Budget DAPs?

From your list:

  • The A&K Jr doesn’t have LDAC, balanced output or line output.

  • The iBasso DX120 doesn’t have Bluetooth at all, so no LDAC there.

  • The Cayin N3 doesn’t have balanced output or, as far as I can tell, LDAC.

All DAPs exhibit some noise with sensitive, low-impedance, IEMs - though it may not always be audible to a given individual with a specific IEM. And some mask it by switching off the amplifier entirely when nothing is playing. Playing a file of silence will let you determine if that’s the case, otherwise it can be hard to tell if the noise/hiss you’ll get when listening to music is from the track itself or the amplifier.


Three very good points there @Torq :blush:

Regarding the switching off of the amplifier, I did not know that happened, they are very smart these DAP guys :smiley: Does it not cause some kind of click (audible through 'phones, not a hardware click) when turning the amplifier section off?


It depends on how they do it, but usually not.

It’ll just go from being absolutely silent to you hearing something (which might be noise on the track itself, or from the amplifier). The only way to be sure what is going on is to play a silent file.

Sometimes you can tell when a file STOPS playing, as the amplifier may stay powered-up for a few seconds beyond the end of the track … the screen will show nothing playing … and then suddenly you’ll get silence. The Fiio X5iii used to do that, and it was then very obvious what the noise level from amp section itself was.

Playing a silent file or one with just the LSB set, is the best way to check though.


In case you missed it – Apple updated the iPod Touch after 4 years. Just a faster CPU and 256GB storage option. It’s still the student media/gaming device of choice, and it still has a headphone jack. Still $199 for 32GB, $299 for 128GB, and now $399 for 256GB. It’s pretty effective when coupled with an external mobile DAC/amp.


Random question on ipods, as I dont really use my ipad for music – but can they play FLAC natively and easily now? Last I heard, they added support for it but there was a bunch of work arounds you had to do to make it actually work. I rather not convert all my library over to ALAC – if and when I ever decide to move to iOS.


Not natively.

You still have to dick about putting the FLAC files on to the device via iTunes and “File Transfer/Sharing”. And then you need something like Onkyo HF (etc.) to actually play them.

I’d have to go back and check to be sure (from the developer docs), but I believe that iOS and macOS now have OS/library level FLAC support, but no applications are actually using it. It might be a pre-cursor step to the long-rumored lossless-Apple-Music store, or just “one of those things”.

Sometimes I contemplate converting my library from FLAC to ALAC … either just to feed to my iOS devices, or even as a “just use ALAC instead”. But for some reason, even though I hear no difference between the two (as you would expect, since they’re both lossless and both can get you back to the original sample data), I have held off on that.

Part of that is, probably down to the fact that ALAC was less supported in the past and managing two libraries is a pain in the arse.


I really think that Apple missed an opportunity here to really make the IPod Touch into something really special. If they’d have redesigned it and added useful features that good Dap’s have like memory card slots and balanced output along with top end Wireless and Bluetooth capabilities. They could have made it into a must buy. Apple are more than capable of pulling off such a feat. But there doesn’t seem to be the desire there.

I know cost will go up but people would buy it. I’m sure if it. Never mind. Why pay $400 for an iPod Touch when you can get a much better product for less and pay a little more and you can really get something very good.


IMO Apple took their eyes off the ball when they started building the new luxury circular HQ office building and angling for personal lifestyle and status upgrades. Work quality ALWAYS suffers when a company focuses on office moves and remodels. Lots of misguided products and things have been released recently:

  • The $17,000 gold fitness tracker Apple Watch
  • The skinny LED function button strip on the new MacBook Pro (mine)…sigh…
  • The elimination of the headphone jack in favor of a goofy dongle
  • The dumbing down of their marquee iTunes software
  • Some may like face ID, but I will never use it and await Apple’s capitulation

All of this is reflected in their neglecting the iPad Mini and iPod Touch for four years each. Apple is becoming a ‘services’ company as no one wants the new junk.

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I think they want to push their apple music streaming and putting a memory card capability into it wouldn’t necessarily benefit that cause. Plus they can upcharge for more storage.


@antdroid, did you use the line out on the Cayin N3 at all?

I have been offered a good price on one and I am thinking of installing it in my car system.

It’s been a while, but yea I’m pretty sure I used Line Out with the Cayin N3 at work with an amp. I don’t remember it being noisy if that’s what you’re going to ask. But that’s just from memory.

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Just as an update, I finally ordered the Shanling M2x, hopefully it will be here by the end of the month (still on preorder here in Spain).

I have been pleasantly surprised by the M0, just that it is a little small to operate easily (wish they would release the app for it) so I thought I would give it’s slightly larger brother a try.

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