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DAP-off: Astell&Kern AK240, HiFiMAN HM-901, Sony ZX-1, FiiO X5 + Chord Hugo & Calyx M from June. - Page 8

post #106 of 1109
Quote:
Originally Posted by goodvibes View Post
 

No engineer worth a lick will design a LO with a more than negligible DC. You're likely getting the same performance at a lower price by buying a DAP with both HO and LO. So few LO only models would be sold that it would need to cost significantly more.

 

I agree the engineer won't take the risk to let any significant DC leave the dap to external amps or phones, simply for liability concern. But that design concept may compromise the transparency of the signal path. Fortunately, we do have the amp designer who is smart enough to design a DC servo circuit which can compensate for the "significant" DC without implementing DC blocking caps. When you have the caps eliminated from both the dap and the amp, suddenly the audio signal path seems just opening up with improved transparency. Once it opens up, everything else comes together (the details, clarity, smoothness, instrument spacing) as if the sound is no longer contained.

 

Well, this is already OT.

 

@Amos - Nice video review of the AK240. I actually like the looks and it does give that hi-tech impression. IMO, much better form design than the others out there.

post #107 of 1109
Quote:
Originally Posted by DMinor View Post

 

@Amos - Nice video review of the AK240. I actually like the looks and it does give that hi-tech impression. IMO, much better form design than the others out there.

 

I'm not being funny but the ZX1 slaughters the AK240 in the design department & the tactile buttons are a master-class in simple design.

 

I don't expect to see the ZX1 win this test, heaven forbid that it competes with DAP's twice-four times the price, especially since the superb Sony update (you can get exact same sound from F886 which will save you £200 on ZX1).

post #108 of 1109
Quote:
Originally Posted by OK-Guy View Post
 

 

I'm not being funny but the ZX1 slaughters the AK240 in the design department & the tactile buttons are a master-class in simple design.

 

I don't expect to see the ZX1 win this test, heaven forbid that it competes with DAP's twice-four times the price, especially since the superb Sony update (you can get exact same sound from F886 which will save you £200 on ZX1).

 

Actually the ZX1 wasn't even in my mind when I mentioned the others. I was referring to the ugly 901 and boring 100/120.

 

Sony is a master in form design and certainly the ZX1 looks attractive. I do like everything buttons, not a fan of touch screen even my iphone 4s included. But just looking from the pics and video, I don't think the ZX1 can slaughters the 240. The 240 has that high-tech flavor in its form design (stealthy, 3D) which distances itself from the rest in that category.

 

As for the sound comparison, the only "transparent" and fair comparison should be done with blind A/Bing. But I don't think that's possible by one person. The reviewer should be completely isolated from the cost of gear. We all know how brain can be washed, aka brain burn-in's either by sound or by propaganda. I am not accusing any reviewer of being impartial, just saying how the brain could respond to intangible things.

 

The cost factor should never be brought into tests and comparisons. It's simply about sound and how each individual reviewer responds to that sound with everything else masked.

post #109 of 1109
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by laurencewayne View Post
 

Well done....only wish you hadn't deleted 13 minutes! And you are correct about the "clunky" software issues. It won't always sync, gives a cryptic message about "unlocking the screen" etc. Perhaps a future post could address.  And I cannot get MQS to load on my osx 10.9.2. (iRiver aware and working on it.)

 

I didn't actually delete anything as such, mainly re-shot the entire thing speaking a bit faster and more to the point as I didn't want people to get bored. The stats on my videos suggest that a lot of people give up after about 5 minutes into a video so I think 34 mins was really pushing it.

 
Quote:
Originally Posted by OK-Guy View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DMinor View Post

 

@Amos - Nice video review of the AK240. I actually like the looks and it does give that hi-tech impression. IMO, much better form design than the others out there.

 

I'm not being funny but the ZX1 slaughters the AK240 in the design department & the tactile buttons are a master-class in simple design.

 

I don't expect to see the ZX1 win this test, heaven forbid that it competes with DAP's twice-four times the price, especially since the superb Sony update (you can get exact same sound from F886 which will save you £200 on ZX1).

 

@DMinor Thanks. It also has a sound quality has causes people to start looking around at what they can sell to get the money for it and start wondering if they really need two kidneys. I'm told Iriver sold a bunch of them at the SoCal meet.

 

@OK-Guy It's not really about winning or losing. Agreed though about the Sony and design: They really know how to make really nice stuff. I don't know about other countries, but Sony Walkmans of all sizes are big in Japan in stores. Everyone I know who doesn't have an iPod has a Walkman.

post #110 of 1109
Quote:
Originally Posted by DMinor View Post
 

 

I agree the engineer won't take the risk to let any significant DC leave the dap to external amps or phones, simply for liability concern. But that design concept may compromise the transparency of the signal path. Fortunately, we do have the amp designer who is smart enough to design a DC servo circuit which can compensate for the "significant" DC without implementing DC blocking caps. When you have the caps eliminated from both the dap and the amp, suddenly the audio signal path seems just opening up with improved transparency. Once it opens up, everything else comes together (the details, clarity, smoothness, instrument spacing) as if the sound is no longer contained.

 

Well, this is already OT.

 

@Amos - Nice video review of the AK240. I actually like the looks and it does give that hi-tech impression. IMO, much better form design than the others out there.

Coupling caps are not the devil. They can actually be a the better way at times and when in a feedback loop compensated if need be. It can be the smarter way depending on parameters as it can actually be more stable without as much complexity or need for additional protection circuitry. Every good audio circuit gets voiced. Cap coupled or DC servo. Voltage passes through a lot of sound affecting parts on it's way to you. Caps are just one of them. 


Edited by goodvibes - 4/20/14 at 3:32pm
post #111 of 1109
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post
 

 

... Agreed though about the Sony and design: They really know how to make really nice stuff. I don't know about other countries, but Sony Walkmans of all sizes are big in Japan in stores. Everyone I know who doesn't have an iPod has a Walkman.

 

I'll just say the zx1 looks better in photo than how it felt in your hand.... AK240 is the complete opposite - much better in your hand than in photos... last but not least, the HM901 felt as bad as it looked even if does sound great lol.   

post #112 of 1109
Quote:
Originally Posted by kkcc View Post
 

 

I'll just say the zx1 looks better in photo than how it felt in your hand.... AK240 is the complete opposite - much better in your hand than in photos... last but not least, the HM901 felt as bad as it looked even if does sound great lol.   

I have to agree with you. When I saw the ZX1 at a local store for the first time and held it in my hands I was a bit disappointed. I expected it to have a higher quality feel. Nonetheless, quality is still good. Can't comment on the AK240 though.

post #113 of 1109
Thread Starter 

I've finally gotten around to listen with the ZX-1 again after the software update. It sounds a little bit smoother and seems to have lost that aggression that it had before. Comparing it again to the AK240 (SE only) the upgrade makes it closer, but the dynamics of individual instruments are still slightly better with the AK240. 

 

Taking into account the price, the Sony has come out very strongly.

post #114 of 1109
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post
 

I've finally gotten around to listen with the ZX-1 again after the software update. It sounds a little bit smoother and seems to have lost that aggression that it had before. Comparing it again to the AK240 (SE only) the upgrade makes it closer, but the dynamics of individual instruments are still slightly better with the AK240. 

 

Taking into account the price, the Sony has come out very strongly.

Thanks for confirming what I'm hearing.  I certainly don't expect the Sony to compete with the AK240 head-on given that the AK240 is nearly 4 times as expensive as the ZX1.  Also, thanks for your effort on the AK240 review.  The AK240 must be truly amazing to equal the sound of the Pico Power in an all-in-one package.

post #115 of 1109

I'll start off by saying I don't consider myself to have tuned ears of a true audiophile, as I haven't been able to demo alot of high quality headphone or IEM's, but I am trying to learn more as I go. 

 

I have had the HiFiMAN HM-901, Sony NW-ZX1, and FiiO X5 paired with my Shure SE846 IEM's. I currently still have the NW-ZX1 and X5. I couldn't live with the size and UI on the HM-901, even though the sound was great with the IEM card. I've got the NW-ZX1 and X5 now and have the same HiRes tracks and ALAC CD rips and MP3 rips on both units. I must say, I do think the X5 does sound better after the first few comparison listens. I like clarity on my highs, and X5 seems to deliver that better than the ZX1. There also seems to be a bit more punch on the low end. The ZX1 sounds very good, but the clarity on the high end doesn't seem to be as crisp as on the X5. However, I will say the UI on the ZX1 blows away the X5, although I could probably live with the X5's UI. The screen on the ZX1 is very nice compared to the previous HiRes players I have owned. I need to pick one of them, as I can't really justify having them both, I also picked up a 5th gen iPod Touch, but as I already have a 7th gen nano and iPad Mini, it is probably going back, as I haven't even opened it yet. 

 

If I didn't have the 2 units side by side, I could definitely live with either of them and be happy. Now the question becomes, is the UI alone worth the $400 premium over the X5...The hard part for me is most of my music is high quality MP3 files ripped by me with EAC, now I rip new CD's I buy into ALAC, but 95% are MP3. I also like the fact that the X5 has a dedicated line output and microusb connection. 

 

Y2J


Edited by y2jdmbfan - 4/21/14 at 6:47am
post #116 of 1109
Quote:
Originally Posted by y2jdmbfan View Post
 

I'll start off by saying I don't consider myself to have tuned ears of a true audiophile, as I haven't been able to demo alot of high quality headphone or IEM's, but I am trying to learn more as I go. 

 

I have had the HiFiMAN HM-901, Sony NW-ZX1, and FiiO X5 paired with my Shure SE846 IEM's. I currently still have the NW-ZX1 and X5. I couldn't live with the size and UI on the HM-901, even though the sound was great with the IEM card. I've got the NW-ZX1 and X5 now and have the same HiRes tracks and ALAC CD rips and MP3 rips on both units. I must say, I do think the X5 does sound better after the first few comparison listens. I like clarity on my highs, and X5 seems to deliver that better than the ZX1. There also seems to be a bit more punch on the low end. The ZX1 sounds very good, but the clarity on the high end doesn't seem to be as crisp as on the X5. However, I will say the UI on the ZX1 blows away the X5, although I could probably live with the X5's UI. The screen on the ZX1 is very nice compared to the previous HiRes players I have owned. I need to pick one of them, as I can't really justify having them both, I also picked up a 5th gen iPod Touch, but as I already have a 7th gen nano and iPad Mini, it is probably going back, as I haven't even opened it yet. 

 

If I didn't have the 2 units side by side, I could definitely live with either of them and be happy. Now the question becomes, is the UI alone worth the $400 premium over the X5...The hard part for me is most of my music is high quality MP3 files ripped by me with EAC, now I rip new CD's I buy into ALAC, but 95% are MP3. I also like the fact that the X5 has a dedicated line output and microusb connection. 

 

Y2J

I'm about to go through a similar process. I have ordered the X5, AK 120 and ZX1 and plan to keep only one. Given the 128gb limit on the Sony and my large collection of Hi res files, plus my (probably silly) desire to try DSD ( I do love SACD's ), the ZX1 will have to sound really good if it is to be the one. I might be tempted to keep more than one, but then I'm approaching AK240 price range.  Still can't get my head around the looks though.

post #117 of 1109

I guess my refusal thus far to buy a high-def DAP is that despite their software's ability to play hi-def music, none of the hardware beyond the DAC (and even then not always) is capable of besting your standard iPod Touch or iPhone, at least when tested and measured. I guess I'd rather gamble on hi-def music coming to the 6 and new gen of Apple players than spend $800-$2400 on equal (or in some cases inferior) hardware with better software. At least right now. Who knows... If true hi-def music doesn't come to Apple with the new phone announcement, then I might revisit the DAP scenario. But can you imagine if Apple introduces both hi-def music and a Spotify-competitor service? There will be a lot of people walking around with $199 contract phones that (once paired with a decent amp) completely crush the $2400 AK240...


Edited by Earbones - 4/21/14 at 11:45am
post #118 of 1109

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post #119 of 1109
Quote:
Originally Posted by Earbones View Post
 

I guess my refusal thus far to buy a high-def DAP is that despite their software's ability to play hi-def music, none of the hardware beyond the DAC (and even then not always) is capable of besting your standard iPod Touch or iPhone, at least when tested and measured. I guess I'd rather gamble on hi-def music coming to the 6 and new gen of Apple players than spend $800-$2400 on equal (or in some cases inferior) hardware with better software. At least right now. Who knows... If true hi-def music doesn't come to Apple with the new phone announcement, then I might revisit the DAP scenario. But can you imagine if Apple introduces both hi-def music and a Spotify-competitor service? There will be a lot of people walking around with $199 contract phones that (once paired with a decent amp) completely crush the $2400 AK240...

 

I'm also not at all sold on the high-end devices. I hear a lot of talk about how great they sound, but no blind listening tests.

 

I wanted to get out of the Apple ecosphere, and moved from iPod Nano to Sony F886. Partly also because the Nano couldn't drive my Kef M200. Neither does the Sony, but that's off-topic. The Sony has just as good an UI as Apple's devices, and if you have an Android phone like I do, you're going to love the fact that you have a full Android device in your hands. Playing Wordfeud while listening to music, great. I'm glad I didn't go the FiiO or iBasso route, as I would have hated the clunky UI and the idiosyncracies of the players. And the Sony is very small, very light, and can fit much more music than my Nano.

 

I wonder that if/when Apple, Samsung, HTC, etc. come up with phones with high-def playback that DAPs might be going the way of compact cameras: becoming obsolete thanks to convergence.

post #120 of 1109
Quote:
Originally Posted by Metalomaniac View Post

I'm also not at all sold on the high-end devices. I hear a lot of talk about how great they sound, but no blind listening tests.

I wanted to get out of the Apple ecosphere, and moved from iPod Nano to Sony F886. Partly also because the Nano couldn't drive my Kef M200. Neither does the Sony, but that's off-topic. The Sony has just as good an UI as Apple's devices, and if you have an Android phone like I do, you're going to love the fact that you have a full Android device in your hands. Playing Wordfeud while listening to music, great. I'm glad I didn't go the FiiO or iBasso route, as I would have hated the clunky UI and the idiosyncracies of the players. And the Sony is very small, very light, and can fit much more music than my Nano.

I wonder that if/when Apple, Samsung, HTC, etc. come up with phones with high-def playback that DAPs might be going the way of compact cameras: becoming obsolete thanks to convergence.

My lg g2 already can play hi def playback and sounds really good. But for me, the reason i wanted a dap was:

- standalone player: my listening isnt stopped by calls, sms, messages
- no rf interference with my amps
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