Originally Posted by funkforfood
Originally Posted by vkalia
If you dont like it, get something else. Life is too short to spend obsessing with gear that doesnt make you happy.
The problem is: what else?
Right now you have a lot of choices depending on how much you want to spend. I am excited to see if the new Calyx M or AK100 II sound significantly better than my DX90 or X5 although it is currently not sounding promising. I personally am not willing to go over $1K as I think that the headphones make a bigger sound quality difference than the DAP and don't want to worry about carrying around and losing or damaging a very expensive DAP. That being said, I believe that the headphones are therefore the biggest limiting factor when listening to a high quality DAP. You just cannot expect to get the full quality of the DAP displayed when listening to a lower-tier or even a mid-tier headphone. My TF10s, Monster Coppers, and even my HD595 hold back the full capabilities of both my DX90 and X5. On the other hand, my CIEMs and my LCD2s really sing with both taking them to their full potential. While these DAPs cannot drive my CIEM or LCD2 to their full potential, these headphones can drive both DAPs to their full potential showing off their capabilities.
Also in my experience, neither wow'ed me immediately as it took a bit to wrap my head around the sound and to really start appreciating them. Now I would never look back even though I miss the small convenient form factor of my Clip Zip in the gym.
If you want to stay in the same price bracket, you may want to consider auditioning a X5 to see if you prefer that signature. While I own both the DX90 and the X5, I spend more time with the X5 due to my preference in sound signatures, listening volumes, and headphone pairings. While both sound great, they pair differently per headphone and they have slightly different strengths and weaknesses. Here are a few things that I noticed:
- Texture: Both display texture well, but do so differently. The X5 signature has the advantage for me of boasting a thicker and richer texture that you can actually feel in your chest - even at lower volumes.
- Intimacy: The X5 has a more intimate signature while the DX90 has a much wider sound stage. The X5 displays details in your face like the band is in your living room while the DX90 spreads them out and layers them very naturally as in a live experience. Neither are better, just up to your listening preference and the music played.
- Volume: I find that I have to listen to the DX90 very loud (200 of 255, high gain) to get to its full potential and the wow factor. In the gym, this works well for me due to the noisy environment, but at home for critical listening, this is just too loud for me even though the DX90 holds together well all the way up as experienced listening to the LCD2. On the other hand, the X5 has the massive chest felt texture that I crave even at lower volumes (45 of 120, low gain). It should be noted that I am sensitive to louder volumes and prefer to stay at lower volume settings.
- Pairings: I mainly use my CIEM - for maximum portability and premium sound quality - which pairs better with the X5's signature and additional power.
Remember this is in my opinion and experience and your mileage may vary depending on the listening environment, your preferences, headphones used, and music played. Even though these come off as being major differences when written down, others may feel like I am just splitting hairs and these DAPs are interchangeable.... just sayin'.