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Old 10-23-2015, 08:40 PM
BruceBanner's Avatar
BruceBanner BruceBanner is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Australia, NSW
Posts: 2,728

Well... my own personal journey went from Sansa to Cowon (and then onto other things).

First it was the C2, then then i9+. I really love the i9+, 32gb cap is the major drawback, and also I find it has quite loud hiss from some IEMs (worsened with more DSPs applied), but nontheless I loved the sound quality and customisation of sound signatures possible.
A 32gb Cowon M2 + 32-64gb card would give you a decent DAP, 90hr battery life, some of the best DSPs known on a DAP, full range of tactile buttons and should come in under yer budget. 16,000 tracks is maximum it can take tho.

Cowon M2.

iBasso dx50/90 is definitely feasible. Both can be rockboxed right now and to many sources runs stable and relatively bug free. The battery life isn't much but you can take the batteries out and put another one in, I believe they take the same type of battery as a Galaxy S4 smart phone etc.

iBasso DX90, by all accounts apparently significantly better than the dx50

Speaking of phones a cheap smartphone is totally an option. I got my Sony Xperia E1 for around $99, rockbox I think exists as an app, but then again yer spoilt for choices of interfaces etc.
Rooting the phone can open up to improved volume and sound quality settings.

Xperia E1

Lastly you brought up the idea of the Fiio M3, and I think many of us are excited about that player too. Fiio have a good reputation and many of us have been leaning towards a player from them that isn't 'boutique' in nature. Sure the M3 might not be able to power some challenging cans but for IEM use and small/lightweight footprint it seems to tick enough boxes.
SOURCE: Xclef (gone) | Cowon X5(gone) | Cowon D2 (dead) | Sansaclip+ RB | Sansa ClipZip RB | Cowon i9+ (32gb) | Cowon C2 (4gb)
HPs: Soundmagic E10's | Hippo VB's | UE 600's | Superlux HD 668B | Superlux HD660 | Sony XBA3 | Sony XBA2VP
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