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cutestory

DAPtacular Bid

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I enjoy my iPhone 6s+/Oppo HA-2 combo, but now I'm looking for an all-in-one solution. My Freq-Phased JH-16s are what I use on the road, and I've been looking around at various DAPs to find one to pair with the JH-16s. 

I don't want to get too spendy, and I've arrived at something around the price of the the AK100ii as the sweet spot. Does anyone have experience with this combo, or could recommend something decent around the same price range ($800)? I can't believe I'm contemplating spending even that much just to have a somewhat slimmed down solution, but This Is Head Case and all that.

Any advices?

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I love my ZX2 as a do-it-all very well device.  The ZX100 may match better given that the 16pro is bassier and warmer than my 13.  I would not spend money on any Astell  & Kern unless you want to overpay for the player.  For instance, the ZX2 is preferred by many when compared directly to the AK240 as long  as you are not using it with difficult to drive headphones.  The FiiO X7 is also a very good choice but the ZX2 is more polished and slightly more refined soundwise.  The best DAP that I've heard to date sound-wise is actually the Questyle QP1R.  The QP1R has an excellence sound but  it features a very dated interface with not properly working click wheel.

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I had an AK100II for a while, and to me it felt just like a luxury player. I really couldn't tell the difference between it and an iPod Classic with my Roxannes. Definitely not worth the price for me. Mind you, I didn't use the balanced output.

Best DAP I've ever heard sound-wise was the Lotoo PAW Gold: very smooth, organic and tridimensional and also highly transparent and detailed. The equalizer is a pain to setup but fantastic, incredibly usable, flexible and precise. However, just like the Questyle Purk mentioned the UI is a joke and it looks like something made in the 90s. My current setup, which isn't an all-in one like you need but is still reasonably compact is a FiiO X5 1st gen driving a HeadAmp pico Slim. The sound IMO is up there with the best DAPs I've ever tried, but it's much cheaper. To me it sounds better than the HA-2: more neutral, especially in the midrange, which sounds leaner and slightly clearer. However, the UI still isn't too great – better than the Lotoo though – and these days I just cannot live without Spotify.

I've done some reading on this because I want something with which I can use Spotify, and like purk recommended I narrowed my choices to the ZX2, the X7 and also to the Onkyo and Pioneer new DAPs. But unlike you, I don't exactly need an all-in-one so I guess I'll go with a Mojo :)

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After looking around some more I finally settled on the Pioneer XDP-100R. Physical volume knob, more recent version of Android (than Sony, who are still running a 4.X version as opposed to the 5.X version running on the Pioneer, and yes I know it isn't the latest), two MicroSD slots, upcoming MQA support, cheaper than the Sony ZX2 (even a used one).

Everything else out there seemed to have *some* kind of compromise, whether it be cost, lack of a feature I wanted, an older software version (once I decided I wanted to run Android), or some such. I ruled out the ZX100 because I want to be able to run Tidal on the device, and that one doesn't do Android (but I suppose that has its advantages as well).

We'll see how it sounds!

Thanks for the tips!

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I think you did good with the Pioneer; however, why not going with the Onkyo to take advantage of a balanced headphone output?  I hope they will have both units in the Japan airport so I can check it out.  The ZX100 appeals to me because its very small size and fantastic battery life.  Both the Pioneer & Onkyo are on the big size however.  The X7 actually took to long to materialize and the QP1R & ZX2 were clearly superior sounding to it when I had the three players side by side.

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The Onkyo is out of stock everywhere, is more expensive, and would require me to get a balanced cable for my jh16s, so that's even more money.

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The Onkyo is out of stock everywhere, is more expensive, and would require me to get a balanced cable for my jh16s, so that's even more money.

Isn't that the HC platonic ideal?

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Looks like my JH13s are a better match for the Pioneer than the JH16s, which sound a bit bloated. I have to say with the JH13s it sounds pretty good.

And being able to download Tidal albums to the micro SD card (slot #1 only, btw) doesn't suck.

Also: looks like the Sony NW-ZX100 has come down from $600 last week to $522 today on Amazon...

Edited by cutestory

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They are!

You should think about checking them out at JH Audio! They have a new version 2 now that are supposed to be even more betterer!

In other news, the Sony NW-ZX100 has now dropped to $435! Holy Jebus!

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I've stuck with my 3rd gen Ipod Touch all this time and when I saw this thread I thought I'd take a look at what's available. I'm rather impressed at the selection of audiophile quality DAP's available now! Pretty neat :)

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Recently got a chance to audition the Lotoo Paw Gold and this DAP, despite its high price, is definitely the best sounding stand-alone portable digital player I've tried to date.  Bass is so very texture and the overall tonality is quite neutral  and natural.   The spatial qualities are well done and  the depth of the soundstage is rather convincing.  It comes with 500 mw into 32 ohm so it drive my HD800 very well.  It edges out my ZX100, ZX2, and a friend QP1R during my short time with it.  Sadly it doesn't have any digital output feature and the UI is very basic.  It takes a full-size SD card, so one can easily take along 512GB of music with you.  Battery life is rated at 10 hours.  

Edited by purk
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