Digital audio players are a must-have gadget for all music lovers. These high-tech devices store and play your favorite tunes in hi res while you’re on the go. So, if you’re looking for the Best Audiophile DAP, look no further. Here are the top high end and budget portable digital audio players on the market right now.
In a hurry? The best audiophile DAP of 2021 is the FiiO M11 Plus Hifi DAP, which boasts the most advanced technology to date. This is closely followed by the Sony NW-WM1A professional digital audio player, one of the most high quality models on the market.
Best Audiophile DAP: Quick Comparison
FiiO M11 Plus Music Player||Check Price|
Sony NW-WM1A Hi-Res Audio Player||Check Price|
Surfans F20 High Resolution DAP||Check Price|
M6 Lossless HiFi||Check Price|
HIDIZS AP80 High Resolution||Check Price|
Top High End, Budget & Portable Digital Audio Players 2021: Reviews
1. FiiO M11 Plus LTD High Res High End Portable Music Player
Best Overall DAP For Audiophile
The M11 Plus is the latest and greatest DAP from FiiO and a step up from the brilliant M9 and M7 models.
The M11 Plus uses the legendary octa-core Snapdragon 660 operating system and two all-new AK4497EQ DAC chips for the most unique, smooth, and natural HD audio output.
The FiiO M11 Plus uses fully-balanced HX AAA-78 amps for a rich and detailed music listening experience. In addition, it supports decoding MQA tracks in 8x mode, which gives a vibrant, master-quality sound reproduction with high sampling rates in manageable file sizes.
The M11 Plus boasts 64GB internal storage, 11.5-hour battery life, and plenty of connectivity options. These include Bluetooth, Wi-F, USB, and 2.5mm/3.5mm/4.4mm headphone outputs. What’s more, the charging time of the M11 is 50% shorter than in previous models.
With lower power consumption, faster charging, super-smooth performance, and incredibly detailed, pure audio output, the FiiO M11 Plus is easily the best overall DAP for audiophiles in 2021.
- It uses the latest technology and DAC chips
- Newly added balanced line-out
- Master-quality sound reproduction
- Large internal storage
- Fats charging
- Plenty of connectivity options
2. Sony NW-WM1A 128GB Premium Walkman Professional Digital Audio Player
Best High End DAP
The premium Sony NW-WM1A DAP gives the most professional HD audio quality and supports the broadest range of music files.
It has a balanced connector, an impressive 128GB internal memory, plus a micro-SD memory card slot, allowing you to listen to music to your heart’s content.
This premium DAP is built using the highest quality components such as aluminium chassis and oxygen-free copper cables.
This construction eliminates any interference or electrical noise to give extremely stable, high-quality sound output. It also supports the latest 384 kHz / 32-bit rate and DSD Native Playback, resulting in highly accurate playback. Plus, the balanced audio connector gives an even more precise and dynamic sound.
The Sony NW-WM1A walkman has one of the most extended battery lives on the market, giving 30 hours of playback. Furthermore, it has Bluetooth connectivity and an easy-to-use touchscreen display.
- It gives the most professional sounding, authentic playback
- Balanced audio capability
- High-quality, distortion free construction
- Large internal memory capacity
- 30 hours of playback
- Very expensive
3. Surfans F20 HiFi High Resolution Digital Audio Music Player
Best Budget DAP For Audiophile
With the Surfans F20, you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to enjoy the best sounding music. Despite its low price, the F20 uses advanced DSD decoding technology to reduce distortion and produce an outstanding HD audio output.
The Surfans F20 utilizes PCM510xA 2.1 VRMS and a 112/106/100 dB Audio Stereo DAC chip, enabling it to decode various music files, including WAV, WMA, and MP3. In addition, it has Bluetooth, USB, and AUX connectivity and 10-hour battery life.
This budget DAP does not have built-in memory, but that’s not a problem as it comes with a 32GB SD card, which you can upgrade to a higher capacity if needed. The construction feels sturdy, and the control wheel gives a fluid, smooth scroll. If you don’t require a balanced digital audio player, you’ll find the Surfans F20 to be a brilliant low-cost DAP.
- Uses advanced DSD decoding technology
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Expandable storage
- High quality for a low price
- No balanced audio output
4. FiiO M6 Hi-Res Lossless MP3 High Quality DAP
Best Value Audiophile Hi Res DAP
The FiiO M6 may not be the newest model on the market. Still, it boasts superb performance and superior audio for an affordable price.
Therefore, it’s easily the best value audiophile hi-res DAP available in 2021. It features an ESS Sabre 9018Q2C chip for higher power output, full Bluetooth support, and AirPlay functionality with iOS devices.
The high-quality build of the M6 consists of an anodized aluminum body and a 2.5D glass screen. The 1200mAh battery gives a decent 13 hours of playback. Furthermore, it works with many popular music apps like Tidal, Spotify, and Qobuz.
The only downside of this low-cost DAP is the mere 2GB internal memory. However, like all high quality DAPs, there is a micro-SD card slot so you can expand the memory externally.
- High quality, durable construction
- Bluetooth and Airplay compatibility
- Decodes most audio formats
- Supports many 3rd party apps
- No balanced audio output
- Requires an external memory card
5. HIDIZS AP80 High Resolution Audio Player
Best Portable High Resolution Digital Audio Player
It uses an ESS ES9218P DAC chip to deliver a Signal-to-noise ratio of up to 126dB, allowing you to hear the subtleties of each instrument in a piece of music.
Another fantastic feature is the Mage Sound 8-Ball Tuning, allowing you to adjust the sound field to your exact liking.
The AP80 utilizes LDAC Wireless Technology with Bluetooth connectivity, has a USB port, and gives 9-12 hours of battery life. Moreover, like the FiiO M6, the HIDIZS AP80 does not have any built-in memory. However, it supports micro-SD cards of up to 1TB expandable storage.
- Lightweight and compact
- Gives crystal clear, highly detailed sound
- 8-ball tuning equalizer
- Bluetooth compatibility
- Low price
- No built-in memory
Are High End High Resolution DAP Players Worth It?
As most people play music through their smartphones nowadays, you might question whether there is a real need to invest in a high-end, high-resolution DAP. The answer is yes because DAPs use premium-level audio chipsets, including high-performance DAC chips, powerful amplification chips, and many others. These advanced components produce a sound quality that is far superior to any smartphone.
DAPs also decode smoother as they are specifically designed to decode high-resolution files like MP3. With a high-end digital audio player, you won’t experience any distortion or background noise as you could do with a smartphone or low-end audio player.
Hi Res HD Digital Audio Player Buying Guide
Balanced Vs. Unbalanced
When looking for the best high-resolution audio player, you will likely encounter the terms “balanced” and “unbalanced” audios. All DAPS will have unbalanced audio naturally. However, some will have a balanced output connection to allow balanced audio. Balanced audio allows for higher power output, which improves the signal-to-noise ratio and reduces distortion.
Always check the output types and jack sizes of a DAP before purchasing. Most high-quality DAPs will have a 3.5mm stereo mini-jack, often labeled as ‘line out.’ You can also get a larger 4.4mm stereo jack or a smaller one of 2.5mm, both of which you will find in DAPS with balanced outputs. Your DAC should also have a USB connection port to connect to a PC or external DAC.
All digital audio players will have a micro-SD card slot for external memory. However, the best high-end DAPS will also have good internal storage, from 32-128GB. While this isn’t necessary as you can use a micro-SD card, high-resolution files can be pretty huge. Therefore, we recommended looking for a DAP with a good internal storage capacity.
Final Thoughts About The Best Sounding HD DAP For Audiophile
Whether you’re looking for the best sounding or best budget DAP for audiophiles, you’ll find your ideal portable digital audio player in this guide. We found the FiiO M11 Plus LTD Hi Res Digital Audio Player is the top all-rounder in 2021. However, if you want the very best high end portable music player, you’ll love the Sony NW-WM1A Professional Digital Audio Player.