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  #1  
Old 07-04-2014, 06:50 PM
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BruceBanner BruceBanner is offline
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Default Best value for money 'High Definition' DAP.

I thought it might be helpful/interesting to start a thread discussing the current trend in HD DAPs that seem to be flooding the market, comparing features, price and overall value.
We don't need to be recommending clips in this category as technically they're not HD. Whether or not HD DAPs are better or not is not quite the point of this thread, it seems many users swear by them (whether it's placebo or not), and these owners tend to have come from a Sansaclip/Cowon player as previous DAP.
The aim of this thread is to simply rank or rate the various HD DAPs that currently exist on the market hopefully being of help to someone who is dead set on trying a HD DAP. The rules of entry are any DAP that can support 24bit/192kHz

I'll start;

It occurs that the new Cowon P1 is arguably the worst value for money HD DAP on the market. At a whopping $1200USD and sporting only an official 8hrs 30minutes battery life (less in real time I'm sure), I'm not sure who this is appealing to, doesn't come across as being very portable to me.

Doing a little preliminary searching I discovered that the iBasso DX50 might be the best valued HD DAP. At a price of $239USD it seems to be one of the cheaper HD DAPS. Apparently it supports a rockbox port (tho I know not of how stable), can take a SD or Microsd card up to 2TB! But the really interesting feature is the removable battery (any Samsung S3 battery will suffice), and it also gets a quoted 14hrs playback.

Is the iBasso DX50 the best value HD DAP around?

Then there is the DX90 but I'm not sure how exactly it is better than the DX50...

Anyone want to wade in and share their 2 cents?

Bruce
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  #2  
Old 07-04-2014, 07:35 PM
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It just seems to me the "added benefit" in a portable player is the last place you'd be able to notice the difference.

You're locked into searching/paying for music that's actually been put together at that spec through the whole sausage making process, and if there was any benefit to that, it'd be through some serious gear at home you'd be able to realize the potential. Of course getting full disclosure on how something was created is another story.

The fio x3 looks to be cheaper? ($199)

No experience with either.
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  #3  
Old 07-04-2014, 07:54 PM
skip252 skip252 is offline
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My two cents:

Perform ABX and determine that you can hear a difference between well encoded lossy files and their lossless source. If you are able to reliably do that step up to "hires" files and see if you are able to reliably hear a difference between those and 16/44.1 files.

If you can't, at least have the self respect to feel silly as you dig deep in your pocket to buy something that has no audible benefit.

Carry on. Have fun posting opinions as to which is best. Haven't had a good laugh all day.
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  #4  
Old 07-04-2014, 08:24 PM
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I'm well aware of the contentious issue this thread posts, but as I clearly stated at the start I'd rather this not (yet again) turn into a 'High Def is nonsense' thread. At the end of the day I have read time and time again people who swear by them, they *think* they sound better than their previous non HD DAPs and many are content with their HD choice (infact I have not yet read a single user saying they tried a Fiio X3/X5 (or whatever) and didn't like what they heard and went back to their beloved J3 etc, most seem to stick with the new HD DAP (despite possible shortcomings).
Let's remind ourselves also that the HD DAPs also play yer standard 192-320kbps MP3 file, so it's also a thread exploring the value of current MP3 players on the market, they just all seem to be going the HD route as well.

I love my i9+ with it's controversial EQ abused settings, others here have tried it (the DSP tweaks I run) and hate it, others like it.. what does that even say about hearing? That it's all subjective? It occurs to me it's becoming a bit like a religious argument, you can throw all the science you like at it, but at the end of the day the ears hear what they hear and if ppl like certain eq settings then who are we to try and convince them otherwise?

Even if we take away the HD element of the iBasso DX50, it still (on paper) seems like a decent DAP. For $239 we get 8gb internal and a microsdcard slot that can take a 128gb card (and up to 2TB?, do these even exist?), removable battery, rockbox port, 256 volume increments, 3-Setting Gain Switch and a heap of supported formats. It looks a better buy than say Cowon's X9 which is capped at 8000 files/songs, whereas the DX50 has no file limitation (that I can see of). Both DAPs (X9 vs DX50) are similarly priced, yet I have rarely heard of anyone owning or talking about a DX50 here, why is that? Granted I can see why a clip would be recommended over a DX50, but even then a clip doesn't have a removable battery or a 3-Setting Gain switch...

So I thought it would be an interesting exercise to compare the current newer DAPS on the market that all seem to be HD and see which comes out the better value.

I dunno, maybe this post is wasted here as I know most of you here arn't falling for the HD argument... Might try this post on Head Fi <giggles>
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  #5  
Old 07-04-2014, 09:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BruceBanner View Post
At the end of the day I have read time and time again people who swear by them, they *think* they sound better than their previous non HD DAPs and many are content with their HD choice (infact I have not yet read a single user saying they tried a Fiio X3/X5 (or whatever) and didn't like what they heard and went back to their beloved J3 etc, most seem to stick with the new HD DAP (despite possible shortcomings).
Placebo effect, post-purchase rationalization, and confirmation bias. Just because you read a lot of nonsense from the gullible does not mean you have to believe their nonsense.
Quote:
Let's remind ourselves also that the HD DAPs also play yer standard 192-320kbps MP3 file, so it's also a thread exploring the value of current MP3 players on the market, they just all seem to be going the HD route as well.
They are going that route, because there are a lot of fools that have to be ripped off.
Quote:
I love my i9+ with it's controversial EQ abused settings, others here have tried it (the DSP tweaks I run) and hate it, others like it.. what does that even say about hearing?
It says that signal processing is subjective. But this was known a long time ago.
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Even if we take away the HD element of the iBasso DX50, it still (on paper) seems like a decent DAP.
You sure? http://www.amazon.com/review/R3JWXET...SIN=B00J6RVQJM.
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I dunno, maybe this post is wasted here as I know most of you here arn't falling for the HD argument.
Not only are we not falling for the high-definition argument, we are not falling for the audiophile-digital-audio-players argument. Perhaps you should take a look at http://www.head-fi.org/t/682750/the-...ile-dap-market.
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  #6  
Old 07-04-2014, 09:55 PM
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Haha what a bizarre coincidence, I was just watching the 'rant' youtube clip when this post notification came through lol.
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  #7  
Old 07-04-2014, 10:11 PM
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I must point out tho, he does say at 2:56 that the Apple players he's holding don't sound as good as the audiophile players he slates later on, he admits 'now that I have been exposed to better audio'. His main gripe is OS, not sound quality, to me he sounds a HD convert, just that the players OS are rubbish (which is relevant to this thread, DX50 apparently does support rockbox now...).

I guess this thread isn't going to do well here as there is a strong anti HD community here (which is absolutely fine), and no one owns or can really add any valid comments to the thread parameters. Fair enough.
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  #8  
Old 07-04-2014, 10:42 PM
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I'd still like to get a nice FiiO and waste time and money on it. HD or not, I'd luv one - and I'd even want Rockbox on it!
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Old 07-04-2014, 10:53 PM
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See.. I'm partially interested in this because I still lack a player that can fit all my music onto. Cowon's can't as although in theory they have expandable memory their dumb dumb DUMB file limitation makes it impossible. If the player has HD Audio also then I can test that feature out and first hand decide if it's nonsense or not.

my i9+ is a great gym companion but I wouldn't mind an alternative player for those non gym moments.

TDS, why do you think a FiioX3 or X5 would be better than a Dx50? From what I can tell the DX50 can already take rockbox, has better battery life AND removable battery, something the Fiio's don't.
Why would a Fiio be better?
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  #10  
Old 07-05-2014, 03:46 AM
Weirdo87 Weirdo87 is offline
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The Fiio X1 is coming out later this year. At ~$100, it looks like it will be the cheapest hi-fi DAP on the market.

I've never listened to a hi-fi DAP, so I won't opine on their sound quality. But if you want to try one out, the X1 won't hit your wallet too hard.
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  #11  
Old 07-05-2014, 04:17 AM
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Thanx Weirdo87, I didn't know about this upcoming DAP, good contender and entry.

I've done a bit more reading on the iBasso DX50 with rockbox. It seems the whole 24/192 aspect of the player is lost in Rb world, so really it's not taking advantage of the whole point of the main selling point of the player... :|
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  #12  
Old 07-05-2014, 07:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BruceBanner View Post
It seems the whole 24/192 aspect of the player is lost in Rb world, so really it's not taking advantage of the whole point of the main selling point of the player... :|
But would this really be a bad thing?

http://theaudiocritic.com/plog/index...eId=4&blogId=1:“That means there’s no audible difference between the original CD standard (“Red Book”) and 24-bit/192-kHz PCM or 1-bit/2.8442-MHz DSD.”

If you want to test high-resolution audio first hand and decide if it is nonsense or not, you will have to test it in a way similar to http://drewdaniels.com/audible.pdf and http://www.bostonaudiosociety.org/explanation.htm. How are you going to do that?

And here is something else to think about if you still believe that high-resolution audio might sound better than standard-resolution audio: http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html.

More information on why this myth has been debunked:
http://mixonline.com/recording/mixin...ng//index.html.
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  #13  
Old 07-05-2014, 12:16 PM
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Any 'high definition' DAP is a waste of money.
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Old 07-05-2014, 01:26 PM
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I have to disagree somewhat, Jeven. While a DAP that's centered around playing hires files would be a waste for me that doesn't mean it's a waste to someone that prefers it's features for whatever reasons.

Take a look at what TDS said. I know his track record well enough to doubt that he thinks a Fiio will sound better than any other quality DAP he has. That doesn't prevent him from wanting one to experience for himself. If you're really into this hobby nothing beats having a new DAP in your hands and using your own ears and headphones to give it a listen.

I think we sometimes forget that what we discuss here is a just that, a hobby. Considering what I've spent on equipment when I was active in hobbies like target archery and wood working I can understand. I knew for a fact most of the junk I bought wouldn't make me any more accurate or improve the fit of a mortise joint. It was still fun shopping around, picking it up and seeing if maybe, just maybe, there was something to the makers claims.

There usually wasn't any great improvement. There were times when the results were actually worse than if just stuck with good quality basic equipment.

The expense was still almost always worth it in the fun I had fooling around. I've never thought of anything that brought me that much harmless pleasure as a waste.
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Old 07-05-2014, 02:03 PM
Jeven Jeven is offline
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Fair points made.

I'm at the stage now where any new player fails to excite me. I don't even keep any music files on my Chromebook, because streaming services work so well for me.

I've still got a Shuffle, though, with the same 250 songs on it as I don't own a PC with which to use iTunes. I'll probably replace it when it dies as I like it's gym/walk friendly size.
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Old 07-05-2014, 02:26 PM
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Very disappointed as I peruse this thread...
I find the omission of the greatest DAP of our times quite perplexing
Yes, of course it is the stupendous Altmann Tera Player of which I speak!
Come on people, no other DAP or (puke) smartphone will ever come close to this beauty!
[edit: sorry BB, I couldn't resist. I will refrain from spamming up your thread now!]
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  #17  
Old 07-05-2014, 02:32 PM
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There's still room for the perfect overkill DAP, with all the essential features like gapless playback and large storage, and with perfect output regardless of the headphones / IEMs used: low output impedance, high voltage, zero hiss and no channel imbalance.
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Old 07-05-2014, 04:17 PM
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I'm just interested in a portable player that has a high powered built in amp + a decent UI. After seeing the X5 review about portable usability it's a pass for me as well. The X3 I'm not interested in, except for it's size. The X1,...meh! The Cowon P1 will have the best usability, but the pricing is pathetic.

I think I'll stick with my iPod's, clips, Cowon D2, and cell phones. These devices seem too thrown together for what the prices are. Even my Note3 can get about 3 days & sounds fantastic!!! And the phone I'm using now I totally luv!!! The Moto X 32GB.
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Old 07-05-2014, 04:57 PM
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I think I fit under the same umbrellla as TDS, in that I am not convinced by HD Audio, but at the same time wouldn't mind experiencing it for myself.

I guess the ONE thing that makes all of the whole argument (that HD is nonsense) hard for me to completely swallow (and that there maybe some grain of truth), is that firsthand I have experience of messing with a DAP, changing DSP settings (and not subtly so) and for one user to agree it sounds great whilst another finds it horrid. The user that finds it horrid would prefer to resort to flat/neutral sound (or in this case set the preset back to 'Normal') where as I would now find that sound a bit boring, lifeless.
Interestingly, at one time (when I had not yet stumbled upon such DSP settings yet) I found Normal to being acceptable, in the case of Cowon specifically I found myself enjoying the Headphone 1 preset the most, but now even that doesn't sound as good to my ears as the current DSP tweaks I have. So it goes like this;

Normal> Headphone 1> Current DSP mix, all the while each time I go up I find myself feeling the sound quality (and by this I mean the overall sound/enjoyment) to being improved and vastly different from it's predecessor. All of this done same player and same IEMs.

Now I KNOW that this is not the same thing as comparing lossless to 192kbps files, but my point to take away is there seems to be great variation between all of us whereby something sounds good and bad.

Everyone likes to point out here that almost all equipment sounds the same these days, but I don't use my Sansa Clips much anymore as I can't get the same sound as my Cowons. Perhaps it's true to say that there is not much audible difference in sound quality between both Cowon and Sansa in neutral (and a smartphone), but when messing with EQ and adding DSPs it changes EVERYTHING and one player will usually win supreme. I'm well aware of folk that have owned a Cowon, tried BBE etc and gone back to Sansa because despite the vast array of Cowon's DSPs it does little for them. What's that all about? I can't fathom it, I don't judge but I have come to the conclusion that hearing is becoming a little like taste to me, some people like sprouts, some folk don't. Is it possible some people interpret sound differently, some hear an audible difference in HD and some can't?
If I buy a Fiio X3 or X5, try FLAC, try tweaking the EQ, will I come up with a new sound, something that I will enjoy even more than my current abused BBE Cowon settings? That is the million dollar question for me, and it strikes me as something I might just have to try to find out, all the science talk in the world won't discourage me. Had I listened to everyone here and stuck with my Sansa as apparently the sound quality of a Cowon is no better (which is possibly true, tho I felt I could tell a difference in both players flat, tho maybe placebo) then I would never have bought a Cowon and subsequently enjoy my listening experience as much as I have.

Even that 'rant video guy' admits that since being exposed to better sound the Apple players he used to love don't sound as good. Short fallings aside of the HD Players he seems convinced by the sound quality side of things.
Most of you here argue that Apple sound as good as any other DAP on the current market...

Maybe he (and every other HD audio fan) is full of shit. Maybe they need proper blindfolded, headphones on and someone changing the source of same song (a switch) and they have to guess the source (mobile phone, sansa player, Cowon, Fii0 X5 lossless etc). But even if that's the case (that they fail and can't notice any difference on which player is which), after each player is tweaked via EQ and dsps available and redo the test (to being a sound of each player than the user finds best) the test becomes easier no? I know (and it's not placebo) that if I place a Sansaclip in an EQ pattern (which is generally V shaped) and compare to my Cowon i9+ with it's combination of EQ and DSP settings the difference is very clear. The Cowon wins, everytime for me. So despite the two players having (on paper) similar sound quality they do not provide the same enjoyment or overall sound quality, I deem one superior to another (yet another person would go the other way I'm sure, and purely from a sound perspective and not features of a player).
It is this that is gnawing at me, can an ibasso DX50, a Fiio X3, X5 or whatever elevate another notch up in my listening experience?
My gut feeling is actually no. I feel as tho my current setup cannot be improved (sound wise), I find it hard to imagine things sounding better. Even when I have moved off budget IEMs such as Soundmagic E10's to Sony's XBA3's ($30 vs $350) the difference hasn't been night and day. Currently I use my Panasonic HJE 900's which are mid priced around $100, if they broke I'm not convinced on shelling out $300-400 to try new better IEMs, for me tweaking a player with semi decent IEMs has made a bigger difference to sound quality lol. <shakes head>

But we all like the same thing, to get what we feel is the best music experience.

I fear this thread has lost it's initial purpose (there are now more HD argument posts over actually DAP suggestions). I specifically outlined at the start to not get into the whole HD argument, and just to focus on players on market, but now even I have had to try and justify why HD *might* be valid.
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Old 07-05-2014, 07:18 PM
Enigmatic Enigmatic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BruceBanner View Post
Everyone likes to point out here that almost all equipment sounds the same these days, but I don't use my Sansa Clips much anymore as I can't get the same sound as my Cowons.
They will probably sound the same if they are of high quality and all the signal processing is turned off.
Quote:
I'm well aware of folk that have owned a Cowon, tried BBE etc and gone back to Sansa because despite the vast array of Cowon's DSPs it does little for them. What's that all about?
It is what I wrote earlier: signal processing is subjective.
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Is it possible some people interpret sound differently, some hear an audible difference in HD and some can't?
Do you know of anyone who can hear the difference between high resolution and standard resolution under controlled conditions?
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Even that 'rant video guy' admits that since being exposed to better sound the Apple players he used to love don't sound as good.
Take his claim with a grain of salt. I have seen claims that burning-in wires improves the sound quality, bi-directional wires improves the sound quality, burning-in MP3 players improves the sound quality, upgrading fuses improves the sound quality, higher-quality power cords improves the sound quality, green ink on a CD improves the sound quality, shining an LED on a CD improves the sound quality, etc. You should have more scepticism in what you read, see, and hear. It is better to ask for evidence than blindly believing unusual claims.
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Short fallings aside of the HD Players he seems convinced by the sound quality side of things.
Most of you here argue that Apple sound as good as any other DAP on the current market...
You appear to be convinced that high resolution sounds better than standard resolution. So why not just buy the iBasso DX50?
Quote:
So despite the two players having (on paper) similar sound quality they do not provide the same enjoyment or overall sound quality, I deem one superior to another (yet another person would go the other way I'm sure, and purely from a sound perspective and not features of a player).
Sound quality is different from signal processing.
Quote:
I fear this thread has lost it's initial purpose (there are now more HD argument posts over actually DAP suggestions).
You should do some research, come up with a list of the most-promising candidates, and go to Head-Fi and ask for a recommendation from one of these candidates.
Quote:
I specifically outlined at the start to not get into the whole HD argument, and just to focus on players on market, but now even I have had to try and justify why HD *might* be valid.
If no one challenges your claims, someone reading your post in the future might believe that high resolution sounds better than standard resolution.
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