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Review: Onkyo DP-X1

Test Onkyo DP-X1

The Onkyo DP-X1 and the Plex app

The Onkyo DP-X1, a digital audio player running an Android-based OS, features two ESS Sabre ES9018K2M DACs and a headphone amplifier with a dual mono design. A derivative of the Pioneer XDP-100 DAP, the Onkyo DP-X1 distinguishes itself with its slightly different construction, dual mono design (an additional DAC and headphone amplifier) and the presence of a second, balanced headphone jack. Do these factors add up to a truly significant difference in terms of sound quality? We decided to find out.

Onkyo DP-X1: presentation

Onkyo has equipped this DAP with a Snapdragon 801 SoC quad-core processor with an Adreno 330 GPU for graphics. All the right elements to make any Android app run smoothly, complemented by 2GB RAM and 32GB of internal storage. The Onkyo DP-X1 is also fitted with two micro-SD card slots with a combined storage capacity of 512GB for the moment, and much more once larger-capacity cards become available. The micro-USB port is OTG compatible, making it possible to use the Onkyo DP-X1 with a USB flash drive or an external DAC. A Wifi 802 controller and an apt-x compatible Bluetooth 4.0 chip enable wireless connectivity (for sending files to a wireless receiver or loudspeaker, for example).

In sum, the Onkyo DP-X1 DAP has all the features of a high-end smartphone, minus the microphone and 4G modem, while offering superior musicality.

Test Onkyo DP-X1

One DAC for each channel: The Onkyo DP-X1’s Twin DAC mode ensures a very precise sound.

Onkyo DP-X1: ergonomics

Just like the Pioneer XDP-100, the Onkyo DP-X1 bears resemblance to Astell & Kern’s portable music players. With its machined aluminum unibody, anthracite anodized finish, symmetrical lines and notched volume controls, this DAP is a pleasure to behold. Its silhouette is nonetheless discreet. The left side inherits the Standby, Play/Pause and track Forward/Back controls. The 4.7” touch display responds perfectly.

Test Onkyo DP-X1

Two headphone jacks for this digital audio player, one with a “classic” format and the other offering Standard Balanced (BTL) and Active Control Ground (ACG) modes with a 2.5 mm mini-jack output for compatible hi-fi headphones.

Onkyo DP-X1: Google Play Store

As the Onkyo DP-X1 DAP is powered by Android, it provides access to Play Store and its millions of apps. Qobuz, Tidal, Deezer, Spotify, TuneIn, YouTube, BSPlayer and Plex represent only a small selection of the apps which can be installed. With its high-quality 720p touchscreen IPS display and immense storage capacity, the DP-X1 allows you to watch concerts in excellent video and audio conditions. Streaming media from a DNLA server is also possible.

Test Onkyo DP-X1

The aluminum controls are situated on the left side of the Onkyo DP-X1

Pioneer XDP-100: streaming music from a NAS made possible?

While this configuration is not natively supported, simply installing an audio player app such as BubbleUPnP or Foobar for Android, for example, will allow you to access all audio libraries shared on a domestic network (NAS, set-top box, computers, etc.). You can also use the audio player app integrated into your NAS (DSAudio for Synology, for instance). We chose to install the Plex app for Android, which we downloaded from the Play Store, in order to access our remote Plex server. By installing the BSPlayer app, you can also gain access to files shared via the Samba networking protocol (Windows sharing, for example).

Test Onkyo DP-X1

The Onkyo DP-X1’s dual micro-SD card slots can currently provide 512GB of storage space (with two 256GB cards)

Onkyo DP-X1: Onkyo’s music playback software

The DP-X1 has its own music player app with some interesting settings on offer, like the possibility to choose between three digital low shelf filters to optimize the restitution of high frequencies for files with a low sampling rate (44 or 48 kHz). Oversampling to 96 kHz, 192 kHz, or even 384 kHZ if using an external USB DAC, is proposed. The software also allows you to adjust for gain and equalization, in addition to offering real-time conversion of PCM data (FLAC, etc.) to DSD for a warmer sound.

Installing other music player apps will allow you to use the Onkyo DP-X1 to play files in absolutely all audio formats. For its part, Onkyo’s music player app supports MP3, FLAC, and DSD formats, in addition to the MQA standard (Meridian’s compact HD audio format).

Note that Android 5 does not support audio files created with 44.1 kHz multi-stage sampling, all 44.11 kHz or 88.2 files will be automatically oversampled to 48 kHz and 96 kHz, respectively.

If you’re looking for a bitperfect digital audio player which will read CD-quality files, then the Onkyo DP-X1 is not for you. That being said, the oversampling is very well carried out.

Test Onkyo DP-X1

The graphics equalizer of Onkyo’s native interface app

Onkyo DP-X1: an equalizer that aims to please

One of the Onkyo DP-X1’s main assets is its highly efficient 11-band graphic equalizer. Adjusting frequencies as desired is easy and precise (to one-tenth of a decibel). Once you’ve finished adjusting the curve envelope, you can then set the gain of the preamp by simply swiping your finger. On a more anecdotal note, Onkyo allows users to save equalization presets for different artists.

Test Onkyo DP-X1

The Google Play Store is perfectly functional and we were able to install all the apps we desired. There is now an Android version of Foobar2000.

Onkyo DP-X1: test conditions and listening impressions

We paired the Onkyo DP-X1 with Mezze 99 Classics headphones to listen to several stereo and multichannel FLAC files (sourced from DTS-HD MA tracks).

The ESS Sabre ES9018K2M DAC, with its highly detailed and clear signature sound, makes its mark right away. Very rich and very organized, we couldn’t help but tap our foot along with the music. The tonal balance is appealing, with vigorous yet tasteful restitution of low frequencies, well-explored mids and subtle highs. The Onkyo DP-X1 keeps everything under control in order to truly pamper your ears.

The result is a very analytical, almost clinical, but nonetheless agreeable sound.

Test Onkyo DP-X1

The Onkyo DP-X1 digital audio player with our current reference headphones, the Meze 99 Classics.

Onkyo DP-X1: does it outperform the Pioneer XDP-100R?

We were blown away by the XDP-100R. With two DACs and a headphone amplifier for each channel, does the Onkyo DP-X1 offer superior performance? The answer is yes, but we are not necessarily sure that this is…for the best. Allow us to explain: the Onkyo DP-X1 is diabolically precise, almost clinical. It certainly isn’t cold, but the sound doesn’t have the same warm quality as that offered by the Pioneer XDP-100R.

Onkyo DP-X1: Conclusions

What we liked:

  • The manufacturing quality
  • The possibility to download and install apps from the Play Store
  • The exceptionally refined graphics equalizer
  • The precise, calm and richly detailed sound

What we would have liked:

  • A native interface compatible with the 44.1 kHz format
  • A warmer listening experience

With a battery lasting approximately 12 hours during our test (without micro-SD cards), the Onkyo DP-X1 DAP is a worthy candidate for day-to-day portable use. Delivering sound with great precision, it is sure to please music-lovers who want to hear every last detail of their favorite tracks. The acces to the Play Store opens the door for Qobuz, Tidal, Apple Music, Spotify and Deezer. In brief, an audiophile Swiss Army knife.

This post is also available in: French

About the author

Tristan Jacquel

Tristan est rédacteur chez Son-Vidéo.com. Passionné de musique, d'acoustique et de high-tech, il réalise notamment les tests matériels pour notre blog.

1 Comment

  • I recently purchased a Pioneer XDP-100R as a replacement for my iPod, and have been upgrade some of my music tracks to high-res FLAC files. I love this unit, but there is a significant issue that is perhaps more a problem with Android than it is with the XDP-100R itself: connecting the play with the audio system in my late-model car is limited. The only option that works is Bluetooth. My car (a 2017 Honda CR-V) and the XDP-100R both support USB connections, but Android is notoriously limited in regards to USB connectivity. When I plug the unit into one of my car’s USB connectors, the Android system prompts me to install Google’s “Android Auto” app. Unfortunately, Google Play will not install this app on the player as it lacks the some phone-related features. Unfortunately my car has no AUX input jack, so Bluetooth is the only usable solution. Playback in this mode is both highly compressed and (when driving) very susceptible to interference. If there are other solutions, I would be interested in hearing about them.

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