Originally Posted by purk
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.
Originally Posted by DMinor
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?
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.