Sound lives up to reputation, UI is too limited.
I purchased this unit for a couple of reasons. Namely, the nicest hardware I had was a Fiio X5iii and I wanted an upgrade in SOUND, without the extra features that slow down the OS with age (a major issue for the Fiio). Secondly, this DAP had nothing but positive reviews when it was released in 2017, and through all my research I never found any criticisms of this device- rare enough in such a subjective hobby, particularly now that it’s been released for 2 years. Finally, I viewed this sale as an opportunity to buy a device whose MSRP was unrealistic for me at half the price. I’d rather buy a $1400 player for $700 than a $700 player for $700.
Im using AKG N40’s with the balanced output. I am hearing previously unnoticed details in MP3 files- something that surprised me. I assumed a high end player would reveal unpleasant details in low quality files- not so with this DAP. I’m pleased in this regard. My higher quality FLAC files sound like I would expect them to. When I first gave it a listen it’s not like my jaw dropped in astonishment- I didn’t think to myself “WOW- this sounds $1000 better than the Fiio!” That being said, my nicest hardware is mid-fi at best and after a few days of listening I do notice that it’s the best sounding portable device I’ve ever heard. It sounds as good as my Klipsch H3 desktop amp. If I had paid full price when it was released I would have been disappointed, although in fairness it’s possible my ear isn’t as discerning as veteran audiophiles.
On sound and build quality alone, I’d give it 5 stars.
On to the UI. It’s an attractive and functional stripped down android. Boot speed is acceptable. Software is stable and responsive with latest firmware- no lag when skipping songs for example- a truly annoying feature of the Fiio X5iii. I was able to get Tidal working- but only after installing the second latest version.
Here are are my main complaints:
There’s no way to delete tracks on the player. You’d have to connect to a PC and manually delete the track through file explorer.
There’s no search function. Once you enter a category (artist, album etc.) there’s a scroll wheel that allows you to quickly skip to sections in alphabetical order, but you can’t search for songs by typing.
A minor annoyance is the player having to scan the SD card to update my library every time I turn the unit on. How long it takes all of your files to appear will depend on the size of your library, but I’ve owned multiple DAP’s that only have to update the library when the card is initially inserted- not every time the device is used. I question why this is necessary at all- it’s not exactly an advanced or luxury feature.
All of the the original reviews for this product mentioned a very basic setup- this is for people who want a dedicated music player with excellent sound quality. I attributed these descriptions more to the device being new at the time, and assumed basic functionality would improve with updates. Three years later and I’m unable to delete files or search for them on a flagship device. I wait 2-3 minutes every time I power the unit on for my entire library to load. It’s inexcusable for a device at this price point, regardless of manufacturer or age. I’d love to give 5 stars but can’t go that far given the price. Disappointing.
UPDATE: I have changed my review from 4 stars to 3. The unit I received had battery issues out of the box. I followed the user manual and used the included charging cable. I could leave this DAP plugged in for 24 hours and it would never charge beyond 96%. The battery charge when plugged in never matched once the unit was unplugged and turned on. It might say it was 80% charged, and then when I turned the unit on it would then say it was 30% charged. I had updated the unit to the latest firmware and never tried to rapid charge it in my car or anything. I tried hard and soft resets of the DAP to no avail. I tried charging from a PC, from my laptop, from a wall charger, it made no difference. When I reached out to Drop customer service, they told me that since they only sell the number of units purchased on the website, they didn’t have the ability to exchange the unit for another. They gave me a choice between a $20 discount or returning the product for a full refund. Since there’s no manufacturer warranty with this product when purchased through drop (and since The Bit never responded to my requests for assistance) I sadly opted for the full refund. I can’t afford a $700 paperweight. This happened righ at the end of the 30 day return period so I felt like I dodged a bullet. My takeaway was that Drop customer service was good and I can buy from Drop with confidence. I have no confidence whatsoever in The Bit as a manufacturer. Imagine buying a flagship DAP with a defective battery and having no way to contact the manufacturer. Their website is poorly translated and the only email they list for customer support never responded to my multiple requests for support.
be aware if you take the risk of purchasing this product and you happen to get a lemon, if you don’t figure it out and initiate the return within 30 days you will simply be out of your money.
Would not recommend to a friend.