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What DAPs support USB audio out, and so can be used with an external USB DAC?

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 

Still in "just thoughts" phase about this. Sometimes I wonder if I should have a DAP with a large storage capacity, for listening to music with IEMs when I'm out, or, when I'm at home, with full-size cans or connecting it to my hi-fi system (hey, I am still, and I will be, more fond of physical media -and this is a topic that goes well beyond audio equipment-, but I admit that my lossless audio file collection exists, and it's growing). Recently I've bought my first USB DAC (a Graham Slee Bitzie) and I could connect it to a smartphone, but, besides the fact that Android OS running on my current phone is too old to be compatible with USB audio, I've got the feeling that I wouldn't like the idea of having my music on a device that I already use for calling and for computer-like stuff (that is true, to a lesser degree, for my PC, too); also, while the Bitzie is truly portable, I don't like having it in pockets when I'm around.

 

So, what DAPs offers large storage capacity, FLAC support, good headphone output sound quality and battery life, but also the ability to drive high impedance headphones (I have a pair of Sennheiser HD 600), and/or to be connected to an USB DAC?


Edited by sbregudal - 4/14/15 at 3:40pm
post #2 of 37

I just bought an iFi iDSD that should come to my door in 2 days. My intentions were like yours.

For what i have read it should be able to drive anything, even the power hungry Hifiman H6.

The only disadvantage is the haven't balanced output, otherwise i think this would be and end-game object.

post #3 of 37
Thread Starter 

I don't want to be misunderstood: I don't regret buying the Bitzie, I think it's a great DAC, but I'm realising that it could be handy having a dedicated portable audio source for playing lossless files, with a good headphone output quality, and with the option of using my Bitzie with it in order to improve the sound. At the moment, I only own an old iAUDIO G3 Ogg/MP3 player (without USB audio support), and an Android based Xperia Mini smartphone (without USB audio support as well, and not great at all in terms of sound quality).

post #4 of 37
The players you can look at around the $200-$500 mark are:

iBasso DX50 (max 128gb micro SD + OTG storage)
Pono player (64gb internal + micro SD expansion)
FiiO X5 (x2 micro SD card slots / max 128gb each)
iBasso DX90 (max 128gb micro SD + OTG storage)
FiiO X3K (max 128gb micro SD + OTG?)

All support line out for amping, FiiO X5, X3K and DX90 can be used as dacs/amps to PC (I think DX50 too). And all will power HD600 to 'suitable' levels. But adding an amp from thier line out may achieve better results with the 300ohm Sennheiser. All will drive IEM easily.

Use our search feature to start researching those option. It's really a how much do you want to spend game. Going all the way up to AK240 for about $2500.
Edited by H20Fidelity - 4/14/15 at 2:34pm
post #5 of 37
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by H20Fidelity View Post

The players you can look at around the $300-$500 mark are:

iBasso DX50 (max 128gb micro sd)
Pono player (64gb internal + micro SD expansion)
FiiO X5 (x2 micro SD card slots / max 128gb each)
iBasso DX90 (max 128gb micro sd)

All support line out for amping, FiiO X5 and DX90 can be used as dacs/amps to PC (I think DX50 too). And all will power HD650 to 'suitable' levels. But adding an amp from thier line out may archieve better results with the 300ohm Sennheiser. All will drive IEM easily.

Use our search feature to start researching those option. It's really a how much do you want to spend game. Going all the way up to AK240 for about $2500.

 

I was exactly trying to answer to my question, that, to sum up (large storage capacity and FLAC support are quite common now, sound quality, of course, depends also on the price), is: what DAPs support USB audio? For example, I've just read that iBasso DX50 can be used as source for an external DAC, but its FAQ page mentions digital COAX, not USB (DX50 OS is based on Android, but I cannot make assumptions), and my DAC only input is USB.

 

Also, I know that many DAPs can be used as DACs for other sources (yes, DX50, too), in fact I thought about buying just a player with that function, before opting for an USB DAC.

 

Thank you for the list (my budget... well, is nonexistent now, but I'm pretty sure it won't ever go above $300-$500), I'll continue my research.


Edited by sbregudal - 4/14/15 at 2:46pm
post #6 of 37

ipod touch 5th gen 64gb supports usb digital out via the apple CCK cable 
and Sony walkman new line too can support digital out to usb dac through their official cable (F-880,A-10,ZX-1&ZX-2)  

post #7 of 37
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mmet View Post
 

ipod touch 5th gen 64gb supports usb digital out via the apple CCK cable 
and Sony walkman new line too can support digital out to usb dac through their official cable (F-880,A-10,ZX-1&ZX-2)  

 

Thank you, really. I'm not interested in Apple products, but Sony A-10 seems interesting: tomorrow I'll check if it really is.


Edited by sbregudal - 4/14/15 at 6:03pm
post #8 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by sbregudal View Post
 

 

Thank you, really. I'm not interested in Apple products, but Sony A-10 seems interesting: tomorrow I'll check if it really is.

It is an excellent player for iems and easy to drive portable headphones 

post #9 of 37
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mmet View Post
 

It is an excellent player for iems and easy to drive portable headphones 

 

I'd like to understand if it recognise (and power) my specific DAC. With "mainstream" operating systems (GNU/Linux, Windows, Android, etc), it's easy to tell (any USB DAC is treated as any other USB audio device), but I don't know anything about A10 Sony firmware.

 

Anyway, thank you again, because I don't think I would have checked the Sony Walkman line, being iBasso and Fiio talking near ubiquitous in the forums.


Edited by sbregudal - 4/15/15 at 6:35am
post #10 of 37

the A-10 can give digital out to any battery powered DAC or AC powered ( as i believe ) with this cable specifically :
WMC-NWH10 ... this is the only cable that can extract the digital out from it 

http://www.oppodigital.co.uk/customer-services/knowledge-base/outputting-high-resolution-digital-audio-from-the-sony-walkman-nwz-a17-to-the-oppo-ha-2.aspx 

WAIT A MINUTE !!! ..... i searched on your DAC a little ... i think it don't has a battery or independent power source ! ... in this case ...  sorry , A-10 is not what you want or need 
 

post #11 of 37
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mmet View Post
 

the A-10 can give digital out to any battery powered DAC or AC powered ( as i believe ) with this cable specifically :
WMC-NWH10 ... this is the only cable that can extract the digital out from it 

http://www.oppodigital.co.uk/customer-services/knowledge-base/outputting-high-resolution-digital-audio-from-the-sony-walkman-nwz-a17-to-the-oppo-ha-2.aspx 

WAIT A MINUTE !!! ..... i searched on your DAC a little ... i think it don't has a battery or independent power source ! ... in this case ...  sorry , A-10 is not what you want or need 
 


Exactly, since the Bitzie only input is USB, it's powered entirely by USB (even Android ≥ 4.3 smartphones, which support USB audio, are capable of powering it, because its requirement is well below 500mA at 5V defined by USB standard).

 

If A10 doesn't supply it though WMC-NWH10 cable, maybe power can be delivered to the Bitzie through an Y cable and a generic USB power adaptor, but this is a matter for Graham Slee forum. I guessed that Sony proprietary port could lead to problems, in one way or another (wallet).

post #12 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by sbregudal View Post

 

So, what DAPs offers large storage capacity, FLAC support, good headphone output sound quality and battery life, but also the ability to drive high impedance headphones (I have a pair of Sennheiser HD 600), and/or to be connected to an USB DAC?

 

1. Storage depends on the capacity of the SD cards compatible with it and what you'll actually use. So far most can read 128gb.

 

2. Most non-Apple devices save for some more obscure ones that use WAV have native support for FLAC, but high res support varies.

 

3. HiFiMan's top level player has the amplifier circuit on a separate board that can be swapped out in minutes: there's one for IEMs, one balanced, and two others I think.

 

4. I don't really see the point in using a USB DAC since the DAPs have good DAC and output stage circuits already. If anything, the problem is cable management if you'll use it desktop - many have the line out (and other) ports on the top of the player, unlike for example Apple's dock/Lightning ports on the bottom. The same HiFiMan player I mentioned also has its own dock, which I think has a more advanced DAC circuit in it and RCA outputs. You can buy it with the IEM amp card, then when you get home, just dock it and fire up the amplifier. Essentially the same thing I do: IEM on smartphone the whole day, then dock the phone on a sync dock, it triggers the USB DAC, I fire up the amplifier and hook up the headphones. The difference really is that my carrier subsidized my phone, and my SGS3 has audible distortion that makes my IEM's response worse.

 

post #13 of 37
Thread Starter 

I'll try to reorganise my findings and thoughts.

 

The reason of investigating the external USB DAC support in DAPs is rooted in the decision I made some time ago of buying a USB only DAC, a Graham Slee Bitzie, rather than a DAP capable of being used as DAC. At that time, I was interested mainly in turning my PC into a nicely sounding source for my full-size headphones or the speakers connected to my integrated amp, and the Bitzie sound quality, from what I then read, seemed better than the other option. Quite a lot of time has passed between my decision and my purchase.

 

Now, however, I feel that having a portable lossless audio player could be nice, not only for a standalone use with my IEMs, when I'm out, but also as the main (if not the only) source for my audio files at home, connected to my Bitzie, and so to my headphones or my hi-fi system (I still presume that the Bizie is better than the internal DAC of DAPs named in this thread: it's circuitry is used in the new Graham Slee Majestic DAC/Pre-amp, a £1600 device; also, wasn't an old hi-fi rule of thumb that, if something costs the same -and it's not made by Apple...- and has less functions or parts, it must be better?). This portable player could be a recent Android phone, but I'd really like having a device for my music only, something like a CD player or turntable (OK, the last statement was blasphemous).

 

Add to the mix the fact that I don't like having too many stuff around (yes, this is in contrast with what I've just written about a dedicated audio device).

 

I can understand why maybe it's not possible to find the Grail: my DAC is USB only because was designed to be a portable unit, and DAPs usually don't support external USB DACs for the very same reason: they are portable units to be used with their internal DAC.

 

Sony A10/A15 could have been the solution (I really appreciate its physical buttons, size, weight, and battery life, which is comparable to the 45 hours of my old AA powered iAudio G3), but the power issue, even if solvable, would limit the mobility of A10/Bitzie block.

post #14 of 37

Well the HM901 dock has USB and optical inputs. Technically I think the reason for the DAC precisely was to not have to deal with software issues that may be what causes the difference in sound. In any case it's difficult to generalize a bunch of DAPs vs just one DAC-HPamp - maybe the Blitzie is just that good because the analog output stage and headphone amp have less coloration, or not limited by the power saving software management on a DAP).

 

Anyway it won't be too much stuff since you'll leave the dock at your reference system at home and just lug the DAP around with you.

 

post #15 of 37
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

Well the HM901 dock has USB and optical inputs. Technically I think the reason for the DAC precisely was to not have to deal with software issues that may be what causes the difference in sound. In any case it's difficult to generalize a bunch of DAPs vs just one DAC-HPamp - maybe the Blitzie is just that good because the analog output stage and headphone amp have less coloration, or not limited by the power saving software management on a DAP).

 

Anyway it won't be too much stuff since you'll leave the dock at your reference system at home and just lug the DAP around with you.

 

You are right, I've oversimplified: what I called "my DAC" is box whose sound doesn't depends only on the DAC that has inside, but also, at least, on its analogue output stage. And my intention wasn't proving that the Bitzie is the best, something that I couldn't do because I haven't compared it with anything else than the output of my PC (quite horrible) and smartphone (worse), but, probably, saying that I'm not looking for best sounding DAP around, just a good one that could be act also as file player only, when connected to other audio components. Also, I forgot to mention that my high-impedance headphones influence on my decision of buying the Bitzie wasn't irrelevant: now I have a portable device capable of drive them.

 

Anyway, I'll have a look to the solution you've suggested, as well to others. Since needs change during the time, I don't rule out that I could end up changing, rather than adding, some component of my system.


Edited by sbregudal - 4/15/15 at 1:07pm
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