A Survey of Digital Audio Players Part 3
As I write this, it's been roughly one full year since I posted part two of this series, and even longer since part one went live. Let's get it out of the way right nowI totally fell short here. Despite my high hopes for keeping up to date with the rapidly expanding DAP market, I found myself buried in other reviews, the day job, and life in general. It didn't help that this market really picked up with a rapid-fire launch of one significant model after another. The next big thing is always just around the corner so why not wait a bit and add that to the list? And, the new firmware which is in beta and about to be finalized... it makes a huge improvement so I had better wait for that too. It just keeps going on and on. Keeping up with the DAP scene is practically a job unto itself.
In any case, here is the final entry as promised. Some of these models are moving on towards being superseded by newer designs but even so I feel the reviews are still very relevant. The DAP market is relatively young, and these companies are generally making evolutionary strides with each new release, not revolutionary improvements. Whatever Sony or Questyle or HiFiMAN does today will contribute significantly to the foundation for their next model. So it remains illuminating to evaluate these models regardless of shelf life, which at this point seems to have more in common with tech products (roughly 1-2 year product cycle) than normal headphones, speakers, or amplifiers.
This portion of the roundup includes the Sony ZX2, iBasso DX90, Cowon Plenue 1, Questyle QP1R, HiFiMAN HM901S, and Acoustic Research M2. Lots of good stuff here, along with a few bewildering design choices and some clear production issues. Some of these, plus some from the last two articles, will definitely hit the Wall of Fame. But which ones?