Review: Dethonray DTR1 Prelude

Comparisons

 

Here are my selected short comparisons with other DAPs below.

Lotoo Paw Gold

The Paw Gold is still one of the most resolving and transparent DAPs available in the market today. Its successor, the Touch is also incredible, but its price is ridiculously high compared to the DTR1.

Nevertheless, the DTR1 puts up a similar performance with the Paw Gold in terms of technicalities. Their presentations are of course different, and the Paw Gold has that mid-bass touch that sounds much fuller and warmer in the bass department. The DTR1 stays reserved and it actually is more refined with smaller bass but with more control and refinement.

Mids sound similar with both, but because of the mid-bass difference, the transition to the mids is warmer and meatier in the Paw Gold. So like I said, the DTR1’s flatness might not be your best bet, but its transparency and resolution in the mids is quite the same.

The treble part is better in DTR1 in my opinion. Just like in the lows, it controls the peaks and aggressive parts better, whilst the Paw Gold gives the treble with a more aggressive presentation. That explains why it sounds somewhat edgy with certain IEMs. The DTR1 copes with this better and I think it would be my go-to DAP when I’m listening to treble oriented IEMs/headphones.

Dethonray DTR1

Sony WM1A

The Sony WM1A is one of my favorite DAPs ever, but even from its BAL output, you don’t quite get the technical level that the DTR1 provides. There’s a noticeable difference in transparency and resolution. Sure, the WM1A gives a wider and deeper sound-stage with nice imaging, but the DTR1’s separation and overall stereo imaging is absolutely great.

Therefore, except the sound-stage, the WM1A doesn’t perform at the same level. It’s a good all-rounder, more so than the DTR1, but there’s no contest to be honest. No doubt the WM1A does have advantages with its incredible battery life, perfect UI, USB DAC, Bluetooth Receiver Mode and several DSP options. But for the sound part alone, the DTR1 is better.

iBasso DX220 with Amp 9

The iBasso DX220 is great with its high level of sound and streaming features. Yet, to my surprise, the DTR1 has the edge in terms of pure sound quality, except the sound-stage (and that’s just me).

The Amp 9 module gives the DX220 good warmth and tonality together with a nice 3D staging. But that simply doesn’t change the fact that the DTR1 still has excellent transparency and resolution with incredible imaging. The dynamism on the DTR1 is better too, which is something many people miss nowadays in my opinion.

Of course DAPs like the DX220 are not direct rivals of the DTR1, but I wanted to give our readers a rough idea about its incredible performance. It doesn’t miss anything when compared to other flagship DAPs in terms of sound quality.

Dethonray DTR1

Conclusion

The Dethonray DTR1 is easily the DAP of the year in my book, and I will include it in our Best of 2019 selections. If you want a device that can just play your music archive, there’s not a better option that I can give you. There’s nothing else better for this price tag. It’s as simple as that.

Of course, my claims are relevant to you as far as your choices match with this device’s targets. Its goal is simple and single; giving the best sound quality possible. So if you’re on the lookout for a pure DAP, just get a high capacity MicroSD card, put your archive on it, and hit play. You will not be disappointed.

With its incredible value, the DTR1 now deserves a spot in our Best Portable Player Recommendations.

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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 the same. He tries to keep his photography enthusiasm at the same level with audio. Sometimes photography wins, sometimes his love for music takes him over and he puts that camera aside. Simplistic expressions of sound in his reviews is the way to go for him. He enjoys a fine single malt along with his favourite Jazz recordings.

11 Comments

  • 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

      Berkhan

      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

    Andres

    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?

    Thanks!

  • Reply March 4, 2021

    Thierry

    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

    Thierry

    • Reply March 4, 2021

      Berkhan

      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

    Thierry

    Thanks for your quick answer.

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

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