Page 5 Hiss and IEM Performance
I don’t think any one DAP works as good with every type of headphone. Lots of factors such as power output and amp design will come in to play to decide how it works with an individual type of headphone. For me personally DAPs main focus should be IEMs and earphones. Now because they tend to be of low impedance and have multiple drivers with different impedance ratings, a low output impedance of a DAP is vital to not over dampen or skew the frequency response of the in ear monitor at hand (or should I say ear). Fortunately all four DAPs here a very competent rating, especially the iBasso which is said to be lower than 0.1 ohm. The lowest number I would be worried about is 5 ohms and as you can see we are well under that. If using IEMs it may benefit you to try the balanced output of the Opus to get it a little lower as you can see from the chart below.
As Josh has some more standard DAP references in the AK240SS and AK380 while I only have a great sound but heavily modified AK120 which is not a very typical standard for people to go buy. I thought the sound section would be delivered better by Josh so I will let him take over from here.
Josh – Hiss is where we will begin, and to test this I always use the Vision Ears VE6 because it is one of the most sensitive IEM’s on the market and the most susceptible to noise floor that I own. The easiest way to test this is to set the volume to 0 and press play on any song. Considering these are all portable players built primarily for IEM’s the results were pretty disappointing but with varying levels of failure…
All of these players had too much noise, the iBasso was a higher pitched hiss than the others and it did clip every now and again, I don’t know why, but it did. The DX80 was the worst of the bunch tied with Cayin but the N5 didn’t clip or have any odd sounds going on, it was just a consistent hum. Closely following was the Aune which was a lower pitched hiss like the Cayin, with no clipping or pops just a smooth hum. The lowest floor of all of them was the Opus; it was roughly the same as my AK240SS actually which is still a way from being perfectly silent. Opus had a couple of pops every now and again too. The closest device I have to silence with a VE6 is the Leckerton UHA-760.
With any normal earphone the noise floor is considerably reduced audibly on every player and becomes nearly acceptable with the poorer performers.
How about how they actually sound with controlling IEM’s in general? Well, here is far more positive as all of these players are able to sound authoritative with earphones. The general signature of the DX80 may lead you to believe otherwise but more on that later on. The Opus is the only other player that I will give a mention to here as well and that is only because initially it sounds incredibly thin and weak and therefore you start questioning if it is even suitable for IEM’s! This does change with every hour of listening put on it though and it handles IEM’s well after it’s loosened up a little.
Go Back to Page 1 for the Introduction
Page 2 will cover Features
Page 3 is UI
Page 4 is Build
Page 6 is Headphone Driving Ability
Page 7 is Sound Quality
Page 8 is Our Summary