When it comes to sound, I should get straight to the point. The Dethonray DTR1 is one of the best DAPs I’ve ever listened to in terms of pure sound quality. It doesn’t fool around and it can fight with the best DAPs available, even with its $549 retail price.
The performance is simply phenomenal. If you just need a portable player to merely play your high quality music files, then I don’t think there’s a better option than the DTR1 for the money.
The player has a neutral presentation top to bottom, creating a good foundation for its detail and separation oriented sound. I think the DTR1 -in its own way- provides a great studio type of sound at the highest level. To me, this device can even be used for producing and mastering in studios for reviewing the final recording. You can rely on it being a reference point thanks to its great technical abilities.
The bass is punchy enough with great control and texture. It has a lot of resolution with good enough kick to give some life to music, whilst being somewhat reserved and controlled at the same time. The DTR1 isn’t the DAP for bass lovers. It instead is tuned for a flat sound reproduction. This is not the WM1Z, and nor is it trying to be. The Prelude relies on its tremendous bass control with fast decay, high resolution and detail.
However, if you want a slightly warmer sounding bass then you can pair it with dynamic driver IEMs or some BA based setups with good bass. For that I’ve tried the InEarz Nirvana and P450, which are bass heavy IEMs and with wrong pairings they surely “boom”, but not with the DTR1. It perfectly evens out with its quickness and control in the bass department. It is simply reference, not to have some fun now and then.
Mid range is very transparent and resolving with a beautiful tonality. The transparency is quite remarkable and the instrument separation is top notch. The DTR1 surely doesn’t miss any resolution in this part, as it’s easily one of the best I’ve heard in the mid area. The mids have great timbre, and overall the vocals and the instruments are lively without any additional coloration.
So just as the bass area, the DTR1 presents a reference reproduction in the mid section without an added warmth or some kind of fun tuning in its sound. It’s just what it is. With CIEMs like the Pears SH3 or M-Fidelity SA50, you get wonderful transparency across the mid range with lots of detail. Sure, you may want some color in the mids at times, but in its own presentation, the DTR1 gets the job done in my book.
The treble is greatly articulated and extended, without being harsh and aggressive. If you have a good IEM or headphone which is performing nicely regarding treble, the DTR1 will scale them to their highest levels. In example, I’m normally not a big fan of the Beyerdynamic Xelento IEM, but when I tried it with the DTR1, the treble is exceptionally good and relaxed with great extension.
So the DTR1 continues its own approach in the treble area as well. Once again the transparency is exceptional, the detail level is awesome and highs don’t have any excessive nature. It doesn’t overdo anything, it just gives an effortlessly smooth yet detailed treble, which is very pleasing particularly with mid-fi and high-end gear. Overall I haven’t found any flaws with the treble.
The greatest feature of the DTR1 in its sound to me, is the overall separation and stereo imaging. The background is pitch black, and the instruments cry with incredible texture, dynamism and transparency. The left-right balance is also very impressive. One can say that the DTR1 is flat sounding hence it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I don’t think anyone can deny its success in the imaging department.
Yet, if I would have to bring up any kind of negativity in the DTR1’s sound, that would be the stage width. However, I honestly think that it is a result of my high expectations from the DAP, since it performs amazing in every other category. Nevertheless, this is not the widest sounding DAP and I recommend to pair it with holographic sounding IEMs and headphones if you put great emphasis on staging. It is by no means mediocre, and actually it’s still incredibly good for this price, but the width is not as impressive as the other aspect of its sound. I found out the stage depth to be very good though.
Another important aspect of the DTR1 is the output power. When you select high gain, the power is very surprising from this little and compact device. Anson’s authentic internal design certainly works wonders here. You can drive 300 Ω headphones to some extent, not to mention something like the HD660 S with its 150 Ω impedance.