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DAP Questions [from head-fi vet but DAP newbie]

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by walkman666, Feb 3, 2015.
  1. walkman666 Contributor
    Hi.  I am a long-time member with a fun collection of headphones, amps, DACs, but have been using an iPod (with Pico slim amp) as my portable source forever, and am interested in taking the plunge into a DAP.  I have read a lot, and have some narrowed down selections (iBasso DX90, AK100 ii).  However, as an old guy, who I'd rate "medium" on the tech savvy scale, I have some questions.  This is strictly part of a portable set-up when I am at the gym, and the DAP would be paired with JH-13s and JH-16s. I do not need the DAP to act as a DAC for home use.
    My questions are below.  Thanks in advance for anyone who cares to offer some guidance and suggestions!
    -  I realize that time is required to load up my music library (about 120gb) onto a micro sd card, but am hoping that after that is done, there is really little else to do maintenance-wise (other than random trouble-shooting, which happens even with the ol iPod).  In other words, is owning a DAP relatively more "high maintenance?"  For example, if I load all of my music onto a 128gb micro sd card, can I more or less just pop the card into the DAP and then enjoy my music?
    -  In addition to improved sound quality, I am partial to ease of use (e.g GUI).  Given this, are there any suggestions about a specific DAP I should consider?  I am pretty good with my Android devices, and don't need the most beautiful interface, but an interface that is just not intuitive will be a downgrade IMO.
    -  Will I still benefit from using my Pico Slim headamp, or would the DAP alone be sufficient?
    -  This is the existential question on these forums, but in general, if I got an iBasso DX90, would there be a "significant" sound improvement over my current Apple iPod classic (latest generation)?  I'd say two-thirds of my music is 256 kb/sec, another 20% Apple lossless, and then I have about 20 hi-rez FLAC downloads from HD Tracks (24/96 or 24/192). 
    Thanks again,
  2. H20Fidelity Contributor
    Its relatively easy like you said.
    Once you load up a card with your music collection you plop the card in, (usually a scan is required) and you're good to go. You would then connect the player to your PC via USB to drag n drop / delete further files. The only thing really left for you to do is enjoy the music and charge the unit, very much just like your iPod. There's some instances where tags can cause problems with files not playing though its pretty smooth sailing usually with the two choices you're looking at buying.
    I have no experience with the AK100 II, though own DX50 and DX90 (which share basically the same user interface). In my opinion its very easy to use, especially if you simply sort by folder (which would be sorted A-Z). I really don't bother with Artist, Genre, Album etc. The touch screen is up to scratch, scrolls smooth, its not too shabby at all and I would say above any scroll wheel iPod for my preferences on a usability stand point..
    Having owned an iPod classic and hooked up quite a few amps, yes my personal belief is the difference will be quite noticeable, especially with the two higher IEM you plan on using. If you were to come here saying you want to buy DX90 for your beats Solo, I may advise against it because the headphones will hit a ceiling before the DAP can unleash its potential. In your case, if anything, its your iPod being the weaker link in the system while your IEMs can go further. Therefore, the upgrade makes sense.
    I will say from the sources I've listed on my profile many people become confused with just how much an upgrade is with DAPs, some people think right "I spent $500" this is totally going to launch me to the moon, and to some people it might, but others are often underwhelmed with their upgrade. Many reasons for this, though just keep your expectations real.
    Most importantly its about you - getting your own hands dirty and coming to a conclusion. (gaining the experience)
  3. walkman666 Contributor
    What a great reply!  Thanks so much H20Fidelity.  You hit on all of the key concerns I have, and gave me the quintessential head-fi guru wisdom ("beats solo," funny).  You also allayed any concerns I had about set-up and maintenance, including with regards to one of the DAPs I am strongly considering.  And, most importantly, it sounds (pun) like I could expect some nice sonic improvements over my current iPod classic.  Thanks very much for your reply.
  4. Lethe
    I'm very interested in your thread, because I am looking to set up a good portable rig. I've ordered a pair of JH13s recently because universal IEMs have been killing my ears even with different types of eartips, and my next step is to get a DAP, but I'm unable to audition many of the DAPs that I'm interested in like the DX90, AK100ii, and Fiio X5. I've narrowed down the list to those 3 because they are within my price range (sub $900) and after scouring the forums for impressions, these DAPs seem to do well with low impedence CIEMs and have a decently low noise floor. I'm looking forwards to more impressions as well as your conclusion!
    [off topic] I'll be using my JH13s as my main headphones whenever I get them, due to the need to be mobile (move around A LOT), and I can't keep my big cans (Denons), can you recommend a dac/amp that pairs really well with the JH13s that can fit into a backpack no problem? Thank you.
    Also, if you may find this interesting: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/hifi-skyn-iphone-case-for-audiophiles
  5. walkman666 Contributor
    Thanks Lethe.  Looks like we are both seeking some general knowledge.  I have narrowed down my selection to either the DX90 or the AK100ii, too.
    Unfortunately, I personally cannot reliably recommend a dac/amp for our JH-13s.  I do not swap out and try different things (anymore). I research, and then get something that is recommended that is within my budget, and that is all I usually do.  I use the Pico Slim for my JH 13/16, but no additional dac.  I suggest you continue to search on dac/amps that pair with JH-13s, or start a new thread in this forum or maybe better yet, the portable amp forum.
  6. blur510
    deleted because it was a stupid post, sorry
  7. walkman666 Contributor

    Let's please try to keep this thread at a higher level in terms of general introductory questions into the DAP world.  I created a separate thread to avoid another "which thing is better/which one should I buy" type thread?  I'm essentially seeking experienced user advice on the benefits of DAPs versus the ol iPod relative to the learning curve and perceived sonic gains.
    Blur, no prob!  Thank you.
  8. JWizzlez
    I am picking up the pico slim to go with my Sennheiser IE800 and am currently listening off an iPhone 6. How did your search end up going? I'm trying to figure out whether I need to now invest in a DAC or DAP. I've had my eye on the Fiio x5 and the Shozy Alien. The Alien purportedly has phenomenal sound quality performance that competes with the AK 100 but at a fraction of the price. I would GREATLY prefer to stick with my iPhone, but I'm worried even if I get a decent DAC to go with my slim, the iPhone will still hold it back. I'm listening to TIDAL but really want to figure out an app where I can put higher frequency lossless files.
    Thanks for any feedback you can provide.

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