Before starting this review, I would like to share technical aspects and package details.
This is the link where you can get the DTR1: https://penonaudio.com/dethonray-dtr1.html
Micro SD card supported
Format Supported: WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF/DSF, OGG
Sample Rate Supported: 44.1/48/88.2/96/176.4/192 kHz
Line-out & Earphone output
Battery 10 hours
Frequency Response: 20Hz ~ 20kHz
Max Power Output: 1.7Vrms+R: 1.7Vrms+L (16Î©)
Dimension: H100 W56 D16.4 (mm)
DTR1 Digital Music Player
Fearless S6 Rui
Astell & Kern AK120
Lotoo Paw Gold
Package & Design:
DTR1 coming with black cartoon box and it has power charger and usb cable inside. There are no any other accessories like screen protector or case. Package contents are a bit disappointing but it has everything you need.
DTR1 doesn’t look fancy like some other daps on the market, but it has cleaned and simple design and somewhat it feels nice quality in your hand. The unit dimension is 100mm x 56mm x 16mm which It is quite small and handy. You can carry it anywhere you wish. The screen quality is decent and nothing special to mention about. There are 5 physical buttons on the front side. Left and right buttons are mainly changing settings, folders. Up and down buttons are like forward and backward and the center bottom has mainly as select/enter function. Right side of the unit has up/down volume button with power button and micro sd card slot that supports up to 256GB. (I tried with 400gb micro sd card and it works without any issue) All the buttons are easy to access and very easy to manage. Rear side of the unit has glass and it looks gorgeous. Bottom side has line out, headphone output (3.5mm) and usb/power socket. DTR1 is a beautifully made device, and ergonomic body will be slid into your pocket.
DTR1 uses single AK4490EQ sound chip inside. I always find AKM chipsets more musical and warmer than the Sabre chipset, but of course it is all about tuning. Here are some details about chipset and amp circuit.
DTR1 selects AK4490EQ for its reliability and specific sound performance, the chipset supports up to 32Bit/768K and switchable digital filters offering different auditory experience. AKM, since its first delta-sigma D/A converter (DAC) in 1989, strives for reproduction of the original sound. Such becomes the philosophy” Velvet Sound” aiming at providing an active space in the reproduction of sound just like a live performance.
In pursuit of “Real Live Sound”, an important part along the signal path – LPF (Low pass filter) adopts two TI OPA1611 on each channel (L/R). Together with the AK4490 chipset the design illustrates a very lively, dynamic output. The amplification circuitry features a mature AD8397 implementation with low distortion, super loading capability not to mention slew rate of 53v/us and 69M bandwidth, further boosted with ±7V power supply. The ideal power supply breaks limitations in shaping sound, achieving powerful, clean sound with effortless extension.
Power and Hiss:
DTR1 looks small but it’s powerful as Hulk. This little device has some serious power inside and it drives my HD6XX very easily. Probably it is enough to drive all IEMs in the market and most headphones. With the high gain I’ve listened Andromeda with %10 volume which is quite louder to listen. High gain with HD6XX is enough to drive with %60 level. It’s really impressive for such a small unit.
There is some hiss on the background and it is more audible with sensitive earphones like Andromeda, Zeus, or Solaris. But Dethonray minimizes the hiss level with the latest firmware. In case you still didn’t upgrade it, I would highly recommend to do it.
Firmware – UI:
DTR1 has quite fast and simple UI which reminds me Lotoo Paw Gold in that case. Both devices are focusing to usability and they don’t care about fancy animation or gorgeous looking display. When you press the power button it takes like 4-5 seconds to be ready. UI is quite responsive and fast. Micro Sd card’s scanning time is also another great thing about the DTR1. It scans my 200gb card for a very short time. Overall, I quite impressed by the UI and it is better than most of music players that I have.
Play screen shows all the details like; artist name, song, bit rate…etc
Settings menu screen. There are language, play mode, backlight, brightness, cue settings.
Gain selection, Filter, Auto shutdown, database upgrade and factory reset section.
You can change your backlight time 10 to 60 seconds or always on.
You can change your screen’s brightness.
Low or High gain selection.
Battery life depends very much on how the battery is used and there are many parameters for that like screen brightness, volume level, gain etc. Dethonray claims it’ll last for 10 hours, and I got approximately the same battery life. This is pretty enough and I don’t have any complaint about it. I would like to criticize the battery adapter. I wish they had charge on USB because adapter is hard to carry with you if you need it.
DTR1 sound is far better than its retail price. Period. I don’t want to exaggerate but it’s true. Its sound dynamic and engaging. The liveliness of the sound comes at the bottom to top of the audio spectrum. General sound is clean, natural but a little bit colored. DTR1 is a bit warm side, and playing a relatively thick note. Detail and resolution levels are pretty impressive. Actually, better than some of the expensive Daps on the market.
The upper frequencies are spacious and distinct. It does not fall behind the lower and mid frequencies as a quantity. The presentation is very forgiving and it does not have a character that makes mistakes prominent in the music. It is not aggressive and uncontrolled; on the contrary it is highly balanced. The treble is slightly brighter but this brightness is not like peaky or sibilance point. The treble has a beautiful natural tonality and it is effortless. The treble is never too cold or lifeless and the resolution is also extremely successful. It is possible to hear all kinds of instruments. I can say that it helps to expand the soundstage because it puts the gap between the instruments pretty well. The notes are a little bolded and but it is not as like AK120 or another warmest DAP.
One of the best parts of DTR1 is the mid frequencies. Although the mid presentation is not forward, the tone plays lightly colored, emotionally and naturally. The notes are a bit warm and bold which makes full bodied presentation. The harmony of the mids with the bass and treble are really great. There is no grain or veil in the mid frequencies. The upper mids are highly controlled and slightly thick, depending on the earphone/headphone. The vocals are slightly laid back and positioned in the middle of the stage, not from a wide area. The level of resolution and detail is certainly very successful. There is no distortion at high volumes.
DTR1 has good weight and extension on the low frequencies and It is not bleeding or dominating the other frequencies, it is doing its job when it calls. If there is a bass in the music, it hits without exaggerating, not boomy way. Bass has nice decay and prat and it has nice amount of quantity. There is a natural rumble and articulated with smooth timbre. It never loses its control, but I liked authoritative bass response and I wish the bass had a little more in quantity, but as I said, you can always add some extra slam with the filters. Bass has nice detail and resolution overall.
Soundstage is not the best I’ve heard but it is pretty wide and airy to listen. The best part of the soundstage of DTR1 is the separation and positioning of instruments in fast passages. Every instrument clearly selectable and I really impressed by layering and imagining in this respect. The layering of positioning provides a high level of distinction to the listener.
DTR1 vs AK120:
Both DTR1 and AK120 sharing some similarities in terms of tonality and musicality but they are differing in some other way. AK120 is one of my favorite Astell & Kern players and after many years still loving this little device. Both players’ physical size and battery life are very similar. Ak120 is powerful enough to drive most IEM and it can drive some headphones but it can not match with DTR1 in this regard. DTR1 is crazy powerful DAP for its size. Sound wise, both are musical and they have lively and engaging sound. AK120 is darker and veiled and its upper frequencies are laid back. Overall presentation of the AK120 is smooth and dark. DTR1 is also musical and it is on the warmer side, but upper frequencies are more prominent and detailed. Far detailed actually. There is adequate space between instruments, so separation is much better on DTR1. Mid frequencies smoother and forward on AK120 and vocal sound is more in your face while DTR1 is slightly laid back and there are more rooms between instrument and vocal. AK120 has more quantity in bass department and more boomy than DTR1, but it is losing its control and sometimes it dominates other frequencies. On the DTR1 bass is more controlled and tighter with nice slam. Soundstage is wider and deeper on DTR1, bright trebles has some role on here. Overall, they are sharing musical and dynamic presentation but I can easily say that DTR1 is far better DAP than the AK120.
DTR1 vs Lotoo Paw Gold:
For my personal taste, LPG is one of the best players I’ve ever listened. It’s sound and build qualities are phenomenal. Opposite to some people, I really love its unique design and bulky structure. LPG size is bolder, bigger and heavier than the DTR1. Both daps’ firmware are amazingly fast and responsive. No lag, no wait, no issue. Battery life is also almost same like 10 hours. DTR1 is seriously powerful music player and it is almost powerful as like LPG. Sounds, DTR1 and LPG are very different animals. LPG has aggressive and prominent upper frequencies with more bright presentation while DTR1 is more controlled, slightly smooth and musical. LPG’s technical level is higher than DTR1, but musicality is better on DTR1. When I listened side by side, I found LPG’s tonality is a bit dry and dull. Don’t get me wrong I love LPG sound and still the one for me, but DTR1 is so delightful and detailed yet. Resolution and detail level are better on LPG as you expected but not so much. LPG is more capable device with its PMEQ equalizer and you can significantly change the sound. Overall, LPG is still better but it is 4 times expensive than the DTR1 and it is not better 4 times. Frankly, price and performance are amazing with DTR1, that’s for sure.
Well, Dethonray has greatly done of their first dap DTR1. Its sound performance is truly amazing and it is easily challenge to the more expensive dap on the market in terms of sound performance. Heavy duty amp power is great to have which you can listen your power-hungry IEM or headphones without any power issue. Fast and responsive UI is also great. If you want a high class, high performing player and small and almost powerful enough to drive anything on the market, go and buy it. I don’t think any other dap can match with DTR1 in price and performance ratio. Hype deserved.