Am I looking for a DAP... or a dongle?
Oct 20, 2020 at 6:28 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 3

OlosAftia

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Hi all,

Great to be part of this amazing community. Hope you can help me find what I'm looking for... or at least get closer.

I am a budding audiophile and have been mainly dabbling in headphones so far. Started with the amazing B&O H6 v2, moved on to the Senn 58x, had Sony XM3s as my wireless companions, and am currently enjoying the bassy madness of Campfire Polaris v2.

During lockdown, I realised I am really keen to move away from my desk, and have been reexamining the use of my iPhone (XR) as a DAP. As such, and given I'd like to try something new to see how much more sound I could squeeze from my Polaris (or a potential new IEM - as I've been taking a liking to IEM sound and fit), I've been wondering which portable road to go down: DAP or dongle / portable amp?

I'm finding it impossible to pick a DAP really (software experience looks really underwhelming for the majority of DAPs I've seen) but I am intrigued by the cult following of the WM1A - and the fact that it does not do streaming at all, which I am very comfortable with as I've been increasingly buying lossless music for my collection. There's a couple of other impressive-looking chifi DAPs out there but I am wondering whether it's worth investing in last year's android - and whether they are going to have anywhere near the longevity of the WM1A, which seems to be going strong despite 4 years of existence.

Another DAP bonus for me - the crazy freedom to add all sorts of file formats. iOS is rock solid as an OS but lossless in the iPhone has to be Apple's.

On the dongle / phone extension front, there's a number of interesting amps out there (Monoprice, IFI, Fiio) and they could complement the rock solid software of my phone (albeit with its iOS annoyances re adding music), but charging these every 6/9 hours... sounds like it could get real old real fast. Unless people have these and it's not the case? I was also intrigued by Dragonfly Cobalt, that does away with the need for charging, and has some raving reviews, but I've read about it's problematic QT - and more specifically the wobble issue - too many times to count.

You can see my issue. Any help you can offer would be amazing.
 
Oct 20, 2020 at 10:20 PM Post #2 of 3

baskingshark

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Hi all,

Great to be part of this amazing community. Hope you can help me find what I'm looking for... or at least get closer.

I am a budding audiophile and have been mainly dabbling in headphones so far. Started with the amazing B&O H6 v2, moved on to the Senn 58x, had Sony XM3s as my wireless companions, and am currently enjoying the bassy madness of Campfire Polaris v2.

During lockdown, I realised I am really keen to move away from my desk, and have been reexamining the use of my iPhone (XR) as a DAP. As such, and given I'd like to try something new to see how much more sound I could squeeze from my Polaris (or a potential new IEM - as I've been taking a liking to IEM sound and fit), I've been wondering which portable road to go down: DAP or dongle / portable amp?

I'm finding it impossible to pick a DAP really (software experience looks really underwhelming for the majority of DAPs I've seen) but I am intrigued by the cult following of the WM1A - and the fact that it does not do streaming at all, which I am very comfortable with as I've been increasingly buying lossless music for my collection. There's a couple of other impressive-looking chifi DAPs out there but I am wondering whether it's worth investing in last year's android - and whether they are going to have anywhere near the longevity of the WM1A, which seems to be going strong despite 4 years of existence.

Another DAP bonus for me - the crazy freedom to add all sorts of file formats. iOS is rock solid as an OS but lossless in the iPhone has to be Apple's.

On the dongle / phone extension front, there's a number of interesting amps out there (Monoprice, IFI, Fiio) and they could complement the rock solid software of my phone (albeit with its iOS annoyances re adding music), but charging these every 6/9 hours... sounds like it could get real old real fast. Unless people have these and it's not the case? I was also intrigued by Dragonfly Cobalt, that does away with the need for charging, and has some raving reviews, but I've read about it's problematic QT - and more specifically the wobble issue - too many times to count.

You can see my issue. Any help you can offer would be amazing.

I use both dongles and DAPs. Personally I think for the price, the dongles may be relatively cheaper than DAPs. Plus you will need to carry 2 devices with DAPs and phones. I use the Tempotec Sonata HD Pro on the go with my smartphone, good sound for the price, just that it can't really drive planar IEMs or higher impedance headphones. I do use the Shanling Q1 DAP too on alternate days.

The only issue about dongles is:
1) They drain phone battery -> unless u have some way to top up the battery on the go
2) They utilize phone memory, especially if you have lots of lossless files -> may be an issue if the phone doesn't accept external memory cards

So pros and cons, different strokes for different folks.
 
Oct 21, 2020 at 10:06 AM Post #3 of 3

surfgeorge

Member of the Trade: 3D Printed Accessory Designer
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Personally I think it really depends mostly on your use case.

I have the same Tempotec Sonata Pro as baskingshark, a Chord Mojo, a Chord Hugo 2 and a HiBy R3 DAP (which I use exclusively as digital transport for the Mojo)
I also tried a used Sony NW ZX2 for a while, but it had an old and slow Android OS, was not upgradeable and as such I sold it again quickly.

Phone + Dongle:
low - medium price and SQ
Benefit of your phone's great UI + improved SQ
Good for use on the go, if you are careful with the cables (I broke my connector recently)
Excellent streaming through your phone Apps

Phone + DAC
medium - premium price & SQ
Benefit of your phone's great UI + greatly improved SQ
"Transportable desktop solution" good for taking with you, but no good for listening while moving
Excellent streaming through your phone Apps
Long lifetime - you can always use them with the latest phone
Downside: another device to charge
Limited runtime (app 5-10 hours)
Potentially more power, able to drive even demanding full size headphones (Hugo 2)

DAP:
medium low to premium price and SQ
UI can be a plus of a minus, and useful product lifetime can be limited if HW can't deal with future OS releases
Usually long runtime
Perfect for on the move listening

Long story short - based on my choices you can see that I mostly listen at my work desk or home desk.
For that use case the 2 CHORD DACs are the best solution for me.
For travelling I use the HIBY R3 stacked with the Mojo, and I can even listen on the move with the stack in my coat or jacket pocket.

If I'd need a solution for commuting I'd pick a DAP, and the Sonys would be at the top of the list.

Hope that helps
 

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