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Best portable digital music player?

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discrete badger View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote discrete badger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jul 2019 at 9:14pm
Another vote for the superb Neutron app (+ spotify for new music). For portable, I use now use exclusively these two on Blackberry (can run android) smartphone, with a 64Gb card holding my entire CD collection as OGG.

I used to lug around the iRiver hard disk player and a separate DAC and the Voyager. In present times, that would be daft, as to my ears the DAC in the phone is extremely good; more than good enough.

The headamp in the phone, on the other hand, has about 1% of the capability of the Voyager. So, smartphone + Voyager + HD250 Linear II mk2 is my happy portable listening these days. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote miT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jul 2019 at 9:58pm
Originally posted by discrete badger discrete badger wrote:

Another vote for the superb Neutron app (+ spotify for new music). For portable, I use now use exclusively these two on Blackberry (can run android) smartphone, with a 64Gb card holding my entire CD collection as OGG.

I used to lug around the iRiver hard disk player and a separate DAC and the Voyager. In present times, that would be daft, as to my ears the DAC in the phone is extremely good; more than good enough.

The headamp in the phone, on the other hand, has about 1% of the capability of the Voyager. So, smartphone + Voyager + HD250 Linear II mk2 is my happy portable listening these days. 
I was a late convert to BlackBerry as my first was one of the Curve models. I have not bothered with any other brand since (for actual phone duties) and think BB10 OS was the greatest ever, enjoying it on the Q10 and then the Passport. Absolutely gutted with their short-sightedness and the loss of the true BlackBerry phones. I personally find Android a frustrating experience in comparison to BB10 and it ruins some of the benefits of the PKB; great for "toys" but not for grown ups IMO. Don't start me on the "fruit brand"... Ok, rant over. Which BlackBerry do you use as your DAP? I remember them sounding pretty good with Neutron as well...

I understand the feeling about lugging around lots of devices; a single device for all your needs is the ideal, but what is music without the Graham Slee magic? Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ash Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jul 2019 at 7:46am
Sadly, in my opinion with portable audio, the Graham Slee "magic" is never fully reached due to power supply restrictions, limited on-time and physical headphone restrictions. It is why I sold the Bitzie and opted for a single device like the V20/V30+ with some decent earphones. When I am at home, I could plug the phone into the Majestic DAC. At least analogue in but I would hope that OTG USB audio works with Nougat/Oreo/Pie because it did with Jellybean five years ago.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote discrete badger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jul 2019 at 9:49am
This is a long thread; indeed, at the beginning there is the me of a decade ago that the me of today refers to!

It's the Passport, miT. I didn't buy it as a DAP, but for other reasons. But when I listened to it I was surprised at how good it sounded, then a bit of research suggested others had noticed the same. 

The one slight problem with this arrangement is in noisy environments there's not quite enough gain for the soft passages in music with a wide dynamic range; the Passport is unusually low on max output voltage. I wonder if there's a resistor or two that could be swapped inside the Voyager for a smidge more gain? :)

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote miT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Aug 2019 at 10:52pm
Originally posted by discrete badger discrete badger wrote:

This is a long thread; indeed, at the beginning there is the me of a decade ago that the me of today refers to!

It's the Passport, miT. I didn't buy it as a DAP, but for other reasons. But when I listened to it I was surprised at how good it sounded, then a bit of research suggested others had noticed the same. 

The one slight problem with this arrangement is in noisy environments there's not quite enough gain for the soft passages in music with a wide dynamic range; the Passport is unusually low on max output voltage. I wonder if there's a resistor or two that could be swapped inside the Voyager for a smidge more gain? :)

Sorry for the delayed reply. I don't remember getting an email update, although work is hectic as always.

What a coincidence, I reread this thread from the beginning earlier today and saw my old posts as well. Embarrassed Funny how life changes one's requirements!

I love my Passport too! Best phone I have ever used, and the BB10 OS will never be beaten in my opinion. I am now using the KEYone but Android has ruined a lot of BlackBerry's good points. It does mean I only need to carry one phone though so I am forcing myself to live with it on the basis of no other choice (with PKB). The KEY2 could be a better option but my budget is far too limited to get one at the moment. My new job comes with an iPhone 7 which is the first Apple device I have ever had. How on earth can you be productive with that rubbish?? I cannot deny it is "pretty" and relatively stable technology but frustratingly limited. Truly dumbed-down technology in a shiny box for the masses. No offense meant to any fans; I have just always hated the fruit brand due to their methods of success (locking you into the ecosystem, slowing down your device so that you buy the new model, etc.). A successful business plan I guess but the same could be said about the global arms trade... Wink

Rant over, back on topic... My search for a DAP has brought up some interesting findings. After reading endless user and press "reviews" (I have learned to be too sceptical to trust most of them), some interesting and obscure options have been discovered.

Firstly and this is unclear as all models are still available, but FiiO's M11 seems to be a replacement for the X5iii and X7ii. It is generally rated higher than both (due to newer technology?), albeit the X7 has modular amp options (which I don't believe I need). However FiiO are still praised very highly across their range so the M11 would dictate a budget of around £450.

As for the obscure, I may have unearthed the GSP equivalents of the DAP world... By that I mean they strip away the extras and [claim to] focus on the SQ by means of proper design. (To clarify that statement, GSP does not "claim to", Graham delivers. These DAPs are to my knowledge untested so therefore an unknown entity). Has anyone tried any of the following:

Cayin N5iiS
HiBy R6 or R6 Pro
ATC HDA-DP20
Dethonray DTR1
QLS (Quloos?) QS361

The first two are mid-range (£4-600) Android slabs with all the bells and whistles but the last three are focussed on SQ to a rare level. They also don't seem to be particularly popular which in my books is a good thing.

The ATC HDA-DP20 (available on Amazon) was reviewed favourably by Hi-Fi Pig who, on the basis of their reviews of Graham's creations and the designer of the Mark Audio speakers I bought, I feel quite positive about. I just wish they reviewed more DAPs!

The Dethonray DTR1 is very intriguing as the designers have created it with (from my limited electronic engineering understanding) "two power supplies", one for analogue and one for digital, and have skipped the balanced output trend in favour of a properly designed 3.5mm single ended connection. So as to give it juice, the charging technology is external and the unit has to be off to charge as it requires more power than USB can provide. The far more technically minded on here would have to look at the website to see if this is actually implemented well but to my mind, that makes complete sense as that is similar to the mentality of real HiFi. I have only just come across that one so I have a lot more reading to do, plus find a cost to buy it in the UK!

The QLS QA361 is even more barebones (no WiFi, no BT, no Android, etc.) so as to focus on the sound. Around the £630 mark on Amazon but apparently SQ rivals DAPs costing around the £2k mark... The OS is so basic your music has to be organised in folders (as mine is already) and also has no touchscreen. I am in heaven. While I do not have a budget as such that should be over it but if it is truly as good as is claimed, it seems worth sacrificing for a few more months to save up.

I will make sure I update here if I find out relevant information but maybe that may assist anyone else who is looking.

I do have a question for anyone on here who has the kit to test though. There have been suggestions throughout this thread of using a phone with the Bitzie or using a dedicated DAP. Has anyone done a comparison test between their DAP and a Bitzie based portable "system" (I would presume this to generally be a phone or tablet)? I already have a Bitzie which sadly only gets used for a few days a year at the moment as I have limited time at home (hence I need a portable system!) but if it sounds better than any DAP, I will just have to learn to live with the extra hassle of taking it with me on my commute.

P.S. Sorry for the long post.


Edited by miT - 10 Aug 2019 at 11:02pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote miT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Aug 2019 at 9:55pm
Originally posted by Ash Ash wrote:

Sadly, in my opinion with portable audio, the Graham Slee "magic" is never fully reached due to power supply restrictions, limited on-time and physical headphone restrictions. It is why I sold the Bitzie and opted for a single device like the V20/V30+ with some decent earphones. When I am at home, I could plug the phone into the Majestic DAC. At least analogue in but I would hope that OTG USB audio works with Nougat/Oreo/Pie because it did with Jellybean five years ago.
I don't know how I missed this one; sorry Ash.

Do you feel that you got the "best" experience (naturally that is relative) from the one box solution of the LG than say a phone and a Bitzie? Or was that a convenience based decision? Did you ever get to A-B between the phone's DAC and the Bitzie?

I am increasingly curious to know which is better overall but it sounds like a decent DAP would be the best overall due to being purpose built for it. Looking more into the specs of the QLS unit (and Dethonray really), their claimed design (call me cynical) of even the power supplies strikes me as the closest you could come to a traditional HiFi experience due to "separate" power supplies to minimise distortion, interference, etc.

My experience with phones is that they make operational sounds which I am struggling to see how they could avoid. LG are in the minority with that phone design however so it is highly possible that they managed to achieve it somehow.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ash Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Aug 2019 at 12:21am
I like my V20 more than my V30+ overall and want to sell the V30+ in the coming weeks. Both have really decent sound quality that is clear and musical. I haven't compared them directly to the Bitzie but I'm confident that with both Lautus USB powerwire/OTG and 2-3 hours of power-on time, the Bitzie would win easily, especially in bass and stereo image projection. Power on time transforms the Bitzie into a remarkable device. It is still excellent at first power-on but on-time changes a great performance into an inspiring one. No contest - just a choice of convenience.

I turn all phone sounds off in the menus.


Edited by Ash - 14 Aug 2019 at 12:23am
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