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What is a Portable Digital Audio Player? | DAP 101- Part 1

What is a Portable Digital Audio Player? | DAP 101- Part 1

Digital Audio Player (DAP) can define any hardware device that is capable of handling audio playback in digital form. In the realms of digital music, we commonly refer to DAPs as MP3 players or portable music players, but their ability to play full high-resolution digital audio, and we mean way higher than CD-quality audio, is their special trick. You’ll also see them called hi-res (high resolution) audio players, portable media players (PMP), digital media players (DMP) and even multi-media players (MMP), though we need to point that the last ones would be incorrect - DAPs don’t dabble with video files. 

Today's high-end Digital Audio Players, as MP3 players are often called, are killer. There's a healthy demand for high-quality models, and where there's demand, there's supply - you'll find a ton of great units out there. They feature hundreds of gigabytes of storage, great digital-to-analog audio conversion hardware, and the ability to play high-res files, as well as ordinary MP3s.

Unlike the plastic build and appearance of cheaper and older units, newer DAPs are housed in space-age chassis, and many come with touch-sensitive screens, recessed volume controls, tactile buttons, balanced outs, and Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth wireless streaming. The circuitry inside easily justifies the often astonishing price tags - they can often cost from budget price to a complete audiophile home setup varyingly. Just look at something like the astonishingly-  Shanling M2x,which costs of $219. Clearly, they should be treated as serious audio hubs. Either way, if, like us, you want to call them MP3 players…we won’t tell anyone.

Some DAPs will bear the Hi-Res Audio logo. This certification indicates that the player meets a set of minimum specifications for playing back high-res music files.

High-res music-download sites: The tracks you’ve ripped from CD are not high resolution, and you won’t find high-res music files at the iTunes, Amazon MP3, or Google Play stores, either store either—at least not yet. Upconverting those music files won’t magically transform them into high-resolution tracks, either—you can’t put in what was never there in the first place. Your best sources for purchasing high-res music files are online stores such as HDTracks.comB&W Society of SoundLinn RecordsAcousticSounds.com, or iTrax.com. But buyer beware: Some sites classify tracks as high-res even though they were recorded and mastered at only CD quality (16-bit/44.1kHz). 
We've used our extensive experience with DAPs to pick the best ones and sort them into categories. Whether you want the best budget DAP or the best one for Tidal streaming, we've got you covered.

 

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