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Please help me decide on a portable DAP!!!

  1. Bornin1992

    I posted this question in the Portable Source Gear sub-forum on Sunday, but, after 98 views and no responses, I decided to post in this forum.

    I am replacing a Fiio X1 first generation and having difficulties choosing a replacement. I am using Shure SE215s, and listen to most genres.

    I can purchase a new second generation Fiio X3 for $200, a new second generation Fiio X1 for $124.88, a Shanling M2S Mini for $229, a Cayin N3 for $219.99, and may have a lead on a new first generation Fiio X1 for $100.

    Part of the reason why I am reluctant to purchase the X1 Second Generation is the digital wheel. Bluetooth functionality is unimportant, and usability is a priority.

    What do you recommend? Would the sound quality be noticeably better than the first generation X1?


    Also, apologies for making a new thread. Am really trying to get help, and really do not see myself getting any responses in the other thread...
  2. PointyFox
    What about using a smart phone?
  3. Bornin1992
    I use a BlackBerry Keyone and would prefer a standalone DAP. Was that your subtle way of saying a smart phone would be better than any of these?
  4. PointyFox
    At that price a smart phone is going to be be much faster and have more features with probably very little difference in sound quality. Money would be better spent upgrading headphones. (IMO).
  5. Tinnitus Man
    I can see the point that not everyone wants to use their phones for everything. I prefer to listen to my music and not be distracted by notifications all of the time.

    You might also want to consider the HiBy R3 which has had good reviews. All you can really do is watch YouTubes on the various models and make your own judgement based on how you feel about the usability. From experience, the cheaper DAPs seem to suffer from awkward/laggy user interfaces or low definition screens. While this doesn't really matter when you're actually playing music, cursing at the thing under your breath every time you want to do something does get a bit wearysome after a while.
  6. Bornin1992
    I agree. Also, I do not know how other smart phones perform, but I could tell a noticeable difference in the sound quality of my Fiio X1 and BlackBerry Keyone.
    The HiBy R3 looks nice, but a little above my budget (CDN), and is all touch screen.
    PointyFox's comment did get me thinking, though: What if I bought the Fiio X1 first generation and a better pair of headphones? Maybe that would get better results than one of the more expensive DAPs.
    Thoughts? I would want a pair of headphones that can be used in the library, which would exclude the Grados I often see posted.
  7. zept0sec
    I like my Shanling M2S. Noticeable improvements in sound quality over my Galaxy S7 with 1More Quads. Should be able to find it for under $200 by now, no?
  8. Bornin1992
    Unfortunately, no. I am in Canada, and the least expensive M2S I can find is $229, which is, admittedly, $176.53 in USD, but that price was reduced from $249 CAD.
    Do you think there would be a noticeable improvement in sound quality from the Fiio X1 first generation? It would work out to approximately double the price for the Shanling M2S.
  9. Doctortre2481
    I would just use my phone with the se215 . Then maybe when you upgrade get a dap.
  10. Bornin1992
    Thanks for your response! I, however, maybe should have made it clearer in my original post I am uninterested in using my phone for audio.
    What I am getting from these responses is A. There is no lower-end DAP worth purchasing, and B. The SE215 is not worthwhile with any of these DAP.
  11. PointyFox
    I got a non-audiophile a wireless SE215 as a gift and they assumed most of the cost was in the wireless functionality. They were shocked that the IEM portion was so expensive and didn't think it was any better than their Apple earbuds. I haven't heard them myself, but owned the top of the line Shure SE846 which I thought was on par with my $200 Sennheiser earbuds (ie80).
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
  12. castleofargh Contributor
    the se215 can be driven by pretty much anything. I clearly see that as a quality, the trend of mistaking inconvenience with high end is really not one I understand.
    sound quality is something that will rapidly become subjective and conditional to what you're using. again the se215 is not one to cause trouble, so you're more likely than not to feel that everything sounds more or less the same, save for a very hissy source.

    about the fiio X1, the first one has had an history of issues with the mechanical wheel. I still have mine and it works fine, but I never used it in conditions where anything would really weight on the wheel. also the battery life is pretty average when new, so a second hand one might not impress you in that area. otherwise it measures very fine, nothing to worry about on that side. same with the following generation.
    if I was looking for a DAP for the se215(which shares my ears with a pair of etymotic even to this day), I believe I'd look for something with a good deal of battery life, or some functions I'd like to have(I'm a massive audiobook consumer and something like the X1 is useless for podcasts). or maybe I'd go for something real small so that I can really turn it ON and forget it's in my pocket. or look for buttons you can use without having to take the DAP out of your pocket. all the little things that make you like using a device, instead of thinking "wow the sound is nice, too bad this and that and also that are so annoying".
    PointyFox likes this.
  13. PointyFox
    The only real improvements you can get with amps are going from a noisy amp to a quieter one, or going from one that doesn't give you enough volume to one that does. Beyond that, you can go to an amp with a different output impedance to tweak the frequency response of your headphones if your headphones have a very low impedance.
  14. Bornin1992
    I think I am going to settle on the NOS first generation Fiio X1. It may be old technology, but as some who dislikes change, it worked for me and will postpone an inevitable change.

    What would work well with the X1 for an over-ear or on-hear? Bear in mind, the SE215 served me well, and that is the benchmark, if you will. It would be nice to have a slightly higher quality sound, but am going for more "bank for your buck" at this stage.
  15. PointyFox
    Best bang got the buck I think is used AKG K7XX for about $125.

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