What is a DAP?

What is a DAP?

A friend of mine once came into my house and he noticed I had something in my hands. He asks: “What is that?” and I reply “This is my DAP”. “And what is that?” “Well, it’s a portable music player – Ohh, is it a really really old player? Like an antique gadget? – No, actually, it’s relatively new – Uhmmm, don’t you have a phone that streams music already?”


DAP stands for “Digital Audio Player”. And are electronic devices that are capable of reproducing music. Yes, your iPod is a DAP. People have just changed the name of the actual device to the name that Apple has given to its product. DAPs are used to enjoy music on the go. There are obviously tons of different DAPs. The huge advantage of them over phones, tablets, laptops, or wherever you listen to music on, it that they are designed to reproduce music at the best quality. They have one or two DACs built-in. A DAC is a system that converts the digital audio source to analog. Without it, the music would be just numbers, inaudible things. Yes, every phone has its own DAC but it is highly likable that the DAC that’s included is of poor quality. Also, the audio format that a phone could reproduce would be MP3 or similar compressed audio format. A good DAP would be able to reproduce lossless audio formats such as FLAC, DSD, MQA or ALAC.


Just like a photographer would laugh if you say that he could do his job shooting photos with his iPhone. Enthusiast of music would laugh when thinking of listening to music on their tablets or phones.


You might say that you won’t tell the difference between the two sources. Well, I thought that as well a long time ago. But after been familiarised with the sound quality that comes out of a good pair of headphones powered by a good DAP playing a lossless audio track. Believe me, that would be a lifechanging event you’ll have. I remember playing songs that I was very familiar with through my DAP the very first time, the precision of the audio was that crispy clear that you could hear Tony Iommi’s fingers sliding on his guitar. The separation on the layers of the audio was huge, it made the music have the tridimensional effect it’s supposed to have. For me, music takes me into a magical place, and an audio system should be good in order to achieve that.


The only bad thing about it is that once you get used to high-quality audio it would be very difficult to go back and listen to Apple Music or Spotify with earbuds. You see, we are not talking about cheap equipment here. Prices of DAPs can go very, very high. That’s why I recommend to don’t go too crazy. Start small and then grow as your budget allows it because I doubt you would ever want to go back on a lower quality DAP after being used to a higher quality one. There are several good DAPs that can outperform your Apple or Android phone and const half its price. Actually, mine is an Astell&Kern AK70, which is a good example of a good for the money DAP.


I always ask myself. If people like music, they enjoy listening to their favorite albums. Why they don’t even consider listening to it on hi-resolution?