Apple are known for letting AAC have higher frequency range on Apple products (not Android).
Apple do have the worlds best silicon engineers AND best operating system to work with.
I’d like to think real benefits can come from such an ecosystem.
As an aside, using three ‘non Apple’ devices to play local files (Afro Celt Sound System - “Release”) this morning, using Digital Output; there were HUGE differences in quality (to those that notice the effects of going from tier 3 kit to tier 2 kit probably more easy to discern)…
The lowly FiiO M11+ which has independent power supplies and great circuit layout, dual clocks etc etc… sounded vague by comparison, and voices that were veiled by comparison. It didn’t track high frequency instruments at a low volume level very well during complex passages etc.
Jumping up to a Questyle QP1R led to a huge audio improvement. (To be fair I also moved from COAX to TOSLINK/‘Optical’)
Voices now had edges to them and conveyed their sense of recording space much better. Albeit slightly grainy in sound vs the next part used…
The Questyle QP1R widened the soundstage, improved the layout/‘layering’ of rows of instruments with respect to placing them with greater depth range on the ‘stage’. (they could be grouped more obviously and held space better, rather than becoming ‘vague’ sense of instruments)…
Up to the Astel and Kern SP2000T (again, fibre optic); which lost the grain on voices and made all edges a little softer, but with the much better staging/layout that the Questyle QP1R brought…
It is hard to say based on a brief test- the two to sort between really is the A&K and the Questyle product.
The Questyle QP1R has NO RADIOS inside, and whilst an ‘older part’ it has consistently proven one of the better transports I own.
The SP2000T was left inplace on a ‘sense’ that it was the most analogue of the players, and is certainly the ‘fatigue free listen’ of the three (“best of” on this criteria)…
The vocal clarity and improved sense of stage, setup of instruments on the stage, and nuances like height all come through on bettertransports.
I wasn’t looking for bass or ‘specific freuncies’, and the sheer amount of variance between these three players DIGITAL outputs was HUGE.
The A&K kinda feels like it is doing some sort of Digital Upscale or change to the digital feed (akin to the Denon CD players that make all digital output AL24’d).
I still feel the Questyle is ‘the one to beat’, and for their basic pricepoint in the second hand market, might prove useful to many punters who want to hear what a ‘good transport’ can actually do.
of course they have NO SMARTS, and are slow/clunky affairs to interface with…
(but they sound great)…
I did find that Apple Music, when played via the FiiO M11+ (COAX OUTPUT), if fed via a reclock box, could sound decent ‘CD Player’ quality.
In fact the only times Apple Music has sounded GOOD to me (beyond enjoying the music variety), was when feeding via a 20 year old consumer CD recorder that reclocks the signal going through it.
The FiiO M11+, when used this way (via a ‘reclock’), actually makes an Apple Music feed, that is still the worst (digital) source in the house, actually sound like music. (when compared to the same feed not reclocked, becomes very ‘ho, humm’)
Apples architecture circumvents a lot of issues, is my understanding, sure…
In a world of homogenised ‘good setups’ and many enjoying their setups however they may actually sit, without care to extract its’ best… I am sure Apple music/ ‘iPads’- work wonders for the masses. (certainly is their goal by design)
To make Android ‘tablets’ get to be ‘top end transports’; generally requires reconfiguring the part turning off 20-50 operating system settings to 'get in the ballpark.
The devices are useless for anything OTHER than music streaming, pretty much, once set this way.
(ie don’t expect to watch youtube whilst streaming, with sensors to see if you still have it in hands, and features like ‘double tap screen to wake’ engaged.
Oh and any system update is MOST LIKELY going to reset your defaults and require a decent reconfigure to get back to ‘dedicated music mode’.
That being said, when Android is highly configured (everything OFF), running software like Onkyo HF Player (has an inbuilt PCM to DSD ‘on the fly’ feature; great for Sabre DACs as an example); it can turn a ‘do everything device’ into a ‘slightly subpar’ Digital Audio Player (DAP).
Nothing touches owning a dedicated DAP, except for dedicated seperates for the home rig, but they have a few power issues to circumvent to get equal to mid tier DAPs, and RF protecting a ‘tiny’ DAP is reasonably easy vs large box home seperates.
Many paths to the summit.
I do agree that the digital transport quality of (older) iDevices I used used to seem ‘pretty good’, and is an established ecosystem, and what MANY choose to use as their NUMBER ONE method to stream digital audio.