I might be missinterpreting the word “transporter’.
In the last two posts I am hearing it used to refer to the software that plays back the music files, and/or the hardware device that plays back the music files.
Whilst I do agree that excellent playback software and, more so, drivers and ‘control’ software (eg the OS) can affect the sound quality output of given hardware... software cannot vastly fix bad clock/jitter and other aspects that are set at a hardware level. Sometimes, such as with APt X, which was initially sold to us as ‘hardware requirement’, was opened up as ‘software’, and has retroactivley been added to much playback equipment.. generally when we buy playback equipment we need to get equipment that gets it right in the first instance, as the hardware sound output can be tailored by software only so much, and certain aspects (eg jitter) cannot be reclaimed/made ‘better’.
When I talk ‘transport’ I refer to the hardware aspect of the sound.
Personally I have NO DESIRE for upgradable software/ apps, I came from an era of walkmans etc, where the physical controls might of, at best, been supplemented by some ‘remote controls’ on the headphone cable.. but generally what you bought out of the box initially/from the store, was what you had to use with that equipment for the life of the product.
My nineties walkman and minidisc player still play and give excellent sound (both were flagship parts with attention being given to sound quality, although the walkman is pretty special, as on a single AA battery it can run for many hours...). When I buy a DAP; so long as it is functional and gives basic features like shuffle and ability to build a playlist ‘on device’, I am generally happy with THAT basic functionality.
The transport aspect is simply how great it is at actually passing the digital bits, and might extend at a software level to ‘gapless playback’ support.
I would never go ‘online’ with my DAP, so wireless might be useful to hook up some bluetooth speakers, or remote interface (eg my phone as a remote to control my DAP being digitally fed into the home HiFi), but I wouldn’t purchase a small personal audio device that HAS TO BE a ‘swiss army knife’.
If so I am happy with the basic model with the blade and bottle opener, but can forgo the mini saw and tooth pick.
If I need a saw, a dedicated saw would be better every time. That is my attitude to dedicated devices. (less is more).
I understand many put up great arguments for why a specific player is ‘no good’ because it cannot run spotify etc.. I understand we all have different uses for our equipment, and , as the market trends in different directions it might be nice to have our middle tier (reasonable price point) audio equipment be ‘upgradeable’ to future trends and to continue to deliver excellent sound whatever we might choose to do with it...
To be fair I wasn’t upset when my walkman couldn’t play minidiscs. Whilst both my units were made by Sony, the minidisc wasn’t even a gleam in their fathers eye when my walkman was designed or bought by me...
The walkman still does its’ dedicated function perfectly.
Thats what I seek in a consumer purchase. Specific tasks done well.
I am yet to see a phone do any aspect of what a mid tier DAP actually does.
By the spec sheet they both playback audio files etc, but I really wish consumers understood that the quality of the output far exceeds being ‘compatible’ with music playback.
The difference of a well set up audio system is stunning.
Well setup requires a certain system synergy, and an output sound that makes one ‘tap their foot’ (often somewhat involuntary).. music as it used to be sold (back in STEREO days) was truly HiFi.
Majority of the ‘Hi Res’ products I see for sale are so far from being musical. They generally read very well at the spec sheet level..
Which takes me back to being a teenager and selling off my 100W surround receiver, which did video switching, had an equaliser, tonnes of inputs, ridiculous power output and lots of soundfields (echo) and cool gizmos and lights and all sorts of fruit.
I traded it in for the most entry level 30watt stereo amp (with a source direct button).
Nearly a decade later I then learned that real hifi components ofter read worse than my little 30Watt musical amp, at the spec sheet level,.. and that some aspects of musicality do not translate well to ‘numbers’ on a piece of paper.
Very easy to manipulate those numbers to seem like one product can match another.. but oh so far from the truth...
as most of what really matters is never discussed (or else the marketing companies would have nothing to sell).
In TV terms it would be like buying QLED over OLED (Q is after O in the alphabet), and never even knowing about MOTION RESOLUTION.
Lots of times an inferior looking spec sheet is the vastly better performing product. Sadly too many consumers want to educate why their more impressive sounding spec sheet parts are superior.
PowerPC CPUS want to have a word with you!! (a 300mhz RISC chip(CPU) often outperformed a 700Mhz CISC chip,.. but hey lets not let facts get in the way of understanding that bigger numbers HAVE TO BE BETTER, right?)
Anyhow, as a transport, if hardware can resolve all of the information correctly, with accurate positioning AND subtle nuances, developing real ‘texture’ in the sound etc.. then I say well done. I will buy a piece of equipment that performs the function (in the case of Digital Audio Players; playing back audio) it is intended for, and does so well.
I like one box units that do one thing well. I will add more boxes if that is required.
If one part breaks, one part goes to the repair shop and I continue using the remainder of the playback chain.. (home hifi).. if a DAP, I might use a DAC external, and an amp external.. but, that DAP better get lifting the sound files ‘right’.
Most people like their phones as a player,.. they say how easy it is too use, how easy it is to get on the net, how easy it is to get the latest software, etc.. it ISNT so easy to (enjoy) listening too(if you’ve ever heard nice playback equipment), but hey - it gets ‘so much other stuff’ right.
Many people= many usage scenarios. All products offer usage scenario for someone.
I don’t write off phones as audio players; they are the most used audio players presently sold. Most used cameras as well... (I used to work retail in a dedicated camera/photography store).. lets just say I COULD offer ‘two cents’ with regards to “phone cameras”, but- they work for many and are always on hand. I don’t use one; and I appreciate my old camera which doesn’t hook up to the net and allow software downloads and bluetooth five etc.
To each their own.
I don’t measure cameras by megapixel either. My go to camera is a four megapixel (fovean) from the 2000’s. Or a Fuji X-Trans.
Both give vastly more resolution than their ‘spec sheets’ would suggest.
Both give beaut colour and contrast, arguably the two most important things to ‘get right’.
Neither camera systems sound saleable vs spec sheet warrior competition..
DAPs are harder to qualify, mostly because majority of the planet haven’t heard really high fidelity sound.
eg a system that renders compressed music files unlistenable.
My young child can detect compressed music in a heartbeat. To us, it is ‘without soul’ and mostly unlistenable.
I did have to source them a ‘true’ hifi system, as the playback music being hard to resolve (eg Nine Inch Nails) requires top tier equipment. Not wishing to invest crazy dollars into the parts as modern equipment would require, I simply spent a few hundred on the second hand market. Speakers from the seventies etc...
That ‘toe tapping’ set of equipment resolves well and makes musical stuff that I haven’t heard sound ‘so good’ in a long time. Even though the same music files have been played through flagship (>$6500) receivers with attention given to every part of the system (cables/power isolation etc). You can only polish a turd so much..
DAPs have a hard time selling into a world where everybody can dismiss them, not based on sound quality, but rather on ‘future market standards adoption or some other ridiculous goal post’.
Sound advice often isn’t.
(Follow me and I will lead you BACK from the long lost garden path to nowhere...)