Dec 31, 2018134 views

Why and 'how' do people use digital audio players?

Ok so I just went to a local audiophile store in Singapore. I noticed while I was trying out their headphones A LOT of people were trying out their digital audio players. The only thing I can guess why people use digital audio players is that they have a better DAC and would most likely be able to power their IEMs more effeciently. But other than that I am kinda confused why people would get it. I have seen models costing a like 200$ to those that cost 1000$ and I am just kinda confused at why people get it. I mean if you want a good portable audio setup why not use any of the LG lineup, they have a quad DAC and if they are not able to power up your IEMs you could buy a separate amplifier for it. Also why are there such huge prices for some DAPs , what would make them cost over 1000$. BTW this is not me bashing people who like using DAPs. I just wanna get more info onto DAPs as I am thinking if I should get one or just a LG v40 thinq . Also I don't know much of DAPs as I would say I mostly listen music indoors and all of my gears are meant for home/desktop use.

I actually have two, a Sansa Clip + and a Sony NW-A45. I use the Clip+ when I'm working around the house or exercising outdoors, since it's tiny and easy to manage. In that scenario, I don't want to put my phone at risk. I've had it a long time, and it's a great little player. I bought the Sony much more recently, and find myself using it more than I thought I would. I make a conscious effort not to be a slave to my phone, but when I'm playing music on the phone, it's easy to get distracted by a text, or news, or whatever, and then down the rabbit hole I go... instead of focusing on what I set out to. The DAP lets me keep my phone in its place (and save the battery for when I need it). It also runs the harder to drive IEMs I own (Mee PX and Kef M100s) noticeably better than my phone, and in a smaller form factor. I find those uses valuable enough to be worth the $150 I spent, but it's a luxury for sure not a need. You could absolutely accomplish those goals by other means. In fact, if I had found the Earstudio ES100 before I bought the Sony, I probably would have just gone with it as a cheaper middle ground.
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I picked up an ES100 a couple of months ago. It's an excellent and versatile device. So much so that I'm considering getting another one. In addition to driving my headphones and IEMs I have also used it as a Pre-Amp/ DAC for my DarkVoice tube amp. It also works great in my car connected to the aux Jack. I have it powered via a 12v adapter in the arm rest and it turns on and off with the car and automatically connects to my phone. Lastly, and most importantly, the audio quality of the device is really good. Bluetooth is no longer a a dirty word for me
I completely agree with you on all fronts. I had seen a few people mention it on here, and picked one up in December when I saw it on a lightning deal. It's a great piece of kit, and as you point out, highly versatile. If I had a personal audio award to give out, it would win best new toy of 2018.
@Azeendeen, There are many reasons why DAPs are chosen over using a phone for music. Some points to consider in no particular order are as follows :
  • DAPs have been around much longer than phones as a device just dedicated for music.
  • It has taken phones, especially the LG series and some other brands, to reach 'decent' sound quality or at least comparable with what many would associate with basic good desktop or HIFI sound. Though this can also be taken with a large grain of salt...
  • Sound Quality
  • Battery Life (Not phone function dependent)
  • Features &/or Capabilities over a phone
  • Form Factor &/or Ergonomics
  • Use (Some just want a music player, not full desktop &/or components)
  • Usage (On the go, dedicated listening but limited space, a certain experience, etc)
  • Cost compared to phone (Perhaps among the most important consideration for many, especially if music is all they need)
Not everyone wants to lug a separate amp, no matter how small, around. More often than not, powerful DAPs work well for this purpose. One example of a powerful no frills DAP at low cost but immense value is the Cowon Plenue D. 100 hours battery life Can easily drive IEMs & headphones (especially high impedance up mid 100 ohms with little difficulty) Not listed in spec 3.5 mm Balanced Out which allows for higher than listed spec voltage Small Form Factor With all said & done, it all depends on what the individual wants from a DAP vs a phone. As you yourself pointed out, you don't know much about DAPs, that is not necessarily a bad thing but in this day & age, whether intentional or not, it is hard to plead ignorance when most things are a search engine away. (Not suggesting you are, just some may perceive it that way) I suggest you look into them more so you understand how they are useful to others & yourself, whether you want to use them or not. Hope this is helpful. Feel free to ask me more if you need. Hope you have a great day !
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No problem, happy to help, more than likely, probably have responded to you &/or others who ask the same question on headfi. As said, many reasons why people use DAP as you discovered already. I will add the margin for DAPs being as good or better than some home audio setups cannot be overstated either.
Personally, I prefer DAPs which are basically no frills though I have used DAPs with BT & wifi before though they are not my go to. Unfortunately, I have not had much experience...yet...with DAPs or more accurately own one which have streaming music apps built in. However, in answer to your question, the closest most reasonable which I didn't mind but wouldn't necessarily own are either Fiio M9 or Astell & Kern Activo CT 10. Hope this helps, if you like, find me on headfi, just add the L at the end of my handle. Have a great day !