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The Perfect DAP: What Are We Looking For?

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by Victorfabius, Oct 13, 2018.
  1. Victorfabius
    I don't really see a thread that has this question, but I'm wondering what we're looking for in the perfect DAP and, as importantly, why we want it.

    I have noticed in my time here on head-fi that there are multiple use cases for portable DAPs. There are users who need power. There are users who need streaming. There are users who need storage capacity. There are users who need a specific sound signature. There are users who need a smooth UI. There are users who need bluetooth. There are users who need battery life. There are users who need a variety of things, but not one specific thing out of their DAP.

    So what's most important today to you? What are you willing to live without? What is your experience and your reasons for wanting this?

    So, to give you all an idea:

    Here's my idea of the perfect DAP:

    1. Snappy UI. I've had the Hiby R6, which had the best UI experience and it wasn't enough. I need a UI that's more responsive.
    2. Streaming. I need to be able to have Tidal and have offline storage (or Qobuz if it ever enters the US market. I expected release with RMAF 2018, people! What happened?)
    3. USB DAC Functionality. I want to use my DAP with my smartphone or PC.
    4. Near-Neutral sound signature. #4 not #1.
    5. Battery Life. I need at minimum 7 hours battery life on 16 bit. 44.1mHz music, though I prefer 12 hours. If we could hit that target with DSD...
    6. Physical controls for playback. AND! When you have these buttons, the arrow for the play button should be pointing to the next button. Seriously, this is simple, but not everyone does it. (Looking at you, Hiby...)
    7. Twin TF card slots. It's extremely! nice to have a dual TF card slot on a player.
    8. Storage space. Kind of corollary to #6, but it's an amazing feeling to be able to fit all desired listening material onto one device.
    9. Swappable amp cards. Ok, so maybe this isn't popular, but I really like the idea, particularly since the amp cards can change the sound signature a bit.
    10. Touch screen. Not on everyone's list, but I think it adds to the experience, rather than detracting from it.
    11. A 4.4mm balanced jack. I prefer it over the 2.5mm jack.

    What I can compromise on:

    1. Power. I drive IEMs, not full size headphones, so power is not usually an issue. Currently, my IEMs range from 16 ohm to 150 ohm resistance. Not too hard for most players to drive.
    2. Bluetooth. I don't do a lot of BT streaming, so I can compromise on this. But if you're going to have BT on your player, make it 2 way, FFS.
    3. USB protocol. I prefer USB-C, but there's no reason why a micro-USB 2.0 isn't sufficient for a DAC. It's a 480 megabyte per second theoretical max, and I think what I have tops out at less than one tenth that while most of my collection is less than one one hundredth.
    4. Twin TF cards. If you give me the raw storage, I can sacrifice the slot. Seriously, Samsung did it with the Note 9.
    5. Swappable amp cards. It is a fad, true, but a cool one.
    6. Balanced out. I understand why people like it, heck I like it, but I don't have to have it. If you do have it, a 4.4mm jack shows you care.
    7. Neutral sound. I can also do a warmer sound or a darker sound.
    8. EQ. I'm not an EQ-er, but I rarely use EQ even when I have the ability.
    9. Line out. I'm ok if it's just max volume.

    What mish-mash would be best today?

    An audio player that worked like a TOTL smartphone for its UI, that lasted 12 hours on continuous DSD playback, had a close to neutral sound, with a 4.4mm balanced phone out and gave me 1TB storage with the ability to have apps for podcasts and audiobooks, which I could also plug into my phone or PC to act as a DAC.

    What do you all think about what you want out of a portable DAP? Why not list it here?

    NotKunvinced likes this.
  2. Darksoul
    The WM1A is pretty much my perfect DAP, battery that lasts for days, 4.4 mm connector, with the Bluetooth receiver option it can now connect to everything, I stream on my cellphone and listen on my Walkman, it has DAC; which I really don't use. 128 GB internal space, unassuming looks (looking at you WM1Z) built like a tank. I'm really transparent about the UI, I used the interface of Fiio X3-II for years so...anything other than that is really an improvement for me. It has external buttons and screen controls, the only thing I wish it had was a volume control knob...I get bored of pressing the volume button all the time, but you have a nice "digital knob" on the screen so that works for me. All in all, I'm pretty much set on my DAP needs.
  3. Mhog55
    The bit opus #1s
    1) Sound quality
    2) Simplicity
    3) Power for full size cans
    4) Clean and bug free UI
    5) Balanced circuit (not necessary, but nice to have)
    6) I don't need / want anything else... Falls into my price range, though on the upper end of it
    NotKunvinced and Vanquished like this.
  4. Victorfabius
    So, what would you say were the most important factors in determining that this was the best player for you. I'd love to get my hands on a WM1A for a while, but lack the requisite funds. What do you feel were some trade-offs of something it's missing that you'd like, but don't have on the WM1A?
  5. Victorfabius
    Was there something else that you'd like, optimally, to have with the Opus #1s? Such as, what do you feel could improve the Opus #1s further? I wrote snappy UI for me, but I think I should have included your #4, the clean and bug free UI. Mine could be snappy, but maybe it might not always work the way it's supposed to.

    Thanks for contributing!
  6. Mhog55
    Not really. I researched long and hard before deciding. My only minor gripe is form factor. I'd like it to have a little smaller footprint.
  7. Darksoul
    Like I said, wish it had a volume knob but I can live without it. And I got it cheap, 570 USD cheap at a local Sony store, I always say they got the price wrong, otherwise I wouldn't own it. And the most important thing for me is battery life, I tend to work out of the office for weeks at a time, where there is no internet. Music is my getaway and making sure I always have my music available is top priority for me. That's why I don't care it doesn't have streaming, whatever keeps the music going for as long as possible.
    NotKunvinced likes this.
  8. NotKunvinced

    Not looking to be a smart ass but what does the WM1A have that the ZX300 doesn't, besides a bigger screen?
  9. Darksoul
    More storage, allegedly more battery life and it was on clearance sale. Aside from the plethora of "class only" internal components and buzzword compliance.
    NotKunvinced likes this.

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