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The Zishan dsd's corner

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by neog007, Nov 17, 2016.
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  1. neog007
    This thread is meant to be a place where we can share our experiences with the Zishan dsd player. It starts with some useful basic information and thoughts about it. Feel free to participate and enjoy it!

    After being, due to different reasons, a little bit disappointed with some cheap but good ones as the xduoos or the ibasso dx90, and being unable to spend the required cash for the players I liked –Onkyo, AKs, etc- I found myself surfing the aliexpress app in order to find the best sounding player no matter how ugly appeared externally or the user interface, or how unknown it was.  The minimum requirements were, at least, to be powerful and to be able to play FLAC files.

    I found some good players but they only played wav and/or mp3 files. During my search, I clicked some related links where I found some DIY audio kits. One of this links caught my attention, and when I clicked it I saw the pictures of two separate boards. Nothing exceptional at this point. But when I read the word “player” my interest increased. I thought it could be a kind of DIY player: it could be interesting. It was when I saw more pictures when I realized it was an all-ensemble player. So the first surprise was the "marketing" (if this player has something that can be called like that…): showing the internal circuits as the main picture in the selling web page. I´ve never seen anything like that. “The beauty is inside” could be a good slogan in this case!
    After some time trying to decode the crappy Chinese translation of the description, I understood that I found what I was looking for. But I was suspicious, due to the cost of all the hardware related at that low price point.
    But thinking of the lack of professional marketing here, and probably being made for a very small unknown Chinese company –or maybe just an individual- It could make sense.

    My initial requirements were vastly shifter by the specs of this player: Very good price, able to play almost all the hi-res formats by hardware -32bit and Native DSD256...-, precise and neutral sound, as well as customizable. Switchable oamp and DAC function, line-out and coaxial output, etc,etc. 

    I was certainly sure to pull the trigger when I asked for some advice in the "Obscure Chinese DAPs" thread to just confirm that my initial thoughts were right: the player, a priori, was a real deal.

    So I clicked the buy button and there started the usually long waiting time. Until I received the magical generic brown carton box from the postal guy with the player wrapped in bubble plastic inside… not a fancy apple-style presentation here …

    -    Don´t turn it on with the ear/headphones in your ears. Dial volume has no marks of min/max and you don´t know at what level is set right out of the box. This player is really powerful and can damage your ears and/or equipment if you don´t have this basic initial precaution. Be advised.
    -    Sometimes you will hear an unpleasant crispy sound, not too ofter but it´s there. Probably some random decoding glitch. To me, this is the major minus point of this player, as well as the lack of gapless support.

    -    You could be a bit disappoint with the sound, quite metallic. Don´t panic, it will improve with the time. Start the burning process as soon as possible: it will require several hundreds of hours to get a nicer sound. Think that for the iBasso dx90 is recommended 400 hours, and compare the boards of this and of the Zishan… Just be patient.

    -    Firmware updates: The player is currently in his 3rd FU. The first thing to know: in order to load songs etc to the micro sd card you´ll need an external card reader (there´s no USB chip onboard to transfer music via USB). To upgrade the firmware follow this simple steps: (1) decompress the two files of the zip file and copy them to the root of the microSD card. (2) Insert the card in the player and long press the central button -3 sec.- (3) –Wait until the screen turns off –no more than 1 min.- (4) Delete from the micro sd card the two files loaded in step 1. (5) In order to change the Chinese language that is loaded by default do the next: Insert the card and long press the central button.Navigate through the menu –long press the left button- until you reach the blue icon with a cogwheel. Press the right button to enter in the submenu. Press the upper button twice and press the right button several times until you find "English", and then press the central button.

    -    Operation: long press central button to turn on-off the player. Long press the left button to enter in the menu. Long press the right button to fast forward. Long press the central and left button to lock-unlock. Short press the upper button to enter in the quick menu. Short press the down button to enter in the explorer. Short press the central button to pause-play. Short press the right button to next track, and the left button the previous one.

    -    EQ: copy the 180EQ carpet in the root of the micro sd card. To change the EQ just do it in the same way as you do to change songs. There´re 180 different EQ: you can delete the stuff you don´t like, change the names, etc (all of this out of the player).

    Something I find interesting about the EQ files is that if you open then with the text processor i.e., the parametrization was based on Rockbox EQ, which I find one of the best EQ systems. So by modifying these parameters in the text editor you can probably make your own EQ. This is very useful in order to have personalized EQ for your different cans, and probably you can modify the treble zone –notice that all of this 180 eq only modify the first 5th bars of the 10. This is a subject to investigate more, and made me think as well if external Rockbox playlists can be adapted to this player loaded in the same way that the eq.
    -    Delete song: navigate through the explorer until you find the sound to delete. Press central button, select DEL and press the central button again. Rockbox users: this feature can´t be done while you are playing the sound you want to delete.
    900x900px-LL-6930360b_P61007-142505.jpg  ​

    -    “Turbo” mode: This the usually called high-gain. Deactivate it for sensitive iems.

    -    DAC function: activate it in order to use it as a DAC. No proprietary ASIO drivers here, just the usual 16bit playback. It works well on android and PC. Not tested on other systems.

    -    Digital filters: it has 5 different digital filters. Notice that when you change the filter the EQ changes to the eq setting you set last time you used that filter.

    -    Improvements: the main improvement you can make by yourself to this player in his stock configuration is to change the oamp, in spite of the stock one is not bad at all. As just an example, I changed it for a muses02 and it was a clear step up (or two) in sound terms. It´s really worth and now I really feel that I´m enjoying a real low-cost true hi-fi sound on the go.
    - Firmware downloads: https://pan.baidu.com/share/link?uk=2586845035&shareid=3186436996&third=0#list/path=%2F
    - Taobao seller shop and technical information: https://shop72826291.world.taobao.com/
    - Videoreview of the UI: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIB6yyL6mao&feature=youtu.be
  2. iJay
    Good call on the new thread...Subbed!
    I have been seriously contemplating this purchase. I love the look and DAC function.
  3. cokrewel
    Head to head vs fiio x5ii,xduoo x10 and dx90 please
    This player warm bridge or netral?
  4. cingcut
    subbed! i wish i could buy this gemmmssss. [​IMG] 
  5. musicday
    What's the battery life? Really 8-9 hours? Wish Rockbox can be supported.What are the best components to order with when using Tabaoo? Still looks like a very good sounding music player for the asking price.
    Also i would like to know the screen size and resolution.Thank you owner.
  6. vapman
    What exactly is the difference in the various upgrade packages? I already have some opamps I plan on rolling in it but curious if there's any reason I shouldn't buy a $140 shipped one from AliExpress.
  7. w3nj13
    Thanks neog, just waiting for my parcel to arrive! Hope I can give some opinions on the player soon!
  8. dblml320
    Is there a forum on head-fi to discuss DSD formats, especially formats optimal for these portable DAPs? I have a bunch of music in DSD .DFF files but these do not play on any portable DAP I have tried. So looking for guidance on best DSD format for DAPs?
  9. neog007
    The battery really reaches the 8-9h marked.
    The screen size is about 4cm x 5,5cm. It appears to be the typical a  320x240 2.8´ TFT. It´s enough to read even the tiny characters showed and setting it at maximum bright can be read at sunlight with no problem​.
  10. neog007
    The taobao upgrade thing has some intrigued points that I will try to point them out later.
    For now, just to say that the stock player is a good option with the rolling oamp possibility.
  11. neog007

    ​The zishan has the
    AK4495SEQ. It plays everything you mentioned. I even loaded some SACD in iso format and everything fine, with no processing delay at all.​

  12. neog007
    This player is neutral but not a boring one. How to say it.. it has a lot of power and that delivers a characteristic energetic/full body sound.
    About those players I only have had the dx90 and I slightly preferred the Zishan due that what I mentioned before,and with the oamp upgrade I did the zishan is the clear winner here.
  13. vapman
    Can we get some battery runtime specs on this bad boy runing high impedance drivers?
  14. musicday
    Can the opams be bought separately? I have already seen this player on the eBay.Whats the highest configuration and it doesn't have internal memory right?
    Really like the form factor.If ever Rockbox will be supported will be fantastic and the battery life will be improved.
    LaughMoreDaily likes this.
  15. hakuzen

    i know nothing about opamps, as low pass filter or I/V stage or buffer, but looking at the upgrades, you can notice some things:
    1- every upgrade consist of a full pcb with dac + amp stage. so you replace that entire pcb with the upgrade, and reattach it to the other pcb in the player. most upgrades will also need a different case, because the number, position and type of outside connections and volume potentiometer are different from the stock. i guess part of the shell is provided with the upgrade, in this case. main differences are the low pass filter (LPF) and I/V stage opamps, but also other components.
    this could be a good thing, because the other components of the pcb are supposedly designed to work best with the equipped opamps; but, in the other hand, they are expensive, because of the AK4495SEQ and the rest of components included (you get extra identical dac).
    (to avoid this duplication, you could might contact with the seller, to prepare your zishan with your favorite upgrade, instead of the stock pcb, and pay only the difference, if any, plus customization fees, if any; this can't be set automatically from their site; in the case of buying overseas, you'll need an agent, and you'll need to coordinate them. it's up to you to try all this to save about $40, if you die for any upgrade and you don't want the stock one).
    2- the only opamp provided in DIP-8 format (which can be put into a socket, and so be replaced with another DIP-8 -or others, with adaptor- opamp without soldering) is LME49720NA, used as low pass filter (LPF). you can find it in stock pcb, and in upgrade #2. so these ones are the unique where you can roll LPF opamp without soldering, because there is a socket in the pcb for it. but beware, space (height) is limited, because the two pcbs of the player are very close. besides, these pcbs share the volume potentiometer type and outside connectors, so the outer shell is the same. the difference between stock and upgrade #2 is the I/V opamp: OP275 in stock, AD797 in the upgrade (i don't know about other electronic components). the rest of upgrades require a new shell, and you won't be able to roll opamps without soldering.
    curiously, the mini A1 amplifier uses that opamp, AD797, so many of us have purchased stock zishan together with this amp (which also has other features than differentiate from the upgrades amp stage). this way, you have a different amp flavor, and can use the amplifier, separately, with other gear (note than the zishan can't be used as a simple amplifier, because it has not inputs other than the usb dac). if we ever find we love any of the other upgrades, we are on time to order them (they are not expensive compared with the quality of their components).
    kudos to @neog007 and @T.R.A.N.C.E., who had provided this info (and much more, starting with the discovering of this gem).
    hqssui and neog007 like this.
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