Discussion of a niche 'PURE-Transport' DAP (to serve digital streams to a seperate DAC-Amp)
Feb 5, 2014 at 9:29 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 43


Headphoneus Supremus
Feb 11, 2008
As per title, there has been some discussion, recently (e.g. in the AK240 and Chord Hugo threads) that a niche exists, which has yet to be filled, for a 'DAP' that omits any DAC or Amp within it's casework, but which would serve purely as a *portable* (the slimmer the better) transport for a 3rd-party DAC-Amp of one's choosing - the Chord Hugo being a perfect example.
I personally feel that the Calyx-M is almost ideally-suited for such a purpose, even though it actually contains DAC and Amp circuitry, because it remains remarkably compact, has an incredibly accomplished UI, and offers the potential for 448gb combined capacity.
If Calyx continue to refuse to add a digital-out to the Calyx-M (though I still hold out some hope that they will recognise the substantial longterm value of incorporating this feature on the M),  then my hope is that a fully-fledged discussion of a PURE-Transport form of DAP may encourage some other DAP-maker to produce something worthy of this (very likely to expand) niche.
We are all well-aware of the finite-capacity NW-ZX1, and of various smartphones, but I, and some others, feel that better is possible, for this purpose.
A decent UI, with good provision for multiple dynamic playlists, excellent memory capacity options (fullsize SD slots, or perhaps even some form of SSD), and well-implemented digital-out would, of course, be pre-requisites.
For example, Samsung recently released a 1tb mSATA SSD, and Sandisk are supporting this device format, too. They're relatively current-hungry, but in a pure-Transport DAP, the battery would have far less to do and thus would probably handle the SSD requirements just fine:

Please post any thoughts/suggestions/feature 'requests' etc.

Feb 5, 2014 at 10:23 PM Post #5 of 43
Feb 5, 2014 at 10:28 PM Post #6 of 43
  does this count, linked to me earlier by a pal.
Nice and low pricing also.

Agree on the low pricing, but it's a brick with an awful UI. Great value for money, but not in the same league as what we're seeking for the likes of a Hugo or similar 
Feb 6, 2014 at 5:03 AM Post #8 of 43
Since  the Calyx M will not have DIGITAL OUT, I totally support this request for a pure Portable transport.  
This could be used  "on the go" with an high end DAC/AMP like the HIGO, and "at home" connected to a Home DAC.  This will avoid the burden to manage 2 different music library and 2 different plays list systems (one for the DAP and one for the Home).
(My) requirements are:
- Minimum 1/2 To.  + 1 (full size) XSD card.
- Portable & battery operated.
- LARGE Screen (5" minimum).  
- Do not need to be super slim and with a Mobile Phone's shape: a small 7" tablet will be also OK.  Actually, the HUGO size (with a 5,5 " screen) will be ideal. 
- COAX & Toshlink OUT
- Premium Ui with perfect play list management (including dynamic playlists)
- Need to support up to 24/192 (for me DSD is not mandatory).  
Feb 6, 2014 at 4:03 PM Post #9 of 43
I don't want a pure transport; I'd still want to use it as a kick-butt source (though I can see what others are wanting here), especially if it's made by a company known for high quality sound. I'm 95% portable so the only things I'd be connecting via digital out would be other portable DAC-amps. Guess I question whether any of those are so clearly superior I sound compared to a nicely implemented DAP source. I just don't want space taken up by HP out/amp when I pretty much always opt to use a portable amp
Feb 19, 2014 at 9:26 PM Post #10 of 43
Easiest device to make would be to make stripped down Android (free OS) device with existing Android music player preloaded.  Basically only have USB and/or other digital outputs and a big battery.  No DAC/AMP.  Make this a framework which you could then pair with multi SD slot packaging, or 2.5 HD package where you could put SSD drive or regular drive.  The fact that it was android would allow you to add features easily.
You would spend your time on:
1) Isolating USB and digital outputs
2) Lack of other functionality would help minimize noise
3) Spend time on designing audiophile grade power circuit especially for USB power.
Feb 24, 2014 at 7:21 AM Post #11 of 43
In order to make thing moving, Here is a mail I sent to CHORD.  I hope it may help....
"Dear sir, please find here my humble suggestion :
I was tempted to get the HUGO, almost ordered it, but I finally didn't because of Lack of appropriante source ( Android/iPad/iPhone & Sony: not enough capacity,   Ak100/120 & X5: I don't Like their UI,    AK240: too expensive,   Calyx M (which fit all the marks)... has No digital OUT).

Of course, an Android or iDevice and a 1TB Seagate Wireless Pro (NAS) wirelessly attached could become a good source, but then... is a 3 pieces setup ! 

But.... Imagine (I dream) a transport of the same size than the HUGO that will attach (clip) under the HUGO ! It may even use some proprietary connection in between the HUGO and the Transport to avoid cables. 

--> This will be a hell of a SINGLE 1 Piece DAP brick.

So...I really believe that CHORD should release à transport ( no Dac no Amp) "companion" to the HUGO :
- same form factor, clip under the HUGO
- 512Gb SSD + 2 FULL size SD, 
- gorgeous UI,
 PHYSICAL Controls (volume, pause, FFW, REV) & Large +5" touch screen, (just copy CALYX UI :)
- Good playlist management, with "instant playlist" (what I want to hear next)
- DSD support, 
- coax + optical + USB out.

And... you must understand that the market for such transportable source is much larger than the portable DAP market only !

Indeed , this transport will also be used at Home by audiophiles as their source for their high-end HOME DAC: people will not have to buy a Home Music server and will avoid to manage 2 different music library & playlist systems (one in their DAP and one in their Home Music server). Plus this will make the HUGO the "King of the DAP", and therefore will increase HUGO sales by stealing sales to the AK240 & CALYX M....

Today, it looks like something is missing to make HUGO appealing. May be you are to much ahead of your time or you are waiting for someone else to release the source it needs ?? 

But... all this os only my 1 cent suggestion to make the HUGO really a practical portable solution

hope it may help

Feb 24, 2014 at 4:11 PM Post #12 of 43
I don't know this for a fact, but I suspect that Chord are incrementally opening their eyes to the potential of the portable/headphone/CIEM-based market, in contrast to their longtime stronghold of fullsize hi-fi.
Unsurprisingly, I got the sense, from chatting to (the very pleasant and amiable) Chord staff at the Bristol Hi-Fi Show, this past weekend, that their traditional fullsize hi-fi roots mean that they view portable audiophilia with a degree of bemusement, thus far, so kudos to John, Robert, and the Chord team, for venturing past the concept stage of the Hugo (in fact, kudos to them for even entertaining the initial concept at all!) of a portable DAC-Amp. They certainly remain in a strong position in the fullsize Hi-Fi community, so it's not like they actually need to chase the portable hi-fi market.
But I believe the Hugo will lead them to a pleasant realisation of the substantial potential there is to flourish in the portable hi-fi segment of the audiophile market.
Rome wasn't built in a day.
I hope the Hugo will experience significant success and thereby convince the team to more earnestly consider expanding their portable audiophile range with, dare I say it, perhaps even a proper, serious transport.

Mar 8, 2014 at 9:17 AM Post #13 of 43
please M. CHORD, make us a transport for the HUGO, a transport for the HUGO, a transport for the HUGO, a transport for the HUGO, a transport for the HUGO, a transport for the HUGO, a transport for the HUGO, a transport for the HUGO, a transport for the HUGO, a transport for the HUGO, a transport for the HUGO, ... 
  and I promis that we will also use it for our Full size HOME DAC/AMPS.
Mar 8, 2014 at 10:27 AM Post #14 of 43
I don't like the idea of pure transport. I think it's too limited. What I want is a slim DAP without a headphone amp at all. But with a DAC and a digital out.
I think the amp section of the modern DAP is the part that is most part tha is compromised and an afterthought because of the space. Even an iPod paired with an external amp is miles away compared to it's internal amp.
The current crop of "high end" DAC/Amp source combo is too big for a portable setup (e.g. hifi-m8, hugo). I imagine a Calyx M without the amp section, could be a bit thinner or with a better battery capacity, then paired with a very good portable and slim amp for portable use.
Mar 8, 2014 at 10:53 AM Post #15 of 43
   I imagine a Calyx M without the amp section, could be a bit thinner or with a better battery capacity, then paired with a very good portable and slim amp for portable use.


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