Best sub 200$ DAPs for offline-only use
After recommending the best Android Digital Audio Players under 1000$ (article here) and the best sub-500$ ones suitable for TIDAL (article here), we’ll now list the best choices if you don’t need any streaming services. In fact, there are a lot of great DAPs which don’t have a wireless connection or a streaming compatible OS, which can be used to simply store your offline library. Let’s see them.
This is an interesting DAP: it runs Android – with all the advantages of FiiO’s version of it, like the link to control your library from your smartphone via Bluetooth – but it doesn’t have a WiFi module. That means you can’t run Spotify, TIDAL, Apple Music or other streaming services which usually are available on Android (on the FiiO M9, for example). You can install offline applications, but the storage is very limited (2GB) so I don’t see why you’d do something like that. The little brother of the M7, the M6, is in reality a better version of it, because it has double the volume, same performances, same storage and a WiFi module. But the M7 has more battery life and a hybrid analog/digital volume knob, which in my opinion is always better than dedicated buttons. The M7 has a Radio FM module too!
Where to buy: http://bit.ly/2FvC2rI
XDUOO has never released an Android DAP, nor a touchscreen one. However, they are really into sound quality. If you don’t mind a button-controlled OS, they have a series of great sounding products like the affordable X3II, which compete with the aforementioned FiiO M7. Both have just a single-ended 3.5mm output, a great battery life and an impressive sound quality. The X3II has a really good DAC, the AK4490, and uses HiBy’s proprietary link app to control the storage from your phone – same as the M7, which uses FiiO Music app to do the same job. The X3II is fantastic for stacks: XDUOO produces a lot of DAC/Amps, even portable ones, which perfectly pair with this DAP as a source.
Where to buy: http://bit.ly/36F9Tu2
This is one of the best and most complete alternatives. With the FM Radio, a pedometer, HiBy link support, bidirectional Bluetooth and touchscreen it already competes with the other two above. But there’s more: a Sabre ESS9218P DAC, LDAC support, an analog hybrid volume knob and a long-lasting battery – even though its capacity is only 800 mAh. And it has a screen by Samsung!
Where to buy: http://bit.ly/35FPCTQ
The N3 by Cayin, like the other devices mentioned, is really cheap but at the same time it offers modern features: USB Type C, 2-way Bluetooth, USB DAC functions and HiBy link. That’s a steal for less than 200$, considering the stunning audio quality it offers, compared to last generation smartphones. It mounts a proprietary Linux-based OS, which is controlled by soft touch and hard buttons. Not the best choice if you need controls to be intuitive, but sound-wise it is great, with an AK4490 as a DAC – so, it’s a direct competitor of the XDUOO.
Where to buy: http://bit.ly/2QDvm0Y
BONUS: TempoTec Variations V1
This device is born for stacks and wireless earphones. Why? Because it doesn’t have an analog output, so you need to connect an external DAC via USB or a Bluetooth one, like the XDUOO XP-2, which can be used for both needs. The V1 (differently from the V1-A which has that analog out port) is crazy cheap, yet it features a lot of competitive characteristics: HiBy OS with all its advantages, LDAC, coax out, MSEB tuning equipment and a 1000 mAh battery.
All of this for just 89$.
Where to buy: http://bit.ly/36DujU9