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DAP-off: Astell&Kern AK240, HiFiMAN HM-901, Sony ZX-1, FiiO X5 + Chord Hugo & Calyx M from June. - Page 9

post #121 of 565
Quote:
Originally Posted by nazrin313 View Post


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

 

Another reason: when your phone battery dies, music goes on. And your music listening won't kill your phone battery.

post #122 of 565
Quote:
Originally Posted by Metalomaniac View Post

Another reason: when your phone battery dies, music goes on. And your music listening won't kill your phone battery.

exactly!
post #123 of 565
Quote:
Originally Posted by irvin59 View Post
 

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.

 

Would love to see the comparison between the 3 you are picking up.  I had the AK120 and F887, but decided on keeping the AK120 (paired with SE846).  Very interested to see how the X5 compares to the AK120.  I'm sort of debating between keeping the AK120, or swapping it for the X5 or DX90.  Most likely won't switch to the X5 as I'm not a bit fan of the scroll wheel/UI, and I haven't been able to find a place locally where I can test the DX90 unfortunately.

post #124 of 565
Thread Starter 
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 disagree, because high res files alone don't make better sound. Likewise, neither do regular measurements, such as RMAA, tell you how a device will do playing back complex music under load. Be careful that people are taking measurements just to put down a device. There are quite a few people out there saying "Everything has a flat frequency response, it's all the same/it's a rip-off/whatever." That ain't science, that's abusing facts to be deliberately misleading.

 

With any kind of test, you need to do it or verify it yourself. Just because someone does a test doesn't mean the results are the absolute truth. It's worth reading the story from Schiit Audio. The last chapter goes into how measurements can easily end up screwed up. A relative of mine has been the editor of various scientific journals for decades and you'd be shocked how many problems there are with research results, ranging from errors and wrong conclusions to outright fraud.

 

My advice to everyone is: Don't rely on anyone's impressions OR anyone's tests. Go out and try (or test) each device for yourself, with your own music and your own headphones. THAT is the only thing that is going to decide if it is "worth it". Impressions and tests are only data points that may help someone decide if a product is worth checking out.

 

When I make videos, the reason is not to rant on about how wonderful a product is, it is to give people the chance to see it up close when they may not otherwise be easily able to. It's also a challenge for me to think about why not just I like it or don't like it, but the possible reasons it may be good or not for other people. I think the discussion here from people about the merits or demerits of the different DAPs has been good for the same reasons.

 

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 thought there was a bit more clarity with some music with the ZX-1 (all lossless), but definitely not all. I think you nailed it otherwise with the rest of your comments. The Sony has the advantage, with a custom dock, that they can have a dedicated analogue line out as well, which you don't get with micro-USB or a Lightning connection.

 

I'm looking forward to reading more comparisons from people and comparing them with my own. :smile: 

post #125 of 565

Quote:

Originally Posted by nazrin313 View Post


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

These are perfectly valid reasons... The same reasons I use an iPod Touch as my dedicated player rather than my iPhone 5s. 

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Currawong View Post
 

 

I disagree, because high res files alone don't make better sound. Likewise, neither do regular measurements, such as RMAA, tell you how a device will do playing back complex music under load. Be careful that people are taking measurements just to put down a device. There are quite a few people out there saying "Everything has a flat frequency response, it's all the same/it's a rip-off/whatever." That ain't science, that's abusing facts to be deliberately misleading.

 

With any kind of test, you need to do it or verify it yourself. Just because someone does a test doesn't mean the results are the absolute truth. It's worth reading the story from Schiit Audio. The last chapter goes into how measurements can easily end up screwed up. A relative of mine has been the editor of various scientific journals for decades and you'd be shocked how many problems there are with research results, ranging from errors and wrong conclusions to outright fraud.

 

My advice to everyone is: Don't rely on anyone's impressions OR anyone's tests. Go out and try (or test) each device for yourself, with your own music and your own headphones. THAT is the only thing that is going to decide if it is "worth it". Impressions and tests are only data points that may help someone decide if a product is worth checking out.

 

When I make videos, the reason is not to rant on about how wonderful a product is, it is to give people the chance to see it up close when they may not otherwise be easily able to. It's also a challenge for me to think about why not just I like it or don't like it, but the possible reasons it may be good or not for other people. I think the discussion here from people about the merits or demerits of the different DAPs has been good for the same reasons.

I agree in principle with this statement, but not as it pertains to my point about Apple and their various devices... They are perhaps the most tested devices on the planet, as far as audio quality goes, and the various tests have all revealed more or less identical findings- it doesn't get much better, hardware-wise. I'd go so far as to say that it is more or less established that Apple represents a bar as far as far as portable audio quality goes. 

 

While I haven't used the AK240, I do own an AK10, and I can confirm what the tests say about Apple- the AK10's sound is slightly different than my Apple iPod 5th gen and iPhone 5 and 5s... But not better.

 

While it's tempting to believe that a dedicated audiophile company like iRiver's A&K will inherently make a better device than a tech-giant with varied interests like Apple, let's not forget that historically sound quality has been a talking-point at Apple. Think about this... The last grammy for best album went to Daft Punk's Random Access Memories... And it was Apple that commissioned a special mix just for iTunes, which is critically-lauded as the best-sounding digital version of the album, even better than the DSD version.


Edited by Earbones - 4/21/14 at 8:57pm
post #126 of 565
Quote:
Originally Posted by Earbones View Post
 

I agree in principle with this statement, but not as it pertains to my point about Apple and their various devices... They are perhaps the most tested devices on the planet, as far as audio quality goes, and the various tests have all revealed more or less identical findings- it doesn't get much better, hardware-wise. I'd go so far as to say that it is more or less established that Apple represents a bar as far as far as portable audio quality goes. 

 

While I haven't used the AK240, I do own an AK10, and I can confirm what the tests say about Apple- the AK10's sound is slightly different than my Apple iPod 5th gen and iPhone 5 and 5s... But not better.

 

While it's tempting to believe that a dedicated audiophile company like iRiver's A&K will inherently make a better device than a tech-giant with varied interests like Apple, let's not forget that historically sound quality has been a talking-point at Apple. Think about this... The last grammy for best album went to Daft Punk's Random Access Memories... And it was Apple that commissioned a special mix just for iTunes, which is critically-lauded as the best-sounding digital version of the album, even better than the DSD version.

 

You should really give Sony Walkman a try, especially those with an on-board digital amp module.  They are very well crafted with a fantastic UI just like the iPod/iPhone but with nicer sound quality.  

post #127 of 565
Quote:
Originally Posted by j-project View Post
 

 

Would love to see the comparison between the 3 you are picking up.  I had the AK120 and F887, but decided on keeping the AK120 (paired with SE846).  Very interested to see how the X5 compares to the AK120.  I'm sort of debating between keeping the AK120, or swapping it for the X5 or DX90.  Most likely won't switch to the X5 as I'm not a bit fan of the scroll wheel/UI, and I haven't been able to find a place locally where I can test the DX90 unfortunately.

Another thing to consider in your choice is the Dacs of X5 vs DX90. The latter uses sabre and the former PCM1792. I have always found the sabre dacs very slightly clinical whereas I loved the PCM1792 in the Hifiman 801.

post #128 of 565
Quote:
Originally Posted by purk View Post
 

 

You should really give Sony Walkman a try, especially those with an on-board digital amp module.  They are very well crafted with a fantastic UI just like the iPod/iPhone but with nicer sound quality.  

Purk, are you referring to the ZX1, or to Sonys in general?  I'm interested in a an 880-series Walkman, but I'm concerned that it won't deliver power in a way that lets it compete with the iBassos and Fiios.  I really want to avoid using an amp because I travel a lot for work, so I'm looking for a single-box solution.  Sorry that we seem to have hijacked this thread.

post #129 of 565
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by irvin59 View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by j-project View Post
 

 

Would love to see the comparison between the 3 you are picking up.  I had the AK120 and F887, but decided on keeping the AK120 (paired with SE846).  Very interested to see how the X5 compares to the AK120.  I'm sort of debating between keeping the AK120, or swapping it for the X5 or DX90.  Most likely won't switch to the X5 as I'm not a bit fan of the scroll wheel/UI, and I haven't been able to find a place locally where I can test the DX90 unfortunately.

Another thing to consider in your choice is the Dacs of X5 vs DX90. The latter uses sabre and the former PCM1792. I have always found the sabre dacs very slightly clinical whereas I loved the PCM1792 in the Hifiman 801.

 

One interesting thing about this comparison has been how irrelevant my usual assumptions about DA chip sound has been. The HM-901 uses a Sabre yet it sure as heck doesn't sound like it does (to me at least). 

 

I finally got around to trying the X5 with DSD and it sounds good. Not sure I'd bother with it over PCM given the massive file size, but then, there some stuff from High Definition Tape Transfers which is fantastic -- but also available in PCM.

 

Another interesting thing was a post I read which has a translation of something the Sony's designer said about the ZX-1 that suggests it has an active ground or 3-channel configuration.

post #130 of 565
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post
 

 

One interesting thing about this comparison has been how irrelevant my usual assumptions about DA chip sound has been. The HM-901 uses a Sabre yet it sure as heck doesn't sound like it does (to me at least). 

 

I finally got around to trying the X5 with DSD and it sounds good. Not sure I'd bother with it over PCM given the massive file size, but then, there some stuff from High Definition Tape Transfers which is fantastic -- but also available in PCM.

 

Another interesting thing was a post I read which has a translation of something the Sony's designer said about the ZX-1 that suggests it has an active ground or 3-channel configuration.

That is interesting. Dacs always used to be such a major point of discussion. Maybe designers have become better at tailoring components around the dac to get the signature they want. As for DSD I'd only try it as an experiment on one or two files. They are massive, and even the smaller 24 196 files are just too large. Not necesary on a portable dap.

post #131 of 565
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elladan View Post

Purk, are you referring to the ZX1, or to Sonys in general?  I'm interested in a an 880-series Walkman, but I'm concerned that it won't deliver power in a way that lets it compete with the iBassos and Fiios.  I really want to avoid using an amp because I travel a lot for work, so I'm looking for a single-box solution.  Sorry that we seem to have hijacked this thread.
Depends on what you're driving. I've yet to use a phone or player that doesn't push the vast majority of IEM's to their full capabilities. With full-size cans, things get tougher. Fairly standard impendence for an IEM is usually in the neighborhood of 16 Ohms. That figure jumps to 32 Ohms with cans. Which is definitely drivable, but on the other hand I've never heard a full-size can, regardless of impedence, that doesn't sound better on an amp. The highest impedence IEM I am aware of (and it's unusual) sits at around 130 Ohms, which is still drivable from most devices (though obviously not optimal). Cans on the other hand regularly go 300-600 Ohms, which means you'll need an amp... Most standalone devices won't push that with enough volume, let alone deliver the sort of power headroom the can needs to really sing properly.

I travel a ton too, and my solution has been an iPod touch with a Fiio E11. It's small, but powers most cans well (obviously not the best for 300-600 Ohm models). I made strips of industrial adhesive Velcro (not actually fabric Velcro but the plastic stuff) to connect the amp to the iPod, and it makes for a pretty solid and small combo that's easily taken out and quickly put away... Obviously not as easily pocketable as a phone, which is why I keep that separate.
Edited by Earbones - 4/22/14 at 1:32pm
post #132 of 565
Quote:
Originally Posted by goodvibes View Post
 

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. 


I know there are other active components in the signal path. To these ears, and convincingly, no caps are the best caps as far as my setup goes. This conclusion has been drawn after I have tried TONS of caps from 4.7 uf to 3,000,000 uf. There are some winner caps which sound awesome, but the capless setup wins hands down regardless how it is modded (lod pins lifted off board or the imod way). I wish there is another amp designed similarly to the UHA (implementing a servo circuit to compensate for dc without caps) so I can do a comparison, but there is none as far as I know, or the vendors don't have the guts to tell me to feed the amp with the 2,000 mV's.

 

My guess is all caps degrade audio to certain degree, due to the resistance added to the signal path.  It is from these experiments and comparisons that I have come to understand and appreciate Transparency. It makes a huge difference to my experience listening to music (99% or more classical). I always consider the classical music, especially symphony and orchestral works, to be the most demanding for transparency and clarity due to its broad frequency spectrum. For those who review audio gears, I would say no review is complete without sampling classical music.

 

With transparency, you can throw away all those fancy audiophile terms. A transparent source and a reference phone call it a day for me. :wink_face:

post #133 of 565
Quote:
Originally Posted by DMinor View Post
 


I know there are other active components in the signal path. To these ears, and convincingly, no caps are the best caps as far as my setup goes. This conclusion has been drawn after I have tried TONS of caps from 4.7 uf to 3,000,000 uf. There are some winner caps which sound awesome, but the capless setup wins hands down regardless how it is modded (lod pins lifted off board or the imod way). I wish there is another amp designed similarly to the UHA (implementing a servo circuit to compensate for dc without caps) so I can do a comparison, but there is none as far as I know, or the vendors don't have the guts to tell me to feed the amp with the 2,000 mV's.

 

My guess is all caps degrade audio to certain degree, due to the resistance added to the signal path.  It is from these experiments and comparisons that I have come to understand and appreciate Transparency. It makes a huge difference to my experience listening to music (99% or more classical). I always consider the classical music, especially symphony and orchestral works, to be the most demanding for transparency and clarity due to its broad frequency spectrum. For those who review audio gears, I would say no review is complete without sampling classical music.

 

With transparency, you can throw away all those fancy audiophile terms. A transparent source and a reference phone call it a day for me. :wink_face:

I'm the same way.  No caps are the best.  We all have preference, that's why I'm heavily favor the sound of my GS-X MKII due to extreme transparency and its beautiful tone.

post #134 of 565
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post
 

 

 

My first comparison I did tonight with the DITA Audio The Answer and my UERMs between the HM-901, AK240 and Sony. In all cases I was using the single-ended output.  I just wanted to get an idea of the character of each. Music was: Amber Rubarth (binaural), Buena Vista Social Club (24/96) and Babatunde Olatunji - Sare Tete WA from Open Your Ears.

 

  • The Answer and UERMs single ended. I need to make a couple of adaptors (or a whole new cable for the Roxannes) to get everything running balanced. 

OT.

 

How is the DITA in your esteemed opinion?

 

OT.

 

Are you going to throw the DX90 into the mix?

 

 

cheers


Edited by ExpatinJapan - 4/23/14 at 5:30am
post #135 of 565

Just got the X5 and AK120. Really enjoying the sq of the 120-black background, airy and detailed. The X5 lasted about 2 minutes. Build quality looks good and sq seemed fine for the couple of minutes I spent with it, but my heart sank with the UI. I suppose I could learn it, but why should I when my phone sounds so good. The 120 might have some quirks with its UI but nothing I can't live with, considering the sq. At least it has a touch screen and seems quite responsive. It also feels like a premium product which is important to me in this price range. My ZX1 is on it's way...to be continued

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