Pioneer is destined to make a splash with its first high-resolution digital audio player, the XDP-100R ($699). The Pioneer XDP-100R is basically the merger of a 4.7-inch Android mobile device with the guts of a hi-res audio player, and its machined-aluminum exterior is beautiful and rigid.
There’s 2GB of RAM under the hood, complementing 32GB of flash memory for storing music. This is augmented by a pair of microSD card slots capable of storing an additional 200GB each. As noted elsewhere, be sure you use high-quality, name-brand microSD cards, as some high-res DAP vendors have apparently run into issues with lesser-quality cards of that capacity.
The Pioneer sports a single ESS Sabre ES9018K2M DAC (digital-to-analog converter). Amplification comes courtesy of ESS’s Sabre 9601K headphone amp. Pioneer physically separated the DAC/Amp circuit board from the main board to minimize noise by isolating the two components. Pioneer also fitted the DAC/Amp board with dedicated capacitors to for a clean, closed-loop design.
The XDP-100R might be the first high-res DAP to support native playback of MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) audio files. This is a big deal because MQA files have an embedded digital fingerprint certifying that the recording artist, recording engineer, or producer attests that the music was sourced from the original studio-master recording. That means the file you’re listening to has been sourced form the highest-quality recording available. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that the track was recorded in high resolution, because that technology might not have been available in the studio at the time; but it does mean that you won’t find a higher-quality track anywhere else.
Read more of the Pioneer XDP-100R review here on TechHive.
For more about Pioneer, go here.