Obscure Chinese DAPs
Jun 30, 2020 at 10:02 PM Post #7,156 of 7,713

oneula

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been having weird OS issues with my Tempotec V1A ($109) and starting to appreciate my JWD JVM-115 ($75) more and more for it's simplicity, power and sound.
For dirt cheap you can't go wrong with the Walnut V2S ($34) or Zishan 1($46) and 3 ($69)
 
Jul 16, 2020 at 4:00 PM Post #7,157 of 7,713

deltecdpa

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F.Audio FA3. I gave trust to them having bought already the S1, XS 01 and XS 03. Only the XS 01 was not good, sounds well but too many drawbacks. So I had chance to try their flagship for 160€ on AliExpress, with discount and coupon.

Packaging - simple, a quite big black cardboard box with white writing, "F.Audio exporing moving sound", the same that appears on dap screen when turn on off. Inside, the dap and the usb-c cable. Same as XS 03.

Construction - Well built and finished medium sized, stay well in pocket even not being unforgettable (160g weight)
On front side there is a 2,4 inch screen with fixed lighting average quality overall, five buttons for on/off, play/pause, prev/next, back, and a rubberized jerkywheel. On top side, two 3.5mm outputs, one SE/line out, one balanced. Bottom side, a 2.5mm balanced output, reset pinhole
and usb-c socket. Left side, nothing. Right side, volume +/- and microSD slot. Buttons have nice feedback, the wheel is so so.

UI - To power on must press button quite long, then boot is quite fast. When power on, it ask "last played yes/no". Is resume play, and must answer yes within few seconds otherwise it goes in main menu and lose the resume! (by default is no). Navigation is quite easy thru FLODER view (also in XS 03 there is this typo lol) The main menu shows from top:
1) Music, it browse in now playing screen, displaying a small album cover (if any, otherwise there is a 70s disco style image named F.Audio) track info, file info (mp3 flac etc, bitrate, sampling frequency)
2) Classification, is album artist genre etc, and create playlist. But here the tracks are listed alphabetically even if they are numbered, so I never use it.
3) Favourite, the playlist created.
4) Fold... ops FLODER view :)), where tracks are listed correctly numbered.
5) Equalizer, 7 band. Some presets, one custom and HiFi setting (zero all)
6) Settings. Some usual, auto off, screen off timer, plus l-r balance, digital filter (ak4497 dac, I cannot hear difference among the six settings) and set up for wheel and back button.
In now playing, the on/off button open menu for play mode (repeat shuffle etc)

File handling - Almost all usual formats are played. The DSD is played flawlessly, 64, 128 and 256. As told before, resume play yes, but no gapless play. No cuts at begin/end of tracks (I hate cuts, as it happen on Aigo Z6pro). Rew/ff is fast enough, faster and smoother in flac or wav than mp3. If rew/ff is made further the begin/end of track It will continue onto previous/next track. With mp3, rew onto previous track makes the player freeze for about 15 seconds when release, then restart (small issue)
Changing tracks and play/pause produces very light clicks, forgettable. Files speed transfer from PC to dap is about 8-10 Mb/s, not very fast.

Sound - As previously checked by @cqtek, the FA3 has a noticeably bass roll-off. So it depends of which phone is linked to, I think neutral ones are not the best. With Logitech ue900s (4BA) it sounds nice, but bass lacks impact and depht, too light. The ue900s with Z6pro, that I think have no bass roll off, have good bass. I found a great pairing with bassy iem like NiceHCK M6 (1dual DD, 4BA), that is not perfect, though, upper bass is a bit too thumping covering the lower bass. I applied EQ, lowering 80hz -2dB and 200hz -3dB. Result, deep punchy articulated bass, clear natural mids and smooth detailed highs. Full, complete sound. Similar to XS 03 (with M6) with a step up in resolution, detail, clarity with right warmth, naturality. I think it worths the higher cost compared to Xs-03. The M6 with Z6pro have too much bass for my taste even I like bass! The M6 are connected to FA3 with balanced 3.5mm occ cable, and they are very comfortable for long listenings.

The background noise is... zero. The most silent dap I ever had (and also the most expensive...)
The output power is very high.

I tried briefly other 2 iem I have: CCA C12 (1DD, 5BA) balanced output. Similar bass, but without EQ, mids-highs brighter and detailed but a bit lesser warm, natural and smooth. I prefer the M6, but C12 are good too, comfortable (even a bit lesser, the M6 seem unbeatable in confort for me) and they cost one third than M6.
NiceHCK Nx7 (1 dual DD, 4BA, 1Piezo) in SE output. Good bass no-EQ but innatural mids, highs piercing and unrefined. Average comfort. How did NiceHCK made two iems so different at similar price?

Battery life is about 7 hours 30 minutes, sufficient, not great. Tested in continuous play, volume 50/100 (above average I listen to) screen off, balanced output. I read somewhere that single-ended output would last longer, maybe I try but I want use always balanced, has bit better quality overall as I checked in XS 03 before.
Battery is 4000mAh, but the amplifier is in Class A, that consume more power, and balanced output has about 60mW more power than SE, the device heats up pretty well when playing.

Pros : nice build, SQ (with bassy earphones), no background noise, easy to use.

Cons: bass roll-off, battery life not great, no gapless play.

Votes for this set, FA3 + M6, balanced output:
Bass 8 Punchy and deep (Without EQ 7, lesser defined upper bass)
Mids 9 great naturality, smoothness, warmth. But also detailed.
Treble 8,5 Natural, extended, detailed, smooth, never fatiguing.
Soundstage 9 Wide, nice 3D feeling, good separation.
Dynamics 7 A bit subdued to warmth and smoothness. More cuddling than shaking, but not boring at all.
IMG_20200716_191832.jpg

Added a protection for the connector, made of plastic and metal, plus some adhesive rubber on sides and bottom sides. They covers the SE output and the 2.5 bal output that I don't use, and the SD card slot. 64 gb enough for me. And, for me, they makes the player look better!
 
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Jul 18, 2020 at 2:09 PM Post #7,158 of 7,713

cqtek

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F.Audio FA3. I gave trust to them having bought already the S1, XS 01 and XS 03. Only the XS 01 was not good, sounds well but too many drawbacks. So I had chance to try their flagship for 160€ on AliExpress, with discount and coupon.

Packaging - simple, a quite big black cardboard box with white writing, "F.Audio exporing moving sound", the same that appears on dap screen when turn on off. Inside, the dap and the usb-c cable. Same as XS 03.

Construction - Well built and finished medium sized, stay well in pocket even not being unforgettable (160g weight)
On front side there is a 2,4 inch screen with fixed lighting average quality overall, five buttons for on/off, play/pause, prev/next, back, and a rubberized jerkywheel. On top side, two 3.5mm outputs, one SE/line out, one balanced. Bottom side, a 2.5mm balanced output, reset pinhole
and usb-c socket. Left side, nothing. Right side, volume +/- and microSD slot. Buttons have nice feedback, the wheel is so so.

UI - To power on must press button quite long, then boot is quite fast. When power on, it ask "last played yes/no". Is resume play, and must answer yes within few seconds otherwise it goes in main menu and lose the resume! (by default is no). Navigation is quite easy thru FLODER view (also in XS 03 there is this typo lol) The main menu shows from top:
1) Music, it browse in now playing screen, displaying a small album cover (if any, otherwise there is a 70s disco style image named F.Audio) track info, file info (mp3 flac etc, bitrate, sampling frequency)
2) Classification, is album artist genre etc, and create playlist. But here the tracks are listed alphabetically even if they are numbered, so I never use it.
3) Favourite, the playlist created.
4) Fold... ops FLODER view :)), where tracks are listed correctly numbered.
5) Equalizer, 7 band. Some presets, one custom and HiFi setting (zero all)
6) Settings. Some usual, auto off, screen off timer, plus l-r balance, digital filter (ak4497 dac, I cannot hear difference among the six settings) and set up for wheel and back button.
In now playing, the on/off button open menu for play mode (repeat shuffle etc)

File handling - Almost all usual formats are played. The DSD is played flawlessly, 64, 128 and 256. As told before, resume play yes, but no gapless play. No cuts at begin/end of tracks (I hate cuts, as it happen on Aigo Z6pro). Rew/ff is fast enough, faster and smoother in flac or wav than mp3. If rew/ff is made further the begin/end of track It will continue onto previous/next track. With mp3, rew onto previous track makes the player freeze for about 15 seconds when release, then restart (small issue)
Changing tracks and play/pause produces very light clicks, forgettable. Files speed transfer from PC to dap is about 8-10 Mb/s, not very fast.

Sound - As previously checked by @cqtek, the FA3 has a noticeably bass roll-off. So it depends of which phone is linked to, I think neutral ones are not the best. With Logitech ue900s (4BA) it sounds nice, but bass lacks impact and depht, too light. The ue900s with Z6pro, that I think have no bass roll off, have good bass. I found a great pairing with bassy iem like NiceHCK M6 (1dual DD, 4BA), that is not perfect, though, upper bass is a bit too thumping covering the lower bass. I applied EQ, lowering 80hz -2dB and 200hz -3dB. Result, deep punchy articulated bass, clear natural mids and smooth detailed highs. Full, complete sound. Similar to XS 03 (with M6) with a step up in resolution, detail, clarity with right warmth, naturality. I think it worths the higher cost compared to Xs-03. The M6 with Z6pro have too much bass for my taste even I like bass! The M6 are connected to FA3 with balanced 3.5mm occ cable, and they are very comfortable for long listenings.

The background noise is... zero. The most silent dap I ever had (and also the most expensive...)
The output power is very high.

I tried briefly other 2 iem I have: CCA C12 (1DD, 5BA) balanced output. Similar bass, but without EQ, mids-highs brighter and detailed but a bit lesser warm, natural and smooth. I prefer the M6, but C12 are good too, comfortable (even a bit lesser, the M6 seem unbeatable in confort for me) and they cost one third than M6.
NiceHCK Nx7 (1 dual DD, 4BA, 1Piezo) in SE output. Good bass no-EQ but innatural mids, highs piercing and unrefined. Average comfort. How did NiceHCK made two iems so different at similar price?

Battery life is about 7 hours 30 minutes, sufficient, not great. Tested in continuous play, volume 50/100 (above average I listen to) screen off, balanced output. I read somewhere that single-ended output would last longer, maybe I try but I want use always balanced, has bit better quality overall as I checked in XS 03 before.
Battery is 4000mAh, but the amplifier is in Class A, that consume more power, and balanced output has about 60mW more power than SE, the device heats up pretty well when playing.

Pros : nice build, SQ (with bassy earphones), no background noise, easy to use.

Cons: bass roll-off, battery life not great, no gapless play.

Votes for this set, FA3 + M6, balanced output:
Bass 8 Punchy and deep (Without EQ 7, lesser defined upper bass)
Mids 9 great naturality, smoothness, warmth. But also detailed.
Treble 8,5 Natural, extended, detailed, smooth, never fatiguing.
Soundstage 9 Wide, nice 3D feeling, good separation.
Dynamics 7 A bit subdued to warmth and smoothness. More cuddling than shaking, but not boring at all.
IMG_20200716_191832.jpg
Added a protection for the connector, made of plastic and metal, plus some adhesive rubber on sides and bottom sides. They covers the SE output and the 2.5 bal output that I don't use, and the SD card slot. 64 gb enough for me. And, for me, they makes the player look better!
If it had a flat response, with no loss of bass, it could be one of my favorite DAPS. But when I play my favorite electronic music, I remember that it doesn't sound like that...and it makes me feel unsatisfied. I have the S1, XS03 and FA3 and I think that at any time F.Audio could bring us a full sound and punch the table. Meanwhile, I feel a little disappointed.
 
Jul 19, 2020 at 2:28 AM Post #7,160 of 7,713

deltecdpa

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@cqtek, an interesting update about FA3, new firmware v1.7, is here, found on player.ru, that is a kind of Russian head-fi: https://cloud.mail.ru/public/4Lzw/4cJoHw2md
Somebody says the bass has been improved.
It seem true, the lower bass is more present.
I just don't know if FA3 has a flat response now, or if the bass roll-off has been reduced, but my vote for FA3+NiceHCK M6's bass now is 8.5
Oh, the firmware is for FA3 with dac ak4497, not for the new FA3S that has different dac
 
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Jul 19, 2020 at 5:13 AM Post #7,161 of 7,713

cqtek

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Thank you very much for the firmware, it works for my version, which is FA3 with dac ak4497. I didn't know there was a new model FA3S Dual CS43198.
I know player.ru, but I gave up looking for improvements for FA3, there, some people think the same as me.
I will make measurements to know if the amount of bass has been improved, although I think it is something physical, due to the circuit and the decoupling capacitors, as other colleagues have warned here.

Edit: No luck... it seemed to me...

These are three measurements made on pure tones of 20Hz, 40Hz and 150Hz, at the same volume (70). All the tones have the same amplitude, but, you can see, the output voltage varies a lot, almost twice as much.

FA3-020Hz_resize.jpg
FA3-040Hz_resize.jpg
FA3-150Hz_resize.jpg

The same test with the ACMEE MF-01, same power at all frequencies.

MF-01_020Hz_resize.jpgMF-01_040Hz_resize.jpgMF-01_150Hz_resize.jpg
 
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Jul 19, 2020 at 8:54 AM Post #7,162 of 7,713

deltecdpa

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It seem that I have been hit by placebo effect, so!😅 After reading on player.ru that "bass has been added".I should had to listen some bass tracks for a while with old fw, load new fw then listen again soon after. Said that, I am happy with this set, for me bass does bot lacks.
FA3 has bass roll-off, NiceHCK M6 has bass "roll-on" Both may be not "Hi-Fi" components because of non-flat response. But when together, they compensate each other, in a reasonable threshold range, and become "Hi-Fi", or at least get closer to this. @cqtek, how is output impedance of FA3? I saw you tested the single-ended (SE) output, I don't think that on the balanced output, that I use, the bass is higher, but could the output impedance be different on the two outputs? For sure the output power is different, quite higher on the balanced one. Cheers.
 
Jul 19, 2020 at 1:10 PM Post #7,163 of 7,713

cqtek

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If you're happy with that set, that's the most important thing. The rest doesn't matter, it's measures and considerations. You must be happy without having to convince yourself of that. If you like it, what does the rest matter?

On the other hand, I haven't measured the output impedance. I haven't measured the rest of the outputs either, even though I have balanced connectors to do it. Although, my fear is that the impedance will be much higher than 1 Ohm and the bass roll-off will not disappear in the balanced outputs. I'll see...

On the other hand, the HiFi is a standard. In my opinion, players should have a flat response, low output impedance and be as close to the source as possible, as well as not color the connected headphones. However, headphones are the sauce of the sound, making them flat would be boring, they have to please all ears...
 
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Jul 20, 2020 at 2:28 PM Post #7,164 of 7,713

deltecdpa

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If you're happy with that set, that's the most important thing. The rest doesn't matter, it's measures and considerations. You must be happy without having to convince yourself of that. If you like it, what does the rest matter?

On the other hand, I haven't measured the output impedance. I haven't measured the rest of the outputs either, even though I have balanced connectors to do it. Although, my fear is that the impedance will be much higher than 1 Ohm and the bass roll-off will not disappear in the balanced outputs. I'll see...

On the other hand, the HiFi is a standard. In my opinion, players should have a flat response, low output impedance and be as close to the source as possible, as well as not color the connected headphones. However, headphones are the sauce of the sound, making them flat would be boring, they have to please all ears...

yes, it did not happen that I've felt lesser bass after watching your test, measurements don't tell everything but they matters too. Pairing a bass rolled-off player with a 2 BA headphone usually does not result in a basshead set...

Other comments also matters when there are a good number, the NiceHCK M6 had good reviews, many 5* and no lesser than 4*, while the Nx7 had lower average rate, many 3* and few 4 or 5*. I found the Nx7 to sound bad compared to M6, but I cannot complain who rated it 5*, is a matter of taste and/or a better matching with their Dap that probably was not an FA3. For sure the Nx7 has more drawbacks and is more "difficult", but somebody still likes it.
 
Jul 21, 2020 at 10:14 PM Post #7,165 of 7,713

Dobrescu George

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My video review about the M11 PRO is live now!! This is probably my longest video review, and it shows why for flagships I really need to write the review, it is just simpler to cover everything. This being said, the video review is really fun to watch, or at least I hope so, it has a lot of memes, jokes, sass, honesty, and even lots of pairings and comparisons. If you want to know more about M11 PRO, here's my full take!!
 
Jul 22, 2020 at 6:47 AM Post #7,166 of 7,713

madnanny1

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Still have my rockboxed clip plus, bought in 2013. It resumes play beautifully. When people started complaining about the jack issues, I got a little extension cord. Hopefully I'll be able to solder in a new battery when the time comes, but it's still holding a decent charge for now.
hello i have 2 clips,not rockboxed.tried on sansa e270 and bricked it so wil leave my clips alone.bought them quite a few years ago.still hold charge and still sound very good.have no intention of selling them. bought them both for about £20 used but in very good nick, well one is my dog nibbled on one and cracked the corner slightly still works fine. i have zishan x3,2 sony s638 and a sony a828.the sonys sound excellent as does the zishan,but it doesnt have resume play. i have tried and returned over a dozen players but cant beat what ive got.dont like touch screen,prefer buttons,hence the older sonys.i was born in the days of the dansette mono players.
 
Jul 22, 2020 at 6:56 AM Post #7,168 of 7,713

madnanny1

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For me, if you are hesitating between the xs-03 vs MF-01, I have it clear: the xs-03 is in a lost drawer and the MF-01 I carry with me. The FAudio XS-03 is a product joke, a DAP can not deliberately lose 6dB in bass, if someone wants less bass, you can use the equalization or use headphones with less bass. But if I want more bass, what do I do? use an equalizer that only deforms the signal instead of providing gain in bass? I feel deceived, especially when I have tried to contact them to find solutions and they never answered. while ACMEE have answered my questions and they are trying to improve the product. As for the sound, flat response, you can see my graphs of both in this thread.
hello had the acmee but couldnt get it read mem card.whats your secret?
 
Jul 22, 2020 at 8:18 AM Post #7,169 of 7,713

superuser1

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My video review about the M11 PRO is live now!! This is probably my longest video review, and it shows why for flagships I really need to write the review, it is just simpler to cover everything. This being said, the video review is really fun to watch, or at least I hope so, it has a lot of memes, jokes, sass, honesty, and even lots of pairings and comparisons. If you want to know more about M11 PRO, here's my full take!!

the thread is called Obscure Chinese daps :robot: :robot: :L3000:
 

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