Author Topic: DAP for lossy music - is it worth it?  (Read 655 times)

SkyZippr

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I've been thinking about getting a DAP for a very long time. However, since most DAPs are designed to play HiRes files, whereas my entire music library is in lossy format, I fear that getting a DAP might not make much sense.
I'm used to listening to music on my smartphone with GMMP, with my earphones (ER3SE) directly connected to it. It's not that I'm particularly dissatisfied with the sound or anything, but I'm wondering what it's like on a DAP with balanced output.

Currently, Hiby R6PRO Aluminum and Sony ZX500 are on my watch list. I specifically chose these Android DAPs because they both have 4.4 mm balanced output, and I wanted to use Musicbee Wifi App to sync my library, and likely to use GMMP to sync playcount.
Is it really worth it? Am I going to spend too much money, only to end up with very little improvement? Please let me know what you think.

hiccup

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However, since most DAPs are designed to play HiRes files, whereas my entire music library is in lossy format, I fear that getting a DAP might not make much sense.

As a rough guess, 95% of people will not be able to reliably distinguish hq lossy vs. lossless on 90% of audio material on 98% of audio playback equipment.
So I would take the lossy/lossless concern out of the equation.

About so-called 'hi-res' vs. normal resolution I am not aware of objective and reliable larger group testing that has proven obvious differences in sound quality. If there are, it will probably only have been established on very specific audio material, where only an extremely small percentage of listeners being able to hear any difference.

So, coming from somebody that is being accused of being an audiophile once in a while: forget about worrying about using (good quality) lossy, lossless or hi-res audio being an important factor.

SkyZippr

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About so-called 'hi-res' vs. normal resolution I am not aware of objective and reliable larger group testing that has proven obvious differences in sound quality.
I agree.
The only instance where I noticed any difference between HiRes and normal-res was that they used different masters.
Japanese anime CDs are notorious for the excessive compression, so much so that the waveform literally looks like a black rectangle. Occasionally, however, when creating HiRes versions, they would use a different - or should I say, better - master that is much less compressed, and the difference is immediately noticeable. But obviously that's not what HiRes is truly about.

So, coming from somebody that is being accused of being an audiophile once in a while: forget about worrying about using (good quality) lossy, lossless or hi-res audio being an important factor.
I spend too little to be qualified as an audiophile, but I definitely own too many pairs of earphones than I should to be qualified as a normal person ;)
So, what do you think is the most important factor of DAP? Is it the DAC that makes the most difference?

hiccup

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So, what do you think is the most important factor of DAP? Is it the DAC that makes the most difference?

Dac's are pretty close in performance these days. So usually it will be the analogue circuitry, and perhaps the (selectable?) digital filtering that will be the most important factor for the sound quality. That will often be a personal matter, and also depending on how the player and the headphone will 'match'.

For example, a dac such as the RME adi-2 pro is usually praised for it's 'perfection'. It's as close to measurable faultlessness as you can get at the moment.
Yet, it's sound quality to me is underwhelming and uninvolving. (and I gave it a serious chance for about a month)
Apart from the possibility it has to do with 'taste', I am guessing the analogue circuitry is a very important factor here.

With dap's I have very little first hand experience. So I could only give a general comment what I believe would be important as far as enjoying it's sound is concerned.

Obviously it's headphone amp should be of good quality. You'll probably have to read reviews from others what is said about that part.
And it should be a good match to your headphone(s).

It's basic sound signature should be neutral. A good eq would be desired to accommodate for personal taste, low volume listening, and allow for correcting specific headphones.
Perhaps there are dap's with good parametric eq's? I really don't know.

Also, I would not want a dap that doesn't recognize replaygain tags.
And a well-implemented crossfeed function would be nice to have.

There is an existing MusicBee thread somewhere, specific about advice on- and experiences with dap's.
The title of this thread is more about lossy vs lossless in regard to dap's.
Perhaps turn to the other thread to see if you can get some input from members about specific experiences and recommendations on dap's?

SkyZippr

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Thank you hiccup! That was an interesting read!

I indeed deviated from my initial lossy-lossless topic. I've come to the conclusion that, if I've been fine with lossy format for my entire life, and if a DAP can play HiRes lossless files well, then I'm likely to enjoy DAP with lossy files.
Time to explore the forum now.

phred

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There is an existing MusicBee thread somewhere, specific about advice on- and experiences with dap's.
Perhaps this?
https://getmusicbee.com/forum/index.php?topic=26726.0
Download the latest MusicBee v3.4 patch from here.
Unzip into your MusicBee directory and overwrite existing files.

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