HM-801, T51, RWA Imod, Ipod Classic, and X1060!

Here it is, our first digital audio player (DAP) comparison. As portable set ups are getting more and more transparent sounding, it’s about time we find out what source gives the best sound quality.

For starters, we have the Ipod Classic, which is probably something that everyone is familiar with. The Classic might not be a “special” player, but we feel that it’s good to have it there, just to see how it actually compares to the “better” players, or just to have it there as a point of reference. Another common player that we added into the mix is the Sony X1060, which currently is the top-of-the-line player in Sony’s line, and the only portable player equipped with digital amplification section.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a proper “headphone enthusiast’s” comparison, without the presence of the Imod. For years, the RWA Imod has been the standard of a high quality DAP, and so one of the question that everyone asks is how the Imod compares with the newer players, and so this player is very high on our list. The version we use for the comparison is the Ipod Video 5.5G with 80G of storage.

It’s very interesting to pitch the RWA Imod against the new Hifiman HM-801 player. In case you haven’t been following the news on DAPs, the HM-801 is a very serious player designed strictly with audiophile specs in mind. Everyone who’s heard it says that it’s in a different league than the other digital audio players. Just going from what people say about the HM-801, it has a pretty strong chance of being the current king of audio players.

We also received another chinese player from Hisound that’s supposed to be very good sounding as well. Unfortunately, the Hisound Studio that we have in our possession has to be crossed out from the comparison. It has a very recessed output jack, that I really can’t make a good connection with any cables I have in my possession (even a cheap but slim mini to mini cable). I think this flaw definitely needs a fix from Hisound.

Finally, we have included another promising player from chinese manufacturer Teclast. The T51 player is also sold as Nationite S:Flo2 from mp4nation.net, and it comes with a dual Wolfson DAC inside it. Very interesting indeed.

We think that a ranking system will probably show my own personal bias for what we look for in a DAP. There is no perfect choice, and the label the “Best Digital Audio Player” can’t be given without weighing each person’s priorities and musical preference when looking at a DAP. So the choice is up to yourself to decide, but this review should help to give you a picture of the sound signature and the sound quality of each DAPs.

The review is divided into two parts, the first part is on the quality of the line out, and the second, on the headphone out. It’s almost 5,000 words in total, so, take your time, and you don’t have to finish all of it in one read.


HM-801, T51, RWA Imod, Ipod Classic, and X1060!
5 (100%) 1 vote

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108 Comments

  • Reply April 3, 2010

    Busic@yahoo.com

    This can be very good. I needed pictures to add in my school challenge and also the design you might have posted are excellent. Thanks for them chum! I guess teacher will really enjoy my venture due to these illustrations or photos and certainly the information I furnished.

    • Reply April 3, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Robbins,
      Glad we can help you with your school assignment.

  • Reply April 4, 2010

    2

    i was looking for a review like this thanks!!!

    i am using ipod 5.5 diymod now after reading this review i want to go for hifiman but its price is very high for me:(

    • Reply April 4, 2010

      Mike

      If you're using a portable amp (and some of them are fairly expensive), you can sell both the Ipod and the Portable amp to help finance the Hifiman. πŸ™‚

      Otherwise, the Teclast T51 is very good sounding, as long as your music isn't bass-heavy.

  • Reply April 4, 2010

    jendol

    good review mike, I have listened to hd800 paired with rwa imod, but never thought about pairing it with hm801, now as I do that pairing I must say I am impressed

    • Reply April 5, 2010

      Mike

      Yes, the HM-801 really works well with the HD800 doesn't it? πŸ™‚

  • Reply April 5, 2010

    inyuret

    Awesome review man.

    • Reply April 5, 2010

      Mike

      Thanks. πŸ™‚

  • […] Comments Mike on HM-801, T51, RWA Imod, Ipod Classic, and X1060! Thanks. […]

  • Reply April 15, 2010

    Jraff

    As a Chinese,i am so glad because Chinese products become better.
    After read your passage,i really want to buy a T51.Good review.
    PS:T51 also spoken highly in Japan.

  • Reply April 15, 2010

    Mike

    Yes, the T51 is very very good, and I’d highly recommend it.

  • Reply April 19, 2010

    hitmanx

    Your review has been translated into Chinese and posted on a Chinese DAP forum:) (http://bbs.erji.net/read.php?tid=857262) And you did actually set quite high values on T51 and Hifiman-801 models rather than the well-known iPod and Sony X-series, that's not a common review.

    Anyway, good job! I like the delicate photos:)

    • Reply April 19, 2010

      Mike

      Wow, thanks for the info.

      I'm glad the review can be useful to the audio community. I'm also glad that we're getting more exposure. πŸ™‚

  • Reply April 21, 2010

    Mtktcl

    But from the bbs.imp3 in china

    more people like x1060 than others

    • Reply April 21, 2010

      Mike

      Hi. The X1060 does sound good, and it does have quite a huge following.

  • Reply April 21, 2010

    Alan

    Hi Mike, can you comment on any of these players with AT W1000X or JVC DX700? I am highly considering the T51, but the 801 is a distant 2nd, but obtainable.

    Thanks!

    • Reply April 22, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Alan, the T51 is great, but if you're using something high end like the W1000X, I would suggest you go all the way with the HM-801. I've never heard the DX700, but I'm sure it'll also appreciate being fed from the HM-801. My friend is really enjoying his HM-801 > HD800 and another friend has the HM-801 > HE5.

  • Reply April 22, 2010

    Alan

    Mike, I went ahead and sent the "website" an e-mail, with regards to some specifics on this topic. I look forward to hearing from you.

    • Reply April 22, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Alan, I sent you a reply.

  • Reply April 22, 2010

    Mike

    Someone asked me to decide if it's worth saving up for the HM-801, instead of getting the Teclast T51, and I thought I'd share my answer here:

    It would be hard to put a number on the HM-801 versus T51. The T51 is very very good, and I find it to be above even the Imod. But at the end of the day, it still sounds like a portable player, whereas the HM-801 is totally in a different league, in that it sounds more like a good desktop CDP. The difference is subtle, and whether the extra dollars is worth it will probably depends on your headphones.

    If I have to choose though, I'd probably go with the T51. It's just so much cheaper, and being a portable set up, I wouldn't worry on taking it around for trips, collecting scratches and bumps, etc. The HM-801's finishing is very prone to scratch, and you really have to baby that thing when travelling.

    I always leave my serious listening at home, hence I don't really need someting like the HM-801.

  • Reply April 22, 2010

    Chase

    Mike, have you tried the edition 8 with the Hifiman 801? Are they a great combo? Cause, I'm currently saving up for the both of them….and it would be nice to know, if I'm making the right choice.

    • Reply April 22, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Chase,
      I no longer have the Edition 8 in my possession when I reviewed the Hifiman HM-801. I think it would be a good match though. The Edition 8 is capable enough to display the superb sound out of the HM-801.

  • Reply April 28, 2010

    C_Fish

    Did you spend enough time with Sony X? Did Sony X sound too exiting and punchy to your ears? I got a feeling which you personally prefer relaxing sound.

    • Reply April 28, 2010

      Mike

      Hi David,
      I hope you enjoyed the review. When I wrote it, I try to always explicitly write if I prefer one gear due to my personal preference, but other than that, I'm just writing on the fact of the sound quality that a particular gear has.

      I found the Sony X to be very, very musical. It's warm, it has a good body in the midrange, but what it does lack is technicalities. I do find the soundstage to be on the small side compared to the other players. Even the Ipod Classic has a bigger soundstage and also a more airy sound. But it doesn't have the nice warm midrange that the Sony X has, so between the two it comes down to personal preference.

      The Teclast T51 is much better in this regard, in that it's still warm and smooth (though in a different way than the Sony), but it also come with a nice big soundstage and an excellent instrument separation that the Sony doesn't have.

      Finally, I think the HM-801 is the best of the bunch, not because of its laid-back sound, but simply because it's far superior in the technicalities that separates itself from the rest of the portable players.

      • Reply June 27, 2010

        purrin

        I've owned the Sony X for more than six months now and I did not find the sound of it excessively exciting and punchy (using with an external amp). I felt the Sony was very slightly restrained in its dynamics.

        If there was an exciting aspect to it, it may be been an overemphasis on the human voice, which comes at the expense of it sounding more closed in.

        In addition, I found the X to be overly warm – a bit too warm for my tastes – with a bumped up volume slightly below and above the typical mid-bass region. In other words, it didn't sound boomy. Finally I felt the the uppermost treble a tiny bit bumped up.

        It would seem that the designers voiced the X to play well with typical IEMs.

        The resolution and clarity of the X could be described as decent, but the X has a very smooth quality. You can listen to it for hours without fatigue. The X does have a certain level of seductiveness to it.

        • Reply June 28, 2010

          Mike

          Excellent input, purrin!

          Yes, I agree, the sony X can be overly warm, just like the Sansa Clip+.

  • Reply April 28, 2010

    C_Fish

    One more thing, did you like old Rio mp3 player? I love them, but I can never find another one sounds like them. Does T51 sound similar to Rio? Thank you.

    • Reply April 28, 2010

      Mike

      Unfortunately I've never heard the Rio. I wish I had, though.

  • Reply May 15, 2010

    Alfon

    @chase

    Ed 8 w/ HM801 = awesome ! ;D

    nice review mike πŸ˜€

  • Reply May 23, 2010

    Julio D

    Awesome review! It is precisely what I was looking for. One question, is the image depicting the equipment a single shot? If so, it is in and of itself very illustrative about their sizes.

    • Reply May 24, 2010

      Mike

      I'm glad the review can be helpful, Julio. The image are not a single shot, but we have placed a size marker during the photoshoot, and so the final image would be an accurate illustration of their size comparison.

      • Reply May 26, 2010

        Julio D

        Well done. Previously, I heard some "complains" about the Hifiman size but that single image is a thousand words. Kudos!

        • Reply May 26, 2010

          Mike

          Thanks, Julio. πŸ™‚

  • Reply May 27, 2010

    iPhone4G

    I know HM 801 is the best one, but who come the second best sound quality..?

    Is it the iMod..? T51..? or Sony x1060..?

    • Reply May 27, 2010

      Mike

      Hmmm.. it's a bit tough to put a ranking on these players. The HM801 is the easiest, since its sound is just far ahead the other ones, but if you want to ask for #2, then I have to consider all the pluses and minuses that I've outlined on the article, and I'm just going to re-type everything that I have typed there. Please make your own conclusion from the article. I believe that's the best way. πŸ™‚

  • Reply June 27, 2010

    purrin

    Just curious, which version of the iPod classic did you use to compare?

    • Reply June 28, 2010

      Mike

      120GB version. I believe its the 2nd gen Ipod Classic.

  • Reply July 8, 2010

    strangeaudio

    hi

    thanks for your review

    did you use vcaps for imod to make comparison between imod and the others

    thanks

    • Reply July 8, 2010

      Mike

      Yes, I used to Vcaps, only with the Imod though.

  • Reply July 9, 2010

    toughnut

    Mike, how does Mage (stock Westone cable) perform straight out of T51? How bout the hiss level compared to X1060?

    I only paired Mage with X1060 (out of the players you tested here) and found out the hiss level unbearable for me.

    • Reply July 9, 2010

      Mike

      I'm talking from memory here, but I'm quite certain that the X1060 has a fairly high noise level that stays constant regardless of volume level. The UM Mage is one of the most sensitive IEM I've found, and yes, they can be a bad match.

      Personally I didn't find the hiss level to be a big problem though even with that set up, but I can understand if you feel it's a problem.

      The Teclast T51 is different in that the hiss level increases as volume increase. So, this would mean lower hiss level at listening volume level when compared to the X1060, but louder hiss on the T51 at near max volume.

      You can give it a try. I think the sound improvements on the T51 will surprise you, as it's quite an upgrade from the X1060.

      • Reply July 9, 2010

        toughnut

        Great to hear that. Looking forward to spend my cash on something soon. Cheap T51, more expensive Cowon J3 or even those JHA customs u reviewed…. Lust is deadly.

        • Reply July 9, 2010

          Mike

          Hope your wallet is cool with those ideas. πŸ™‚

  • Reply July 30, 2010

    akim

    Hi Mike I enjoyed your review very much, thanks for making it. I have a question though. Do you think that the asking price for the hm801 justifies the sound quality for the player? I am curious because as much as I love my music, $790 is a lot of money to spend on a player. I absolutely agree with you about the teclast t51, it has very good sound quality but compared to the cowon i7 for example (which some people have said to have a rolled off bass)I think it lacks a bit of impact, depth and visceral in the lowest ranges. Apart from that everything else is great, well maybe a slightly rolled of treble as well compared to the cowon.

    kind regards,

    Akim

    • Reply July 30, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Akim, the best in hi-end gears never follow a linear pricing scheme. I.e a $1,000 gear is not 5x better than a $200 gear. So, having established that, I do think that yes, the HM-801 is worth it if you can afford to spend that much on a DAP. πŸ™‚

      Right now the best alternative second to the HM-801 is the $200 QA-350 player. It doesn't have the bass issues that the Teclast T51 has. πŸ™‚

      • Reply July 31, 2010

        akim

        Thanks a lot Mike I appreciate the quick response, I will check the qa-350 out.

        Akim

        • Reply July 31, 2010

          Mike

          Sure thing, Akim. πŸ™‚

  • Reply August 3, 2010

    Akim

    Good day Mike,

    I checked out the qa-350 but am afraid it is not for me as it only supports wav files. I guess I’ll just settle with the t51 for now. Anyway, Mike I have been thinking and would like to know if there is a way of telling (other than listening) if an amp will have a good synergy with a headphone/iem? I have ordered the earsonics sm3 and would like a portable amp to pair it up with the t51 but I do not know which amp would have a great synergy with it. Maybe I should wait and see whether it even needs an amp. So what would your suggestions be on a great sounding portable amp?

    Kind regards
    Akim

    • Reply August 3, 2010

      Mike

      Great synergy doesn't have any recipes Akim, as long as it sound good to your ears. πŸ™‚

      Some amps add coloration that substitutes the headphone's weaknesses. Some amps are neutral and only boost the natural character of the headphones. I don't know, what does the SM3 sound like? Perhaps you can tell me what you think is missing from it. For the most part, all these latest IEMs are just great even without an amp.

      Do stay in tune as I'm going to do a portable amp shootout perhaps on September. πŸ™‚

  • Reply August 3, 2010

    oz

    hi mike,

    i really want to see a comparison between hifiman hm-801(playing flacs on sd card) and usb dacs like magicdac,pico,gamma2..etc.

    thanks for any advance :))

    • Reply August 3, 2010

      Mike

      Hahahaha that'll be quite a comparison won't it? πŸ˜€
      Let me see if I can make that happen!

  • Reply August 3, 2010

    Akim

    Thanks Mike. Looking forward to your shoot-out, I know I'm going to enjoy reading it, keep up the great work!

    Kind regards,

    Akim

  • Reply August 7, 2010

    Jun

    This is such a great review Mike.

    My hi-fiman is on the way from china and I’m planning to use it it as a DAC with jh16 and ipad combo sometime next week.

    Just curious what did you think about the sound when pairing with IEM like jh16? I’m in a bit of problem in making decision to go balanced or not.

    Ipad–>hifiman (as dac)–>jh16 or hifiman(as player)–>protector–> balanced cable–>jh16.

    Whats do you think in terms of better SQ. All will fit canvas bag so portability is no issue.

    Thanks
    Jun

    • Reply August 8, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Jun, I've never tried the JH16 straight from the Hifiman HM-801. Keep in mind that the HM-801 is a loaner and I've returned it when I got the JH16.

      As for my experience with the Hifiman and the HD800, I think the sound is better direct from the Hifiman, than it is through the Protector in balanced. I was using an APS balanced cable for the HD800 and a pure silver SCSCAg interconnect between the Hifiman to the Protector.

      Cheers.

    • Reply November 4, 2010

      Mike Mercer

      this review ROCKED

      plain and simple

  • Reply September 4, 2010

    Tristan

    Hey, I am slowly turning into a audiophile, albeit a un-knowledgable one. Is the a cord that runs from the docking port of an iPod(a 2G Touch to be specific) that terminates to an SPDIF?

  • Reply February 12, 2011

    Kamircat

    how is it the the Cowon J3 is not reviewed here?

    • Reply February 12, 2011

      Anonymous

      Yea, we missed the Cowon.

      Was the J3 already released when we wrote this article?

      • Reply February 12, 2011

        A_tumiwa

        Mike, the sound of Cowon J3 is not as good as any DAPs here, J3 cannot compete with these “Audiophile Range” DAPs , maybe J3 can only compete with Ipod Classic when unamp. J3 doesnt have a real line-out ( only a fake line out) and audio enhancement setting (bbe/jetfx/EQ) is a must for me, without Audio enchancement, the sound is standard (too many coloration, thin, bass roll-off,etc).
        i have already tried about 8 of Cowon Players, and J3 is not as good as their old player Cowon X5L

        • Reply February 12, 2011

          Anonymous

          Thanks for the info!

          A_tumiwa is a hardcore DAP guy and he owns more DAPs than he does headphones/IEMs/earbuds.

          • Reply February 13, 2011

            jendol

            let me make small correction here, tumiwa owns almost all “worthy to mentioned” DAPs. I bought my J3 because I like my old S9 plus it has memory expansion slot, but I actually prefer S9 sound

            • Reply February 14, 2011

              Anonymous

              Lol, thanks man

  • Reply March 4, 2011

    Kcyoung3888

    Hi Mike, Great comparison review. I’m a newbie in the headphone world. My current set-up is a Fiio E7, HD202 and ATH-M50. I’m looking for a DAP and contemplating on the HM-601 or the T-51 which is within my price range. Which one would you recommend for overall sound quality and UI? Will these DAPs have better sound quality compared to my E7? Thank you for such a terrific website!

    • Reply March 5, 2011

      Anonymous

      Both the Teclast T51 and HM601 are good players. Study the features first and see which one will fit you better. Teclast will be more lively and neutral, while HM601 will be warmer and more mid-oriented. What do you think will suit your music better?

      • Reply March 5, 2011

        Kcyoung3888

        Thanks for your reply. I think I’m leaning more towards getting the Teclast based on it’s features and sound signature. However, I have a few more questions before I finalize my decision. On your review of the E7, the sound signature is described as neutral and smooth but lacks technicalities to challenge bigger DACs. You describe the sound signature of the Teclast to be lively and neutral. Does the E7 and Teclast have a similar sound signature? Does the Teclast have more details than the E7? I mainly listen to pop, rock, jazz and R&B and the E7 is the only DAC I’ve heard so far. Appreciate your comments.

        • Reply March 5, 2011

          Anonymous

          The E7 is warmer and less lively than the Teclast. I never compared the two directly so I can’t comment on how the detail level is between the two.

          How do you feel your current set up with the E7 to be? If it’s good then I probably won’t change a thing. If you feel something is lacking, let me know what it is.

          • Reply March 6, 2011

            Kcyoung3888

            As a newbie, the E7 and ATH-M50 combo sounds great to me but the sound is not as open as I wish it could be. I want to get a Hifi DAP to replace my ipod and wondering if the Teclast will sound a little more open compared to the E7.

            Also after reading your article on the Senn Trio, I’m interested in upgrading to a more open and detailed sounding headphones such as a pair of Senn HD580, 600 or 650. Will the Teclast work well with those cans?

            I really appreciate your time and responding to all your questions! This is the most helpful website I’ve ever been on. Keep up the great work!

            • Reply March 7, 2011

              Anonymous

              The Teclast will be more open than the E7, yes. However the Teclast won’t have enough power to drive the 300 Ohm Senns.

              I think what you can do is keep the Ipod and get an ALO Rx amp. You will get the open sound that you look for, and you’d also get the ability to drive the 300 Ohm Senns.

              • Reply March 8, 2011

                Kcyoung3888

                Thanks for the advise. I’ll look more into the ALO Rx amp. Do you recommend the original or the MK II?

                • Reply March 8, 2011

                  Anonymous

                  The Mk2 carries the signature of the original ALO Rx, and improves on its technicalities. That’s a win-win story to me, as long as you don’t mind the slightly bigger build (though better quality).

                  Here is a comparison:
                  http://www.headfonia.com/alo-rx-mk2/

  • Reply March 18, 2011

    Inado

    Good review Mike,

    Can I plug HM 801 to my sound system a QUAD amp and pre amp ???…..If yes which cable plug will provide the best result ??? I’m a bit mixed up with all those cablePlug
    Alsoo can I send music from my PC -to HM 801 DAC – to QUAD Preamp – Amp ???……If yes which cable plug will provide the best result ???

    What is the HM 801 amp upgrade for IEM??? This upgraded amp Will it also work with HD 800 ???

    Thank you
    Ivan

    • Reply March 18, 2011

      Anonymous

      Inado,
      Just get a simple 3.5mm to RCA interconnect and you should be set to hook the HM801 to your preamp. Boutique cables are a bit beyond the scope of the discussion for now, but our sponsors ALO and TWAg both make nice cables and you can contact them regarding your cable question.

      The HM801 amp for the IEM can be purchased directly from Head-Direct. Again they are a sponsor. The amp replaces the stock amplifier module of the HM-801, and it is designed for IEMs and is less suited for big headphones like the HD800.

      Cheers.

  • Reply March 28, 2011

    Eduardo Wong da Silva

    Hi Mike, i have the whipmod with the pico slim and twag cable but i’m really interested with the hm-601 or 602 so i don’t know if i sell my whipmod for the hifiman player, i hope you can help me, thank’s.

    • Reply March 29, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Eduardo,
      And you’re asking me about?

      • Reply March 29, 2011

        Wong Da Silva Eduardo

        Yes i have forget the question, the last night i have ordered a hm-601, you it can drive the hd650 ?

        • Reply March 29, 2011

          Anonymous

          It can, but I find it lacking impact. You’ll be best adding a headphone
          amplifier to the combination.

          • Reply March 29, 2011

            Wong Da Silva Eduardo

            Ok thank’s, maybe i will buy the ttvj slim or the ibasso pb1.

  • Reply April 3, 2011

    Nial

    Heard that the iPod cannnot play FLAC files. If so, can I use the iPod manager and nero aac encoder for foobar2000 to automatically encode FLAC files when I transfer them to the iPod? The result would be ALAC right? I have it set to m4a under preferences.

    • Reply April 4, 2011

      Anonymous

      I don’t know if you can use those programs to automatically encode the
      FLACs into ALACs. There should be programs available to convert one type
      of music files to another, but I am not too familiar with them.

    • Reply September 2, 2011

      Osiris Walstra

      dBPowerAmp with the full codec pack can batch convert from FLAC to ALAC easily.

      Also Floola is a nifty open source iPod manager that I recommend to transfer the ALAC to the iPod.

  • Reply June 13, 2011

    Albert

    Can you try to pair the HM-801 with T1 or HE500? Is it better than HM-801 > HD800? Thanks

    • Reply June 14, 2011

      Anonymous

      I haven’t tried that, but I’m not sure they’ll work well.. when pairing
      the HD800 to the HM-801, normally we’re playing close to maximum volume
      level, and since the T1 needs more voltage level and the HE-500 needs
      more voltage and current than the HD800, I don’t think the two would be
      driven adequately from the HM-801.

  • Reply August 9, 2011

    Gjm304

    Hi, What would the 602 HiFi man Drive a set of ATHES10 [Audio Tecchnica] headphones at there best or would they need a amp..if so which one would be the best under say$450?

    • Reply August 10, 2011

      Anonymous

      I am not so sure as I’ve never tried that combo personally.

      For the ES10 I think the Meier Stepdance would be a good amp.

  • Reply August 18, 2011

    Mast3r_5ega

    Mike, is it worth to buy HM-801 only for standalone DAC via mini-coaxial? I know the USB DAC implementation in HM-801 is not good πŸ˜€

    Thx πŸ˜€

    • Reply August 19, 2011

      Anonymous

      Ive never tested the coaxial dac feature of the hm801, but since there is little room to lose in terms of quality, I suppose the performance would be just as good.

      • Reply August 22, 2011

        Mast3r_5ega

        Thx Mike πŸ˜€

        PCM1074UK for the win! πŸ˜€

        • Reply August 23, 2011

          Anonymous

          Awesome. Are you getting one?

  • Reply August 25, 2011

    Shawn

    Great article and details, as always.Β  I have a 5th gen iPod that I’ve been thinking of getting iModded, but now having some second thoughts.Β  My application is the best sounding source I can get for a car audio system.Β  This source (iMod, 801?) will feed it’s analog into a high-end Audison DSP and matching high-end amplification.Β  Given that is where the signal is going and this is for a car system, does that change anything with respect to your recommendations or thoughts for what is the “best’ source for my setup?

    To give you a little more information, sound quality is definitely priority #1.Β  I understand that I’m going to lose the UI battled by leaving the Apple platform, but then again, with an iPod Classic, it’s not exactly thrilling either.Β  I guess what I really want to know is this … if I’m putting together a high-end car audio system, is the difference in sound quality between the iMod and 801 so great that I need to be thinking about the 801?Β  Or, is the difference significant but not earth-shattering that given all that I will lose with abandoning the Apple platform, I should just stick with the iMod?

    I know this may be tough to answer, but I appreciate your perspective on it.Β  Thanks!!

  • Reply September 2, 2011

    Osiris Walstra

    Now this needs to be done again while adding the Colorfly C4, and iDevice* +HP-P1 / CLAS!

    *iPod Classic / iTouch / iPhone / iPad

  • Reply September 20, 2011

    Anonymous

    excellent review Mike! It would be better if you includeΒ  also Cowon3 and Zune HD 80 GB as well. Thanks.

  • Reply October 1, 2011

    NoteWorthy

    With firmware 2.3, the bass problems on the T51 are remedied πŸ™‚

    • Reply October 3, 2011

      Anonymous

      Thanks. Do they still make these? Last time I heard they’re nowhere to be found now.

  • Reply February 1, 2012

    Chris Allen

    Hey Mike! Β I wanted to get an iPod but I am having a trouble deciding. Β What would you pick, the latest iPod Touch or the iPod Classic?

    • Reply February 2, 2012

      Mike

      Chris,Β 
      Obviously the touch is very nice with iOS and App support, but I personally like the click wheel interface for a music player. I would go with the Classic.Β 

      • Reply February 4, 2012

        Chris Allen

        Sweet, thanks Mike!

        • Reply February 4, 2012

          Mike

          Alright!

          • Reply February 12, 2012

            Chris Allen

            Hey Mike, just one more question.Β  How is the built-in DAC on the iPod?Β  If I pair it with either the FiiO E11 or the Electric Avenue PA2v2, would the sound still be good or would the built-in DAC on the iPod ruin/take-away the sound from either of these portable amps?

            • Reply February 13, 2012

              Mike

              Chris,
              The built-in DAC is alright. No problem for pairing with the amps since most of them are designed with the Ipod in mind.

  • Reply March 3, 2012

    audio

    hi mike can you tell me your impressions on teclast t51 in terms of build quality and how reliable it seems .I do not want to get a great sounding dap just to have it die in 3 months.Also I am choosing between this and hippo gumstick or maybe find older pioneer dap from amazon/jp

    • Reply March 3, 2012

      Mike

      The build quality was quite good, but UI is quite slow/laggy, and as far as reliability is, I have no idea.Β 

  • Reply December 2, 2013

    Gabriel

    Sorry I’m asking so many noob questions on old articles and such, but you guys are really helpful!
    One thing I’m confused about: if I connect a portable DAC/amp like the E17 to the iPod Classic with something like a FiiO L3, rather than through the iPod’s headphone jack, will I be bypassing the iPod’s internal DAC AND internal amp?

    • Reply December 2, 2013

      Dave Ulrich

      No, just the amp. It takes an dac like the kinds Cyber Labs makes to bypass the internal dac of an ipod.

  • Reply March 13, 2014

    Dao

    Hi Mike, thanks so much for you comparisons, it really opened my mind a lot. I actually have been wondering what ones to choose recently.
    So the background is I now have W4R, iPod Classic 160GB (7th gen?), Fiio E11, Fiio L9 set, normally listen to rock, jazz, a few pop, sometimes classic music (not often at all). But I figure I probably have the need to upgrade my gears. I’m looking at JH13/16s as IEM (as apparently everyone is talking about them, and they are also sort-of ‘all rounder’s?), but the problem goes down to DAP/AMP: I may want to keep my iPod even if I buy another DAP, so should I choose a better AMP or just a better DAP? I could definitely use some suggestions if you don’t mind giving them πŸ˜€

    The AMP I’m thinking are RSA shadow or protector, Headamp Pico slim or ALO Ex (probably later two as I can only find store selling them in Australia, I live in Australia but will be in China for holidays btw). Then with AMP I need to find proper cable for iPod as well.
    Or on the other hand, I’m thinking to buy Hifiman HM901 or Colorfly C4 when next time I’m in China, which then I probably can also use as a DAC through my computer sometimes.
    So which way in your opinion is better with JHs? iPod/AMP or ‘better’ DAP? I figured the prices would be almost same and either way I need to carry a bulk device(s) on-the-go. I guess I can try all of them but the problem is I can’t try them all at same time πŸ™‚

    One last question is, before I actually upgrade my gears, do you recommend that I should try a Electric Avenues PA2V2 or JDS Lab C5D instead of my Fiio E11? I’m asking this as I cannot try by my own either of them so I can’t make sure they are worthy or not.

    Thanks very much in advance.

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