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Thread: Recommendations for a digital audio player

  1. #1
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    Recommendations for a digital audio player

    Hey guys,

    for nearly 11 years I'm using my iPod Classic with its 160 GB 1,8" internal microdrive. Even if its rechargeable battery is still ok, the disc space dimishs and the functionality is not up to date. It's time to explore the acutal alternatives.

    What I want:

    - Hi Res capable player
    - at least 3.5mm headphone socket
    - BT with aptX HD support
    - playback time of at least 15 to 20h (with a wired headphone)
    - gapless playback
    - at least one microSD slot with a minimum support of 256 GB microSD cards
    - UI with a database like functionality
    - a good support of ID3 tags (including multivalue tags)
    - support of ReplayGain
    - option to playback "Recently Added" files
    - price limit: about 500 US$

    Did I miss any important features to look for? Any recommendations?

    Unfortunately you can't find manuals to the models of manufactors like FiiO, Shanling etc. pp.


    Thanks in advance for your input!


    Dat Ei
    Last edited by Dat Ei; 05-27-2018 at 12:28 PM.

  2. #2
    dBpoweramp Guru Wayne's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations for a digital audio player

    I currently use a Sansa Clip+ with Rockbox installed that allows me to use a microSD of 128GB. Rockbox can support a large number of audio formats.

  3. #3
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    Re: Recommendations for a digital audio player

    Hey Wayne,

    thanks for your reply. I fear the Sansa Clip+ isn't the kind of dap I'm looking for. It is a bit outdated.


    Dat Ei

  4. #4
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    Re: Recommendations for a digital audio player

    Well, I use my Samsung S7 Edge phone as a player, both with headphones and Bluetooth and various "apps" to control. (and yes, it also makes and receives phone calls if I wish, plus numerous other things.) My old Ipod is stored away somewhere, I don't even remember where. Just avoid the newest Apple phones which have no 3.5 mm phone jack...

  5. #5
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    Re: Recommendations for a digital audio player

    Hey schmidj,

    I've spend some thoughts on using my mobile phone instead of a separate dap. Using my phone as a dap would shorten the battery run-times on top. So I prefer a separate device.

    Would you be so kind and tell me, which music player apps you prefer?


    Dat Ei

  6. #6
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    Re: Recommendations for a digital audio player

    Hi Dat Ei,

    Trying to find what tags are supported on players seems to be incredibly difficult: manuals don't always make it clear, and often reviews are of no help regarding tags.

    A player that runs on Android, allowing choice of apps is far more likely to give you the functionality you need, but I don't know how many players give the battery life you require.

  7. #7
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    Re: Recommendations for a digital audio player

    Hey Oggy,

    Quote Originally Posted by Oggy View Post
    Trying to find what tags are supported on players seems to be incredibly difficult: manuals don't always make it clear, and often reviews are of no help regarding tags.
    indeed, this is a difficult task. Yesterday I've visited one of the last Hifi / Hi End dealers in my not to small town, but after the first 2 minutes of conservation I couldn't stand the feeling, that I'm the consultant and he is the customer with no idea at all. No wonder that this business vanishes into thin air...

    I do not expect too much regarding the tags, but the player should support album, album artists, artists, genres, year, the compilation flag and maybe replaygain. Is this too much to ask for? i will see...

    Quote Originally Posted by Oggy View Post
    A player that runs on Android, allowing choice of apps is far more likely to give you the functionality you need, but I don't know how many players give the battery life you require.
    I have to check that. The next Thing is, that Android sounds like an universal solution, but from what I know, most Android based digital Audio Players use Android 5.1, which is pretty old. I fear that the time is near, that it is even to old for actual software player.


    Dat Ei

  8. #8
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    Re: Recommendations for a digital audio player

    Quote Originally Posted by Dat Ei View Post
    Hey Oggy,



    indeed, this is a difficult task. Yesterday I've visited one of the last Hifi / Hi End dealers in my not to small town, but after the first 2 minutes of conservation I couldn't stand the feeling, that I'm the consultant and he is the customer with no idea at all. No wonder that this business vanishes into thin air...

    I do not expect too much regarding the tags, but the player should support album, album artists, artists, genres, year, the compilation flag and maybe replaygain. Is this too much to ask for? i will see...



    I have to check that. The next Thing is, that Android sounds like an universal solution, but from what I know, most Android based digital Audio Players use Android 5.1, which is pretty old. I fear that the time is near, that it is even to old for actual software player.


    Dat Ei
    Hi Day Ei,

    Yes, I often feel the same in shops. I haven't been in retail since the late 90s, but a number of salesman now appear to have no product knowledge whatsoever. Most days I was always trying to expand my knowledge about the products I, or a competitor was selling in some shape or form.

    I'm in the same position as you, my 160GB iPod Classic is hanging in there. I know that some iPod owners are replacing the hard drive with a larger SSD and replacing the battery at the same time. However, that is a lot of money, and you still have the strengths and negatives of the interface / iTunes.

    You are correct about most of the players running Android 5.1, although I believe I saw one in my search that was running on 6 - but that was more expensive. The Onkyo which sensibly has two memory card slots, runs on 5.

    Sometimes it isn't easy to spend money!

    Interesting that you went to a bricks and mortar outlet as (especially having sold Hi-Fi for 15 years) that would seem a good idea. I'd take a memory card in and try the interface for myself, as I believe most portable players, and indeed a number of non-portable players do not support Album Artist. I believe that monsterjazzlick confirmed this on his under-volumed Sony.

    A well known and recommended player still can't cope with gapless, which is shocking. So many otherwise good players are ruined by a poor interface and limited functionality. It is almost like nobody actually uses a player for playing and searching music before releasing it. A Foobar interface would enhance many a good sounding, but poor functional player.

    Keep us informed if you find a player that suits all your needs.

    Good luck!

  9. #9
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    Re: Recommendations for a digital audio player

    Hey Oggy,

    Quote Originally Posted by Oggy View Post
    I believe that monsterjazzlick confirmed this on his under-volumed Sony.
    I've reread his posting about his problems with the A35 at the weekend. I don't know if these problems still exist in the actual model A45. On the opther hand, I know a lot of stories about the Sony camera service - puh!
    One thing that is pretty cool about the Sonys is the battery lifetime.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oggy View Post
    A Foobar interface would enhance many a good sounding, but poor functional player.
    Maybe it is an idea to buy an DAP with Android and to use foobar.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oggy View Post
    Keep us informed if you find a player that suits all your needs.

    Good luck!
    Thanks! I will keep you informed.


    Dat Ei
    Last edited by Dat Ei; 05-29-2018 at 05:04 AM.

  10. #10
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    Re: Recommendations for a digital audio player

    Quote Originally Posted by Dat Ei View Post
    I've reread his posting about his problems with the A35 at the weekend. I don't know if these problems still exist in the actual model A45....

    One thing that is pretty cool about the Sonys is the battery lifetime.

    Maybe it is an idea to buy an DAP with Android and to use foobar.
    Hi Dat Ei,

    I believe that it is only European players that have the volume restriction.

    I certainly think that Foobar on Android is a great solution.

    Oggy

  11. #11
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    Re: Recommendations for a digital audio player

    Hey Oggy,

    Quote Originally Posted by Oggy View Post
    I believe that it is only European players that have the volume restriction.
    yes, the max. volume is an european thing, but it would hit me like the GDPR did...

    But as there have been more problems to that Sony DAP than the max. volume: not charging and not detecting the microSD cards after the service. After my own Sony camera service experiences I take care, if I want to take the risk and buy a Sony product again.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oggy View Post
    I certainly think that Foobar on Android is a great solution.
    I've got the tipp that the Android app "USB Audio Player Pro" would be a great alternative too. Unfortunately one can't test it before purchasing the app.


    Dat Ei

  12. #12
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    Re: Recommendations for a digital audio player

    Hey guys,

    here is a short heads-up. In the last days I had the opportunity to get my hands on the FiiO X7 (Mk I), A&K AK70 MkII and the Sony NW-A45. I've checked all three Players with my microSD card with mp3 and flac files on it.

    1.) FiiO X7

    - Sound was ok with a tendency to sound too harsh
    - album arts have been scrambled
    - no multivalue tag support (i.e. only the first artist listed)
    - no display of the year
    - displays the album artist, but not the artist (track artist)


    2.) A&K AK70 MkII

    - Sound was superb
    - no multivalue tag support (i.e. only the first artist listed)
    - displays the album artist, but not the artist (track artist)

    3.) Sony NW-A45

    - Sound quality was cheap
    - max volume is ridiculous - even for me
    - no album arts for the mp3s
    - all mp3 could not be cataloged

    Can't tell you the firmware versions on that players. Maybe some of the issues have been fixed by later firmware versions.

    The sound quality of the A&K is very, very good. A pity that it can't handle the tags very well. The new Mk II of the X7 might have a better firmware and a better sound quality. I'll see. The Sony is none of my business.


    Dat Ei

  13. #13
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    Re: Recommendations for a digital audio player

    Quote Originally Posted by Dat Ei View Post
    In the last days I had the opportunity to get my hands on the FiiO X7 (Mk I), A&K AK70 MkII and the Sony NW-A45. I've checked all three Players with my microSD card with mp3 and flac files on it.
    I would be very interested in the results using an Audioquest DragonFly Red DAC connected to an android phone (which supports audio over USB) via a DragonTail for Android and using foobar mobile.

    Assuming the above is feasible and the phone supports large microSD cards, this would be my preferred DAP.

  14. #14
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    Re: Recommendations for a digital audio player

    Hi Dat Ei,

    Thanks for the update. Sadly not surprised about lack of multivalue tag support and display of only album artist: that seems common on full sized units too.

    I haven't bought a Hi-Fi magazine for around 30 years, but a friend bought one last month for the review of the new Chord DAC. He gave me the mag, which had a review of three portable players. Cowon Plenue D and two Astell & Kern units, the AK70 MkII and more upmarket Kann. Unsurprisingly they all get 5 star reviews - they probably advertise!

    I don't think the exchange rate is kind to A&K pricing in the UK, though they look very well made.

    Maybe we'll get the features we need in the next decade!

  15. #15
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    Re: Recommendations for a digital audio player

    Hey guys,

    Quote Originally Posted by mville View Post
    I would be very interested in the results using an Audioquest DragonFly Red DAC connected to an android phone (which supports audio over USB) via a DragonTail for Android and using foobar mobile.

    Assuming the above is feasible and the phone supports large microSD cards, this would be my preferred DAP.
    to use foobar is a very nice idea, especially because most of the daps have in comparison to foobar a very rudimentary software. The donwside is, that that this setup will reduce the battery charge of your mobile.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oggy View Post
    He gave me the mag, which had a review of three portable players. Cowon Plenue D and two Astell & Kern units, the AK70 MkII and more upmarket Kann. Unsurprisingly they all get 5 star reviews - they probably advertise!
    I'm aware of the coincidence of ads and review results. But honestly - I don't read hifi mags too (saved me a lot of money), and I've never heard of A&K til I started to look for an iPod Substitute, but this little player has a superb sound quality.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oggy View Post
    I don't think the exchange rate is kind to A&K pricing in the UK, though they look very well made.
    The build quality is very, very high and feels real solid. It's fun to hold and grap this dap. But the downsize is a price of 730 to 750 Euros for a player whichs functionality is not up on par with foobar.

    I will see if I can get my hands on one of the daps with an Android OS, just to check the sound quality and the possibilty to install foobar on it.


    Dat Ei

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