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The ultimate guide for Digital Audio Players (DAP) – What you should know

This article aims to provide an ultimate guide for a Digital Audio Player which include everything you should be aware of,
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A digital music player or digital audio player also called DAP is a portable device that allows you to play back files (audio and /or video) and where the tracks are stored as computer files. A file contains digital information made up of a sequence of bytes or numbers. A file format is the convention by which information as well as metadata is digitized and sequenced in the file.

The obsolescence of portable audio players

In the 90s, portable cassette players or digital audio DAT “Minidisc” players were abandoned in favor of new emerging technologies. These technologies are now completely obsolete.

We can also cite DVDs, compact audio cassettes, VHS cassettes, laser discs, floppy disks, faxes, overhead projectors, typewriters, CRT TV, etc.

The only audio technology that still resists is the vinyl record. Currently, vinyl records are still in production (upsurge in sales) as it is still considered the best medium by some audiophiles and rare album collectors.

From now on, our smartphones are emerging as the worthy successors of our old audio or video players .

However, they are not yet very efficient in terms of the audio part, either for recording or reproducing sounds.

Sound quality is apparently neglected by most smartphone manufacturers, even if some phones come with an advanced DAC (Digital Analog Converter) system.

We are also quickly limited in terms of audio quality, even if some smartphones allow you to download applications and software to adjust the sound, including equalizers.

On a smartphone (especially with 5G technology), the video is generally quite clear in terms of definition, although the screen display size is still very limited.

This is quite frustrating for users as smartphone makers currently prioritize image and video more, over sound.

In cinema theaters, on the other hand, cinema operating technicians manage both sound and image in high quality: IMAX,  DTS, Dolby Digital or Dolby Atmos, THX (quality label) (Read more about sound formats) The transition to digital sound in the cinema has allowed a certain technological and qualitative good.

At home, the Home Cinema provides superior audio and video quality. With specific speakers or a simple sound bar, a receiver.

You can now enjoy superior surround sound at home, or ultra HD 4K, DTS-HD or other images.

Digital Audio Player or digital audio players, what is it?

The players audiophile or DAP (digital audio player) offer an interesting alternative to address the audio quality problem smartphones or other readers.

Indeed, these devices integrate high quality digital-to-analog converters (DAC) . Now you can easily exploit the quality of high definition audio files, even large ones.

In addition, can be coupled to the Hi-Fi quality headphone amp. Audio files and professionals will appreciate even more that the players can read MP3, AAC, OGG, ALAC, WAV and FLAC ..

It is the reproduction of incomparable sound quality, because the DAC is an essential device to optimize the quality of the source signal.

There are two main categories of music players. DAPs exclusively dedicated to listening to audio files stored on a memory card (operating system), and players with a streaming function that works on Android.

A portable audio player can be high-end or simply functional and inexpensive, Bluetooth or only wired, serve as a sound card, or even read all kinds of formats.

The DAP ( digital audio player) store our digital audio files (coded as 0 and 1) and the software to read the data. They transform the sequences of 0 and 1 into electric frequencies. DAPs thus transform digital sound into analog sound, thanks to a digital chip designed for digital to analog conversion.

The electronic components used in digital-to-analog converters have also benefited from technological progress, with ever more powerful chips, quality digital filters.

Care is also taken in the design of the power circuits and the insulation of the components. These qualitative improvements help preserve the purity of the digital audio signal at every stage of transport in high-end devices.

How to choose your DAP audio player?

There is no such thing as a perfect audio DAP and each model has its own characteristics, advantages and disadvantages. The best DAP for you may not be the best for someone else, it depends on everyone’s needs, and how you use them (professional or simple audiophile hobbyist).

So, when purchasing your audio player, you should define your needs precisely and what types of files you want to be able to play with the DAP.

The built-in codecs and the supported sample rate, allow these players to support the majority of digital files even those in high definition.

The uncompressed audio files (lossless) also called “Lossless” are thus usable and well managed by these portable audio players. We are talking about audiophile portable players or Hi-Res portable players which are capable of handling files encoded in 24 Bits / 192kHz as well as DSDs.

The audio files uncompressed benefit from a larger sample than mp3 and offer better sound reconstruction.

The quality of the headphones or earphones that are associated with these DAB audio players should not be neglected either. The reproduction of music with a quality worthy of the best audio systems, at a price. There must be a certain quality balance from end to end of the chain.

The power of portable audio players , matched to the rate of distortion, is very important. In fact, the more energy the headphones or the internal headphones are, the more the player will have to be up to the task.

The capabilities and software options offered by the player are essential (skins and ergonomics, equalization, compression, chorus, flanger, sampler, crossfade, monitoring, peak, maxi ..).

The overall performance of a system is always limited by its weakest link.

It is therefore illusory and counterproductive to choose high-performance speakers if the amplifier, for example, mistreats the transmitted signal. Or, if the main source is a basic player which can only handle compressed (lossy) MP3 audio files.

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