After the first look article, we now share the full review of the Dethonray DTR1 Prelude with our readers.
Disclaimer: The Dethonray DTR1 was arranged for us directly by Dethonray in cooperation with GloriousSound from the Netherlands. The MSRP is around 549$ at this time. Dethonray is not an advertiser.
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 is one of them and it takes things a step further in terms of raw functionality.
Back in the days we had the Tera Player which some people still happily use. Now we have the DTR1 with its exceptional sound quality with a minimalist mindset when compared to more popular and advanced DAPs.
Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that it’s not always about the features, fancy looks or fancy UI. Sometimes all you need to have is a great circuit design with good engineering, resulting in a spectacular signal processing quality. When it comes to sound quality alone, these are the most important aspects, rather than other features.
Dethonray currently is a very boutique brand and the DTR1 is their first child as a complete end-user product. 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.
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 as “Dethon”, so he thought about using the name. After some time he decided to add the “Ray” part to the end.
Giving life to your music collection is the one and only objective for every Dethonray product.
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.
The electronic design of this DAP completely separates the digital and analog sections with two independent batteries. 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 many months already. This back to basics approach tempted me to try it out, and thankfully I’ve had a chance to witness its abilities first hand. To be honest, a lot of DAPs are present on the market right now 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.
The outer design of the DTR1 is very straightforward with a boxy shape and 5 buttons on the front. There are volume and power buttons on the right side of the unit, together with a Micro SD slot. 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 a big screen size. The back side of the unit utilizes glass, and it 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.
The material used for the chassis is a light-weight aluminum alloy, which helps to reduce EMI. It also allows the player to be light in the hand, which I can confirm. Overall the player feels very rigid and sturdy. A light-weight design usually feels cheap with these kinds of devices, but I can say that this is not the case with the DTR1.
The device feels sharp and ready to receive any kind of blow. However, I suggest you to protect it from possible scratches, since this rectangular shape with aluminum/glass finish is prone to those.
The buttons feel good when pressed and you get good feedback. From distance, the DTR1 may seem very basic, but when you have it into your hands, you can feel the design actually is thoughtful. The device is built very well.