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High-End DAP compared to Laptop DAC/AMP Stack


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Hello all, 

 

I'm hoping for some guidance on my setup and possibly purchasing a DAP. Here is my current setup:

  • Macbook Pro
  • JDS Labs Atom Amp
  • JDS Labs Atom DAC
  • Audirvana Software
  • Sennheiser HD6xx
  • 1 TB or so of FLAC files on an external SSD hard drive

 

I love the sound of my current setup, but my issue is with portability. I don't have a dedicated listening room so I pretty much have to drag my laptop, amp, dac and headphones to wherever I can find a free room in my house. It's a hassle hauling all of it around and finding a power outlet to plug in the Amp and DAC. So I'm looking for something more portable that I can just plug my headphones into and listen to anywhere in the house. A DAP with 1 or 2TB of storage with a built-in DAC and amp feels like the perfect solution, but I don't want to sacrifice sound quality.

 

My question is two part I guess. First, for anyone out there that has listened to a high-end DAP such as the Astell & Kern Kann Alpha or the Fiio M15, how does the sound compare to a setup like I currently have? Second, if a DAP will be a big downgrade in sound quality, are there any other options out there for me that you would recommend? 

 

Really appreciate any advice or insights. Thank you!

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I haven't heard either of the DAP's you have listed but both look like they would be a nice choice for your purposes. If I were choosing between these two I would probably lean towards the AK unit before the other one if for no other reason than it might be easier to have repaired if that ever was needed. Plus it looks to have a good bit more power output for your difficult to drive headphones.

 

I own an old school Pono Player that always amazes me how good it sounds for being a portable unit. I use it to power a balanced Mr Speakers Alpha Prime headphone. I'll just say that, if I had to sell all my main gear and go with a portable setup the DAP I have would be easy to live with. They can sound quite impressive.

 

I might even wager that either DAP you listed would be a nice upgrade from what you are using now so loosing SQ is not something I would expect to happen if you went that direction...IMO.

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