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Best DAP when only using digital out?

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  1. codlor
    I'm looking for a cheap DAP (a few hundred dollars) to use only as a digital source, so basically I want most of the money to go into the interface, features, and build quality and not audio (DAC and amp section). Reason being is I use a Fiio Q5 for my portable setup and have several desktop setups, probably only need the DAP to pair with my Q5. Reason for not buying one in the first place is I wasn't expecting to use one. I currently use my Pixel 2, but would like to use something with better battery life and storage.

    Requirements:
    - Roughly the same size or smaller than the Q5.
    - Would like to use USB between the two. Optical could work as well.
    - Support FLAC upto 24bit/192kHz. Don't care too much about DSD.
    - At least 8 hours of battery in normal operation.
    - 256GB or larger.
    - Not too fragile.
    - No real budget, but I wouldn't want to pay more than a few hundred for a DAP when not using the DAC and amp portion.

    Optional:
    - Android based is preferred
    - Work with streaming services which means it needs to be able to use WIFI networks.
    - Support audio over bluetooth
    - Chromecast (is there any unit that actually support chromecast? Never looked.)

    Other thoughts:
    - If i was tight on space and had to use only the DAP or my Q5 (with my phone) I would use the Q5.
    - Shouldn't matter what my headphones or type of music is as the Q5 does all the actual work.
    - Not too picky on the interface as long as its not cumbersome to go through large amounts of files.
    - Hard to predict but it would suck if the manufacture just drops support (SW updates) soon after purchasing.
    - To be honest, I don't know if the DAP thing will work in my setup lifestyle wise. Its like anything else in the headphone/audio world, its a hobby and I'm curious. Anybody who says its not a hobby after getting many pairs of headphones and equipment is lying to themselves.
     
  2. earChasm
    TheBit Opus#1?
     
  3. megabigeye
    So here's a dumb question: why not just get a cheap phone and use that as a dedicated transport? Seems to me like any phone with a microSD slot should fit your needs. There's no point in looking for something with good analog circuitry if you're not going to be using that. It seems you'd have a lot more options with a phone.

    EDIT: The Nokia 6.1 looks like it'd be perfect for your needs.
    Supports microSD up to 256GB plus 32GB or 64GB internal
    Stock Android means very few/no unwanted apps.
    Stock Android also means it'll get updates immediately
    A claimed 119 hours of music listening time! (probably lower than that when using a DAC)
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
    DaniRojo likes this.
  4. codlor
    The opus#1 is pricey enough that I'd probably jump up to an Android based DAP. Since my initial post I did more digging around and to have streaming services as part of the DAP you have to go to an Android based player. Makes sense as its a large undertaking to support any of those services in a homegrown OS.

    That Nokia looks like a solid choice as a stock Android phone without paying Pixel price. I can't think of a specific reason why I don't like using a phone as a DAP. Maybe it's because I'm excited to get something new and I already have a phone. :) Although I feel like the battery, even with all the radios turned off, won't match a good DAP.

    Continuing on the topic of battery power, a lot of the non-Android based DAPs have very impressive battery power and from reviews it seems like its not too much of an exaggeration. So I think I prefer the more basic players. I use Google Play music but have also used both Tidal, Deezer, primephonic, and hopefully someday Qobuz (I'm in the US) as my streaming service. My plan is to continue to use those on my phone and use a DAP for my CD and vinyl rips.

    I like the Sony A45 a lot but its missing a digital out so I've been looking at the Fiio M7. Nice thing about the M7 is its designed to work with my Q5, so that guarantees compatibility. I did see on Amazon a first gen Fiio X7 without the amp module for $50 more. It's tempting, but the battery life and wireless support (if i ever need it) is much better on the M7.

    Any other DAP suggestions that are similar to the A45 or M7? What I would really like is someone to inform me I'm wrong and that the A45 really can do digital out of its USB.
     
  5. PunchLine
    I had the same exact need and chose HiBy R6. USB => Eitr => Active monitors. SQ is very good, superior to my MacBook Pro and A&K sp1000 in the same setup.

    HiBy did a good job with noise insulation on that port.

    Soon, I'll try coax out; maybe it's even better.
     
  6. dodap
    This is what I did: I started with a HTC and now have a LG G5. One advantage is the changeable battery. I even can add a decent small DAC as an extension. And it has normal modern Android and therefore is capable for all music players available. Plus it has a much bigger hires screen (my former DAP is a Fiio X1 with 2 inch 320x240)
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2018

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