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The Best Digital Audio Players (DAPs) of 2024

This article extensively reviews and compares some of the best Digital Audio Players of 2024, offering insights into their design, performance, and value.
Sony NW-WM1AM2 vs Sony NW-ZX707 vs Sony NW-A306

In the contemporary world of high-resolution music, the Digital Audio Player (DAP) has become a must-have gadget for audiophiles. With its ability to deliver superior sound quality, a DAP is an excellent investment for those who appreciate the finer details of audio. This article extensively reviews and compares some of the best DAPs of 2024, offering insights into their design, performance, and value. If you’re an audiophile looking for the best digital audio players, this article is your ultimate guide to finding the perfect DAP for your music needs.

The Best Digital Audio Players (DAPs) of 2024

FiiO M11 Plus – The Best All-Round DAP

FiiO M11 Plus

Price: $649.99 USD

Overview

FiiO M11 Plus, an upgrade from the M11, is a remarkable DAP that resonates well with audiophiles who desire a balance of price and performance. With its excellent sound quality, it’s a go-to device for many music lovers. When it comes to choosing the best DAP, the FiiO M11 Plus stands out for its exceptional audio performance and user-friendly features.

Design

Constructed with a sleek, geometric aluminum casing, the M11 Plus sports a stunning 5.15-inch touchscreen. This high-resolution display makes navigation effortless, providing a crystal-clear user interface. The ergonomic design and intuitive menus of the M11 Plus ensure a seamless user experience, making it one of the best digital players in the market.

Performance

Equipped with a Snapdragon 660 chipset and 6GB RAM, the M11 Plus delivers a fluid user experience, efficiently handling high-resolution audio files. The device’s dual AK4497EQ DACs ensure a high-fidelity audio output, reproducing your favorite tracks with precision. When it comes to DAP audio players, the FiiO M11 Plus sets a new standard for uncompromising audio quality and performance.

Sound Quality

The M11 Plus offers a mature and detailed audio performance, striking a balance between power and finesse. It’s capable of handling a wide range of music genres, discerning different file qualities while ensuring a comfortable listening experience. Whether you’re into rock, jazz, or classical music, the FiiO M11 Plus is designed to elevate your music listening experience.

Battery Life

One of the areas where the M11 Plus could improve is its battery life. Although FiiO claims up to 10 hours of playtime, real-world testing suggests that it lasts for around 8 hours. For users who prioritize longer playtime, exploring alternative digital audio players with extended battery life might be worthwhile.

Verdict

The FiiO M11 Plus is an excellent all-around DAP that combines a robust build, superior sound quality, and a user-friendly interface. Despite its slightly higher price point, it offers superb value for money, especially for those seeking a high-performance, feature-rich DAP. If you’re in the market for the best Digital Audio Players of 2024, the FiiO M11 Plus is a top contender that ticks all the boxes for a premium DAP experience.


Hidizs AP80 Pro-X – The Best Budget DAP

Hidizs AP80 Pro-X

Price: $189.99 USD

Overview

The Hidizs AP80 Pro-X is a budget-friendly DAP that doesn’t compromise on sound quality. Despite its affordable price, it delivers a mature, composed performance that rivals more expensive models. When it comes to the best budget DAPs, the Hidizs AP80 Pro-X stands out as a strong competitor, offering exceptional audio quality without breaking the bank.

Design

The AP80 Pro-X is compact, fitting comfortably in palms and pockets alike. Its scalloped textured back offers a firm grip without sacrificing style. Its minimalist design is complemented by a 2.45-inch touchscreen that facilitates easy navigation. If you’re searching for a digital audio player that combines style and functionality, the Hidizs AP80 Pro-X is one of the best DAPs that perfectly balances aesthetics and performance.

Performance

Powered by a dual-DAC design, the AP80 Pro-X supports a broad range of high-resolution audio formats. It also supports LDAC and aptX codecs over Bluetooth, providing a seamless wireless audio experience. Whether you’re an audiophile or a casual music listener, the Hidizs AP80 Pro-X is a versatile and reliable digital audio player for enjoying your favorite tunes on the go.

Sound Quality

When it comes to digital audio players, the AP80 Pro-X stands out with its clear, detailed, and composed sound. It’s adept at handling various genres and can discern the differences in file qualities, making it one of the best DAPs on the market in this price segment. However, it can sound a touch reserved when a song demands outright fun or aggression, which might not be ideal for all users.

Battery Life

Featuring an approximate battery life of 32 hours, the AP80 Pro-X outlasts many of its competitors, making it a top choice for those who enjoy long listening sessions with their digital audio player. This extended playtime makes it an excellent choice for long listening sessions, ensuring that you can enjoy your favorite music for extended periods without worrying about recharging.

Verdict

For those searching for the best budget DAPs, the Hidizs AP80 Pro-X is an impressive choice that delivers a mature, balanced performance. Its excellent hi-res support, user-friendly design, and long battery life make it a worthy contender for those seeking an affordable entry into the world of high-resolution audio. With its impressive features and performance, the AP80 Pro-X is undoubtedly one of the best digital audio players in its price range.


Sony NW-A306 Walkman – The Best DAP for Spotify

Sony NW-A306

Price: $348 USD

Overview

If you’re a Spotify user seeking a simple device to enhance your music experience, the Sony NW-A306 Walkman comes highly recommended (check out our review to see why). Its integration with the Android OS and seamless connectivity with Spotify elevates the overall music streaming experience for avid Spotify users.

Design

The Sony NW-A306 Walkman’s superb sound performance and impressive battery life make it an excellent choice for those who enjoy high-resolution audio on the go. The NW-A306 is compact and lightweight, making it perfectly portable. Its scalloped textured back offers a good grip, and its minimalist design is complemented by a 3.1-inch touchscreen.

Performance

The NW-A306 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430, making it one of the fastest devices in its price range. It supports a wide range of file types, including high-resolution audio formats like FLAC, ALAC, and DSD. Additionally, its support for various file formats and high-quality audio output makes it one of the best budget DAPs for audiophiles looking for uncompromised sound performance.

Sound Quality

The NW-A306 delivers a clear, detailed, and composed sound. It’s especially good at discerning the differences in file qualities, delivering a comfortable and enjoyable listening experience. Its ability to reproduce uncompressed audio with exceptional clarity and precision sets it apart as a top-tier DAP audio player.

Battery Life

The NW-A306 offers an impressive battery life of up to 32 hours, making it an excellent choice for long listening sessions. Its long-lasting battery ensures uninterrupted music playback, perfect for Spotify users and audiophiles who value extended playtime during their daily activities.

Verdict

The Sony NW-A306 Walkman is an excellent DAP, especially for Spotify users. Its superb sound performance and impressive battery life make it a great choice for those who enjoy music on the go. Be sure to check out our full review of the Sony NW-A306 to get all of the details!


Hiby R3 II (Gen 2)- Simple Offline Listening

Price: $179 USD

Overview

If you’re looking for a simple device to enhance your music experience, the Hiby R3 II is a great choice. It connects directly to your smartphone via USB and supercharges your listening experience, acting as a USB DAC. The R3 II is a compact and lightweight DAP, making it an excellent choice for on-the-go use.

Design

The R3 II is a compact and lightweight DAP, making it an excellent choice for on-the-go use. It features a 2.45-inch touchscreen that facilitates easy navigation. With its user-friendly menus and intuitive controls, the R2 II stands out as an excellent digital audio player for users who prioritize convenience and portability.

Performance

The R3 II supports a broad range of file types, making it a versatile music player. It also features an embedded Dual ESS ES9219C DACs, ensuring high-quality audio output. With its support for various file formats and high-fidelity audio playback, the R3 II establishes itself as one of the best digital audio players with exceptional digital audio conversion capabilities.

Sound Quality

The R2 II offers a clear and detailed sound. However, it doesn’t deliver the same level of dynamic punch and drive as some of its competitors. Despite its impressive sound signature, the R2 II falls slightly short in terms of delivering a truly immersive audio experience, especially for discerning audiophiles.

Battery Life

The R2 II’s battery life is relatively short compared to other DAPs, offering around 10 hours of playtime. While it may not excel in battery life, the R2 II compensates with its compact size and powerful audio performance, making it a suitable choice for users prioritizing portability and uncompromised sound quality.

Verdict

When it comes to digital audio players (DAPs), the Hiby R2 II stands out as a top choice for users who require only a simple device for offline music playback. Its compact design, clear sound, and easy-to-use interface make it an excellent option for those seeking a simple yet powerful portable music experience. The device’s user-friendly interface ensures a seamless navigation, allowing users to dive into their playlists and favorite tracks effortlessly.


Shanling M6 Ultra – A Great DAP for Sensitive IEMs

Price: $739 USD

The Shanling M6 Ultra is a high-end digital audio player (DAP) that aims to satisfy the demands of audiophiles and music enthusiasts alike. It is designed to offer an unmatched listening experience, combining top-tier hardware with sophisticated software. In this overview, we’ll explore the various aspects of the Shanling M6 Ultra, including its design, performance, sound quality, battery life, and overall verdict.

Overview

The Shanling M6 Ultra stands out in the crowded market of digital audio players with its promise of delivering high-resolution audio playback. It is built for those who are serious about their audio experience, offering a range of features and specifications that aim to bring out the best in digital music.

Design

The Shanling M6 Ultra features a robust, yet elegant aluminum frame that not only lends it a premium feel but also enhances durability. Attention to detail is evident in its smooth, curved edges which make it comfortable to hold for extended periods. The front is dominated by a large, high-resolution touch screen that offers vibrant colors and crisp visuals, making navigation through its interface a visually pleasing experience. Design elements are thoughtfully placed, with tactile buttons for essential controls that provide a satisfying click, adding to the overall user experience.

Performance

The CPU delivers good performance for a DAP, comparable to the speed of a smartphone. Navigating through various screens, applications, and tracks is effortlessly smooth. The operation is seamless, swift, and straightforward. The user interface is primarily based on Android 10, offering a straightforward experience. The software upgrade guarantees extended support for apps, particularly for streaming and audio apps.

Sound Quality

The Shanling M6 Ultra is renowned among audiophiles for its superior sound quality in the competitive high-resolution digital audio player market. It strikes an impressive balance between clarity and warmth, delivering detailed highs, rich mids, and deep lows. Its advanced DAC setup ensures precise music reproduction, maintaining the original recording’s dynamism. Its support for numerous high-resolution audio formats allows listeners to enjoy tracks in top quality without compromise. The M6 Ultra’s soundstage, with its breadth and depth, provides an immersive experience, placing the listener at the music’s core. For those seeking a portable player without sacrificing sound quality, the Shanling M6 Ultra is an attractive option.

Battery Life

The device is equipped with a battery that has a capacity of 5650 mAh. This battery supports 18W QC3.0. In terms of battery life, it can last up to 13.5 hours when used in single ended mode. However, when used in balanced mode, the battery life is slightly less, lasting up to 9 hours.

Verdict

The Shanling M6 Ultra is an exceptional digital audio player that stands out for its superior sound quality, robust design, and comprehensive feature set. It is tailored for audiophiles and those who seek a premium listening experience without compromise. While it may come with a premium price tag, the M6 Ultra justifies its cost through its performance, quality, and versatility, making it a worthwhile investment for serious music enthusiasts. Whether you’re at home, in the studio, or on the go, the Shanling M6 Ultra promises to elevate your audio experience to new heights.


Sony NW-WM1AM2 Walkman – Best High-End DAP

Sony NW-WM1AM2

Price: $1398 USD

Overview

When it comes to audiophiles looking for the ultimate high-end DAP, the Sony NW-WM1AM2 Walkman emerges as a fantastic digital audio player choice. The NW-WM1AM2’s support for high-res audio content, even those utilizing MQA files, is impeccably handled, ensuring users can experience the full richness and depth of their favorite tracks. The device’s seamless integration with many high-quality music streaming services guarantees a premium music streaming experience for discerning listeners.

Design

Boasting a sleek and stylish design with a 4.4-inch touchscreen, the NW-WM1AM2 by Sony exudes a minimalist yet sophisticated aesthetic. Its intuitive user interface complements the device’s minimalist design, ensuring that users can effortlessly navigate through their music library and settings. The device’s touchscreen responsiveness and smooth operation enhance the overall user experience, allowing for seamless interaction and control.

Performance

Equipped with a dual-DAC design, the NW-WM1AM2 offers a high-fidelity audio output that caters to the discerning ears of audiophiles. Its support for a wide range of file types, including high-resolution audio formats like FLAC and DSD, ensures that users can indulge in their favorite tracks with uncompromised audio quality. The device’s ability to faithfully reproduce the intricate details and textures within high-resolution audio files elevates the listening experience, allowing users to immerse themselves in a sonic landscape of unparalleled richness and clarity.

Sound Quality

The Sony NW-WM1AM2 Walkman delivers a clear, detailed, and composed sound. It’s adept at handling various genres and can discern the differences in file qualities, delivering a comfortable and enjoyable listening experience. With its exceptional audio quality and support for a wide range of file formats, the NW-WM1AM2 stands out as one of the best digital audio players (DAPs) in the market. Whether you’re an audiophile or a casual listener, the NW-WM1AM2 is sure to impress with its top-notch performance.

Battery Life

The NW-WM1AM2 offers an impressive battery life of up to 40 hours, making it an excellent choice for long listening sessions. With its long-lasting battery, you can enjoy uninterrupted music playback for extended periods, whether you’re traveling or simply relaxing at home.

Verdict

The Sony NW-WM1AM2 Walkman is an excellent DAP for all users, but especially audiophiles. Its superb sound performance and impressive battery life make it a great choice for those who enjoy high-resolution audio on the go. With its seamless integration with many music streaming services and exceptional audio reproduction, the NW-WM1AM2 ensures a premium music streaming experience for discerning listeners. Be sure to read our full review of the Sony NW-WM1AM2 to get all of the details!


Be sure to check out our other buying guides to help you get the best audio experience possible!

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