HomeAmps/DACSWhat is a Digital Audio Player? & Why You Should Have One
January 7, 2019
What is a Digital Audio Player? & Why You Should Have One
1,251 word post, approx. 3-4 min. read
Hello there and Welcome!
If you don’t know what a digital audio player is, you most likely know it by its more common name: An MP3 player. Audiophiles now just call it a DAP. Most of us know what an MP3 player is and what it does, so why bother knowing what a digital audio player is if it’s the same thing, right?
Well, maybe the DAP is something we’ve taken for granted since we got our smartphones. Our smartphones provided almost the same functions, so it’s easy to say that MP3 players are as good as obsolete. But not quite yet!
There are some exciting developments with digital audio players these days that it’s almost impossible to ignore it, especially if you love the convenience of listening to your music or audiobooks anywhere and anytime.
What is a Digital Audio Player?
Allow me to formally acquaint you with DAPs. It’s good to know some of the technical stuff of this device so bear with me. A DAP is an electronic device that can store and play media files like music. There are various types of formats, encoding, and resolutions for these media files.
We can say that digital audio players are among the best gadgets to have because of their versatility. Most, if not all of those different types of digital files can be played with your DAP. It’s even engineered to play lossless digital files. “What does lossless mean?” you may ask. I’ll get down to the details of that below. For now, let’s settle with a simpler term for that: high-resolution files or music.
DAPs have been with us for over four decades. Surprised? Have you ever owned a Sony Walkman? Well, that was the first kind of DAP back in 1979. Since then, DAP designers and manufacturers have been working hard to make portable listening more convenient; with smaller devices and better storage capacity.
One of the best examples of this was Apple’s iPod which allowed you to have a thousand songs in a device that could fit in your pocket. And that’s been several years ago already. Imagine the technology we have today!
Current DAPs can store thousands of music files including high-resolution, lossless files that assure listeners that they can listen to great sounding music whenever and wherever they want to.
So, What Does “Lossless” Mean?
As promised, here’s what you need to know about the term “lossless.” Lossless files are those that have been reproduced in the exact format and quality as a CD. This simply means there’s no loss in terms of the quality.
One of the best advantages of this kind of file is that when it’s been decompressed, they become perfectly identical replicas of your CD or even digital downloads. In fact, lossless files can even be better than the original ones. This is arguably the best way that you can listen to your favorite tracks.
Yes, there’s iTunes and all, but as well as they perform as an awesome storage facility for your music, they can’t support high-resolution audio files.
Why You Should Get Yourself a DAP
Now that we’ve gone through the basics of what is a digital audio player, here are some of the reasons why it’s still a great idea to have your own DAP.
DAPs Perform Better than Your Smartphone
Today’s DAPs are high-res so this means they have great amplifiers, digital to analog converters, and audio circuitry. They have come a long way from the first gen MP3 players and you can be sure that DAPs will outperform your smartphone because their sole function is to play your music in the best way possible.
They Support High-End Headphones
It would be a waste to use high-end headphones for audio players that can’t perform at the same level. You basically won’t get that superb sound quality you’re looking for if you pair your high-end headphones with just your smartphone.
This is because smartphones cannot support the headphone output that enables you to get the improved sound quality that you want. Pairing them just won’t do. DAPs, however, can support such headphones.
Their Storage is Solely for Audio Files
The usual audio files already take up much space. Just imagine how much space your high-res audio files would take. This isn’t something you want to burden your phone with. Your smartphone may already be filled with games, apps, videos, and photos. It would be a challenge to find space for your audio files.
With a digital audio player, you’re getting a dedicated storage device capable of playing audio, audiobooks, and many other different types of files. There’s no need to contemplate what you’ll have to delete just to make some space available.
Featured DAP: FiiO M9
I won’t end this post without giving you my recommendation on one of the best DAPs in the market today, the FiiO M9.
This DAP is sleek and small with a body made of full-aluminum so it’s lightweight but nevertheless sturdy. When holding the FiiO M9, you’ll immediately notice that it has no gaps or cracks; not even screws.
On the right side, you’ll find the buttons as well as the scroll-wheel. The right side is kept clean and straight. It’s just a bit weird for most because it’s as though this DAP was designed for left-handed people. If this was intentional, then the designers did a great job for the lefties in the world.
This DAP only has 768MB ram. You might be surprised that it didn’t even hit that 1-gig mark. But the designers had something in mind. You may only get limited hardware but it’s because it’s designed to have better integration. This means you won’t need to add anything else to the hardware.
You also won’t need Google Play, which is good because the FiiO M9 doesn’t support it. When it comes to streaming apps however, it’s all there. Take your pick among NetEase Music, KKbox, Moov, Qobuz, Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal, and of course, Spotify.
With Bluetooth, the FiiO M9 supports all types of formats such as LHCD/HWA, LDAC, apt-X, and SBC. What do all these mean? It simply means that this DAP is arguably the most advanced of its kind, providing excellent sound quality with a compatible receiver or headphones.
As for the battery, it can last for 10 hours with its 2350 mAh battery. But of course, if you connect the FiiO M9 to your Bluetooth headphones or go on WiFi streaming, it will go down to about 7 hours. One of the top features of this DAP is the deep sleep function. You can leave it for a month and a half in deep sleep and there won’t be a problem.
Hopefully, you’ve learned about what a digital audio player is in this article. The technology we have for devices like DAPs continue to improve at a fast rate, in an ever smaller package, with a greater storage capacity, and an even better sound.
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Marlouzel is a passionate writer and music enthusiast. She writes about culture, music, and the arts while listening to a variety of music - from 1920's Jazz to current indie bands like Belle and Sebastian.