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DAP-off: Astell&Kern AK240, HiFiMAN HM-901, Sony ZX-1, FiiO X5 + Chord Hugo & Calyx M from June. - Page 6

post #76 of 941
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post
 

 

The AK240 is definitely a noticeable step up from the Sony. Music from the Sony sounds a bit forced, whereas from the AK240 sounds effortless and the more subtle textures of notes are apparent on excellent recordings.

 

 

It came on high gain by default, so yes. Good question! 

 

 

And  Sony ZX1 + HUGO "   v/s  AK240 alone ? ;)   

 

The "combo solution" is cheaper than the AK240 alone, and offers (1) a better UI, (2) access to google apps and .. (3) access to radio & streaming sites !  (hello Qobuz and other HighRes streaming sites for unlimited music & discovery)


Edited by bmichels - 4/18/14 at 3:34am
post #77 of 941
Thread Starter 

@bmichels I'm not sure I get you, as a Hugo costs about as much as an AK240.

post #78 of 941
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

@bmichels
I'm not sure I get you, as a Hugo costs about as much as an AK240.

Not in Europe : I just Paid my HUGO 1450€ while à AK240 cost 2400€ !
post #79 of 941
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bmichels View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

@bmichels
I'm not sure I get you, as a Hugo costs about as much as an AK240.

Not in Europe : I just Paid my HUGO 1450€ while à AK240 cost 2400€ !

 

Ahh, forgot you were in Europe and the Hugo is made there.

 

Anyhow, for a fun diversion while I wait for the Audeze cans to arrive back:

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by audionewbi View Post
 

This makes me feel old:

 

 
post #80 of 941
Quote:
Originally Posted by bmichels View Post


And  Sony ZX1 + HUGO "   v/s  AK240 alone ? wink.gif    

The "combo solution" is cheaper than the AK240 alone, and offers (1) a better UI, (2) access to google apps and .. (3) access to radio & streaming sites !  (hello Qobuz and other HighRes streaming sites for unlimited music & discovery)
Is it a portable solution?
post #81 of 941
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saraguie View Post


Is it a portable solution?

well ...  transPortable :-)

post #82 of 941
Quote:
Originally Posted by bmichels View Post
 

well ...  transPortable :-)

I was just at the NY show, I'll be dammed I forgot to find a Hugo to have a listen. I know its a fine piece of equipment. Maybe it was a blessing I didn't cause I do not need one! It is a serious piece if transPORTABLE equipment  :ksc75smile: 

post #83 of 941
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post
 

 

The AK240 is definitely a noticeable step up from the Sony. Music from the Sony sounds a bit forced, whereas from the AK240 sounds effortless and the more subtle textures of notes are apparent on excellent recordings.

 

 

 

Amos, I'm not saying that the ZX1 will now match the sound quality of the AK240, but the updated firmware does make the sound more effortless.  Bass is rendered better and in similar fashion to the DX100.  If you can convince Sean to perform the update, you should really do it.  I curiouson your thoughts of the ZX1 after the update.  Others in  the ZX1's threads also noticed similar sonics improvements after the firmware update.  The update also makes the ZX1 DSD-capable.  

post #84 of 941

Just pick up the most transparent one and you are done. The DAP (amp included) is supposed to bring the analog signals to the phones with no or least coloring (disturbance) and then let your phones to dictate the sound signature.

 

So the question is, are you able to tell which one is the most transparent? That one should be able to give you the most open, airy and effortless sounding.

post #85 of 941
Quote:
Originally Posted by purk View Post

Amos, I'm not saying that the ZX1 will now match the sound quality of the AK240, but the updated firmware does make the sound more effortless.  Bass is rendered better and in similar fashion to the DX100.  If you can convince Sean to perform the update, you should really do it.  I curiouson your thoughts of the ZX1 after the update.  Others in  the ZX1's threads also noticed similar sonics improvements after the firmware update.  The update also makes the ZX1 DSD-capable.  

Dsd capable,but not dsd native I guess wink.gif
post #86 of 941
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fafner View Post


Dsd capable,but not dsd native I guess wink.gif

that...i cant confirm but the original S-master module does DSD natvely.

post #87 of 941
Quote:
Originally Posted by purk View Post

 
that...i cant confirm but the original S-master module does DSD natvely.

It is not DSD-native. I have previously posted this on the Chord Hugo thread already. The DSD file is downsampled to PCM 24-bit/176.4-kHz and eats more battery due to the work of conversion during playback. So the ZX1 cannot act as a transport for Hugo to achieve native DSD playback nor does it play DSD natively. Same for NW-F885/886/887. Playing back of DSD natively depends purely on whether the DAC chip used in the DAP supports native DSD or not and if the firmware has enabled using the hardware. The only 2 DAPs that currently supports native DSD are AK240 and the upcoming Calyx M because of the DAC chips used inside. Technically, the DX90 should be capable of native DSD since it uses the same DAC as Calyx M but iBasso has not enabled it in its firmware support.
Edited by Bluebear - 4/18/14 at 10:00pm
post #88 of 941
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluebear View Post


It is not DSD-native. I have previously posted this on the Chord Hugo thread already. The DSD file is downsampled to PCM 24-bit/176.4-kHz and eats more battery due to the work of conversion during playback. So the ZX1 cannot act as a transport for Hugo to achieve native DSD playback nor does it play DSD natively. Same for NW-F885/886/887. Playing back of DSD natively depends purely on whether the DAC chip used in the DAP supports native DSD or not and if the firmware has enabled using the hardware. The only 2 DAPs that currently supports native DSD are AK240 and the upcoming Calyx M because of the DAC chips used inside. Technically, the DX90 should be capable of native DSD since it uses the same DAC as Calyx M but iBasso has not enabled it in its firmware support.

Thanks for the information on DSD.  I'm just delight that the ZX1 does sound more effortless & refined now after upgrade.  

post #89 of 941
Thread Starter 
Quote:

Originally Posted by purk View Post

 

Amos, I'm not saying that the ZX1 will now match the sound quality of the AK240, but the updated firmware does make the sound more effortless.  Bass is rendered better and in similar fashion to the DX100.  If you can convince Sean to perform the update, you should really do it.  I curiouson your thoughts of the ZX1 after the update.  Others in  the ZX1's threads also noticed similar sonics improvements after the firmware update.  The update also makes the ZX1 DSD-capable.  

 

Sean was fine with the update, so I did it last night. I'll re-compare it with the AK240 later. The Audezes came back so I wanted to compare with them first, which is not a priority with the Sony IMO. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DMinor View Post
 

Just pick up the most transparent one and you are done. The DAP (amp included) is supposed to bring the analog signals to the phones with no or least coloring (disturbance) and then let your phones to dictate the sound signature.

 

So the question is, are you able to tell which one is the most transparent? That one should be able to give you the most open, airy and effortless sounding.

 

Which means the AK240 and $2500 before headphones or IEMs, which, IMO, are going to be $1k and up to be worth bothering with the AK240 (I'm thinking the UERM or better). That means a $3500-$4100 rig (US market prices -- I'm going to ignore Europe and the Hugo for now, sorry!). Do you know the expression TNSTAAFL:wink_face:

 


 

Anyhow, back to impressions. 

 

Anytime I buy cables for headphones now I have them terminated in a 4-pin mini-XLR so I can add tails for whatever headphone socket I need to connect to. It can allow for a (slightly delayed) A/B comparison between components if they use different tails. 

 

I thought I'd give the Cypher Labs rig a good run today. I first compared playing the same music using my iPhone as a transport for the Algorithm Solo -dB, then my computer using an Oyaide NEO USB cable. There was a jump in clarity via the latter. Thankfully the Algorithm Solo degrades gracefully with lesser transports, simply losing clarity rather than sounding unpleasant and harsh as I've experienced with some. It sounded nice as a DAC in my main system and obviously while not as competent as my Master 7, still did a capable job at 1/3rd the price and I still felt like listening with it in the chain, which is the main thing. I've had a few digital components through which, after listening for a minute were like "That was OK but I don't want to listen any more."

 

That being said, the main thing I wanted to compare was using the LCD-X balanced from both the CL rig and AK240. The results were kind of boring: Same story as with everything else. The AK240 sounds more effortless and detailed with the best recordings. With plenty of music it was hard to compare, also partly because the FR of the LCD-X isn't as suited to picking out the subtleties of instruments as much as my HD-800s are. Balanced cables for the HD-800s aren't here yet.

 

Then the HM-901. Same story again. BUT, I love the particular "sound" of the balanced card. It really makes me want to listen and sounds -- I don't really know how to put it -- dynamic? 

 

So the AK240 scores again where: Everything is the best available: Headphones, IEMs and music and being able to fit in your pocket is essential. Everything else is still great in its own way, but the other rigs don't do everything as well as the AK240, eg: being both sonically outstanding while being pocketable and having an excellent UI.  The other units have their own advantages the AK240 doesn't, such as the Sony's more flexible and nicer screen and UI and size, or the HM-901's ability to take a full-size SD card and change the battery and amp cards easily to suit what one wants to listen with. The X5, of course, is well-built and sounds good while being about half the price of the Sony.

post #90 of 941
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post
 

 

Which means the AK240 and $2500 before headphones or IEMs, which, IMO, are going to be $1k and up to be worth bothering with the AK240 (I'm thinking the UERM or better). That means a $3500-$4100 rig (US market prices -- I'm going to ignore Europe and the Hugo for now, sorry!). Do you know the expression TNSTAAFL:wink_face:

 

Honestly if it's really that much better then I don't see cost in that range as an issue for music you can enjoy everyday. For those who want to bring his own lunch, that's 10 bucks saving a day for a yr. Not that difficult. :wink_face:

 

But when it comes to in-ear audio, I will reserve my doubt on a piece of $2.5K brick being much better from that headphone out until I hear it (and I may never or need). One thing I know, is you don't need to spend a ton to achieve a transparent source for your phones - if you are willing to spend time and effort trying/experimenting things besides buying and selling. Audio is indeed amazing animal which could surprise you unexpectedly sometimes.

 

My point is, when it comes to evaluate these dap's, the most transparent one is always the winner. With that, the music just moves freely with a breeze in an open space. The term, muddy, is the worst enemy of transparency. I hate muddy sounding, even just slightest muddy sounding ruins music to my ears. There are times that muddy sounding comes from the albums, and you can't do anything about it other than getting rid it from your library for good.

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