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What is a digital audio player (DAP)?

This article aims to answer the question What is a digital audio player in details with its types and examples available in the market.
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What is a digital audio player ? The term DAP is an acronym for Digital Audio Player and can define any hardware device capable of playing audio in digital form. In the field of digital music, we usually refer to DAPs as MP3 players or portable music players.

A true DAP can usually only handle digital audio; most devices of this type therefore only come with low-resolution displays that are good enough to output basic text and images. However, some DAPs have no screen at all. A player designed only for digital audio usually also has a lower memory capacity than an MP4 player that must be able to play video; the type of storage commonly used with DAPs, in this case, is flash memory.

What is a digital audio player

This is in contrast to PMPs (portable media players) with larger screens with a higher resolution; this is for outputting digital video in the form of photos, movies (including video clips), ebooks, etc.

What is a digital audio player? Audio formats and storage

The most common types of digital audio formats commonly supported by audio-only DAPs are:

  • MP3 : Undoubtedly the de facto standard digital audio format that all DAPs support.
  • WMA : Probably the second most supported audio format for DAPs after the MP3 standard.
  • WAV : Files usually come in an uncompressed (and therefore lossless) state that is normally encoded in the LPCM (Linear Pulse Code Modulation) format. It is uncommon for people to use this format as the files can be quite large. However, DAPs usually support this for backward compatibility.
  • AAC : Apple’s lossy audio compression system which is the standard format for products such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Most of the songs purchased and downloaded from the iTunes Store are also in this format. However, not all DAPs support this.
  • OGG Vorbis : An open format that more and more manufacturers of DAP (and PMP) are building into their hardware. Some users who have tested the audio quality of MP3 vs OGG side by side claim that audio encoded with OGG (at 192 kbps and below) is of better quality than encoding in the MP3 format.
  • FLAC : This is a lossless audio format which is the least supported type in DAPs. However, it is gaining popularity and is especially useful for audiophiles who want to listen to their FLAC digital music library without having to convert first.

Examples of different types of DAP

In addition to dedicated portable digital audio players, other consumer electronic equipment you may already own can be used as a DAP. Among other multimedia devices that support digital audio playback, examples include:

  • Cell phones and smartphones
  • Sat navs
  • Digital cameras
  • Internet tablets
  • Digital voice recorders

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