At some point in this hobby you will get to that crossroad thinking what is the practical route to take. As a hobbyist, ideally you should be governed as to what sound you will get out of your setup. However, there’s a plethora of factors to consider, primarily whether if you will go portable or stationary. While I would assume that hordes will prefer to go portable, there still is a considerable number of folks who would prefer a desktop setup considering the value they get out of it in terms of the sound. However, in spite of that, the reason why a lot would prefer to go portable is because we are practically living in a very fast environment nowadays; much more people are mobile given our daily lives whether it is due to work or school.
Given this point, another factor to look into is the efficiency of the music source you are getting. While cost plays a huge role when picking the right gear, one would think of it more on practicality rather than just being blunt; that is, going for what is cheaper (this should be the ideal as price to performance is the right measurement of practicality, not low price period) should be equated by one’s expectation as to what kind of sound one will get out of the gear.
At this point, a lot of choices can be had in the current market for every price point compared to how it was for the past years or even decade. With the influx of new technology, you can get pretty much a lot of features for a lower, more practical price compared to what was released last year. This gives us, the hobbyists, a better position when picking what source to buy.
One digital audio player caught my attention just recently, the Oriolus DP100, which doesn’t really offer the bells and whistles of a DAP in the current market (no bluetooth, no touchscreen display, etc.) but to my surprise upon my first attempt did give me a kind of sound that I expected from much pricier devices. Apart from it, it was designed to be so modest that the device is so easy to use without much complications of getting used to how one should control it.
Luckily for me, I have a regular benefactor who keeps on spoiling me with his new gears and DP100 happens to be one of his toys. He has been consistently generous in loaning me his gears with the promise that I will yield a review out of it. Happily I gave it a yes, and so here we are.
Oriolus is a relatively new brand, having been announced in May of 2015. From that point on, Oriolus has been developing various portable audio solutions and has been doing quite well albeit has yet to go fully mainstream at this point. However, with their recent releases, it seems that they are bent on making their niche in the market and DP100 is their first venture with a DAP. Currently, most of their releases are focused on portable amplifiers and in-ear monitors.
So, let’s see how the DP100 fares.
This is the first thing that I liked about DP100: build. At a glance you will just see a no-nonsense brick which looks more of a small black box. Nothing special on how it looks, except for the fact that the packaging includes a leather case that gives the DAP the premium look it deserves. Without the case, I will be blunt in saying that DP100 looks meh. For some enthusiasts, this might be a bit of a letdown since a lot of DAP in the market nowadays looks way flashier than how the DP100 looks like. Practically, it simply looks like a brick with a knob on top, quite too simple to be really attractive.
However, since we are in the topic of practicality, I guess DP100 should chalk one up for one of the factors: durability. What it lacks in luster is made up by the material used. Upon holding it, you can certainly feel that it can stand test of use; the chassis is made of what seemingly looks like a very durable aluminum. The finish itself also seems to be quite impervious to minor scratches, so that definitely is a plus (honestly, I would rather a DAP that looks inconspicuous yet is scratch free rather than a pristine and shiny one which looks like it can get scratches anytime).
The DP100 looks very well built that the controls looked very well thought of during design phase. Buttons are not really very hard to press but allows that feel that it won’t easily give up due to daily use. Even the volume knob seems to be done well, it doesn’t feel it will wear out soon. The only gripe that I have, this has to be the most severe considering it really isn’t much of an issue, is the scroll wheel at the right side of the DP100. While it is doesn’t exactly seem to be the weak part of the entire device, it kind of feel like overuse will result it to loosen that you can use it to navigate through the menu but select the options as well by pressing the wheel. This seems to be an uncommon issue with such builds of scroll wheels, although I must say that DP100 feels to be the best done scroll wheel among all the I have tried so far.
Another factor which would normally be part of the decision to get a DAP has to be the flexibility of the device. Sure, as I have said, most would want a DAP typically for portability use, but it will be even better if the DAP has an option to be used as a transport. Fair enough for DP100, it has both a line-out port as well as an optical-out option, which should allow the DAP to be used with either an amp and an external DAC. Would have been better if the line-out is also balanced, but I guess one can’t just have everything.
For the headphone output though, Oriolus opted to add a 2.5mm TRRS headphone output to allow balanced connection through your IEMs/earbuds/headphones. This is a welcome addition since more and more hobbyists are starting to appreciate the beauty of balanced termination.
Controls are quite simple and are easy to use, they merely are buttons with the exception of the volume wheel and the scroll wheel. The scroll wheel though also has the select button, which I am not very comfortable with; I would have opted to have a separate button to select an option. Good thing that Oriolus decided to have the play button act as the select button as well so all is well and good.
The packaging also includes a leather case with Oriolus’ branding so this should be a very good addition. Apart from giving the DAP a protection from scratches, this also gives a bit of flair to DP100’s look. Guess Oriolus did their homework well with the DAP.
Overall, as much as the bare look of the DP100 looks quite simple, I have to commend Oriolus for doing an excellent job in terms of durability. So far I have not seen any issues to the DP100 so pretty much the DAP should be an excellent choice for those looking for a player below $500.
The best thing about the DP100 is how it was tuned. Yes, sound is definitely dependent on preferences of the user, but if there is one thing that I can speak of about DP100 is how clean it sounded. Thankfully, Oriolus went serious with the DP100 by ensuring that it yields such clean sound. Plus, the DAC used (ESS 90185) is indeed quite excellent that DP100’s sound signature fits my preference.
Let me run through how I find the DP100 using my Advanced M4 to see how it works.
Game Of Love (Santana feat. Michelle Branch, Shaman)
Sabre’s smooth sound style did some excellent work with the track using DP100. I particularly liked how slick sounding the DAP sounds with the M4. It offered ample amount if bass with excellent quality while the highs are sparkly and clean. Mids doesn’t seem to be left behind, what with its full delivery without sounding too forward. However, the best thing I heard off the pair will have to be the imaging, as I can clearly discern the instruments well, with Santana’s guitars sounding quite crisp and raunchy.
Pure Massacre (Silverchair, Frogstomp)
Guitars (both rhythm and bass) were highlighted in the track, and DP100-M4 combo did so much justice with the track. As much as the effects of the guitars are distorted, I liked the crunch delivered by the pair to the track. Daniel Johns’ voice also sounded concise, and it is reminiscent on how I used to hear back in the days when I bought the album in cassette format. It was raw, it was fast, and it was fun. There’s no other way to describe it.
A Thousand Years (Sting, Brand New Day)
The pairing continued to surprise me as to how well it is synergized with each other. Pretty much most of the things I look for is quite sated by the delivery of the pair. Sub bass felt smooth, extended and deep, mids sounds forward enough to be properly distinguished while the highs are sparkly clean. I felt how relaxing the pair sounded, it may have that edgy feel yet sounded solemn. I think I just discovered my new downtime track whenever I arrive home from work.
I tried the Trinity Audio Phantom Hunter equipped with Effect Audio Eros in 2.5mm TRRS to be paired to DP100 in balanced mode and much to my delight, it was able to deliver the level of detail I would normally like in a DAP. Truth be told, I would pit the Sony WM1A up against the Oriolus DP100 in balanced mode and by my recollection I will go for DP100, at least on a sound perspective.
I will be straightforward, had I been in the market for a DAP and is limited to just $500, I will definitely take the Oriolus DP100. I feel it can put some serious contest against many DAPs in its range, even with those that are a bit more expensive if we are simply talking out of pure enjoyment out of a source. A DAP is aimed for musical enjoyment anyway, so perhaps given I choice, I will indeed go for it. It is an excellent standalone source if you are after one that you can take anywhere, and should also pose as a good transport (I really enjoyed the time I used it straight with a Stax SRS-5100). Yes, this is not something that you will match up against a Lotoo Paw Gold nor an AK320, but getting one should hold you off from buying a DAP for quite a long time.