Looking for a cheap DAP to live on my desk


So they’re renovating the offices and I’ll be in home office until at least the end of year, perhaps longer. I don’t want my personal PC running all day in the background, so I’m looking for some standalone streamer, doesn’t need to be connectable to my stack but hey, bonus points. (extra points if it can stream free stuff, I’ll even take internet radio…and no, regular radio sucks here lol)

Also I suppose it doesn’t technically need to be a DAP, just figured it would the cheapest option. Don’t care about high quality formats, can’t hear the difference anyway.

So yea, I’m not looking to integrate streaming into my system, I just need something to play music in the background independently of my PC.
…are straight up internet radio station capable old school radios a thing?

What are you going to attach to your DAP?

Some Monitor speakers, either directly or via my desktop DAC, so line out, RCA or 4.4 pentaconn.

Take a look at the wiim streamers.

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Apparently you need a phone or so to set it up?
That would be a hard no. Need/want something completely standalone. (well, minus the speakers of course)

I had something more line with this in mind:

This stands alone and just connects to the wifi. Not great on outputs, but I could use the headphone out as a line out into my DAC I suppose so good enough. But I would not be opposed to pay a little more to get a proper DAP or streamer, I don’t have either and I suppose it could not hurt to have one. (just a little though)

After looking some more I am confused.
It seems to me all streamers, even the expensive ones, can’t actually stream on their own?
They all need a separate source that feeds them and then have various decodings and functions and such…but to actually simply connect to the net on their own and connect to a streaming service doesn’t seem to exist?

I feel like I am taking crazy pills, surely I am must be misunderstanding something?

not sure what you have been looking at but wiim streamers can connect directly to your streaming service of choice. The phone app acts as a user interface and after you set it up to play whatever you want it doesnt need to be connected(unless you are streaming data from your phone’s storage)

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That’s a little better, but it still requires an external device to use it then.
Is there nothing that you can just plop down and configure on the streamer itself?

An ultra cheap DAP that can play while being charged via USB, and has a dedicated line out port, just might work for you. The software is barebones to the point of being adorable, but the ZiShan Z4 springs to mind as as potential solution.

oof quality control reviews are tearing it apart. I’d like my stuff to at least function XD

What have you read? Mine seems pretty solid.

bunch of reviews/comments on head-fi :Zishan Z4 - DAP with Dual DAC ES9038Q2M | Dual AMP OPA1622 | USB 32-bit + DSD | Bluetooth LDAC 24-bit | Balanced 2,5/4,4 | LO/PO 3,5mm | Headphone Reviews and Discussion - Head-Fi.org

others too, the Z4 seems to be better than their other stuff but still, basically everybody is complaining about the buttons at the very least. Seems to have a lot of software issues as well.

It’s the kind of device that lends itself to modification by DIY-ers. If you don’t like the buttons, you can make your own with a 3D printer and some math skills. If you want more power from the 3.5mm Single-ended port, you can solder out some capacitors or replace them with better spec-ed parts.

Its build quality is far from ideal, but only a problem if you just won’t settle for what is basically a hobbyist-oriented device.

The software is completely button driven and primitive in features compared to anything else you might buy. But it sounds excellent and the hardware, if purchased from some name-brand manufacturer, like e.g. Astell & Kerne, might set you back over $1000.00 USD. Instead, you pay $100 and change for this thing and revel in the savings.

Interesting take, I’ll keep it in mind.
For now though I am not interested in adding music to storage.
Maybe there is some DIY/rasberry Pi sort of solution to add to that what I would need, but that’s a bit further than I am willing to go at the moment.

I guess I will stick to internet radio for now.
That has standalone devices with a remote that I just put there and connect to my stack. Less than I was hoping for, but close enough.

On second thought…I going about this wrong maybe.
Wouldn’t any cheap android tablet be able to use a streaming service to play music?

Then output that to the dac and just leave it there permanently charging.
Or do you need anything special to use tidal or whatever?

If you can find an Android device with two USB ports, one for charging, and the other connected to a dongle to output an audio signal.

Or maybe an android tablet with a docking station.

Maybe some media box? Otherwise I’ve never seen phones or tablets with more than one USB, but anyway that shouldn’t be a problem as for the proposed use-case a powered USB hub should work just as well as a docking station.

What I don’t like about this “run demanding apps while continuously charging” is that it tends to overheat the battery and when it’s full it keeps it close to 100% charge for a long time, and Li-Ion hates both of those conditions, meaning it ages way faster. Best-case scenario would be if you can connect a charger with limited max current (maybe a leftover from an older phone?) so that the battery charges more slowly and generates less heat, and takes longer to get to 100%.

Why would I need a second usb? I could just use the headpohone out as line out if there is one.
I would only have this running at low volumes, so I don’t think I would get much distortion…right?

Distortion no, but depending on the phone/tablet you could have less than perfect frequency extension and especially channel separation and staging. But if this is just background music it could be perfectly fine all the same.