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Deciding on a DAP: Fiio or Sony?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hi Everyone,

 

I'm looking to grab my first high resolution media player; though I don't have the best budget to work with, I'm looking right now at either a Fiio model or a Sony F887.

 

After reading a lot of reviews, I'm convinced that Fiio is doing an incredible job with their DAPs, and that the sound quality would make me cry with joy; I was actually thinking about the X3, but with the X5 to be released soon, I was wondering if the extra ~$150 is worth the upgrade to the X5.

 

That being said, though, I have several reasons in my mind as to why I'm considering the Sony F887. First, I have a large collection of music that's already in highly compressed formats (MP3, AAC, etc). and I have read in several places that Sony claims to have a "Digital Sound Enhancement Engine" that upscales all lower-quality audio. I don't know if the Fiio players do this (though I think I read in one article that they bring up the quality of any audio, not just high quality files). Second, in terms of pure functionality, the Sony seems to be better with that regard (such as if I want to pair with a Bluetooth speaker).

 

I also plan on using a pair of JVC HP-FX500 earphones with whatever I get, too, to try and complement the sound quality on the budget I'm on (can't afford headphones over $200).

 

I know that I should probably be using these DAPs with FLACs and WAVs, but the reality is that I have a large music collection, want to have it most of it with me in a portable device, and just be able to enjoy a better portable audio experience overall (having had to put up with iPods and smartphones for most of my life).

 

Anyways, any thoughts and opinions would be really appreciated. Thanks!

post #2 of 14

In the end your source is still mp3 compressed format. In all honesty, even with a better DAP/earphones you won't benefit much considering your compressed files are just holding them back. IMO, a good recording is in fact primarily more important than the gears used.

Higher end DAP and earphones will usually reveal all the deficiencies and noise/distortion if any in your compressed files making them a less enjoyable experience to listen. If you still plan on just using mp3s, i think ipods are sufficient. If you still insist, i'd probably go with the F887. Not because of their DSEE which i find upscaling is a load of crap, but due to FiiO DAP's performance with MP3s not up to par due to their coding (Unless they have already fixed that.)

 

If you are using mp3 format, hopefully it'll be at least 320k? At least at that level the quality isn't that far off from FLAC.

post #3 of 14

I personally prefer Sony's dap over FiiO. Less buggy, better UI, and better battery life (though I'm not sure about the battery life on the F887). 

I had the X3 and I didn't see much of an improvement from my iPod/C5 combo and at that time it was a bit buggy so I sold it.

At this point I have no interest in any of FiiO's current and upcoming dap unless it's dirt cheap. 

 

I don't use EQ and to me Sony's dap sounds better on normal or flat EQ than the X3, but if you don't mind EQ and/or prefer expandable memory than a FiiO might make more sense for you.

 

This is just my opinion based on my preference, ymmv.


Edited by RoMee - 3/13/14 at 8:19pm
post #4 of 14

That Sony claim is just marketing Bull....

 

I see no reason why you shouldn't just get a Sansa Clip for now.

If you start to appreciate lossless then move up, but lossy files on a Clip

sound good enough.

post #5 of 14

I think you guys are exaggerating. I find the Clip/Zip/Fuze to be poor sounding, even when the music is lossy MP3 format.  I rip AAC/MP3 files myself and they sound great, and only marginally inferior to a lossless format.  (Especially using on-ear/iems!)

 

You may want to get the X3, just because of the microSD support.  I like the interface on the Sony more, but it makes me feel a little sour (especially next to my E970 [Nexus 4]) as the performance is a bit slow.  Expandable storage is always nice, as I can copy files faster through my USB 3.0 writer.

 

 

Just throwing this out-- What about the Nokia 808?  More functionality than both of these players, and does MP3/AAC justice. :D

Can pair with bluetooth audio, and can broadcast music over FM radio!!  (Works wonders at the dentist's office)

 

Its a smoother experience than either of these players.  Records audio pretty good too:

http://ej3.us/resources/nokia808/test.wav

 

If I had to choose between the F887 or the X3, I would probably side with Sony again.  Just because I like their signature ;)

post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by RoMee View Post
 

I personally prefer Sony's dap over FiiO. Less buggy, better UI, and better battery life (though I'm not sure about the battery life on the F887). 

30 hours.

post #7 of 14
The answer to which DAP you should buy depends alot on whether you purchased (downloaded) the highly compressed music or whether you purchased CDs. If its the former then a Fiio X5 will only highlight the deficiencies in your collection. If its the latter then either player will suffice but I would be surprised if Sony's player could deliver higher objective sound quality than Fiio's X5 especially at 3x the battery life (assuming battery sizes are equal which they might not be). Sony tends to make small, elegant, expensive players but there is a lot to be said for larger players when it comes to audio quality.
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by batteraziiz View Post
 

30 hours.

My Z gets ~10h of battery life, but that might be because I use the screen too much!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sefelt103 View Post

The answer to which DAP you should buy depends alot on whether you purchased (downloaded) the highly compressed music or whether you purchased CDs. If its the former then a Fiio X5 will only highlight the deficiencies in your collection. If its the latter then either player will suffice but I would be surprised if Sony's player could deliver higher objective sound quality than Fiio's X5 especially at 3x the battery life (assuming battery sizes are equal which they might not be). Sony tends to make small, elegant, expensive players but there is a lot to be said for larger players when it comes to audio quality.

Like you said, the X5 would probably be overkill. The DSEE engine actually helps with decent MP3 files. There are plenty of poor quality MP3s, even in high bitrates. Depends on the source of the MP3 ;)

 

Good MP3s sound good on my Walkman z.

post #9 of 14

I have both players. IMO the sony sounds better than the X3 although I primarily listen to FLAC files since mp3s generally sound worse. The Sony has a better amp, too, as it doesn't benefit as much as the X3 when I use the lineout through a good portable amp like the FIIO E12DIY or the JDS' C5. The Sony 887 also can provide a digital audio out , too, if you're willing to spend the $50 to buy the special cable with the correct Sony connection (it's the same one as for the more expensive ZX-model). Sony doesn't seem to advertise this fact much in the US but I got the cable through ebay & it does work. However I don't have that many USB DAC's to try that sound better than the Sony... (I'm still looking into that). Anyhoo, besides this really nice option of using the Sony to provide a USB digital audio signal, you can also easily expand the capacity of your Sony by buying a Seagate WIFI drive. I have a 1TB model that I load up with FLAC files and it works pretty well. You  just have to download the app from Google and you're good to go. The interface is crude but it works. I think there's a slight degradation in audio quality over the WIFI signal but I'm not sure. I haven't heard anyone discussing this, but in any case it's not a big effect if there is any. There are lots of other less expensive options for WIFI drives but the Seagate is the only one that I know for sure works with the Sony and with FLAC (and there's also no problem with the 24bit FLAC, either). So I'd go for the Sony (or the DX50) for that price range.

post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrokenStevie View Post
 

I have both players. IMO the sony sounds better than the X3 although I primarily listen to FLAC files since mp3s generally sound worse. The Sony has a better amp, too, as it doesn't benefit as much as the X3 when I use the lineout through a good portable amp like the FIIO E12DIY or the JDS' C5. The Sony 887 also can provide a digital audio out , too, if you're willing to spend the $50 to buy the special cable with the correct Sony connection (it's the same one as for the more expensive ZX-model). Sony doesn't seem to advertise this fact much in the US but I got the cable through ebay & it does work. However I don't have that many USB DAC's to try that sound better than the Sony... (I'm still looking into that). Anyhoo, besides this really nice option of using the Sony to provide a USB digital audio signal, you can also easily expand the capacity of your Sony by buying a Seagate WIFI drive. I have a 1TB model that I load up with FLAC files and it works pretty well. You  just have to download the app from Google and you're good to go. The interface is crude but it works. I think there's a slight degradation in audio quality over the WIFI signal but I'm not sure. I haven't heard anyone discussing this, but in any case it's not a big effect if there is any. There are lots of other less expensive options for WIFI drives but the Seagate is the only one that I know for sure works with the Sony and with FLAC (and there's also no problem with the 24bit FLAC, either). So I'd go for the Sony (or the DX50) for that price range.


Depends on how the source file is being transferred over WiFi.  I highly doubt your WiFi drive compresses the audio file, so you should not have any degradation in audio quality due to the source file.  I was actually considering a WiFi drive, but I am just fine with limited storage ;)

 

You notice any degradation in audio quality while WiFi is active, e.g browsing web?

post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yazen View Post
 


Depends on how the source file is being transferred over WiFi.  I highly doubt your WiFi drive compresses the audio file, so you should not have any degradation in audio quality due to the source file.  I was actually considering a WiFi drive, but I am just fine with limited storage ;)

 

You notice any degradation in audio quality while WiFi is active, e.g browsing web?


While technically there's supposed to be a way to connect to the internet while also connected to the WIFI drive , it's not obvious how to actually do it & I haven't really tried that hard to get it set up that way. I don't really want to browse the internet from the tiny screen of my Sony anyway. Actually, the degradation seems to be most noticeable with the 24-bit FLAC files so maybe it has to do with transferring really large files? But when I say degradation, it's not that huge of an effect. It's probably more along the line of what you might get by using Bluetooth rather than WIFI. But it does defeat the purpose of going with the 24bit FLAC files if they sound more like 16bit. It's too bad since the Sony really does seem to have a fine audio quality but the small on-board storage with no easy expansion of storage is unfortunate for this player. Even the 128 gb version really isn't enough for these files. The Seagate is really nice for getting around that problem, at least with the regular FLAC files. (And I'm still not absolutely sure that I'm hearing a difference... )

post #12 of 14

IMHO today's Sony is total bulls**t and that refers not only to DAPs.

post #13 of 14

I bought a FiiO X3 in December of last year and I struggled with that thing for weeks before finally coming to the conclusion that it was not ready for the market. I had a terrible experience getting purchased HDtracks files to play without crashing the device every three or four tracks, so I returned it. I would not recommend that device to anyone, in spite of the fact that many people seem to have an acceptable (but admittedly buggy/crashy) experience with theirs. Did I get a lemon? That is unclear to me, since FiiO support walked me through half a dozen "fixes", none of which helped one bit -- so I concluded that the X3 is still very much a "beta device". The X5 supposedly addresses some of the X3s problems, but I'm waiting to hear from people who have lived with the device for a month before I would consider trying one of those.

 

The other issue is: if your music library is mainly compressed lossy format, its a waste of $$$ to upgrade your hardware without also investing in better music files. (re-rip your CDs to a lossless format, or purchase better quality downloads.) 128kbps MP3s are still going to sound like crap when played on a "high res" device.

post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cannikin View Post
 

I bought a FiiO X3 in December of last year and I struggled with that thing for weeks before finally coming to the conclusion that it was not ready for the market. I had a terrible experience getting purchased HDtracks files to play without crashing the device every three or four tracks, so I returned it. I would not recommend that device to anyone, in spite of the fact that many people seem to have an acceptable (but admittedly buggy/crashy) experience with theirs. Did I get a lemon? That is unclear to me, since FiiO support walked me through half a dozen "fixes", none of which helped one bit -- so I concluded that the X3 is still very much a "beta device". The X5 supposedly addresses some of the X3s problems, but I'm waiting to hear from people who have lived with the device for a month before I would consider trying one of those.

 

The other issue is: if your music library is mainly compressed lossy format, its a waste of $$$ to upgrade your hardware without also investing in better music files. (re-rip your CDs to a lossless format, or purchase better quality downloads.) 128kbps MP3s are still going to sound like crap when played on a "high res" device.


It sounds like you got a defective X3. I'm surprised that FIIO didn't ask you to return it. They've always been very helpful whenever I contact them for tech support. But I haven't had any problems with the X3. I've had mine since shortly after they came out in the US and it's been problem-free. It's an odd interface but it's pretty straightforward in operation (nothing like the problems I had with the DX50 before they issued the umpteenth fix- now that was a buggy product. Still, it was worth the wait since they did eventually fix the problems.) IMO the X3 has tremendous sound for a $200 player & the fact that it can play 24bit FLAC, can be used as a DAC, and also has both coaxial audio and line outputs makes for a really nice hi-res DAP. And they threw in cables and a case and 2 screen protectors, all kinds of nice extras for a $200 player. I'm a fan. And I'm really looking forward to the X5. FIIO seems to put out really nice, well-designed, solid, economical audio products.

 

And I agree with you about the 128 kbps MP3's. A good DAP only highlights the crappiness of no-rez music files.

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