before purchase. A line out will be considered as a necessity and digital out will be nice to have. There is nothing worse than buying a DAP that does not allow upgrade through use of external DAC/AMP.

post #5 of 22

I guess my Android smartphone is considered low to mid-range compared to the latest and greatest offerings that are now the size of small tablets. I have my SGS rooted /w Voodoo with 64GB external memory, and Neutron for the past 2.5 years with Froyo, and I have no desire to change from it. It retains the balance of size, function, and outputs good SQ.  I only use for its basic communication and on-the-go music. Anything else I wait and use my notebook with my desktop setup and HPs.

 

In the mix, I've owned all the Hifiman, HiSoundAudio DAPs, excluding the latest models, and a few from iRiver, Cowon, and Sony that were arguably declared audiophile grade.  All were sold and/or given away.  I even went through many phases of owning DAP/AMP combo stacks/bricks that sure sounded really good, but I grew tired of hauling it around, losing and/or fixing expensive ICs', unexpectedly running out of juice (IMO, all declared specs of battery life is grossly over estimated from real world experience), or having one of the two stacked devices run out of juice, paying an extreme premium for portability, and fiddling and swapping with the whole "synergy" phenomenon.   

 

I went back to a very simple setup (SGS /w ciem/iem) with good SQ and have been happy ever since because I need lite portability. There's a short list of smartphones that offer stellar audio. The Nokia N91 still ranks high on my list that easily rivals a lot of past and current DAPs, but its permanent 4GB of proprietary internal storage and lack of external storage killed it for me as DAP.

post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 

ahhhh the first Galaxy S. It was that good for you? haha
I started using the old Acer as a regular listening DAP and it just feels something is missing, mainly in the Bass and detail of music.
Both my Walkman Z and iPod Classic is bigger and heavier than my NExus phone, would've like something lighter.
THe Walkman E is light and sound quality is good but I guess I got spoiled by the S-Master MX on the Z. THe build quality on the E is kinda mehhhhh it feels as if i yank the charging cable or my cans out too hard it'll just fall apart.

 

Wonder if it always has to be flagship phones that have to sound great...

post #7 of 22

"Good enough" after rooting it and applying Voodoo sounds and Neutron, yes.  I use to be an early techie adopter and always bought the latest and greatest, but it's been years since I've been in that mode.  

 

No, the latest and greatest flagship smartphones doesn't always have the best audio quality.  It may have the specs on paper to potentially sound great, but often times implementation and/or locking down the hardware potential with the OS and other proprietary means are usually the usual suspects along with price to implement an audiophile quality DAC and amplification. Hi-fidelity is usually an after thought that ranks behind entertainment and social media.

 

Hi-fi audio to the standards of most members here is still an afterthought as that's not viable revenue stream - yet.  The only company I see really starting to capitalize on this opportunity is Apple as my wife's iPhone 4 actually sounds pretty good. I've read members ditch their portable stacks for just their iPhones because the specs and subjective SQ are that good now.  It's only a matter of time before before they monopolize on it and offer true hi-rez music that's fully supported by the hardware without down sampling.  Perhaps, when that day comes, I'll ditch my SGS for the latest and greatest iphone X.  The only feature that most people would want, myself included, is the external storage availability, but I don't foresee that ever happening as that would create a potential backdoor for easier hacking into the iOS.

post #8 of 22

it depends, my current mobile setup is android phone to hrt microstreamer to er4s which is amazing and theres nothing id trade it for, but before that it was just the phone, a note 2, the non lte version which has the wolfson 1811 dac which when paired with a kernel that supports voodoo sound is not half bad as a listening source at all. if memory serves correctly all the exynos chipset phones contained a wolfson dac, i think even the old galaxy nexus (i9250) and possibly the s2 (i9100) so you could have a reasonable player fairly cheap (then just add a usb dac later if you want an upgrade) just make sure it has that wolfson dac

post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by emba4 View Post

it depends, my current mobile setup is android phone to hrt microstreamer to er4s which is amazing and theres nothing id trade it for, but before that it was just the phone, a note 2, the non lte version which has the wolfson 1811 dac which when paired with a kernel that supports voodoo sound is not half bad as a listening source at all. if memory serves correctly all the exynos chipset phones contained a wolfson dac, i think even the old galaxy nexus (i9250) and possibly the s2 (i9100) so you could have a reasonable player fairly cheap (then just add a usb dac later if you want an upgrade) just make sure it has that wolfson dac


Galaxy nexus used a TI soc which in turn used a burr brown DAC which TI bought a few years ago. Note2 was decent (out ofbthe box)but I never modded anything because of the sds issue. I did have a gtab2 which used the same Wolfson 1811 and that was the best sound I heard from an android device out of the box. Btw, the gtab2 can be had brand new for $170 on amazon but I'm sure if you dont mind used you could find it for around $100. I never tried USB out of it but I do have the samsung adapters which are hard to come by. The galaxy note 3 is by no means cheap and will probably still fetch a few hundred a couple years from now uses a qualcomm wcd9320 for its DAC and it is awesome. I am itching to get a c5 amp but I want the DAC also. My beyer's are itching to show me what they really have because my dt770's need more juice.

Sent from my SM-N9005
post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 

I used my Galaxy Nexus phone for a loong time when I wanted an all-in-one device, till I realized how much it saps the battery. But I got annoyed with it after I began hearing audio distortion on songs with high vocals, I thought it may have been an earphone problem, it certainly wasn't when i played the same song using the same earphones on another device. So I decided to get an iPod proper, and then other DAP's, and I never looked back!!!

But with this drive for audio greatness also lead to higher bitrate MP3s, lossless, FLAC etc... Unfortunately not all players on the market support all file formats.
Where as Android supports all. It's ironic....Certainly in Australia we don't have a huge variety of DAP's avaliable, even my Walkman Z had to be bought as an ex-Display model around maybe 10 months release? Sony Store says Sony didn't ship much of them to Aus, I doubt the F series will be coming here, only the E and W series will be sticking around.
 

Saw an Huawei Ascend phone at 200AUD which has supposedly good audio quality because the output isn't distorted, but that alone doesn't say much.

Maybe one day the best audio device here will be a phone instead of an actual Music Player.

post #11 of 22

you are on the ball there pukemon it did use an omap i forgot about that, damn youre more on top than i am and its part of my job! (and now my brains are racking thinking which other models used exynos chips, a week off doing nothing but listen to tunes and read is not good for the brain!) i didnt know that qualcomm had improved their dacs any though, my last experience of one was the HTC one which was enough to make me want to take the phones out and stick pencils into my ears, ill have to dig the n3 back out of my test units drawer and give it a go, its strange, i was always locked to certain handsets, and this time it was due to poor sound from most, but now the HRT works with a lot im free to choose again so i may have to dig through that drawer and see what i fancy (im thinking xperia z1)

 

interestingly does anyone know if the i9506 (the snapdragon 800 galaxy s4) uses the same DAC as the n9005? and as you say older exynos/wolfson packing units are out there for mighty cheap so if anyone does want a long battery life good sounding player its a good option. also out of interest do iphones and ipods have decent chips in still, the last i had was a 2nd/3rd gen ipod (the first one that worked with windows) a long time ago, they were good but are they still good? (not that id buy an apple product again, im just curious)

 

in any case i dont think theres much except maybe an A+K that could match phone>HRT>phones sure its ba few extra bits in your pocket, but damn does it ever sound good. maybe not as good but possibly better than a lot of options i think hifimediy do an android dac for about £20+shipping http://hifimediy.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=62&product_id=124 which could make for a good budget ooption

post #12 of 22
The biggest problems with smart phones as music players are audible system noise (EMI from CPU and/or disk activity and/or wifi and cell radio) and high impedance headphone outputs. Even some very expensive Android phones and tablets have these issues. Unfortunately it can be hard to find any manufacturer specs that even mention headphone output impedance so you have to rely on the very few competent testers and reviewers out there who actually take an interest in audio quality on smart phones and tablets which means useful data is only available for a tiny proportion of available products.

I have an Archos A43IT, a pocketable tablet running Froyo, and designed as an audio and multimedia centric device. EMI seems well suppressed with no ugly noises intruding into playback - nice black silence - except when the wifi is switched on or off. I don't know the output impedance but it must be ridiculously high because my balanced armature IEMs basically don't work with the device unless I add an inline resistor. Dynamic driver headphones and IEMs work normally. I did think of using a cheap Android phone with microSD as my regular music player (I liked the idea of a music player that can also do internet radio) so have done the rounds of local shops listening to different devices and so far they have all been really unimpressive next to a dedicated audio player (I have Sansa Fuze+ and iRiver H140 and H340). It seems normal for the headphone output to be too quiet and to compound the problem by having audible noise. The humble Archos seems impressive in comparison and has massively longer battery life but it still isn't a match for a proper audio player because it's not good enough with balanced armature IEMs.

Anyway, short version: yes, I would consider it and it would be ideal but unless you can bypass the headphone socket and use a line out dock to an amp then it probably won't be satisfactory. And once you've done that you are way past the "low to midrange" budget, are carrying around a bulky combo, and would have done better to spend many fewer pennies on a Clip+ or similar.
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by shch13 View Post
 

So no one actually even considers doing this despite that some low-midrange Android phones are cheaper than an iPod Touch or iPod Classic and supports FLAC/MP3/AAC/WAV/WMA etc?????

 

I have, I've had this idea for a very long time, at least since sony came out with the "xperia mini" :P

 

Android phones can be very good value for money in this application. They're of particular interest to me because they're the only hardware that offers the ability to play 2 sources concurrently on the device itself. Some android music apps can be set to "ignore audio focus", and you can for instance, put some music on underneath that podcast you listen to, or monitor both a local file & an internet stream. But I digress...

 

I think the main obstacle to using any Android phone as your source is really whether you subjectively find its sound quality passable. A lot of single-purpose players just sound that much cleaner to my ears. I can listen to most phones for hours, days, months, without thinking I'm missing something, but the tiny difference is there, YMMV.

 

I still haven't pulled the trigger to this day, for a couple of other reasons - I wish people made low-end Android phones that are even smaller, AND with more hardware buttons. I value these features to the point that I wonder if I shouldn't just spring for an ipod nano instead. If you're not like me - and you most certainly aren't cause I'm special (ha!) - I believe there's great potential in most low end android phones, even a technically non-smart phone like the Nokia Asha 501. Now that's a great package for an mp3 player. :P


Edited by heatofamatch - 11/25/13 at 4:05am
post #14 of 22
Question is, if you use an android phone and plan to use an android as your DAP, why would you need two androids instead of just one?
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by heatofamatch View Post

....because they're the only hardware that offers the ability to play 2 sources concurrently on the device itself. Some android music apps can be set to "ignore audio focus", and you can for instance, put some music on underneath that podcast you listen to, or monitor both a local file & an internet stream.

Agreed. On my Archos I like to listen to Test Match Special on Radio 5LSE while simultaneously losing a game of Stick Cricket. It's important for sports fans to be able to compound the misery and share in the humiliation and bewilderment when their team is being unexpectedly crushed by the bl***y Australians.
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