Review: Dethonray DTR1 Prelude

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 DTR1

About Dethonray

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.

About DTR1

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.

Dethonray DTR1


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.

Build Quality

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.

The review continues on PAGE 2 by clicking here using the page numbers below

4.3/5 - (79 votes)

A keen audiophile and hobby photographer, Berkhan is after absolute perfection. Whether it is a full-frame camera or a custom in-ear, his standpoint persists. He tries to keep his photography enthusiasm at the same level as audio. Sometimes photography wins, sometimes his love for music takes over and he puts that camera aside. Simplistic expressions of sound in his reviews are the way to go for him. He enjoys a fine single malt along with his favourite Jazz recordings.


  • Reply November 14, 2020

    Richard Provan

    Great review, thank you for taking the time to set down your thoughts. I’m curious to know how you feel about the DTR1 a year later. Sound? Reliability? Usability? Would it still be your pick in this price range (with SQ being the most important factor), or do you think it has been overtaken?

    • Reply November 14, 2020


      Hi Richard,

      No I don’t think it has been overtaken. For its price bracket still there’s nothing better in my opinion. It would be my pick not even in this price range only. It would be my pick unless you have a WM1Z, SP1000/2000, R2R2000, or Cayin N8.

      • Reply November 15, 2020

        Richard Provan

        Berkhan, thank you for the prompt reply. My ‘portable’ unit is an iPhone with Hugo2. H2 blows me away, but I’ve come to the conclusion it’s not a great on-the-go rig. But I’m also worried H2 has set the bar high. I can live without bells and whistles, but sound is key. The lack of touch screen and need to update firmware and load songs with a computer don’t seem like deal breakers to me.

  • Reply November 15, 2020

    Nicholas Mauro

    My DTR1 crapped out unfortunately after four months. I am a heavy user both headphone and line out. After resorting to the reset button to turn it on for a few weeks it now will not power on. I suspect that multiple times plugged in and out has shorted something in the line out. It crackles upon inserting and it’s not even powered on. Still waiting on Dethonray to respond to my emails regarding repair. So.. tough call. If it did what it’s supposed to do it’s just about perfect. Maybe I will be more careful when plugging in but really this shouldn’t be an issue. My Fiio M7 has been plugged and unplugged a million times at this point and never a blip. I bought an M9 for the interim. Please get back to me Dethonray!

    • Reply November 17, 2020

      Nicholas Mauro

      Got a response from Anson, he put me in contact with a tech in America. Hoping it goes smoothly in these rough times. Cheers

      • Reply December 13, 2020

        Nicholas Mauro

        Back in action with most current firmware. Make sure you get the latest software for this player because you will unlock its full potential. Everything worked out. Don’t stop til you get enough

  • Reply February 3, 2021


    Excellent review, it actually made me purchase this player (really like it.)

    Would you say the A&K SR25 it much better than this player?


  • Reply March 4, 2021


    Great review,
    i hesitate between this model and the QLS QA361, which one do you recommend in term of sound quality? (if you had the chance to test the QLS model)
    I ‘ve already a Fiio M1 but i’m searching a pure DAP (dedicated only to the music (no streaming services), is it for you a big upgrade?
    Thanks for all


    • Reply March 4, 2021


      Hi Thierry,

      I never tried the 361, so I can’t compare directly.

      Yes, the DTR1 is an upgrade over the FiiO M11 in terms of pure sound performance.

  • Reply March 4, 2021


    Thanks for your quick answer.

    I will surely buy one ,your review has seduced me :0)

  • Reply November 22, 2021

    Antonio Gamboa

    Greetings from Pamplona, Spain. I don’t understand much about music but thanks to their analysis I bought a second hand Dethonray dtr1. Six months after doing it I had problems with the startup, it stayed off. I got in touch with Anson, the DAP still had a warranty, and they sent it to me fixed in perfect condition. However, after a short time the headphone output does not seem to be right, I have tried with several headphones and the connection is not good, I have to constantly touch the cable to make it work. Is this normal in DAP of these levels? Do you have a solution to this type of problem? Thank you.

  • Reply May 14, 2022

    Antonio Gamboa

    Greetings again. Given the failures that I had and that I commented on previously, I sent DTR 1 back to Anson. After a couple of months he came back home. Everything perfect, I don’t think there are many brands that take care of their customers like that. Thank you.-

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