Today we share the full review of the Dethonray DTR1+ Digital Audio Player with our readers.
Disclaimer: The Dethonray DTR1+ was arranged for us directly by Dethonray. The MSRP is around 999$ at this time. The review reflects my honest opinion as always.
Dethonray is a very boutique brand and the DTR1 Audio Player was their first child as a complete end-user product. In an era of big touchscreens, slim bezels, streaming apps and so on, we sometimes see devices that are solely aimed at delivering great sound. The Dethonray DTR1 was one of them and it took things a step further in terms of raw functionality.
Anson Tse is the man behind Dethonray, and he has huge experience in terms of digital audio processing. He believes that the universal design in the DAP market is not good for high-fidelity, so he came up with his own.
Back in the day, we had the Tera Player which some people still happily use. Now we have the DTR1+ with its great sound quality with a minimalist mindset when compared to more popular and advanced DAPs.
The “DethonRay” name is actually coming from a violin record Anson had listened to. The bass violin -to him- was very nice in the recording, and the recording itself was named “Dethon”, so he thought about using the name. After some time he decided to add the “Ray” part to the end.
This is a player you shouldn’t expect anything of, except for a tremendous sound. Anson is an engineer who thinks outside of the box to achieve high-fidelity. To do this, the DTR1+ is designed from a different perspective. It retains the purpose of the DTR1 Prelude but takes the design a bit further with better functionality.
The electronic design of this DAP completely separates the digital and analogue sections with two independent batteries. They call it the ”Dual High-Density Battery Customized Power System”. So this basically means that you have a DAC + Amp system like your desktop in a small package. That allows the cleanest power possible for sound processing. That is very critical to Anson and he believes that the universal power solutions compromise the signal quality.
The news and glowing impressions for the DTR1 have been surfacing for a long time already. This back to basics approach tempted a lot of people, especially purist audiophiles. To be honest, a lot of DAPs are present on the market but despite all of their specific features and cool designs, only some of them sound “really good” and high-level in my opinion. So seeing these types of true high fidelity devices is always welcomed by me.
So what does the DTR1+ brings to the table over the DTR1 Prelude? Let me explain. There are two sections of upgrades, consisting of hardware and software ones. In terms of hardware, Anson redesigned the Low-Pass Filter circuit. He pushed the ”Desktop Plus Power Unit” to the limit. This resulted in better resolution and overall control. This means that the DTR1+ can sound more balanced, refined and polished but more on that later on.
Software-wise, the gain and audio volume subsystem has been overhauled. The volume range is subdivided for a more accurate and natural sound. Also, an index and classification method for artists are included with this new player. You also have an L/R channel balance setting in addition. As you can see this is not a huge update, but overall the DTR1+ is nicely polished and somewhat perfected over the previous design.
Another upgrade is the new charging unit. It is significantly smaller than the original model and it has a type C port for hooking up universal chargers. So yeah, you still need to have the charger at all times but at least you can plug it into any phone charger now.
The outer design of the DTR1 was very straightforward with a boxy shape and 5 buttons on the front. The DTR1+ retains that language, but makes it a bit flashier and facelifted for a more attractive look. Gold is a polarizing design choice though. Some people like it, some don’t. But the one thing I’m certain of is that the DTR1+ looks better than the DTR1, especially with sharper lines. Maybe a silver colour choice for the buttons and details would’ve been better for the mass majority of people, but this is still very nice. The gold details are also present on LO and PO audio jacks. Yet, I think Anson can choose different colours or alternative ones like red, blue or grey/silver, instead of a standard black.
The backside is changed from glass finish to aluminium, which makes sense because glass solutions can be quite fragile at times. There are volume and power buttons on the right side of the unit, -which also feel and look better- together with a Micro SD slot. The volume down button is larger than the other two so you know which is which. On the bottom, we have a 3.5mm headphone output, and on the left side, there’s also a 3.5mm line-out. The Micro HDMI charging slot accompanies the two outputs in the middle. So yes; there’s no BAL output, and you can’t use universal charging adapters/cables.
The screen is quite small but it’s enough to operate the device smoothly. Since the OS for this device is simple and direct, there’s not too much information that needs to be displayed, so there’s no need for big screen size. The backside contains the model and brand information. Oddly enough, the writings are inserted horizontally so that feels a little strange, but it’s not a big deal of course.