High end dap vs phone + dac/amp
Oct 17, 2022 at 2:20 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 13

h1a8

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I have a serious question. I use apple lossless for my music, sometimes tidal.

Is there a significant (or any) sound quality improvement between an expensive dap like a high end Sony dap vs iphone (or Android phone) connected to a high end and high quality portable dac/amp ($200-$500 range)?
I use primarily iems like um mest mk2, ie600, etc
 
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Oct 17, 2022 at 7:47 PM Post #3 of 13

arftech

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I have a serious question. I use apple lossless for my music, sometimes tidal.

Is there a significant (or any) sound quality improvement between an expensive dap like a high end Sony dap vs iphone (or Android phone) connected to a high end and high quality portable dac/amp ($200-$500 range)?
I use primarily iems like um mest mk2, ie600, etc
$200-$500 isn’t exactly high-end for a DAC/Amp but you certainly can get a fine sounding combination at those prices especially nearer the $500 price point.
 
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Oct 17, 2022 at 11:07 PM Post #4 of 13

tjl5709

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I think the dedicated DAP evolutionary timeline is farther down the road than the portable DAC/AMP segment. I use my android phone to drive my bluetooth IEM's when I'm out and about. When I really want to listen to my good IEM's, its thru a DAP. The other issue is in regards to storage. I can only fit MP3's on the phone if I want a large set of my collection. I can load that same set in FLAC on my DAP.
 
Oct 18, 2022 at 7:31 AM Post #5 of 13

h1a8

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$200-$500 isn’t exactly high-end for a DAC/Amp but you certainly can get a fine sounding combination at those prices especially nearer the $500 price point.
Thanks, I'm aware that the price can exceed $500 but more expensive doesn't always equal better. Perhaps a $400 portable dac can rival an $800 one? If not then I change my question to:

"Is there a significant (or any) sound quality improvement between an expensive dap like a high end Sony dap vs iphone (or Android phone) connected to a quality portable dac/amp ($200-$500 range)?"

Remember, I'm only using iems such as mest mk2 and ie600.
 
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Oct 18, 2022 at 6:55 PM Post #6 of 13

originalsnuffy

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For the comparison is there are two elements. Streaming/downloaded from streaming is quite different than files placed directly on the device.

Soundwise, a good DAC/AMP (dongle) can be just as good as a dedicated. I have the FIIO Q3-MQA which has AKM chips and it sounds as good or better than any of my dedicated units. But those are / were handicapped by ESS chips (which I think are a tad too bright). Maybe I would have a different view if my DAP units had AKM, Cirrus, or R2R. I still regret trading up some of my AKM DAPs.

But the interface on a dedicated unit has its pluses. I am having a hard time finding a IOS playback app that I love. I find that HiBy music is easily set to shuffle mode.

But in terms of playing back streaming services and downloaded files from streaming....the iphone is actually much better than a DAP with Android. I have had three units that can do streaming and all are much more glitchy than the iphone. To be specific, many downloaded files from Amazon HD had what I call "micro gitches". Little stutters in the playback. Not all, but enough by certain artists to deter me (thinking the best of Eric Clapton HiRes in particular).

However, getting the iphone to pair / mate with the dongle is not plug and play. It is usually more like plug in a few times then play. But with DoP turned on in the IOS app, I can playback DSD files without any kind of conversion to PCM.

I recently started a thread to discuss IOS apps for connecting to dongles; but so far that thread has been quiet.
 
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Oct 19, 2022 at 12:00 AM Post #7 of 13

GrBm

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It depends on your use case. If you have enough storage on your phone, don’t mind keeping a 2nd device in the same pocket with it and, to make this a proper run on sentence, battery life isn’t an issue (it’ll drop with an outboard amp unless it has a built in battery) then you’ll be fine with a DAC/amp (if your phone doesn't mess with sample rate).

I personally prefer a DAP due to storage and not using my phones battery. And I think DAC/amps are awkward. I’d rather have a separate device for music for that reason alone.
 
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Oct 19, 2022 at 9:28 AM Post #8 of 13

lycos

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"Is there a significant (or any) sound quality improvement between an expensive dap like a high end Sony dap vs iphone (or Android phone) connected to a quality portable dac/amp ($200-$500 range)?"

Are you trying to compare Sony Z1M2 that costs $3300 vs portable amp/dac $500?
Yes, noticeable difference even with mest.
 
Oct 19, 2022 at 10:11 AM Post #10 of 13

h1a8

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Are you trying to compare Sony Z1M2 that costs $3300 vs portable amp/dac $500?
Yes, noticeable difference even with mest.
In SQ only. Cost is irrelevant as many counter examples will show. Theoretically, I can take the same implementation of a high quality battery operated portable dac/amp and build it as a dap using Android and charge $3300. Doesn't mean it will sound significantly better. Hence my question. I understand the dap should cost more because it's MORE than a dac/amp but also a dap. Lastly, nearly most dacs and daps have different sound. I'm referring to significantly BETTER sound (more objectively better) and not different sound.

I wonder if anyone has double blind abx the two to determine which sounds better.
 
Oct 19, 2022 at 10:34 AM Post #11 of 13

hartphoto

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I did the iPhone & dongle (the Cayin in my sig). It sounded very good, but I sold because my DAP/IEM setup was better. But...I rarely do the DAP/IEM out and about. Too many devices.....

My use cases I decided on are..... iPhone/UTWS5 (with 7hz Timeless) for portable listening and passive noise isolation (both FLAC and Qobuz). Then, for better SQ (home/office), it's the DAP with IEM or full size headphones (same FLAC files and Qobuz).

I think you'll find it much like @originalsnuffy mentioned as you get further into owning devices. You will be able to tell the difference in a CD you RIP, versus the streaming services. Which, btw, originalsnuffy, try FLACbox for iOS. It is very nice.

For a dedicated DAP unit, I'd stick with ones having the latest versions of Android (for longer app compatibility). Realizing I'll sound like an iBasso fanboy, but that reason alone is one of the reasons I went with their line. We've already had several FW updates, and another is supposedly on the way.

Second nickel's worth of advice, if you're doubting a choice, is find a retailer with a good return policy. Yes, it may be retail, but if the first unit you get isn't to your sound preference, you can return for (hopefully) full purchase $ towards another unit. I chose one of the Head-Fi sponsors. Not affiliated, just a happy customer.
 
Oct 19, 2022 at 2:36 PM Post #12 of 13

originalsnuffy

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Like HartPhoto sez; iBasso seems to provide great support. I have only purchased their IEMs but Paul is very active here. Right now I want an updated FIIO 11 with AKM. It used to have AKM pre-fire so I think it likely FIIO will return to AKM. My new FIIO AKM dongle is pretty nice.

When I am out and about, I agree the dongle is clumsy. But then again so are wires. So yes I am giving in a bit by using the Airpod Pros when ambulatory. I tried LDAC and pretty much gave up. Too many glitches and it's still bit reduced, just less bit reduced.
 
Oct 20, 2022 at 3:07 AM Post #13 of 13

lycos

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In SQ only. Cost is irrelevant as many counter examples will show. Theoretically, I can take the same implementation of a high quality battery operated portable dac/amp and build it as a dap using Android and charge $3300. Doesn't mean it will sound significantly better. Hence my question. I understand the dap should cost more because it's MORE than a dac/amp but also a dap. Lastly, nearly most dacs and daps have different sound. I'm referring to significantly BETTER sound (more objectively better) and not different sound.

I wonder if anyone has double blind abx the two to determine which sounds better.

I have A/B-ed Chord Mojo2 $775 vs Sony Z1m2 & Cayin N8ii.
Sony and Cayin are better - but i wont say very significant.
Tbh, I will be content with only Mojo2 if I dont need dap. Dap is just more convenient.

You can get better performance from your dollars by upgrading your iem.
 

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