Dodocool DA106 review: HiFi audio on a budget

Dodocool are a maker that gets talked about quite a lot here at GizChina. The company is best known for its handy yet affordable gadgetry that almost anyone with a credit card can purchase.

You probably didn’t know this before, but Dodocool also do a HiFi music player. Interestingly, almost the entire HiFi music player space is owned by Chinese players, many of which are super niche. We’ve tried a bunch of them before, and while it’s hard to classify oneself as an audiophile, we’ll take a quick look over the Dodocool DA106, which is probably one of the most affordable players that can do 192kHz/24-bit audio playback.

Learn more about it here.

First things first — this is an extremely affordable piece of kit (selling at around the $40 mark), so you need to keep that in mind when making a judgement of the product. So let’s get started.

First, let us quickly tell you all that it has under its sleeve. The DA106 can play high-res audio, can record good quality audio and also features FM radio. The addition of FM radio is super awkward (or rather, uncommon) because that usually doesn’t happen in items in this category.

Moving on, the device has an on-board storage of 8GB, which is expandable via the microSD card slot that it features. You will most likely need to keep the slot engaged, because high-res lossless audio files can often take a lot of extra space compared to compressed MP3 files that we’ve grown used to. Speaking of, it will be a good idea to get a class 10 microSD card to give the device super-high access speeds, which might be required in many cases.

Moving on to audio, we’d say you get what you pay for… which is almost always the case. The DA106 doesn’t feature any of the high-end audio chips that you see on higher-priced competitors; which means audio is quite good but it doesn’t blow your mind.

While reviewing the DA106, we happened to chance upon the VE Monks+ earphones and thought they made a great combo. To put things into context, you can get both, the DA106 and the Monks+ for under $50, shipped to your doorstep anywhere in the world!

What we realized with the Monks+ was that you really needed an above-average source to drive them well enough, and the DA106 does exactly that. In the end, they make a great combo… which is super light on the pocket.

The audio that the DA106 produces isn’t bass-heavy at all. There’s a higher focus on the mids and highs, which to some might sound a bit shrill at times. It’s also extremely important to use high-quality music files, for the DA106 can make a compressed file sound like crap (which we think is a good thing).

We also tested the DA106 with some high-impedance Xiaomi headphones, and the device drove them no problems without the need for an external amp.

Like every other device that does decent to good audio (basically, every other DAP), the UI on this one is absolutely horrendous too. It will take you a lot of time and a bit of pain to get used to how things work on the DA106. Interestingly, it features a dial that you can use to navigate between list items and the native homepage UI.

One super annoying this about the player is that you will need to first turn the screen on (by pressing the power button up top) to be able to navigate between music files or even change the volume. This is super elementary and something that should’ve definitely been taken care of.

About other aspects of the player — build, battery, etc., we’re rather impressed. It’s interesting what you can get out of just $45 in this day and age. The DA106 has a great build, and a battery life that you will definitely want to have on other gadgets of yours. It charges via a micro USB port, so you can use your power banks et al to give it a juice top up.

All in all, we’d recommend the DA106 to audio newbies (like myself). As said before, the DA106 makes a great pair with the VE Monks+.

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