Here it is, our first digital audio player (DAP) comparison. As portable set ups are getting more and more transparent sounding, it’s about time we find out what source gives the best sound quality.
For starters, we have the Ipod Classic, which is probably something that everyone is familiar with. The Classic might not be a “special” player, but we feel that it’s good to have it there, just to see how it actually compares to the “better” players, or just to have it there as a point of reference. Another common player that we added into the mix is the Sony X1060, which currently is the top-of-the-line player in Sony’s line, and the only portable player equipped with digital amplification section.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a proper “headphone enthusiast’s” comparison, without the presence of the Imod. For years, the RWA Imod has been the standard of a high quality DAP, and so one of the question that everyone asks is how the Imod compares with the newer players, and so this player is very high on our list. The version we use for the comparison is the Ipod Video 5.5G with 80G of storage.
It’s very interesting to pitch the RWA Imod against the new Hifiman HM-801 player. In case you haven’t been following the news on DAPs, the HM-801 is a very serious player designed strictly with audiophile specs in mind. Everyone who’s heard it says that it’s in a different league than the other digital audio players. Just going from what people say about the HM-801, it has a pretty strong chance of being the current king of audio players.
We also received another chinese player from Hisound that’s supposed to be very good sounding as well. Unfortunately, the Hisound Studio that we have in our possession has to be crossed out from the comparison. It has a very recessed output jack, that I really can’t make a good connection with any cables I have in my possession (even a cheap but slim mini to mini cable). I think this flaw definitely needs a fix from Hisound.
Finally, we have included another promising player from chinese manufacturer Teclast. The T51 player is also sold as Nationite S:Flo2 from mp4nation.net, and it comes with a dual Wolfson DAC inside it. Very interesting indeed.
We think that a ranking system will probably show my own personal bias for what we look for in a DAP. There is no perfect choice, and the label the “Best Digital Audio Player” can’t be given without weighing each person’s priorities and musical preference when looking at a DAP. So the choice is up to yourself to decide, but this review should help to give you a picture of the sound signature and the sound quality of each DAPs.
The review is divided into two parts, the first part is on the quality of the line out, and the second, on the headphone out. It’s almost 5,000 words in total, so, take your time, and you don’t have to finish all of it in one read.