Here are my selected short comparisons with other DAPs below.
A&K SE180 (SEM3)
The SE180 with the SEM3 module is a serious DAP and I think it’s quite underrated in the lineup. Nevertheless, the DTR1+ puts up a similar performance with the SE180 in terms of technicalities. Their presentations are of course different, and the SE180 has that mid-bass touch that sounds a bit fuller and warmer in the bass department. The bass is more punchy and impactful with the SE180. The DTR1+ stays reserved and it actually is more refined with smaller bass but with more control and refinement.
The mids sound quite different. In the DTR1+ the mid-range is smoother with a more musical timbre. The SE180 is a bit analytical in that regard. The SE180 has a bit more transparency but the difference is minimal. The resolution in the mids is quite the same. I also think that the DTR1+ has more forward mids.
The treble part is better in the SE180 in my opinion. Just like in the lows, it has more definition and the treble is crisper with better resolution. The DTR1+ remains reserved in this area when directly compared to the SE180. Whilst the timbre in the DTR1+ is very good, the SE180 has a larger and more airy soundstage.
The M8 is one of my favourite DAPs, and it’s like an upgraded and bigger sounding version of the DTR1+. They both have AKM chips, but the M8 has the flagship AK4499. There’s a noticeable difference in timbre and layering between them. The M8 has a warmer sound, better texture and a wider and deeper sound stage. But the DTR1+’s separation and overall stereo imaging are still absolutely great. It’s just not that musical and smooth as the M8.
Another difference is the bass. The M8 is an excellent DAP for bass performance in terms of rumble, kick and texture. You won’t find that in the DTR1+. In the mids, they’re both smooth and liquid, but it’s better with the M8.
Possibly the king of all DAPs, the SP2000 is a fantastic piece of hardware. It has better bass and treble, and it has that warm and extremely smooth, musical touch in the mid-range. It’s the most effortless and smooth mid reproduction in the market in my opinion. But to see the DTR1+ actually putting up a fight is incredible. The SP2000 costs 3,5 times more, but the difference between them is not colossal.
The only huge differences here are the sound-stage, separation and layering, just like the comparison with the M8, but the difference is bigger. I know that this is not a contest, but when you compare the price levels, the DTR1+ has incredible performance.
The Dethonray DTR1+ retains its unique approach to the market and Anson aims to keep its customer base. I tell you he definitely did that with this release. When it’s time to just listen to your archive alone, there’s not a better option for that sole purpose. There’s nothing else better for this price tag in terms of pure sound performance.
Looking at the DAP market, I doubt anyone can show me a player for this price with a better sound. Of course, it is a limited product and doesn’t have any features at all, but that’s the point. On the other hand, the price increase over the original model is bigger than what I expected. The DTR1 was released with a 550-600$ price tag. This one costs 999$, but despite that ramp up in price, the value is still very impressive.
The sound upgrades are clinical and eliminate the deficiencies of the DTR1, especially in staging and layering too. If you have the DTR1 already, I doubt there’s a need for the new model. But if you don’t have one, and if you don’t care about streaming or other features, and finally if you seek the best portability, this is the DAP to go.
The DTR1+ certainly has a spot in our Best Portable Player Recommendations.